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RSM2011H – International Strategy

General Information

Instructor Bio

Adrian holds a Professorship in Economics, Finance & Strategy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), and he is the Founding Director of the Centre for African Management and Markets (CAMM). He also is Visiting Professor in Strategic Management at Rotman School of Management.

Adrian studies competitive strategy in developed and emerging markets, the dynamics of competitive environments, and how business strategy contributes to corporate success, investment performance, and social impact. He teaches courses in competitive strategy, economic development, finance, and operationalizing strategy, and he has worked across international markets, from Brazil and India to Estonia and Singapore, advising firms on market entry and corporate strategy. Over the past twenty-five years, alongside his academic career, Adrian established and grew an investment firm, developing client markets and investment models. The business was sold to a listed entity in 2017, and in in 2021 he joined multi-family investment office, Genera Capital.

Adrian holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (cum laude), MCom (cum laude) and a PhD (Economics) for which he was awarded the Economics Society of South Africa’s Founders Medal. He is a UNESCO laureate, a matriculant of Linacre College (Oxford). He has completed programmes in Capital Markets at New York’s Columbia University; competitive strategy at Harvard Business School in Boston; Machine Learning at Stanford; and Game Theory at the University of British Columbia.

Adrian is a member of various industry bodies, including the Academy of International Business, the Strategic Management Society, and Investment Analysts Society. Since 2017, Adrian has chaired the investment committee of MeTTa Capital’s venture capital fund.

Target Audience

The course is relevant for students who plan to work for businesses and other organizations that operate in multiple countries or compete with firms that operate globally. The course is also relevant to students who plan to work as consultants in international markets. The course content and material apply to executives in senior leadership positions who are formally responsible for an organization’s international strategy as well as operating executives who implement and shape international strategy.

The course complements other courses at Rotman that address international topics, including International Business in the World Economy; Global Economics; and my course on Emerging Market Strategy.



Course Format

Twelve bi-weekly sessions, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, from Tuesday, March 7 through Thursday, April 13. Each session will involve a combination of lecture and discussion, building on your pre-class preparation.

Course Mission

The core premise of this course is that no business of any size or sophistication can operate successfully with a purely domestic strategy. From global champions, like Amazon, to hidden gems, like Argentina’s Globant, it is clear that cross-border activity affects all businesses: whether in competing to deliver value to customers at home or abroad, sourcing global resources, or managing global supply chains. Based on this premise, a principal objective of the course is to help you learn how to position, work in, and lead businesses that operate in multiple countries and/or compete with foreign-based firms.

The markets and models we consider in the course are wide ranging – from the global giants that make up the G7 and G20 through to frontier and emerging markets, including the CIVETS, NEXT11 and BRICS – as well as the Fragile Five. This reminds us that global markets present exceptional opportunity, but this does not come without challenges of context and country dynamics. Gathering the evidence and arguments together, a key tenet of this course is that, quite simply, international markets represent some of the greatest business opportunities.

In exploring similarities and key differences of business strategy in international market environments, the course considers identifying new markets and building new models.

Course Scope

Our primary perspective will be that of firms based in established market economies (e.g., Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea), although as noted, we will also consider emerging and frontier markets. We will study how firms develop strategies for their international activities in established and emerging market economies around the world (my “Emerging Market Strategy” elective complements this course, focusing on firms based on emerging market-based economies).

We will consider a sequence of international strategies: (1) “cross-border strategy”, in which initial cross-border expansion is largely a supplement to home market business activity; (2) “multi-national strategy”, in which you are involved in multiple countries via largely disconnected strategies; and (3) “global strategy”, in which you actively coordinate your businesses in multiple countries. We will also consider (4) “defensive international strategy”, in which firms that operate only in their home market still need to compete with firms based outside that market.

In considering international strategy, we will consider multiple approaches to achieving an appropriate balance of local responsiveness (positioning and managing your business in a way that meets local needs) and global coordination (leverages supply and demand side relationships among your businesses in different countries).

To capture the pragmatic, action-oriented nature of strategic management, this course is taught through the case method, supplemented with readings, lectures, class guests, and discussions. My objective is for you to develop and synthesize your approach to identifying and solving the key problems that you face as business managers in building, managing or advising businesses in international markets.

Evaluation and Grade Breakdown

ComponentDue DateWeight
Class ParticipationOngoing20%
Homework/Learning JournalOngoing40%
Final PaperDue end of term40%

Required Resources

The instructor will provide a course pack consisting of cases about firms based in a range of markets across industries, as well as a set of supplemental readings about how to adapt and transform the general concepts of strategy to these settings. In addition, data will be provided to help compare, and contrast the institutional and strategic development of the market environment in different countries.

Last Updated: 2022-11-24 @ 12:17 pm