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Systems Thinking and Strategic Decision



Weidong Chen



Course Name: Systems Thinking and Strategic Decision

Course Code: S2293012

Semester: 4

Credit: 2

Program: All

Course Module: Business & Management

Responsible: Weidong Chen

E-mail: chenweidong@tju.edu.cn

Department: School of Economy and Management, Tianjin University

TimeAllocation(1 credit hour = 45 minutes)







Personal Work







Course Description

This course provides students with a framework to understand the structure and dynamics of relevant engineering industry, together with an approach for their effective strategic management. It is focused on domains in which systems are important, because either or both products are parts of larger and more complex systems, or are comprised of systems. The domains covered include computing, communications, electronics, and construction industry. The course will be of particular interest to those interested in managing a business in which technology will likely play a major role, and also to those interested in investing in or providing counsel to these businesses.

The emphasis throughout is on the development and application of ways of thinking or mental models that bring clarity to the complex co-evolution of technological innovation, the demand opportunity, systems architecture, business ecosystems, and decision-making and execution within the business. This involves the acquisition and application of a set of powerful analytical tools that are critical for the effective development of business strategy for high-tech and systems business, and for technology strategy as a key element within business strategy. These tools provide insights when anticipating and deciding how to respond to the behaviour of customers, complements and competitors, and when deciding which technologies to invest in, opportunities to target or partnerships to pursue.

The course uses case studies and presentations, and also relies upon independent research by participants. The case studies provide an extensive opportunity to integrate and apply these tools and theories in a practical, business policy context. The readings support the case study and provide a strong theoretical framework to support the practical analysis of real-world cases.


Basic knowledge of management, system structure

Course Objectives

The objective of the program is to improve (significantly) the odds of success when figuring out how to create and capture value, make difficult decisions and develop and deliver technologies, platforms and products.

Course Syllabus

  1. Overview

  2. Technological Innovation

  3. Demand Opportunity, Life-cycles and Transition

  4. Business Ecosystems, Creating and Capturing Value

  5. Strategy, Adaptation, Agility and Decision-making

  6. Summary and Project Presentations

Textbooks & References

  • Pisano, Gary P., and David J. Teece. 2007. How to Capture Value from Innovation: Shaping Intellectual Property and Industry Architecture. California Management Review 50(1): 278-296.

  • Baldwin, Carliss, and Kim Clark. 1997.Managing in an Age of Modularity. Harvard Business Review 75 (5): 84-93.

  • Christensen, Clayton M., and Willy Shih. Strategic Innovation Simulation: Back Bay Battery. Harvard Business Review, August 28, 2009.

  • Eisenhardt, Kathleen. 1989.Making Fast Strategic Decisions in High-Velocity Environments. Academy of Management Journal 32 (3): 543-576.

  • Garvin, David, and Michael Roberto. 2001.What You Don't Know About Making Decisions. Harvard Business Review 79 (8): 108-116.

Grade Distribution

Exercise: 30%Attendance: 10%Final Project and presentation: 60%

Capability Tasks

CT3: To grasp methodologies and engineering tools: identifying, utilizing and solving problems. Even if the students are not familiar with the content, they can turn to computer tools for systematic analysis.

CT5: To have the basic concept about how the company functions and the capability to understand economic problems such as quality management, competitiveness and productivity and commercial demands.

CT9: To be competent for a job position in a company and have a good career path; To have sense of responsibility, teamwork spirit, cooperation and leadership capacity, project management capacity, and capacity of communicating and working with experts and non-experts, and carry out innovation management.


  • To understand basic theories of system analysis. –Level: N

  • To understand how to use system analysis methods and tools. –Level: A

  • To launch the system analysis methods to help making effective decision. –Level: A

Students: All programs, Year 2