Course Detail

Culture as a Competitive Business Advantage (42119)

Course Description by Faculty

  • Grotto, Elena Joy, Felicia
  • Content

    The often repeated saying that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” indicates that culture is critical to a company’s success, yet culture is often relegated to HR—or regarded as an organizational attribute that will take care of itself. Research on organizational performance reveals that culture is as important in business as an effective strategy and operating model, but business leaders tend to focus their efforts on traditionally quantitative disciplines and insights that help them make decisions and drive revenue. Ironically, the financial value of a company can only be maximized if the leaders deliberately manage culture with as much C-suite buy-in and quantitative rigor as finance, investor relations, marketing and operations.

    Consider these statistics: MIT researchers found that companies with top quartile cultures are 25% more profitable than those with languishing cultures.[1] Gallup data show that companies with a unified culture achieve superior performance, including 20% higher sales, 17% higher productivity,[2] 40% fewer quality defects and 70% fewer safety incidents.

    In essence, culture should be a regular part of leadership’s considerations and needs to be quantified and aligned with strategy to turn it into a competitive advantage. This course examines that critical integration, illuminating the approach business leaders should take to shepherd culture and develop hard metrics that calculate and accelerate its impact on the bottom line.

    Culture is comprised of a company’s normative behaviors, beliefs, and routines. It must be led by the C-suite, so today’s business students need a proficient understanding of:  

    • The impact of culture on retention and attraction of top talent
    • The process to create or redesign a culture
    • The role of leaders in determining the kind of culture needed for their business strategy
    • The impact of stakeholder influence, activism, and crises on culture
    • The process to set up metrics to evaluate culture
    • The ROI of strong culture and costs of impaired or misaligned culture

    The Culture as a Competitive Business Advantage course is punctuated by lectures, case studies, quantitative exercises, multimedia content, research reviews, and first-hand accounts from the professors’ active work as advisors to Fortune 500 companies and C-suite clients. Strategies and insights discussed apply to businesses at all points in the growth lifecycle, from start-ups to mature multinational enterprises.

    [1] Building Business Value with Employee Experience. (2017). MIT.

  • Prerequisites
  • Materials
    Laptop (all readings accessible via links on Canvas) 
  • Grades

    Grades will be calculated based on the following ratios: 50% class participation and weekly assignments, 20% midterm, 30% final exam. This course cannot be taken pass/fail. Provisional grades can be provided upon request.

    • Allow Provisional Grades (For joint degree and non-Booth students only)

    • Early Final Grades (For joint degree and non-Booth students only)

  • Syllabus
  • Spring 2022Section: 42119-01W 1:30PM-4:30PMHarper CenterC03In-Person Only
    New Course
  • Spring 2022Section: 42119-81W 6:00PM-9:00PMGleacher Center206In-Person Only
    New Course
Description and/or course criteria last updated: February 11 2022