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Questions: write in two postgrad level essays, each around 800 words (must read this reading)


In 2013, Rita McGrath published an article in the Harvard Business Review arguing that ‘Sustainable competitive advantage is now the exception, not the rule. Transient advantage is the new normal.’

a) Drawing on relevant academic literature, explain what a sustainable competitive advantage is and how it might be created.

b) Using examples to illustrate your answer, evaluate Rita McGrath’s argument that ‘transient advantage is the new normal’.


The questions are asking for:

a) An explanation of sustainable competitive advantage, drawing on academic sources.

Show that you can explain the major approaches to competitive advantage (and how they are different from each other).

This question assesses your understanding of the literature, though you can provide examples to illustrate the strategy approaches.

b) An understanding of the limits of ‘sustainable competitive advantage’.

An ‘evaluation’ i.e. examine the issue and make an overall argument that is supported by evidence you present.

You need to acknowledge McGrath’s argument but your evaluation can also draw on other arguments and sources about short term vs long term advantages.

You need to use some examples to illustrate your argument. Think about which examples can be used and for what purpose.




Essay answers – introduction (how you are addressing the question; clear structure that develops a coherent argument; conclusion.

Academic i.e. drawing on some reading & using evidence

· An answer to the question (make sure you are clear about what is being asked)

· An argument – something informative, interesting and insightful to say

· Evidence of reading. Use citations; refer to what you have read – academic sources. E.g. FT, Rosenzweig

· Appropriate use of company examples

· Use company examples in a way that supports the argument. Use extended examples e.g. don’t just cite a company but explain how it is relevant to your argument. Be specific: use some empirical evidence e.g. don’t just talk about ‘sales trend’, provide some data

· Use a range of examples where appropriate; relevance of all examples needs to be explained.

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