Managing Growth - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Managing Growth

Course Number 2165

Professor Gary P. Pisano
Spring; Q3; 1.5 credits
14 sessions

Managing Growth (formerly called Operating Strategies for Growth) focuses on understanding and managing the challenges of enterprise growth across the full size spectrum, from young start-ups to global conglomerates. In this course, you will learn how to navigate strategic choices regarding the rate, direction, and method of growth.  You will also gain insight into the ways leaders can address the potential organizational, operational, and cultural problems growth can create. 

Career Focus

The course integrates concepts from the fields of operations, systems dynamics, innovation, corporate strategy, finance, and organizational organizational behavior.  It is suitable for students with a wide range of career goals, including entrepreneurship, private equity, general management in larger enterprises, and consulting.

Educational Objectives

The goal of Managing Growth is to prepare students to formulate and implement robust growth strategies in organizations they may lead in the future. This course provides a set of tools and frameworks for analyzing growth strategies and growth opportunities.  You will gain an understanding how the design of an organization’s operating model can either impede or enhance its growth. In addition, you will develop insights about the leadership challenges associated with managing the evolution of cultures that come with increased scale and complexity. 

Course Content

The course is organized three core sets of questions:

  1. What is the appropriate growth rate for a company? For instance, when should an organization scale rapidly versus more deliberately? What is the relationship between growth and profitability? How should you manage investor expectations about growth?
  2. Which growth paths are most appropriate for a given organization? For instance, when should an organization try to grow by penetrating its core markets versus diversifying into related markets? How can you identify which diversification opportunities may be attractive?
  3. What is the right method for growth? When does it make most sense to grow through acquisition versus organically? When are hybrid organizational models like franchising or licensing appropriate?  What are the challenges associated with each of these methods?

The course will draw case materials from a wide-range of industries including airlines, aerospace, automobiles, web-services, retail, restaurants, pharmaceuticals and biotech, health care, fashion and apparel, software, electronics, and others.

Course Requirements

You will be required to write an HBS style case study on an organization facing a growth challenge, along with an associate analytical note illustrating theories and principles discussed in the course.