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The Battle for the Breakfast Cereal Market

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THE BATTLE FOR THE BREAKFAST CEREAL MARKET, by Richard Lynch 1. INTRODUCTION Corporate strategy is certainly a topic that is exciting and challenging. It makes fundamental decisions about the future directions of organisations. And it has the potential to have a real impact on people's lives. But it isn't the easiest subject to study. There are several reasons for this: *It's a young academic subject when compared to more traditional topics like economics and organisational behaviour. This means that there is a lot that we still don't understand. *It's a complex subject that involves many different aspects of organisations, all of which may be important. This makes it difficult to record and analyse. *And it's a subject that lacks a widely agreed body of accepted knowledge. Different strategists have different opinions on what is important and how strategy should be developed. All these factors make it quite tough. Certainly, some strategists argue that there is a place for strategic analytical frameworks like Professor Michael Porter's Five Forces. But the same strategists also point out the most successful strategies need to be more experimental and creative. For example, they argue that the successful strategy of Dell Personal Computers - selling directly to customers, cutting out the distributor - owed much more to innovation than to traditional strategic analysis. In more general terms and arguably to oversimplify strategy theory, strategic processes need to be both prescriptive and emergent. We'll explore the models of these two approaches to corporate strategy later in this exercise. The case we're going to look at is an important strategic battle between two of the world's largest food companies. On one side, we have the Swiss company Nestle, which was exploring how to enter the market for prepared breakfast cereals in recent years. On the other side, we have...

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