Semester 1 – Progress so far

For the last few blog posts I have written about the methodologies I have used when approaching my MBA, as well as some of the activities associated with the course, so I thought now might be a good opportunity to share what I have covered so far in the lessons. This is also quite timely as I have finished to lesson 5 out of 10 for each of the modules, so can give a mid-point view of the content.

Accounting and Financial Management

Most of the first half of the Accounting module has concentrated on the three key financial statements:

  • Income Statement
  • Statement of Financial Position
  • Cash Flow Statement
Although we have been shown how to construct these statements, the focus has been around interpretation of the different numbers, so that we can understand not just how they were obtained, but what they actually mean. We have referenced the accounts from a large UK retailer, Marks and Spencer, throughout the course (see here), which has been invaluable as it demonstrates how published accounts require significant interpretation before analysis can take place – for example, this report includes 4 pages for the official reports, and 30 pages for the supporting notes which provide most of the important details.

Following this explanation, we then looked at the concept of creative accounting, which was quite an eye-opener as it explains why accounting is not the true/false subject I imagined, but one that requires judgement, validation, and qualification. We looked at topics such as revenue policies and assets vs. costs, and also reviewed a case study on the recent troubles faced by Olympus.

The fifth lesson for this module has introduced us to the concept of accounting ratios, which was also discussed during Warwick Week. This is a very interesting topic that takes us from interpretation to analysis, and is one of the foundational topics that we need to understand for the final assessment. We will be building on the concepts discussed here in a lesson towards the end of this module as well.

Organisational Behaviour

This module has the highest volume of reading associated with it, including chapters from two separate books to provide different viewpoints on the same topic. The structure of this module is linked to the SOGI model (Society, Organisation, Group, Individual), with the first half of the module focussing on the Individual and Group categories.

When looking at the Individual, we started by considering the concept of personality, which encompasses type vs. trait theory, personality types, and stress (amongst other topics). We then looked at the motivation theories, including many popular ones such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Herzberg’s dual-factor theory; the latter was particularly interesting due to the discussions taking place online about whether salary is a motivational factor or not.

The next topic was culture, which was quite straightforward and reasonably intuitive. I found this topic very relevant in my professional life as I work in an organisation that has a strong ‘culture’, and am part of a global team dealing with individuals from many different countries – so this lesson provided some useful tips on being more effective in my interactions. Finally in the area of Individual we looked at job design; another very interesting topic that discussed many theories, including Taylorism, Fordism, and McDonaldisation.

Moving on to Group, we starting by looking at group formation & structure. This considers the factors that affect how a group is composed, and what makes a successful group, using theories such as the Hawthorne Studies, Homan’s group formation theory, Belbin’s team role theory, and Tuckman’s stages of group development; the latter has been particularly interesting as we have been able to see our study group progress through the different stages of forming, storming, norming and performing over the last few months.

Following this we looked at decision making, at an Individual level looking at various theories including Arroba’s different decision styles (logical, no thought, emotional, intuitive, hesitant, and compliant), as well as the benefits of thinking vs. feeling types. From a Group perspective, we investigated the challenges associated with making decisions in groups, specifically around communication, Group polarisation, and Groupthink. The video was used as an interesting case study around Groupthink; I am sure this has been used for many debates in this field.

Moving forward, the next lesson will take a look at Leadership, and then we move onto the final area of the SOGI model that is considered in this module, Organisations.

Economics of the Business Environment

The first half of this module has concentrated on Macroeconomics, starting with a lesson on aggregate demand and GDP. This talked about some of the basic concepts such as the circular flow of income, exogenous and endogenous demand, and the open market. We were also introduced to the various diagrams that are used to demonstrate economic concepts, such as the AD/AS curve.

Lesson 2 looked at government policy and taxation, which was very interesting given the current economic challenges faced in many parts of the world. Lesson 3 then provided some insight into interest rates, money markets, and foreign exchange markets. This included an overview of concepts such as quantitative easing and the BoE interest rate; these are topics often discussed in the context of the current economic situation, so it was helpful to get an understanding of how they are actually used, and what the impact of them was. It was also very interesting to start to understand the impact of currency exchange rates, given that I work for US-based organisation.

Lesson 4 looked at aggregate supply, and how this interacted with aggregate demand to affect the overall output of an economy. This lesson also introduced us to inflation, which was again another very interesting topic, as although I was very familiar with the effects of inflation, this lesson provided an explanation of why inflation actually occurs. Following this, we were introduced to the concept of Vulnerability, which assesses how vulnerable an organisation is to external shocks such as a change in demand, high inflation, fluctuating oil prices, or events such as the volcanic ash crisis. We also considered measures that can be taken to respond to these shocks, and how this affects an organisation’s competitiveness. This final topic is a nice transition into the area of microeconomics, which is where the second half of this module focusses.

 

I am now mid-way through lesson 6 for each of the modules, slightly behind the planned study schedule (hence the less-frequent blog posts!). Very soon I plan to complete the first TMA for Accounting and Organisational Behaviour, and then it will be time to start planning my final assignments (although there is a second TMA still to complete for all three modules as well). Less than two months to go now until all the first semester assignments are completed, so I expect I have a busy time ahead of me.

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12 thoughts on “Semester 1 – Progress so far”

  1. Matt,

    I found your MBA update really interesting. Its fascinating to me how similar your program at Warwick is compared to my MBA program in Orange County, California. It’s amazing how universal the language of business is. Granted, different countries have varying regulations and cultural differences, but for the most part the general rules of business are similar across all borders. Keep these posts coming, because I know I’m enjoying getting your perspective on an MBA program that’s half-way around the world from me!

    Matthew

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    1. Hi Matthew, I’m really glad you find my blog interesting, and it is reassuring that the programmes are similar, especially given how global business is now!

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  2. Hi Matt – as usual I learned a ton from your blog and your shared experience. You do WBS proud! Are you finding the TMA’s easier since attending Warwick Week?

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    1. Hi Glen, glad its of use. I’m just starting the second TMA now, and the insights shared at Warwick Week will be really helpful – although whether they will be easier I’m not sure, I’ll let you know in a week or two 🙂

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  3. Hi Matt,

    I just finished a marathon session reading through all your blog posts – starting with “induction part I”. Fantastic stuff and please keep it coming.

    This morning I got my offer letter from WBS and I’ve accepted (ofcourse)! I’ll be seeing you in July at Warwick, but until then I’ll be a regular on this blog. 🙂

    Anil

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    1. Hi Anil, very impressed you managed to make it through all of them in one session. Congratulations on being accepted at WBS, I won’t be there in July, but hopefully we can meet up at the Warwick Week in September.

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      1. Matt,

        Thanks. BTW, I finished the blogs in one sitting because they are written that well. 🙂

        Sorry, I meant Warwick week in Sep – keep confusing Warwick week with the online induction in July.

        Anil

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  4. Matt,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and the material you have covered at Warwick. I will keep checking your blog. Like Anil, I also got accepted for the July 2012 intake so I find your blog very helpful.

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  5. Really great stuff Matt. Good job! I Got accepted for the July 2012 intake. It will be great to catch up in september for the Warwick week.

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