Strategy
ASSESSMENT 1: BOOK REVIEW (2000 words; value 50% of grade)
DUE IN WEEK 8 – Deadline: 20/11/2015
Time: 23:55 (GMT)

PLEASE BUY BOTH BOOKS NOW!
The two books for review are:
Cowen, D., (2014) The Deadly Life of Logistics. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press
Nolan, P., (2012) Is China Buying the World? Cambridge: Polity Press
Brief account of the two key texts:
Deborah Cowen’s The Deadly Life of Logistics provides one of the most detailed accounts of logistics as an essential branch of strategy, indeed arguing that for contemporary capitalism logistics takes priority and indeed subsumes strategy. Cowen provides not only a rich history of its development in relation to strategy, but also discusses the centrality of logistics to globalisation, to new forms of trade and production, as well as its broader implications for society as a whole.
Peter Nolan’s Is China Buying the World? provides a tightly-focused case study: China. Nolan explores what he terms the ‘global business revolution’ through a comparison of the rise of China’s growth over recent decades with the specific business strategies pursued in the advanced economies of the West. He builds upon the theoretical framework he develops in Nolan, P., D. Sutherland and J. Zhang, ‘The Challenge of the Global Business Revolution’, Contributions to Political Economy, 22.1 (2002), 91-110, which will be essential complementary reading to this book.
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The Book Review assessment on BUS204 Strategy is not a simple journalistic book review but a sustained piece of academic analysis focusing on a primary text (i.e. either the Cowen or the Nolan). It will bring a wealth of informed opinion and critical commentary to bear on the analysis and evaluation of that text, and it will offer a thought-provoking and rigorously-argued response to the work. In doing its job, your Book Review will give a vivid sense of the book with which it is engaging – briefly outlining the book’s major thrust and commenting on its aims, its structure and its scope. Most importantly, it will provide a detailed critical-theoretical analysis of the author’s argument. In this way, your Book Review will function as both a critical survey of, and intellectual inquiry into, your chosen key text – showing your attitudes and thoughts towards the issues the book raises and the argument advanced by its author.

Models of academic-style Book Reviews will be posted up in our QM+ area and we shall spend time thinking about what makes a successful academic Book Review during our assessment 1 practical workshop. You are encouraged to include a small amount of visual material to accompany your Book Review if this feels strongly relevant and exciting but remember that images, graphs, diagrams, etc. must be properly captioned. The Book Review will assess your ability to engage with the debates surrounding a topic (i.e. by drawing on relevant secondary sources), and to use primary and secondary material to support your claims. Coherence of structure and clarity in the overall expression and presentation of your argument is vital – as is good footnoting and bibliographic practice. Regardless which of the key texts you choose, you should observe the following points:

Address the topic from the outset of your Book Review
Achieve an effective balance between: 1) surveying or describing the book’s structure, aims and scope; 2) rehearsing the specifics of the author’s argument; 3) forwarding your own critical opinion and critical reflection on the book; and, 4) providing your own final appraisal of the extent to which the book succeeds in doing what it sets out to do
Advance your critical opinions about the book in as systematic and clear a way as possible by making your claims about the issues it raises and the strategists it discusses (e.g. those acting within firms, governments, states, NGOs or individuals) really specific – at every stage of your review, be explicit to whom or what you are referring!
Always provide evidence in support of your claims (e.g. examples, quotations and/or paraphrased ideas from your primary text and from the secondary sources you have consulted) – remembering to cite these correctly in your footnotes and bibliography!
Avoid using inappropriate sources. Avoid using inappropriate sources. You should not use online sources unless they come from an unimpeachable source.
Avoid simplistic value judgements (e.g. “I liked it,” “I didn’t get it,” “it was too hard”). Re-read difficult passages until you do understand them, and, coming from a informed position – that is, from a position based on your having read around the book’s topic – assess the effectiveness with which your chosen book advances its claims fairly and precisely
Useful Advice

When planning and writing your Book Review, consider the following questions:

1) What does the author claim is wrong with the strategic decisions made by the society and/or its major strategists… in the past / now? Give examples.

2) Does the author provide any suggestions, explicit or implicit, on how to strategically resolve the problems he raises? Give examples.

3) What new strategic directions might be possible for individuals, lead strategists or for a society if the author is correct? Give examples.

4) Is there anything you feel the author has missed or has ignored? Substantiate your criticism with reference to the arguments of at least one other theorist.
Your Book Review will be assessed in terms of the success with which you:
Exploit the conventions of review writing, creating a strong ‘angle’ or through-line for your critical-theoretical analysis
Incorporate all the essential information about the book (author’s name, publication title and date, brief description of what the book sets out to do, brief outline of the book’s historical and/geographical scope, succinct description of the structure of the book’s chapters)
Provide a vivid sense of the book, capturing and commenting on its driving ideas, particular strengths and tone
Make a convincing value judgement about the book – i.e. one that is informed by your diligent academic reading around the subject
Utilise critical ideas from relevant secondary sources or from the author’s previous work/s in forming your own critical opinions
Create a nicely-structured, clear and persuasive piece of academic review-writing
Always keep a back-up copy of your work (in Dropbox and/or on a memory stick)
in case the original is misplaced!

All coursework will be passed through the anti-plagiarism software Turnitin. If you have any questions as to what constitutes plagiarism you should ask your school tutor or seminar tutor.

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

When your assessment is marked, it will be marked using the following grade bands.

Grade A (70-100)
Work graded at ‘A’ signifies outstanding work. To earn an A, a piece of written work must be independent, searching and detailed in its handling of material. It must show mastery of the medium of expression, whether essay, project or audio or visual production. Written work must observe the specified word limit and its use of academic conventions (e.g. footnoting and bibliographic practice) should be impeccable. Fluent and clear expression must enhance an argument that is original, stimulating, well-structured, coherent and that develops the topic relevantly. At Level 5, written work should demonstrate mastery of research skills, including the ability to evaluate critically the information used. It should demonstrate mastery of a range of principles, concepts, contexts and terminologies associated with the selected area of study. It should show an ability to make searching critical evaluations of different methodological and/or theoretical approaches and, where appropriate, to relate issues with sophistication to wider social, cultural, historical or ethical perspectives.

Grade B (60-69)
Work graded at ‘B’ signifies a substantial and interesting piece of work. To earn a B, a piece of written work must show careful study, independent thought, good organisation and fluent, accurate expression. Written work must observe the specified word limit and its use of academic conventions (e.g. footnoting and bibliographic practice) should be correct. It must make detailed use of primary and/or secondary source material, show enquiring thought, and make an articulate and informative, clear and relevant argument. This is a high mark and requires work that engages intellectually and productively with material and with the task assigned. At Level 5, written work should demonstrate good research skills, including the ability to evaluate critically the information used. It should demonstrate good understanding of a range of principles, concepts, contexts and terminologies associated with the selected area of study. It should show an ability to make effective critical evaluations of different methodological and/or theoretical approaches and, where appropriate, to relate issues effectively to wider social, cultural, historical or ethical perspectives.

Grade C (50-59)
Work graded at ‘C’ indicates a sound piece of work. To earn a C a piece of written work must develop an argument that is organised and coherent in itself and responds relevantly to the topic. Points made in the argument must be backed up or illustrated by examples or evidence from the texts discussed. The piece of work must handle the material competently. If the material could be handled in greater depth or detail this will be pointed out and exemplified. Written work must observe the specified word limit and attempt proper use of academic conventions (e.g. footnoting and good bibliographic practice). If problems of expression or presentation hinder the clarity or effectiveness of the argument, these will be noted. At Level 5, written work should demonstrate research skills, including the ability to evaluate critically the information used. It should demonstrate an understanding of a range of principles, concepts, contexts and terminologies associated with the selected area of study. It should show some ability to make critical evaluations of different methodological and/or theoretical approaches and, where appropriate, to relate issues to wider social, cultural, historical or ethical perspectives.

Grade D (45-49)
Work graded at ‘D’ indicates weakness in the standard of work. If the weakness is in the way the subject is addressed or handled critically the course leader will explain the deficiency. If it is in presentation clear guidelines or corrections will be offered. If the piece is too slight the student’s attention will be drawn to the specified word limit and suggestions made as to how the work might have been developed. If spelling is at fault the proper instruments of old and new technology will be recommended. Other deficiencies in writing skills will be explained by advisers and/or seminar leaders. At Level 5, written work should demonstrate some research skills, including some ability to evaluate critically the information used. It should demonstrate familiarity with a range of principles, concepts, contexts and terminologies associated with the selected area of study. It should show some ability to make critical evaluations of different methodological and/or theoretical approaches and, where appropriate, to relate issues to wider social, cultural, historical or ethical perspectives.

Grade E (40-44)
For a very unsound performance with acceptable presentation, or acceptable content with poor presentation, an E might be given. An E might be given where an earnest attempt has been made to perform the exercise as directed, but the work is too slight, does not address the subject adequately, is unsupported by any or sufficient research, or where severe deficiencies in expression are identified. As with a mark of D, if the piece is too slight the student’s attention will be drawn to the specified word limit and suggestions made as to how the work might have been developed; similarly, if the weakness is in the way the subject is addressed or in the way that the work constructs an argument, the course leader or seminar leader will explain the deficiencies. If spelling is at fault the proper instruments of old and new technology will be recommended. Other deficiencies in writing skills will be explained by advisers and/or seminar leaders.

Grade F (0-39)
Work graded at ‘F’ indicates an unsatisfactory piece of work. Work not handed in or work not the student’s own automatically fails (the penalties for the latter are severe). An F may be given for a piece of work far too slight, far too careless in presentation or expression or completely failing to address the assigned topic or task. It would never be given for an earnest attempt to perform the exercise as directed.


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