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Operations Management

  • Module code: BO7578
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 15
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None


This module is core on the MBA. The module introduces you to the nature and scope of operations management within private and public sector operations in both service and manufacturing environments. The module explores operations strategy, process and capacity issues, supply chain management and improving operations.


  • Introduce students to the fundamental concepts and techniques of operations management
  • Examine the crucial importance of process design and capacity management
  • Explore the vital nature of supply chain management and its significant impact upon value creation activity
  • Critically evaluate the right approach to quality management and performance improvement
  • Explore the ways in which operations can make a decisive contribution to the achievement and sustainability of competitive advantage

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Describe the operations characteristics of service and manufacturing operations within private, public and not-for-profit environments
  • Critically evaluate the operations of various activities in terms of OM frameworks and concepts, and suggest means of improvement where the operations are failing
  • Explore the strategic role of operations in an organisation or activity
  • Present a formal business report describing and analysing the operations of a case operation

Curriculum content

  • Managing operations
  • Operations strategy
  • Managing people
  • Designing service and products
  • Delivering services
  • Managing capacity
  • Managing inventory
  • Managing quality
  • Managing the supply chain
  • Analysing operations
  • Improving operations


Teaching and learning strategy

There will be a number of highly interactive teaching sessions based on case study discussion, film clips and business simulations. Sessions will be supported by regular Canvas postings which will include the following: scheme of work, case study materials, teaching handouts, website addresses, and assessment materials.

The teaching sessions will introduce students to the core principles of operations and supply chain management to provide them with a foundation for analysis and application of such principles within a number of business environments. The case studies, business simulations and film clips used in these sessions will allow students to work in small teams and apply these theories and principles in practice.

Formative feedback will be given to students in these teaching sessions to help them understand how well they have applied concepts and ideas, and suggest how they can do this more effectively in the future.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Teaching sessions Full time 40 Executive 32
Guided independent study Including directed reading, independent research, project work and class preparation Full time 40 Executive 32
Total (number of credits x 10) 150

Assessment strategy

Each teaching session will provide ample opportunities for practice and formative feedback. The students will analyse case studies, film clips and business-related problems both individually and in groups, apply their learnings in business simulations and receive feedback from both their peers and the academic delivering the session.

Summative assessment of this module will be through a written piece of coursework. This will take the form of a critical analysis of a practical issue from an organisation, incorporating one or more theoretical frameworks established around operational issues.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Describe the principles of Operations Management within service and manufacturing environments, and how principles of OM can translate from one activity to another In class case studies and discussion. Formative assessment only
Critically evaluate the operations of various activities in terms of OM frameworks and concepts, and suggest means of improvement where the operations are failing In class case studies and discussion. Formative assessment only
Explore the strategic role of operations in an organisation or activity In class case studies and discussion. Formative assessment only
Present a formal business report describing and analysing the operations of a case operation Submission of an individual business report. 100% of module assessment

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Individual assignment Coursework 100%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major element of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Hill, A. and Hill, T. (latest edition) Operations management, Palgrave Macmillan

Hill, T. (1998) The Strategy Quest, AMD Publications

Bibliography recommended reading

Gavetti, G., 2011. 'The new psychology of strategic leadership', Harvard Business Review, 89(7/8), 118-125. Leaders must use 'associational thinking' to learn from businesses in other industries.

Gino, F. and Pisano, G.P., 2011. 'Why leaders don't learn from success', Harvard Business Review, 89(4), 68-74. Companies should implement systematic after-action reviews to understand all the factors that led to a win, and test their theories by conducting experiments even if 'it ain't broke.'

Gouillart, F.J. and Sturdivant, F.D. (1994) 'Spend a day in the life of your customers'. Harvard Business Review, 72(1), 116-25. The article argues that a senior executive's instinctive capacity to empathize with and gain insight from customers is the single most important skill that can be used to direct a company's strategic posture approach. Yet most top managers retain only limited contact with consumers as their organizations grow, relying instead on subordinates' reports to define and feel out the market for them. To get a true sense of the market, senior executives should consider the wants and needs of every step in the distribution chain, right down to the end user of a finished product.

Grant, A.M., 2011. 'How customers can rally your troops', Harvard Business Review, 89(6), 96-103. End users can inspire workers by demonstrating the impact of their efforts, showing appreciation for their work, and eliciting employees' empathy for them. To outsource inspiration effectively, leaders must identify end users (both past and present), collect their stories, introduce them to employees across the organization, and recognize workers' impact on customers' lives.

Gulati, R. (2007) 'Silo busting: how to execute on the promise of customer focus'. Harvard Business Review, 85(5), 98-108. Shifting from selling products to selling solutions (packages of products and services) is a strategic alternative that many business need to consider. However, many companies are not structured to make that shift. Knowledge and expertise often reside in silos, and companies often have trouble effectively harness- ing these resources. The article identifies four key sets of activities that need to be in place for this to successfully occur.

Heracleous, L. and Wirtz, J. (2010) 'Singapore Airlines' balancing act'. Harvard Business Review, 88(7), pp. 145-9. Singapore Airlines (SIA) is widely regarded as an exemplar of excellence both in its service standards and as one of the civil aviation industry's cost leaders. SIA executes its dual strategy by managing four paradoxes: achieving service excellence cost-effectively, fostering centralized and decentralized innovation, being a technology leader and follower, and using standardization to achieve personalization. The results speak for themselves - SIA has delivered healthy financial returns, it has never had an annual loss and, except for the initial capitalization phase, the Asian airline has funded its growth itself while paying dividends every year.

Hill, A., Mellon, L., Laker, B. and Goddard, J., 2016. 'The one type of leader who can turn around a failing school'. Harvard Business Review, 20 October. The strength of a nation's economy and the vitality of its society depend on the quality of its schools. So why does the UK still lag behind its peers despite investing more than them? Our findings suggest that it because we're appointing, rewarding, and recognizing the wrong leaders.

Hill, A., Mellon, L., Laker, B. and Goddard, J., 2017. 'How the best school leaders create enduring change'. Harvard Business Review, 14 September. We found the Architects sustainably transformed a school by challenging how it operated, engaging its community, and improving its teaching. They took nine key steps over three years, in a particular order. Each step represented a different building block in the school performance pyramid.

Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 2004. 'Measuring the Strategic Readiness of Intangible Assets', Harvard Business Review, Feb, 52-63. This article presents a tool called the 'strategy map' that can be used to determine the alignment of an organization's human, information, and organization capital with its strategy.

Keiningham, T. L., Aksoy, L., Buoye, A. and Cooil, B., 2011. 'Customer loyalty isn't enough, grow your share of wallet', Harvard Business Review, 89(10), 29-31. The article present an algorithm for determining a brand's 'wallet share,' which depends on both customer satisfaction with a brand relative to competing brands, and the number of competitors.

Khanna, Tarun; Song, Jaeyong; Lee, Kyungmook., 2011. 'The paradox of Samsung's rise', Harvard Business Review, 89(7/8), 142-147. Twenty years ago, few people would have predicted that Samsung could become a world leader in R&D, marketing, and design. Fewer still would have predicted success given the path it has taken: grafting Western business practices onto its essentially Japanese model.

Kumar, N. (2006) 'Strategies to fight low-cost rivals'. Harvard Business Review, 84(12), p. 104-12. Successful price warriors, such as the German retailer Aldi, are changing the nature of competition by employing several tactics: focusing on just one or a few consumer segments, delivering the basic product or providing one benefit better than its rivals do, and backing low prices with superefficient operations. This article discusses the various approaches to competing against cut-price players.

Mittal, V., Sarkees, M. and Murshed, F. (2008) 'The right way to manage unprofitable customers'. Harvard Business Review, 86(4), pp. 95-102. Customer divestment (whereby a company stops providing a product or service to an existing customer) was once considered an anomaly. However, it is fast becoming a viable strategic option for many organizations. The article reports its findings from interviews with 38 executives from 32 companies in a variety of industries, including IT, manufacturing, health care, finance and professional services. The research results identified four common reasons why businesses terminate relationships with end-users.

Newstead, B. and Lanzerotti, L., 2010. 'Can you open-source your strategy?', Harvard Business Review, 88(10), 32-36. This article discusses the open-source business strategy used by the Wikimedia Foundation. And asks if you can effectively open-source your strategy?

Ramaswamy, V. and Gouillart, F., 2010. 'Building the co-creative enterprise', Harvard Business Review, 88(100, 100-109. The article examines how companies can use its stakeholders including customers, employees and distributors to determine HR practices and design and market its services and products.

Simons, R., 2010. 'Stress-test your strategy', Harvard Business Review, 88(11), 92-100. You must engage in ongoing, face-to face dialogue with those around you concerning emerging data, unspoken assumptions, difficult choices, and, ultimately, action plans. You and they must be able to give clear, consistent answers to ensure that your strategy is firmly on track.

Washburn, N.T. and Hunsaker, B.T., 2011. 'Finding great ideas in emerging markets', Harvard Business Review, 89(9), 115-120. A new kind of manager, a 'global bridger', can help companies take advantage of the innovative energy that permeates emerging markets.

Wilson, H.J., Guinan, P. J., Parise, S. and Weinberg, Bruce D., 2011. 'What's your social media strategy?', Harvard Business Review, 89(7/8), 23-25. The article discusses four social-media strategies used by corporations.

TED Talks

Gladwell, M. (2004) Spaghetti sauce. Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry's pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.

Godin, S. (2003) Standing out. Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.

Jacques, M. (2010) Understanding the rise of China. Martin Jacques asks why the West often puzzles over the growing power of the Chinese economy, and offers three building blocks for understanding what China is and will become.

Pugh, L. (2010) Mind-shifting Everest swim. Lewis Pugh vowed never to take another cold-water dip after he swam the North Pole. Then he heard of Lake Pumori created by recent glacial melting at an altitude of 5,300 m on Everest, and so began a journey that would teach him a radical new way to approach swimming and think about climate change.

Schwartz, B. (2005) The paradox of choice. Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Sinek, S. (2009) How great leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

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