Shaping Business Opportunities

Home Admissions Course Guide Shaping Business Opportunities

This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


Shaping Business Opportunities

Welcome to BUS 2007BED Shaping Business Opportunities! This is an 18-credit-unit, two-term, 2000-level DL course for undergraduate students offered by the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration.

This course develops your knowledge of business and management practice. It discusses innovation as a key feature of the contemporary business context. It comprehensively explores how organisations work by looking at internal functions, including operations management, human relations, finance and marketing. It also provides you with opportunities to learn about how the external environment shapes the way businesses respond to global challenges. Ultimately, the course equips you with the essentials for building long-term success for businesses.

BUS 2007BED is an adaptation of the UK Open University course B207 Shaping Business Opportunities. The course content has been reviewed and adapted by the HKMU course team to suit your learning needs. It is delivered via a set of learning materials in ePub and PDF format, multimedia components, as well as online and face-to-face learning support sessions.


Course aims

The overall aims of BUS 2007BED Shaping Business Opportunities are to:

  • enhance your understanding of business and management practice, with a focus on identifying, developing and sustaining business innovations through integrating internal functions and catering to external influences; and
  • provide you with essential knowledge on how to compete in the global market and build long-term success in businesses.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of BUS 2007BED Shaping Business Opportunities, you should be able to:

  • describe and apply theories, concepts and models of different business functions;
  • critically analyse the interactions between business functions and the integrative complexity that shapes business innovation;
  • illustrate why new products and services are imperative to contemporary business practice;
  • critically examine the external issues affecting the successful running of organisations, including how they compete in a global context; and
  • explain the elements required to build long-term success in organisations, and illustrate how they can contribute to the fostering of long-term value creation.

The course is based around a set of three large study units containing reading and multimedia components, supported by online and face-to-face learning sessions. The study materials for this course can all be found on the BUS 2007BED course page of the University's Online Learning Environment (OLE).


The study units

The study units set out your study pathway through the course readings and other course learning resources. They provide you with learning material, such as case studies, articles, multimedia content and interactive activities that are designed to facilitate your understanding of each topic. As you work through the study units, you will be encouraged to reflect on how the topics you have learnt about relate to your own life and work. You will therefore need to keep referring to the units as you work through the course.

The study units will be provided in ePub and PDF format on the OLE. There are three units, and each unit is divided into a number of sub-units. The course is structured so that you will cover two sub-units per week (see the 'course overview' section below). The topics of the units are as follows:


Unit 1 Big ideas in organisations

After an introduction covering some essential study skills, this unit moves on to explore the concept of innovation in the contemporary business context. You will examine why new products and services are necessary for growth and profitability, and you will look at how internal business functions integrate to facilitate innovation.


Unit 2 Competing in a global context

This unit examines the implications of globalisation for internal business functions. As you work through the unit, you will explore the consequences of the global versus local dynamic and get to grips with the way organisations and their workers adapt internationalising trends to local situations and contexts.


Unit 3 Building long-term success

This unit introduces the concept of long-term value creation and how this can be nurtured. You will examine how an innovative idea can be effective in the short and the long term and you will explore the sustainability of innovations and how organisations can adapt to incremental and radical change.


The course readings

Each study unit has a corresponding set of readings, which were originally developed for the UK Open University course B207. This reading material forms a necessary and essential part of your course learning. The overarching aim of the readings is to enable you to acquire knowledge of the key topics of the course. They also contain essential case studies and examples. The study unit materials indicate at which point you should turn to each of the readings, and encourage you to take notes or draw mind maps to engage actively with the reading content. You can access the readings via the OLE.


Learning support

In addition to live online lectures, assignment preparation surgeries and compulsory in-person day schools, a variety of learning support services are provided to assist you in your studies. These include the Online Learning Environment (OLE), the My Milestone Tracker mobile app and weekly drop-in Zoom surgeries.


The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

The main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is HKMU's Online Learning Environment (OLE). There, you will have access not only to the course materials (including the study units and the course readings) in different formats (both PDF and ePub versions), but also to a rich array of multimedia materials such as video and audio clips, web- based activities, video lectures and more. At the same time, you will be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor interactively via the course discussion board.


Learning support sessions

You will be supported throughout the course by regular online and face-to-face meetings in the form of live online lectures (2 hours each), live online surgeries (2 hours each) and compulsory in- person day schools (6 hours each). Details of the dates and times of these sessions will be provided in the Presentation Schedule on the OLE.

Optional weekly Zoom surgeries with your tutor will also be offered (1 hour per week). The following is a summary of the online and face-to-face sessions offered across the course.


UnitLearning support
 Live online lecturesAssignment preparation surgeriesWeekly Zoom surgeriesIn-person day schools
Scheduled support hours
(total per unit)
1Lecture 1
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Surgery 1[weekly]
(10 hours)
Day school 124
2Lecture 4
Lecture 5
Lecture 6
Surgery 2[weekly]
(9 hours)
Day school223
3Lecture 7
Lecture 8
Surgery 3[weekly]
(9 hours)
Day school 3
Day school 4
Oral presentation   Day school 56
Total8 live online lectures
(16 hours)
3 live online assignment preparation surgeries
(6 hours)
28 hours of optional Zoom surgeries5 day schools
(30 hours)
80 support hours


My Milestone Tracker mobile app

The My Milestone Tracker mobile app is specifically designed to help you to check your study progress, such as your completion of assessment components, along the learning journey of the course.



During the course, your progress will be assessed both formally and informally.

Informal assessment includes various case studies, online interactive activities, exercises and online discussions that you will undertake while working your way through the study units and course readings.

Formal assessment consists of online lecture polls, assignments, application-based assessments (ABAs) and an oral presentation, to pace you to learn effectively throughout the two terms of the course.

More specifically the formal assessment consists of:

  • Eight online lecture polls, worth 10% of the total marks of the course. The lecture polls will cover topics from Units 1 to 3 which are covered in the live online lectures. They will be conducted via the OLE.
  • Three individual assignments, worth 50% of the total marks of the course. You will be expected to apply, organise and elaborate on learning from the course to complete writing tasks on specific business and management topics. The three assignments evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 3.
  • Four application-based assessments (ABAs), to be conducted during compulsory in-person day schools 1–4, which are worth 20% of the total marks of the course. The four application- based assessments aim to provide you with opportunities to apply what you have learnt in authentic business contexts. They evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 3.
  • One oral presentation, worth 20% of the total marks of the course. It evaluates study materials covered in Units 1 to 3. The oral presentation is a compulsory assessment.

To pass this course, you are required to obtain no less than 40% of the maximum marks (100%), obtain a pass in the oral presentation (compulsory assessment) and participate in all five compulsory day schools.


Assessment summary

Details and coverage of the formal assessment items are outlined in the following table.


Unit coverageContinuous assessment (100%)
 Online lecture pollsApplication-based assessments
AssignmentsOral presentation
Unit 1Lecture poll 1 (1.25%)
Lecture poll 2 (1.25%)
Lecture poll 3 (1.25%)
ABA 1 (5%)Assignment 1
Oral presentation
Unit 2Lecture poll 4 (1.25%)
Lecture poll 5 (1.25%)
Lecture poll 6 (1.25%)
ABA 2 (5%)Assignment 2
Unit 3Lecture poll 7 (1.25%)
Lecture poll 8 (1.25%)
ABA 3 (5%)
ABA 4 (5%)
Assignment 3
Total weighting10%20%50%20%


How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments, and submit them via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.


Assignment submission extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your Course Coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions must be submitted online via the OLE. Please note the following:

  • Supporting documents must be submitted to justify applications for extensions of over seven days.
  • Applications for extensions should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  • Applications are considered by:
    • your tutor for extensions of up to seven days;
    • the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    • the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University's policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure, including the number of weeks allocated to each unit, assignment and assessment preparation weeks, the assessment requirements and the learning support provided. This overview is provided as guidance to plan your studies; be sure to check the OLE for the most up-to-date presentation schedule.

In addition to the learning support stated below, there will be 28 optional weekly Zoom surgeries for consultation with tutors. Details of the dates and times of these sessions will be provided in the Presentation Schedule on the OLE.


Term 1 (Autumn 2023)

WeekUnitSub-units / study taskAssessmentLearning support
Big ideas in organisations
Unit 1.1
Unit 1.2
2Unit 1.3
Unit 1.4
Lecture poll 1Lecture 1
3Unit 1.5
Unit 1.6
4Unit 1.7
Unit 1.8
5Unit 1.9
Unit 1.10
Lecture poll 2Lecture 2
6Unit 1.11
Unit 1.12
7Unit 1.13
Unit 1.14
ABA 1Day school 1
8Unit 1.15
Unit 1.16
Lecture poll 3Lecture 3
9Unit 1.17
Unit 1.18
 Surgery 1
10Assignment preparation week  
Competing in a global context
Unit 2.1
Unit 2.2
Assignment 1 due 
12Unit 2.3
Unit 2.4
Lecture poll 4Lecture 4
13Unit 2.5
Unit 2.6
14Unit 2.7
Unit 2.8
ABA 2Day school 2
15Unit 2.9
Unit 2.10
Lecture poll 5Lecture 5
16 Wrapping up the first term  
Term break


Term 2 (Spring 2024)

WeekUnitSub-units / study taskAssessmentLearning support
Competing in a global context
Unit 2.11
Unit 2.12
2Unit 2.13
Unit 2.14
Lecture poll 6Lecture 6
3Unit 2.15
Unit 2.16
 Surgery 2
4Assignment preparation week  
Buildin glong-term success
Unit 3.1
Unit 3.2
Assignment 2 due 
6Unit 3.3
Unit 3.4
ABA 3Day school 3
7Unit 3.5
Unit 3.6
Lecture poll 7Lecture 7
8Unit 3.7
Unit 3.8

Unit 3.9
Unit 3.10

10Unit 3.11
Unit 3.12
ABA 4Day school 4
11Unit 3.13
Unit 3.14
Lecture poll 8Lecture 8
12Unit 3.15
Unit 3.16
 Surgery 3
13Assignment preparation week  
14 Oral presentation prepAssignment 3 due 
15 Oral presentation weekOral presentationDay school 5
16 Wrapping up the course  

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU's School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.


What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organisation. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organisation; to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organisation which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organisation over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organisation.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or day school exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learnt in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let's have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.


Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled 'ABC Consultants' and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC's returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC's relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC's financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC's financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled 'XYZ Industries'.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ's management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick 'wrong' or 'right' answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organisation, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts, and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others' assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible 'right' answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.


Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:


1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.


2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organisation and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organisation: What is the state of this organisation: good, bad or in-between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organisation? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there someone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organisation under investigation? How does this organisation's performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organisation) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

A SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organisation and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organisation, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organisation faces in the external environment.


3 Recognize the case's symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who consults a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.




4 Diagnose the case's problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you are ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor diagnosing a patient's symptoms. Ask yourself 'what seems to be the trouble in this organisation?' and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritise them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.


CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause other problems?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   


Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.


5 Formulate criteria for a 'good' solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a 'good' solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, i.e. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organisation's culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.


 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3*******


Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It's often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximising solution.

Finally, don't forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?


6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organisation. Suggest a time-frame for the solution's implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organisational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.


7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.


Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarising the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problem. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of 'systems' rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles, and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelt out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organisational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

BUS 2007BED Shaping Business Opportunities provides you with a broad range of knowledge and ideas about business innovations, and guides you to further develop your understanding of business and management practice. Through the course, you will learn about innovation as a key feature of the contemporary business context, and explore how organisations work by looking at various internal functions, including operations management, human relations, finance and marketing. You will also understand more about how the external environment shapes the way businesses respond to global challenges, and gain insights about how to build long-term success for businesses.

Across three study units, BUS 2007BED covers the topics of innovation in contemporary business practice, how organisations work, the external environment for businesses, competing in a global context, and building sustainable businesses in the long term.

The course is presented through a blend of interactive text and multimedia materials which can all be accessed via the OLE. As you work through BUS 2007BED, you will need to refer to the study materials for each sub-unit and the related course readings, and you are provided with support through regular online and face-to-face sessions.

The course is assessed through three assignments, four application-based assessments, eight online lecture polls, and one oral presentation (compulsory assessment). It is supported by regular online and face-to-face meetings in the form of lectures (online), surgeries (online) and compulsory day schools (in person) throughout the two terms of study.

We hope you find BUS 2007BED stimulating and valuable for your personal and professional development.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies, you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University.

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