Cipfa professional qualification syllabus and syllabus guidelines icon

Cipfa professional qualification syllabus and syllabus guidelines






This module is designed to provide the candidate with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop service provision strategies for organisations within the public services. The module also focuses on the implementation of strategy in delivering planned levels of public, community and social value. The module reviews and evaluates modern methods of management and organisational vehicles used to deliver services to the public.


This module is linked to the Business Management and Financial Management modules, which provide candidates with the knowledge and skills to develop an organisation’s strategy. The module is also linked to the Strategic Leadership module, which develops candidates’ practical skills in executing an organisation’s strategy, and to Strategic Financial Management.


Overall aim



Define the meaning of organisational strategy and assess the underlying key drivers



Prepare and evaluate external and internal environmental analyses to support strategy development



Apply key strategic models to inform strategic choice



Discuss the types of organisational structure and operational vehicles that can be used to support the delivery of organisational strategy



Explain the arrangements required for an efficient and effective implementation of an organisational strategy to deliver planned levels of community and public value



^ Syllabus Guidelines

Overall aim

Learning outcome


Define the meaning of organisational strategy and assess the underlying key drivers

A1) Define organisational strategy and explain the difference between the various levels:

  • Definition of organisational strategy

  • Corporate strategy

  • Business/service strategy

  • Operational strategy.

This section of the syllabus revolves around the different levels of organisational strategy. Key terms should be clearly defined but also recognise that this is an area where corporate strategy textbooks fail to adopt a standard approach to terminology and to warn students accordingly.

A sensible approach to addressing the syllabus terms would be as follows:

  • Organisational strategy – seen as a term that embraces the three subsequent levels and can be defined in terms of the characteristics of strategy e.g. organisational wide, concerned with long term direction and scope etc. Further characterising organisational strategy in terms of the rational ‘analysis – choice – implementation’ model will provide a further insight into strategy. Alternatives to this rational model will be introduced later; the fact that competing models exist might usefully be mentioned here at the outset.

  • Definition of the three levels of strategy following the well established approach in chapter 1 of Johnson, Scholes and Whittington, ‘Exploring Strategy’, 9th edition, FT Prentice Hall 2011.

Key definitions e.g. strategic business unit should given both in public and private sector terms.

At this early definitional stage it will be useful to raise the issues of the tension sometimes involved in the application to the public sector of terms and theories that were originally designed for private sector application.

A2) Analyse the key factors and drivers that influence strategic choice:

  • Maximisation of stakeholder value

  • Nature of value in various scenarios – business value, stakeholder value, public value

  • Sustainable competitive advantage v sustainable community benefit

  • Vision and mission

  • Core values

  • Culture (e.g. Handy’s culture types, cultural web)

  • Laws and regulations

  • Ethics and corporate social responsibility

  • Limited resources.

This section of the syllabus sets out an agenda of influences upon strategy.

Stakeholder value should be addressed via an introduction to the concept of stakeholders and the identification of the interests of different stakeholders. Practical organisation based examples can be used to yield points such as the tendency for public sector organisations to face a larger number of influential stakeholders than private sector organisations and the tendency for stakeholders’ interests to conflict. (The resolution of those conflicts will be picked up in the treatment of stakeholder mapping in B1).

Stakeholder interests thus identified, either individually or collectively, can feed into syllabus concepts such as business value, stakeholder value, public value etc. It would also be appropriate to introduce different models of organisational objectives and stakeholders. If one stakeholder is dominant its interests can be maximised: once competing stakeholder interests are recognised trade-offs between interests may need to be accommodated and a satisficing rather than maximising approach to objectives taken.

Such stakeholder analysis is an important building block in this section of the syllabus as it can be used to feed into the later discussion of e.g. vision and mission, core values, culture and ethics and social responsibility.

The concepts of sustainable competitive advantage against sustainable community benefit can be used to open up a range of issues relevant to the private sector/public sector distinction in strategy. While it can be argued that public sector organisations are seeking the latter rather than the former, a slightly constrained relevance of competitive advantage to public sector bodies can be introduced, notably via competition for resources. This will be important later in demonstrating the potential relevance to public sector organisations of a range of models and concepts.

The areas of vision and mission also suffer from varying definitions across strategy texts: again Johnson, Scholes and Whittington (2011) provide a sensible distinction. Coverage should include purposes, benefits and criticisms of vision and mission statements, while recognising that vision and mission may exist without such statements. Brief coverage of the means of formulating statements can highlight benefits of a participative approach. Links can be made back to previous stakeholder analysis and related possible private/public sector differences in vision and mission e.g. the wider range of key public sector stakeholders can lead to less direct, more cumbersome mission statements.

Core values can be defined as the underlying principles that guide an organisation’s strategy and may be linked both to vision and mission and to stakeholder values.

All of these areas are amenable to a practical, example based approach. Reasoned discussion of possible public/private sector differences across each should also be investigated.

As an important issue within strategy, the concept of culture should be defined and discussed e.g. in terms of Schein’s levels of culture and the debate as to whether culture is an organisational variable or a root metaphor. The concept of the organisational iceberg shows the significance of informal aspects of organisational behaviour, which include culture. This point can be linked to and made in tension with section D’s focus on formal organisational structure. The cultural web allows for a practical, organisation based approach to identifying aspects of culture, although it should be pointed out that the web is a largely descriptive rather than an analytical or normative tool. Handy’s cultural types similarly allow students to recognise cultural types at a practical level and to relate them to their own organisational experience. Possible patterns of differences in culture across the public and private sectors and indeed within the public sector can be considered via these two models.

Laws and regulations should be approached in two ways. Firstly the notion of public sector organisations needing to establish their mandate before identifying their mission allows one to demonstrate that public sector organisations typically have missions that are more tightly constrained – by laws and regulations - than those of private sector organisations. Specific examples of such laws and regulations and their constraining effect should be given. In addition John Alford’s concept of the authorising environment of public sector strategy (in Johnson and Scholes, Exploring Public Sector Strategy) could add to the analysis here.

At the same time, the fact that private sector organisations are also subject to law and regulation can be demonstrated by reference to the PESTLE analysis to be covered in detail in section B1. Thus in these ways the somewhat differential impact of law and regulations across the private and public sectors should be demonstrated.

In the treatment of ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR) a quite narrow focus on its relevance to strategy is needed thus avoiding overlap with other subject syllabi coverage of the issue. At the same time, its contemporary significance requires quite extensive treatment. Simple models of traditional approaches to CSR should be presented e.g. responsibility to shareholders, responsibility to a range of stakeholders, strong commitment to ethics and social responsibility etc. More contemporary discussion of the link between competitive advantage and CSR should also be presented e.g. M Porter and M Kramer, Harvard Business Review, December 2006. This allows one to more explicitly place strategy in the context of sustainability and limited resources.

A3) Evaluate various approaches to organisational strategy:

  • Environmentally-driven strategy

  • Systems-based approach

  • Resource-based approach

  • Core competences-based approach

  • Rational strategy

  • Adaptive, emergent strategy

  • Incremental strategy

  • Freewheeling opportunism

  • Creative strategy (innovation)

  • Learning organisations.

This section requires the coverage of some important debates in strategy, notably how far strategy emerges from a rational, planned process or how far it emerges in an adaptive, incremental way and also how far effective strategy meets environmental demands and challenges and how far it builds upon internal competences and capabilities. Almost inevitably, a good deal of this module’s approach is derived from the rational, planned approach as it is that approach which generates and relies most upon theoretically based techniques and models.

Within this context individual models should be presented as follows:

  • Environmentally driven strategy – this is based on the view that effective strategy matches an organisation’s environment and meets the demands derived from it; discussion can embrace customer-centric organisational strategy. Increased speed of environmental change is an important issue in considering developing environmentally driven strategy.

  • The systems model is a particular version of the wider environmentally based model and should be presented in some detail, encompassing e.g. organisational sub systems, boundaries with the environment, input, output and feedback etc.

  • The resource based approach requires definitions of concepts such as core competences and capability. A useful source which presents a model linking resources to the achievement of competitive advantage is R Grant, The Resource Based Theory of Competitive Advantage: implications for strategy formulation, California Management Review, Spring 1991.

  • The rational model; Johnson, Scholes and Whittington present a clear model of rational strategy, which, to a large extent, is reflected in this syllabus.

  • Mintzberg generated the concept of emergent strategy and Lindblom incremental strategy. Both are now well established in the textbook literature and can be presented at a good level of detail. They should be presented in opposition to the rational model and as responses to issues such as speed of environmental change, uncertainty, conflicting stakeholder objectives and bounded rationality. Coverage of incremental strategy should also include reference to the danger of strategic drift where an incremental strategy fails to keep pace with rapid environmental change.

  • To some extent the final three approaches i.e. freewheeling opportunism, creative strategy and learning organisations can also be seen as responses to the limitations of planned rational strategy and should be presented as such. Indeed freewheeling opportunism is defined as existing where no formal approach to strategy development exists. Since it typically though occurs in the context of an overall business direction or philosophy, links can be made between it and incrementalism.

  • Treatment of creative strategy/innovation and of the learning organisation can be linked quite closely. The former should accommodate introductory models of creativity e.g. concepts contained in Nonaka’s Knowledge Creating Company. Similarly the learning organisation should be introduced quite rigorously via relevant concepts such as Argyris’ single and double loop learning, Senge’s organisational learning disciplines and also Pedler et al’s characteristics of a learning organisation. Substantial points can be made about the applicability or otherwise of the model to the public sector and across the public sector

The requirement of this section of the syllabus is to evaluate the models included within it. This should include something of a contingency based approach e.g. identifying variables such as speed of external change, levels of uncertainty and complexity, resource flexibility, issues of risk and accountability that may predispose organisations to the adoption of certain models/approaches.

One can also discuss how far certain models/approaches are logically coherent but their application may be problematic in the real world – notably perhaps the rational model.


Prepare and evaluate external and internal environmental analyses to support strategy development

B1) Prepare and evaluate an external analysis:

  • PESTLE analysis

  • Scenario plans

  • Porter’s diamond

  • Stakeholder mapping

  • Porter’s five forces.

The evaluative techniques set out in this section of the syllabus generally lend themselves to practical application; an approach which presents the models, then explains any underlying theoretical assumptions or complexities, asks students to apply them to the external environment of an organisation they are familiar with and also presents any relevant criticisms/shortcomings of the models should equip students appropriately. Concerning each model:

  • PESTLE analysis: a number of variants of this mnemonic exist, which might usefully be pointed out. PESTLE normally refers to a framework for identifying broad brush environmental forces external to the organisation and classifying them as Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental (in the ecological sense).

  • Scenario planning refers to the establishment of logical possible futures normally based upon a set of assumptions which are varied systematically; typically it is appropriate for long term consideration of rather unpredictable environments where a relatively small number of key variables can be identified.

  • Porter’s diamond – a framework for analyzing the potential for competitive advantage located in characteristics of the nation in which an organisation is located.

  • Stakeholder mapping; a range of approaches exist of which the power/interest matrix is probably the most important. Coverage of this should consider both sources of underlying stakeholder power and influence as well as implications of the resultant analysis for strategy. Johnson, Scholes and Wittington (2011) and the extensive work on the subject by Bryson are good sources for other approaches to stakeholder mapping which should briefly supplement the power/interest matrix. Links should be made to the initial discussion of stakeholders at A2 and it can be demonstrated how stakeholder mapping can contribute to the prioritization of conflicting stakeholder interests.

  • Porter’s 5 forces. This is by far the most complex of the techniques in this section. If students are to be able to use the approach as intended, attention should be given to the determinants of each of the 5 forces, some of which depend upon a knowledge of underlying economic theory.

Given that the above models are to be applied to organisations with which students are familiar, issues will need to be addressed concerning their applicability to public sector organisations.

B2) Prepare and evaluate an internal analysis:

  • Strategic capability

  • Resource audit – financial, physical, human and intangible

  • Core competences.

This section will take a fairly similar practically based approach as that in B1 although with a smaller range of models available for internal analysis.

The definition of strategic capability provides a good starting point for this section; this is normally defined in terms of an organisation’s resources and competences – though again one needs to address the lack of consistent use of terms such as capability and competence across the strategy literature.

The resource audit allows one to examine resources that an organisation has access to, which can be seen as the building blocks of strategic capability as conventionally defined. This technique is best presented as a straightforward exercise of resource identification with little analytical content.

Core competence is another term subject to variable definition. That provided by Johnson, Scholes and Wittington has the advantage of linking it coherently to both resources and competitive advantage and thus fitting sensibly into the approach taken here. While core competence as a concept lays squarely in the realm of internal analysis, the fact that core competences are distinctive and not easily replicable means they are established partly by reference to competitors’ or peers’ capabilities. Techniques available for organisations to assist in ‘surfacing’ core competences should be presented.

As the literature tends to relate the concepts of strategic capability and core competences to competitive advantage, the applicability of competitive advantage to public sector organisations will need to have been discussed as suggested at A2.

Given at least a constrained applicability of that concept to public sector organisations, all of the above techniques/concepts are applicable throughout both private and public sectors though some concepts will have most resonance in competitive areas of activity.

B3) Determine the key issues arising from an environmental analysis:

  • Logical approach (SWOT analysis)

  • Creative approaches such as brainstorming

  • GAP analysis.

This short section should initially present SWOT analysis as a means of bringing together the external and internal analyses carried out above and drawing conclusions from them. This is typically a two stage, practically oriented process, at least as envisaged by more rational approaches to strategy :

  1. Summarizing the key issues arising from the external analysis (opportunities and threats) and from the internal analysis (strengths and weaknesses).

  2. Identifying critical issues facing strategy development as a result of bringing together these two sets of analysis, e.g. threats corresponding to weaknesses.

More developed approaches to SWOT exist, e.g. those that seek to give magnitudes to the different issues identified in the environmental analyses and such models should be introduced.

SWOT analysis sits quite squarely within a rational approach to strategy and should be presented as such.

Alternative models of strategy would suggest less linear/rational approaches to issue identification such as brainstorming and these should be introduced. John Bryson’s book ‘Strategic Planning For Public and Non Profit Organisations’, Jossey Bass, 2004, is a good source for such techniques which are quite practically oriented.

Gap analysis involves identifying and deciding how to fill the gap between a present state and a desired future state. Good practice would often relate the desired future state to external comparators of some sort.


^ Apply key strategic models to inform strategic choice

C1) Apply and appraise key models available for the generation of strategic options:

  • Porter’s generic strategies

  • Strategy clock.

This section introduces two models which identify a range of strategic options.

Porter’s generic strategies should be presented as possible options for overall corporate strategy. Although primarily designed for private sector application, it is possible to discuss their relevance to public sector organisations particularly if the relevance of competitive advantage to public sector organisations has been previously established. Presentation of the two main generic strategies e.g. cost leadership and differentiation should consider their means of achievement e.g. lean thinking for the former and e.g. the need for the voice for the customer to inform the nature of differentiation.

The discussion of generic strategies leads naturally to the issues of the desirability of hybrid strategies and the strategy clock can be related with ease to a range of strategies of private sector organisations; its use of comparative price as a key variable means its application to the public sector will tend to be limited to commercially oriented organisations operating in competitive markets.

The models in C1 are often presented as providing options at the corporate level. It is suggested that that approach be adopted here although it is also useful to introduce the debate as to how far different business units in the same organisation might adopt different strategies. As the syllabus requires application and appraisal of the models, they should be applied to real world organisations and critiqued e.g. criticisms of Porter’s insistence on committing to one clear generic strategy, the fact that the strategy clock seems to offer opposition to Porter in terms of a feasible hybrid strategy but uses price rather than cost as a key variable etc.

C2) Apply and appraise the key strategic product and service development models:

  • Product/service life cycle analysis

  • Boston matrix

  • Directional policy matrices (McKinsey/General Electric Business Screen and Shell Directional Policy Matrix)

  • Public service matrix (Montanari and Bracker)

  • Corporate parenting styles

  • Ashridge portfolio display

  • Ansoff’s growth vector

  • Value chain analysis

  • Porter’s value system

  • Value drivers.

Given the primarily corporate focus of the models in C1, the product and service development models in C2 can generally be presented as means of considering strategy options and thus informing strategic choice at business unit level.

The presentation of the product/ service life cycle at the beginning is important. Its plotting of different sales growth rates at different stages of product maturity provides conceptual underpinning to the Boston matrix. It demonstrates the fact that Boston’s use of market growth as a variable reflects different market maturities, which have different levels of fluidity in customer preferences e.g. a low growth market is a mature market with fixed customer preferences according to Boston. Correspondingly fluid customer preferences in high growth, immature markets are a key reason for the strategic allocation of resources to capture or maintain share in such markets.

As the Boston matrix is primarily about resource allocation across a portfolio, its application to public sector organisations will be limited again to commercially oriented organisations/ units operating in competitive markets. The directional policy matrices also provide a range of strategic options with resource allocation implications but again their application is normally to private sector organisations and certainly to commercially oriented ones. However, a number of public sector matrices can be presented, which seek to provide similar broad guidelines for resource allocation decisions by public sector organisations e.g. Montanari and Bracker.

At this point it would be sensible to introduce the debate about different ‘parenting’ roles that corporate headquarters can play concerning business units. This can lead into a presentation of the Ashridge portfolio, which seeks to identify fit between business unit critical success factors and headquarters’ parenting skills and resources.

Ansoff’s growth vector marks a somewhat different approach to business unit option generation as it provides a menu of choice of development directions; its presentation should include a consideration of the different sorts and levels of risks associated with each option and also how such risks can be mitigated by different means of pursuing options. As such means normally involve some form of collaboration some brief forward links to section D3 would be appropriate.

Value chain analysis marks a new departure and looks at the resource requirements to deliver value at the level of a particular product or service. As this comes from the Porter ‘stable’ of analytical techniques, valuable linkages can be made to the generic strategies introduced earlier, whereby each element of the value chain needs to be made fully consistent with the chosen generic strategy as a means of effective delivery of that strategy. As well as stressing the importance of effective linkages within individual value chains, one should locate the value chain within its wider value system. A comprehensive discussion of these issues should yield a full view of potential ‘value drivers’ for an organisation. One will need to discuss the public sector applicability of the value chain. That will lead to the appreciation of the manufacturing origins of value chain analysis and the pre requisites for redesigning or re-interpreting the value chain for service based activity – the role/relevance of inbound and outbound logistics are key here.

Again these models all tend to be capable of application to the real world; shortcomings - both conceptual and practical – should be presented where applicable.

C3) Evaluate the impact of stakeholder expectations in the development of strategy:

  • Difference between public needs and wants

  • Impact of the marketing mix (Products - 4Ps; Services - 7Ps)

  • Market segmentation, targeting and positioning

  • Stakeholder focus and consultation.

The difference between needs and wants can be discussed and related to an extent to private and public sector organisational objectives discussed at A2 (i.e. public sector more concerned with former), although the links will not be clear cut. The marketing mix can be presented as a means of achieving customer or client focus and can be related to needs and wants. The presentation of the 7Ps relevant to service provision will assist in the application of the concept to the public sector. As elements of the marketing mix relate to service design issues e.g. product, process, physical evidence etc links can be made with E1.

Market segmentation likewise can be seen as a means of seeking to meet effectively customer or client expectations by allowing these expectations to be identified more finely. Seen in this way, segmentation can be shown to be relevant to public service organisations and linked to the move away from more traditional ‘monolithic’ public provision. Targeting and positioning build upon segmentation in terms of deciding which segments to seek to serve (which can be quite readily applied to a number of public sector organisations) and in terms of how to compete within segments (which is likely to be more relevant to private sector organisations). Since bases of competition were dealt with comprehensively in C1, positioning can be dealt with quite briefly here.

Stakeholder consultation is clearly a means of identifying and seeking to meet stakeholder expectations. While the term can embrace market research carried out by private sector organisations, the focus here can appropriately be upon public sector organisations and encompass relatively recent as well as more traditional forms of stakeholder consultation. Examples of these include questionnaire based surveys, focus groups, citizens’ panels, deliberative juries etc. Given the overall focus of the module, treatment of each method should be brief e.g. an overview of its main features, the sort of data it is best equipped to generate and major shortcomings.

C4 Evaluate strategic options:

  • Suitability

  • Acceptability

  • Feasibility

This section of the syllabus covers the three generic approaches to option evaluation and, due to differing definitions across the literature, the approach taken by Johnson, Scholes and Whittington should be followed for consistency.

Students should be able to apply these terms to the public sector and understand the range of real world activities that underpin them (e.g. risk analysis, stakeholder reaction, scenarios, cost benefit analysis, shortlisting etc.)

Depending on the approach taken by organisations in generating their strategic options some of these criteria will be of less importance. For example strategies based on a thorough analysis of the organisations internal and external environment (i.e. the rational approach) should already be suitable in these respects. Other approaches, such as brainstorming, will likely require more work in applying these criteria.

Discuss the types of organisational structure and operational vehicles that can be used to support the delivery of organisational strategy

D1) Discuss factors that influence organisational design:

  • Flat versus tall designs

  • Responsibility, authority and accountability

  • Line, staff and functional relationships

  • Organic versus mechanistic approaches

  • Differentiation and integration

  • Role flexibility versus job specification

  • Bureaucracy and post bureaucracy

  • Empowerment versus control

  • Centralisation versus decentralisation

  • Benefits of resource sharing and collaborative working.

This section of the syllabus contains a number of issues – some expressed as tensions between two opposite tendencies - which inform organisational design. They should be presented in a structured way although some overlap exists in the terms as presented. The section commences with consideration of the building blocks of organisational design; consideration of flat versus tall design can include discussion of chain of command and span of control.

Buchanan and Huczyknski’s Organisational Behaviour is a good source of definitions of responsibility, authority and accountability, and their links to line, staff and functional relationships, and also provides good coverage of many of this section’s concepts. The concepts of organic and mechanistic structures and also differentiation and integration provide further building blocks. Such concepts can be placed in their historical context briefly but more important is that they point to a contingency based approach to organisational design e.g. differentiation was linked by Lawrence and Lorsch to (external) environmental uncertainty. Such analytical points will feed into the fuller analysis of organisational structures in D2. The tension between role flexibility and job specification can be linked easily to the concepts of organic and mechanistic structures as can the concepts of bureaucracy and post bureaucracy.

When dealing with issues such as empowerment and control, it would be good to adopt an evaluative approach in terms of advantages and disadvantages of approaches and make reference to recent trends. The same approach would be appropriate to the discussion of centralisation and decentralisation; definitions of decentralisation could usefully distinguish between devolution which involves the giving away of decision making authority by the centre and other forms of decentralisation which do not. Consideration of the benefits of collaboration can be linked to the discussion of a wide range of collaborative structures in D3.

Throughout the section appropriate links and references should be made to public sector organisations, whether they be descriptive e.g. reference to repetitive tendencies to centralise and decentralise or evaluative e.g. requirements of at least some public sector organisations for tight accountability that may influence organisational design choices.

D2) Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of types of organisational structure:

  • Simple structures

  • Functional structures

  • Divisional structures

  • Matrix structures

  • Corporate group structures

  • Hybrid/intermediate structures.

This section lends itself to a highly structured evaluative discussion of each of the structural types that are commonly presented in organisational behaviour textbooks (nb. on occasion corporate group structures are referred to as holding company structures at least in private sector contexts).

To a large extent, one can see the development of different structures as a process of adaption to the shortcomings of other structures – thus, for example, an organisation may progress from a simple to a functional to a divisional structure. Such a sense of progression can help inform the treatment of different structures’ advantages and disadvantages and can also be used to inform/ identify the concept of hybrid/ intermediate structures which refer to an organisation in process between e.g. a functional and divisional structure.

Most evaluative points about the advantages and disadvantages of these structures are generic i.e. applicable to both private and public sector organisations; it would, however, be good to make reference, where appropriate, to public sector issues in discussion of each structure.

D3) Discuss vehicles for collaborating with outside organisations to achieve objectives:

  • Strategic alliances

  • Shared services

  • Shared management teams

  • Pooled budgets

  • Outsourcing

  • Joint ventures

  • Franchising

  • Licensing

  • Arms length bodies

  • Mergers & acquisitions

  • Consortia

  • Networks.

This section requires discussion of a range of vehicles for collaboration. In order to avoid a fully descriptive section and to embrace the verb table’s definition of ‘discuss’ in terms of examining by means of argument and counter augment it would be good to include relevant conceptual material. This could embrace:

  • The basic strategic argument for collaboration, including circumstances where collaboration is and is not advantageous.

  • This could include brief reference to the Coase/Williamson transaction cost based arguments concerning in house against external provision.

Again one needs to guard against the problem of definitions varying across texts and seek to impose a coherent set of definitions.

It would seem best to follow Johnson, Scholes and Whittington in seeing ‘strategic alliance’ as an umbrella term to encompass the other various vehicles. Some of these will be forms of public private partnership, others can be public/public or private/private partnerships. Generally, however, the focus is to be on arrangements relevant to public sector bodies.

As space does not permit guidance on the discussion of each vehicle separately, some specific points follow on a number of them follow:

  • Arguments for shared services and shared management teams can be related back to arguments for collaboration generally.

  • The treatment of outsourcing could valuably include Savas’ treatment of circumstances where outsourcing is and is not appropriate (from his book Privatisation and Public Private Partnerships).

  • Discussion of the various collaborative structures and approaches should include discussion of virtual approaches to collaboration.

Explain the arrangements required for an efficient and effective implementation of an organisational strategy to deliver planned levels of community and public value

E1) Analyse and apply approaches to strategy implementation:

  • McKinsey 7-S framework

  • Role of strategic leadership

  • Importance of reinforcing success.

The McKinsey 7 S framework can be presented as a form of comprehensive checklist for an organisation seeking to implement strategy effectively. Discussion of the model can usefully distinguish between soft and hard elements and highlight the model’s emphasis upon effective linkages between elements. The model can also be placed within its historical context briefly and critiqued. (See e.g. R. Lynch Corporate Strategy, 3rd ed chapter 22). Although it has a generic application, the model can, for our purposes, be related to public sector organisations.

Linked to this model is the role played by the strategic leadership of the organisation. Strategic leadership is covered in detail at the Strategic level of the CIPFA qualification so the coverage here can be fairly basic. The differing approaches of charismatic vs. transactional leaders should be presented with particular reference to examples in the public services. Students should be able to critique each approach and discuss why a combination of both is the most effective leadership style. The role of leaders in reinforcing success should be discussed here with examples identified in the public services.

E2) Discuss the use of business plans in strategy implementation:

  • Alignment of service delivery with public communication plans

  • Integration of operational and work plans

  • Alignment of HR plans and personal objectives

  • Integration of budget assumptions

  • Management of internal and external messages.

The term business plan is also defined in different ways by different writers. In this context it should be seen as a short term plan (usually one year), usually produced at business unit level and oriented towards the detailed implementation of strategy.

The main contents of a typical business plan should be presented briefly. Also it should be demonstrated how business plans may, in a fairly rational approach to strategy, be part of the process of cascading planned strategy down to the business unit level of large organisations. As such it can be shown that business plans flesh out the operational requirements for the delivery of strategic intent and in doing so exert an integrating effect e.g. via horizontal coordination of business plans. Good business planning can be demonstrated to link closely to the budget cycle and to further allow for cascading of intent down to the level of individual work plans and personal objectives.

Finally business plans may be communicated both externally and internally and this dual focus should be reflected in the approach to this section – whose overall focus can reasonably be on public sector business planning. In addition reference should be made to the Balanced Scorecard as a tool to communicate objectives in this respect.

E3) Discuss monitoring procedures used in strategy implementation:

  • Establishing a planned programme

  • Types of monitoring procedures

  • Key performance indicators.

As monitoring can be defined as checking actual progress against plan the planned programme is a good starting point. A range of monitoring procedures such as budgets, use of the appraisal system, use of both quantitative and qualitative targets etc can be presented. The costs of monitoring should be linked into consideration of key performance indicators and the need to ensure that indicators are not allowed to proliferate and become unmanageable.

^ BS Module Assessment

As the Business Strategy module is both theoretically rigorous and contains a large number of models that lend themselves to practical application, an effective assessment should reflect both elements.

Questions should test a candidates ability to:

  • Discuss the range of theoretical models presented in the syllabus

  • Critique the models in terms of their applicability to the public services

  • Apply the models to organisation with which they are familiar in the public services

Given this approach questions could be scenario based referring to issues of current significance in public sector strategy. Questions based upon a scenario could specify the models to be applied by the student or leave the choice of model to the candidate.

Alternative questions could ask candidates to apply the concepts, models and ideas to an organisation with which they are familiar. The focus should be on critiquing the models applicability and recognising any shortcomings.

Throughout the assessment candidates will be expected to apply their knowledge to the public services and as such references to private sector organisations should be kept to a minimum (unless relevant as suppliers, partners, regulators etc).



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