AGSM: The role of leadership, mission, and vision in strategy
W. Trexler Proffitt Jr. for BSAD 184
This strategy case focuses on a small business school expanding between 1999 and 2003.
It introduces the question of the role of leadership, mission and vision in making and
implementing organizational strategy.
In a well-structured industry consisting of many
famous, large, entrenched competitors, AGSM attempted to enter national competition
for really the first time ever. While older programs such as Harvard Business School or
Wharton had been accredited decades ago, AGSM was a new aspirant to the national
AGSM was a small business school located 90 minutes east of UCLA and 60 minutes
northeast of UC Irvine, the two closest University of California (UC) campuses with
nationally ranked and accredited business schools. In 1999, the state budget was adequate
for expansion at UCR; the new dean was also the donor for a variety of new initiatives;
and a large donation from a wealthy entrepreneur had been promised for a substantial
academic complex in Palm Desert, about 40 miles east of the UCR campus. In addition,
UC Riverside was slated for tremendous growth through 2010, the only UC campus with
room to expand significantly. In 1999, it had about 11,000 students, with Business
Administration the largest undergraduate major.
By 1999, it was clear that accreditation was a key step in putting a relatively unknown
business school on the map. Under new leadership and with a newly crafted mission and
vision, the school embarked on expansion and applied for accreditation. The accreditation
team visited in 2002, deferred accreditation, and gave the school one year to address a
number of concerns. The accreditation team was due back in February 2003.
The Business School Competitive Environment
Many public and private universities offer business programs and these are often
organized under the administrative academic structure of business schools, colleges,
divisions, departments, and the like (hereafter referred to as business schools). Like any
professional school, business schools offer degree programs that enhance a student’s
career. Accordingly, the reputation of business schools is largely determined by how well
its students perform in their subsequent careers. The lag between the degree and success,
however, means that a school must have a sustained effort over time for its reputation to
increase. Schools with a sustained competitive advantage can produce not just more
successful graduates, but also gain higher status, resources, and other benefits.
Within the last 30 years or so, the competitive environment for business schools has
become increasingly national in scope, with a few hundred schools vying for the most
desirable students nationally, and internationally. Business schools rise and fall in large
part on the success of their graduates, particularly their MBA graduates. So important is
This case study is intended to stimulate class discussion rather than illustrate either effective or ineffective
handling of an administrative situation. All copyrights reserved by the author.