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MBA Core Courses
The intensive MBA core curriculum gives you a foundation in the fundamental practices of business including finance, accounting, marketing, economics, leadership, strategy, business ethics, and broad management skills essential to succeed in any career.
The first period consists of six courses that form the basis for INSEAD's innovative curriculum. These MBA subjects, taught from an international perspective, include the basic concepts of microeconomics, financial reporting, statistical tools and decision heuristics, valuation and investments, and managing individuals and working in teams.
All corporations have a story. The story includes a plot (their strategy), a conflict (their competition), and character development (their operations that execute the strategy). A firm tells its story in financial terms via its accounting reports. In this course participants develop their financial accounting literacy skills so that they may better understand that story. You will not become an accountant, but rather a knowledgeable consumer of financial information. You can use this knowledge in many ways: as an investor, financial advisor, management consultant, competitor, or employee of the firm. Learning takes place in a collaborative atmosphere where you are challenged to develop your critical thinking and communication skills.
Organisational Behaviour 1
The purpose of this course is to increase your effectiveness and skill in observing, understanding and leading behaviour in organisations. It is a class in applied behavioural science, which takes ideas and frameworks from psychology, social psychology and sociology and explores their implications for leadership and managerial practice. It is also designed to launch your study group at INSEAD and turn it into a laboratory for your personal learning. Sessions cover issues such as: communication in organisations; the role of individual differences in explaining behaviour; influence in a group setting; giving and receiving feedback; managing work; negotiation; and leadership.
Financial Markets and Valuation
This introductory finance course covers fundamental concepts in corporate finance and capital markets. The goal is to give you a set of tools and analytical frameworks that will prove useful, regardless of your eventual career. The first part of the course covers basic valuation concepts and techniques, such as time value of money and Discounted Cash Flows (DCF). It also gives you an understanding of how to make value-creating investment decisions and how to use the DCF approach to value a company. The second part delves deeper into the trade-off of risk versus return and teaches you how to apply these concepts to optimise investment portfolios. It also looks at the difference between systematic and unsystematic risk and the implications for calculating a company's cost of capital and market value. Finally, the third part investigates executives financing choices and the effect of borrowing (leverage) on risk, return and the value of the company.
Prices and Markets
This course provides you with the fundamentals of managerial decision making. We use structured thinking based on microeconomic theory to understand how economic fundamentals – such as demand, cost, market structure and competition – shape pricing strategies, capacity choices, and market entry decisions. By the end of the course you will know how to: construct a fact-based, logically grounded analysis of a competitive market; identify the categories of costs that are relevant for critical business decisions; construct models of how firm interactions affect prices; make profit-maximising price decisions based on the interplay between cost and demand; and use several useful game-theory based models of competition. The tools and concepts are ones that you will repeatedly apply in your subsequent classes at INSEAD and in your daily decisions as managers.
Uncertainty, Data and Judgement
The goal of this course is to provide a solid foundation in probability and statistics for subsequent courses at INSEAD and for a management career beyond. After all, most management decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty. So you will need a framework for thinking about problems involving uncertainty and, building on this framework, some tools for interpreting data. These are precisely the tools and frameworks that this course provides. While some technical analysis is essential, the content is presented from the perspective of a future manager, rather than from the viewpoint of a technician. As well as learning from lectures, exercises and case studies, you will use computer software to make calculations and analyse data.
Introduction to Strategy
Why are some companies consistently more successful than others? Why do some companies get ‘left behind’ when their environment changes, while others power ahead? What can senior managers and executives do to drive the performance and growth of their companies in the face of intense competition, uncertainty or even radical disruption in their industries? How can strategy professionals help these executives? This course equips participants with tools and skills required for developing strategies:
- Assessing a company’s sustainable competitive advantage,
- Analysing industries and competitors,
- Developing and implementing strategies at both business and corporate levels.
Participants develop the ability to choose and combine appropriate tools and concepts into professional end-to-end strategy workouts, as performed in the real business world.
An integral part of the course is the INSEAD unique “Master Strategist Day” (MSD) – an intense experiential learning exercise that acts as a capstone assignment for the course. During this 24-hour challenge, MBA participants cooperate and compete in teams, mentored by leading strategy practitioners, to develop strategic options for real-life organizations that often have a social impact focus. MSD is generously sponsored by the Hugo van Berckel Award and Moondance Foundation. Click here to learn more about MSD.
The MBA course list in the second period consists of six subjects which offer you the pillars of operating a business enterprise, building on the foundations established in Period 1, and showing how integration of functions helps in managerial problem-solving.
Corporate Financial Policy
Following the financial innovations of recent decades, modern corporate finance has become a highly complex area of expertise. This course, which consists of three parts. The first provides you with an introduction to basic derivative securities, in particular options, futures and forwards. The main focus is on understanding how these instruments are priced, and who trades them and why. The second part covers the application of options pricing to corporate finance. It gives you an insight into real options, the valuation of convertible securities, executive stock options and risk management. The third part gives you a grounding in the traditional topics of corporate finance: financing policy (beyond the Modigliani-Miller theorem), pay-out policy (dividends versus share repurchases) and investment policy (the special case of mergers and acquisitions). The material is analytical and you will need a working knowledge of basic mathematics and statistics.
Managing Customer Value
Managing and creating superior value for customers requires a systematic and proactive process because you cannot think about customers only after an offer is developed, manufactured, and ready to sell. The basic premise is that the planning process must focus on customers and not products. This course introduces a framework to manage customers as assets. With a mixture of lectures, case discussions, exercises, and simulations to develop a powerful business and marketing plan, you will learn and apply various tools needed to execute a structured marketing planning process that is valuable for business manager, consultants, and politicians alike. Achieving an objective in a competitive market requires shaping customer behavior and for that, a customer must be able to see and get value from offers available in the market.
Organisational Behaviour 2
Being successful within an organisation, whether as a newly hired analyst or a CEO, requires an in-depth understanding of how organisations work. Effective managers and leaders must learn not only how to develop winning strategies, but also how to implement them with the help of other people. The goal of this course is to arm you with the skills and knowledge required to understand and act upon the key issues facing organisations within today’s dynamic global environment. This course builds on Organisational Behaviour 1 but focuses on concepts related to organisational design, power, culture, and strategy - each of which is critical to effectively functioning in and leading organisations.
This course explores the uses of accounting information for internal planning, decision-making, and performance evaluation. The main objective of the course is to equip you with the knowledge to understand, evaluate, and act upon the many financial and nonfinancial reports used in managing organisations.
A firm’s managerial accounting system serves two fundamental purposes. First, managing the firm requires financial and nonfinancial information about the firm’s products, services, processes, assets, and customers. This information provides the key inputs into a wide range of analytical tools to understand the firm’s current value creation and support value-based decision making. Second, economic complexity requires owners or top managers of a firm to delegate the rights to make critical business decisions to managers at all levels of the firm. The firm’s information system plays a key role in providing incentives to these managers and evaluating their performance.
Process and Operations Management
Businesses create value by supplying products or services to satisfy customers' demands. But the inflexible nature of both supply and demand can lead to costly mismatches between them resulting in unsatisfied customers or wasted resources. In this course, you will acquire techniques to limit the occurrence and the impact of such mismatches and thus gain a competitive advantage for your organisation. The course has two parts. First, in Business Process Analysis and Improvement you will study tools and case studies that enable you to analyse, improve and design activities within the company. Second, in Supply Chain Management you will turn your attention to the external environment: sourcing raw materials and delivering goods to the customer.
Leadership Communication Foundations
Successful leaders are highly effective communicators. As business leaders expand their career responsibilities, they deal with increasingly complex issues, audiences and situations. This course explores the relationship between effective leadership and effective communication. The emphasis is on the communication dimension of personal leadership capability. Our course framework is built upon understanding ‘communication intelligence’ for leaders as they connect people, ideas and actions in the business environment. In addition to the underlying academic content, the course will also allow students to build a personal “tool-kit” of techniques for effective communication directly relevant to their future business career and leadership development.
Period 3 of the MBA curriculum looks at the big picture: showing the interdependence between each of the functional areas of business, and how they are all affected by the turbulent, competitive and international environmental context in which corporations operate.
Macroeconomics in the Global Economy
Individuals, companies, governments and international organisations all operate within an economic environment that influences their performance. In order to minimise the risks and to capitalise on opportunities arising from macroeconomic conditions, companies must constantly monitor changes in interest rates, exchange rates, monetary/fiscal policy, inflation, unemployment and phases of the business cycle. The goal of this course is to build your understanding of these mechanisms and the way they determine the evolution of the global economic environment. The focus is highly applied. It relies on collecting and manipulating economic data (each group is assigned a different country) and reading prescribed press articles (usually from the week preceding the session).
Business and Society
Ethics: To build awareness of issues of ethics and responsibility that students are likely to confront in business at the level of the individual, the business organisation, and the organisation in society.
Political Environment: To understand a firm's non-market strategies in creating competitive advantage from the ability of a firm to influence and adapt to the non-market business environment - the rules, regulations, domestic institutions, and international institutions that define the context of the market and the social issues they are trying to address.
Public Policy: To understand the roles of markets and government in a market economy by examining markets, market failures, the role of government in correcting market failures, and government/regulatory failures, plus the role of business in such situations.
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