Strategic Analysis and Planning


Present a critical strategic analysis of the following business activity:

Marriott’s merger with Starwood Hotels

News & Web Links
The links below provide some starting points but students MUST add their own detailed research to develop the analysis:

The coursework is an individual piece of work. It will be 3,000 words, inclusive of appendices (+/- 10%). Please note that text in diagrams or tables will count towards the word count.

The following structure is required:

• Introduction to the report
• An evaluation of the relevant levels of strategy
• A critical evaluation of the key stakeholders
• External Analysis – using PESTEL to identify and explore key trends
• Industry Analysis – using 5 Forces to critically analyse the relevant industry factors
• Conclusion

It is important that attention be focused on a strategic appraisal of the company as opposed to providing lots of interesting facts over what interests you or what you find on the internet. Assessment will focus on students’ abilities in applying strategic models and frameworks in a coherent manner that enables them to develop a clear strategic view of the strategic position being studied. You do not need to reference many academic sources in this element of the assessment, but you must reference sources of company or market information.

Marking Criteria
Marking criteria are:

Indicative Percentage Criteria
10% Clarity of Structure
The report is well organised and logically constructed to satisfy the requirements of cogency and synthesis while being mindful of the needs of the reader. The structure of strategic analysis introduced in the module should be applied.
40% Application of Theory (Frameworks and models)
Theoretical frameworks and models introduced in the module should be applied.
30% Clarity of Strategic Evaluation.
Key strategic factors should be critically evaluated.
20% Supporting Evidence.
The frameworks and models applied should be supported with evidence from the case and other sources and correctly attributed.
10% Presentation
Does the paper remain within the parameters set by the instructions, while paying particular regard to the conventions of report writing, spell checking, grammar and appropriately referenced

(The marks for each criterion are to illustrate where the main effort should be spent and are not meant to be a strict marking scheme)

Please remember that an assignment is not meant to DESCRIBE what you have found. Analysis means commenting on your findings and EXPLAINING what the evidence suggests about the company.

General Guidance to students


 The introduction should be brief. It is not meant to provide a history of the company
 The Conclusion needs to draw the analysis to a close and comment on the sustainability of the company’s strategic position. Remember you do not introduce new findings into the Conclusion
 If you include Appendices you must refer to them in the relevant section of the report findings
 References should clearly list all the material that has been referred to in the report and set out using Harvard style:


 Remember to use the models in a ‘dynamic’ way i.e. place relevant examples onto the models. Do not simply copy and paste ‘generic’ examples from the lecture slides
 Words in the models are included in the word limit. The models lose their value if they are full of text. They should aid understanding not confuse the reader because too much has been stuffed into them
 Models should be included in the main body of the report. Only place them in the appendices if they are close to a full page
 You may well refer to points made in earlier parts of the report to show the connections in the analysis. This shows an awareness of the links between themes
 You will struggle to stay within the word limit so focus on the KEY DRIVERS in your analysis
 You will not be able to use all of the examples if you have done the level of reading required so ‘cherry pick’ those that best illustrate the key drivers
 Facts and figures need to be supported with sources clearly referenced.


 Be your own independent work and free from plagiarism by ensuring that work that is not your own is clearly referenced
 Use Harvard style citation and referencing using the centre published guidelines
 Be written in appropriate academic style
 Be professionally presented
 Be word processed using font size 12 for the main text and 1.5 line spacing
 Have numbered pages
 Have been spell checked and proof-read
 Be anonymous and have your Student Enrolment number on every page
 Have a clearly labelled front page detailing the module code and title, title of the assignment, tutors name, your enrolment number and the date of submission
 Be submitted via the Submission Link in the VLE

Marking Criteria
• Introduce the case event
a. Provide a brief overview of the case to set the key themes to be explored
b. Avoid an overlong description of the companies involved

• An evaluation of the levels of strategy relevant to this case i.e. Corporate, SBU
a. Students should identify the generic position that guides the company activity
b. Use Bowman’s clock (using products/services to illustrate the way the strategy is being met) to structure the analysis of strategic position
c. Come to a clear understanding of the company’s position. They need to clearly determine how and why a differentiation strategy has been developed
d. Use rivals sparingly to clarify the strategic intent of the company. Should avoid overcomplicating models
e. Link to the Industry analysis that is to follow

• An evaluation of the key stakeholders
a. Identify and consider the relevance of a range of stakeholders that are impacted by the case study
b. Map the positions of main stakeholders and analyse the impact on the company

• A critical analysis of the main external factors driving the strategy/ ies being explored
a. Need to do a PEST or variation first then 5 Forces
b. Analysis should focus on the KEY drivers of change rather than cover every issue found
c. The PEST must not focus on what the company is doing but identify trends in the environment
d. Models will probably contain more examples than the analysis explores. This is fine as long as the analysis has picked on the main themes

• A critical analysis of the industry factors impacting on the competitive position of the company
a. There should be an awareness of how the PEST and 5 Forces are linked
b. Draw out and analyse the key themes that are impacting on the varied forces
c. Avoid just listing a series of bullet points that offer no discussion of impact
d. Develop the competitive advantage analysis with an understanding of group mapping
e. Provide examples of competitive characteristics that illustrate the nature of the competitive position