Bonita  Austin
  • Professor (Lecturer), Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Current Courses

Fall 2020

  • BUS 3995-011
    Business Scholars
    Location: SFEBB 110 (SFEBB 110)
  • BUS 3995-012
    Business Scholars
    Location: SFEBB 1110 (SFEBB 1110)
  • BUS 3995-013
    Business Scholars
    Location: SFEBB 110 (SFEBB 110)
  • BUS 3995-014
    Business Scholars
    Location: TBA (TBA)
  • BUS 3995-015
    Business Scholars
    Location: M LI 3300 (Marriott Library)
  • ENTP 5765-090
    Leading the ENTP Firm
  • STRAT 5700-001
    Strategic Management
  • STRAT 5700-005
    Strategic Management
  • STRAT 5850-002
    Special Topics
    Location: CRCC 115 (CRCC 115)
  • STRAT 6750-001
    Business Turnarounds
    Location: GARFF 4120 (Garff Executive Education Bldg), GARFF 4130 (Garff Executive Education Bldg)

Summer 2020

Spring 2020

Teaching Philosophy

Philosophy

I believe that the most important aspect of teaching lies in creating a natural critical learning environment in the classroom that fosters deep learning.  To that end, it is the professor's responsibility to arouse curiosity in students and help them learn how to ask meaningful questions about the academic discipline so that they discover important issues in theory and practice.  Moreover, I believe strongly that students learn and retain learning by applying tools, frameworks, and analysis to situations that they are likely to encounter outside the classroom.  I feel it is my responsibility to keep my classes current, strive to improve them every term, learn from my colleagues both in the DESB and from other colleges and universities, and allow my students to teach me and give me insights I could not get on my own.  It is not my responsibility to know everything about everything nor do I want to pretend that I do. 

How I Incorporate My Philosophy Into My Classes

In order to create a critical learning environment, I do the following.  First, I explicitly connect all the of course material to a central question that transcends the classroom.  For example, the central question in MGT 5710 Managing Organizational Change and STRAT 6750 Business Turnarounds is "Why can managers turnaround some organizations and not others?"  The complementary question for these courses is "How can I increase the likelihood that I can turnaround my organization?" These questions transcend the classroom through team consulting projects.  Students have an opportunity to help a local non-profit or for-profit business improve their operations. The consulting projects allow students to derive a great deal of meaning from the central question in the class and result in a high degree of personal satisfaction for nearly every student.  The personal satisfaction that comes from helping an organization cements in place the knowledge students have gained in the course.  Moreover, students have a chance to uncover the key questions for the organizations, diagnose organizational problems, and formulate solutions to improve organizational performance.

Second, my classes are all very organized and highly structured.  Note that the strategy challenges students address in my courses are open-ended and unstructured. The course structure helps students become more comfortable with the messy nature of real-world business problems.  I connect all of the course content to the central question for the course.  In addition, I break the the course content into related components or "chunks" of material that allow students to progress through the discipline in a logical and meaningful way.  Students are very concerned about course structure and grading. Unfortunately, students' high levels of grade anxiety and focus on grading act like "snow" on an old TV set.  These factors obscure the "picture" and interfere with students' ability to move beyond strategic learning to deep learning. 

I combat these factors in several key ways -- namely, by using many different types of assignments, publishing grading rubrics, allowing students some "no harm, no foul" opportunities to drop their lowest grades, and minimizing "high stakes" assignments.  Students also give and receive peer feedback on projects using an evaluation process that encourages thoughtful reflection.  In addition, once the term begins, I do not change the course calendar or assignments so that students can plan their approach to the course assignments.

Third, I use a wide variety of tools to help students think about and apply course content.  My courses employ video clips, practice exercises in small groups, role play, short simulations, cases, company analyses, movies, building and team building exercises, comparative company financial analysis, peer evaluations, readings, and games.  The class games are built using three different formats - college quiz bowl, Jeopardy, and one I invented which is modeled after the popular book and move series, The Hunger Games.  All of these tools engage students and get them interested in the course content and curious about how it applies to the central question for the course.  Curiosity is one key to engagement and deep learning, in my view.

Finally, I strive to create a respectful and positive environment in the classroom.  My students can express their opinions, discuss issues, and make recommendations without being embarrassed or humiliated.  I think it is important to allow students to disagree with one another and with my opinions both in class and on written assignments.  Moreover, I have an amazing opportunity to learn from my students' experiences and gain insights on subjects I know little about that come up in class discussion.  I encourage students with deeper knowledge than I have on a topic to share their knowledge and experiences with the class. 

Courses I Teach

  • BUS 3995 - Business Scholars
    Experiential program for exceptional Freshman planning to major in a business discipline. The program covers accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, and strategic management. The strategy module is consists of a combination of strategy and finance in an introduction to mergers & acquisitions through a M&A simulation I created for the module. The simulation is about the sale of Nestle's US candy business. It allows students to use a discounted cash flow valuation approach and mesh student teams to evaluate the total value of the acquisition in the context of their assigned companies' strategy in the US candy market. Students represent either Hershey, Lindt, or Mondelez International in the simulation and present their recommendations to the "Board of Directors" of their respective companies.
  • BUS 3995 -011 - Business Scholars Oquirrh Section
    This course is designed for students with some completed college coursework either as Transfer Students or as U of U students who would like to be exposed to the experiential elements of the Freshman Business Scholars program including tackling a real world problem, evaluating a business idea and visiting companies.
  • ENTP 5765-091 (On Line) - Leading the Entrepreneurial Firm
    Entrepreneurship largely is a team-based activity. This lecture course is designed to allow students to un-derstand how to build and lead an effective entrepreneurial team. It includes self-evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, personality type, strategies for correcting team problems, ways to be a good team mem-ber, methods of evaluating team members, and leadership strategies. The course will employ live simula-tions, role plays, and case studies to allow students to apply leadership theories in the entrepreneurial context.
  • MGT 3000 - Principles of Management
    Survey of management for non-management majors and students working toward a minor in business. This class covers management topics in three areas - company foundations, organization, and leadership. Company foundations are built upon ethics, the individual's philosophy about the purpose of business, and strategy. Organization includes structure, and financial controls as well as an introduction to The Balanced Scorecard. Leadership topics are power & influence, motivation, and personal leadership. The class incorporates a significant experiential exercise component.
  • MGT 5710 - Managing Organizational Change
    Change management in response to strategic challenges. Topics include power & influence, successful change models, business model transformation, financial analysis, layoffs, cost cutting, ethics, and strategic transformation. Student teams apply course concepts in a consulting project for local non-profit organizations. In addition to the consulting project, each class period contains a significant experiential learning component.
  • STRAT 5700 - Strategic Management
    Core required strategy class for business majors. Topics include measuring management's choices through financial analysis, industry analysis, internal analysis, business level strategies, diversification, strategic alliances, and mergers & acquisitions. The class follows the traditional strategic management framework but also incorporates an entrepreneurial view of strategy. Each class contains a significant element of experiential exercises. Students learn about strategy in the context of a broad range of companies including Sodastream Int'l, True Religion Jeans, Starbucks,SkullCandy, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Walmart, Target, Activision-Blizzard, Nike, Coca-Cola and Pepsico among others.
  • STRAT 5701 - Advanced Strategic Management
    STRAT 5701 is an Honors course open to both Honors students and Business Scholars. The course covers the same general topics as STRAT 5700 but students employ more quantitative analysis than in STRAT 5700. The course relies heavily upon case analysis, and projects as learning tools.
  • STRAT 5850 - Strategic Leadership
    STRAT 5850 Strategic Leadership is designed to help students develop their abilities to become effective strategic leaders. Strategic leaders -- Create a compelling vision of the future, and inspire others to join in pursuing it. -- Relentlessly create value, skillfully identifing valuable problems and adeptly solving them. -- Possess a strong sense of ownership for results, elevating others toward commitment beyond responsibility -- Develop a foundation of strong leadership values and possess an ability to recognize and reinforce those leadership values in others. -- Cultivate candid self-awareness of ambitions, passions, skills, strengths, and biases. -- Change the game for themselves and their constituencies, by pursuing appropriate opportunities and consistently delivering outstanding -- Positively influence their environment, bridging divergent viewpoints, translating complex concepts and bringing out the best in themselves and others. In this class, the Greg Goff Strategic Leadership Fellows acquire or enhance their leadership skills by acting as advisors to a variety of for profit and non profit organizations on complex organizational challenges. The Greg Goff Fellows seek to devise solutions to organizational challenges with a special emphasis on value creation. Much of the advisory work for STRAT 5850 occurs outside of class. Students will add problem solving techniques, strategy frameworks, and other leadership skills through readings, in class exercises, and guest lecturer presentations designed to supplement their advisory work. Students are formally evaluated (not graded) by their peers, clients, professor, and mentor with an eye to achieving their own leadership goals. Typical problems/organizational challenges addressed include market feasibility assessment, pricing strategies, customer value propositions, funding sources, and diversification opportunities. The course is open to juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.5. Admission is competitive and requires students to furnish references and complete a value creation case analysis challenge. Students are required to make a full academic year commitment to the course. The course is a 6.0 hour course made up of 3.0 hours in fall term and 3.0 hours in spring term.
  • STRAT 6070 - Competitive Strategy
    Competitive strategy course required for PMBA students. Topics include industry analysis, internal analysis, business level strategy, measuring management's choices through financial analysis, diversification, mergers & acquisitions and strategic alliances. The course includes case discussions and experiential exercises.
  • STRAT 6071 - Competive Strategy
    Required competitive strategy course for MBA students. Topics include industry analysis, measuring management's choices through financial analysis, internal analysis, business level strategies, diversification, strategic alliances, and mergers & acquisitions.
  • STRAT 6750 - Business Turnarounds
    Elective strategy class on turning around troubled or failing businesses. Course topics include early warning signs, financial analysis, layoffs, cost cutting, business model transformation, successful change management models, strategic transformation, and ethics. Student teams complete a consulting project for struggling local for-profit and non-profit organizations. Organization size has range from small (a few million in annual revenues) to large ($2+billion) in annual revenues. In addition to the consulting project, each class incorporates a significant experiential learning component
  • STRAT 6850-002 - Managing Organizational Change (Hybrid)
    This course examines ways to implement organizational change in order to improve firm performance and respond to strategic challenges. Students will learn change management theories and how to apply them as well as analytical frameworks that facilitate change initiatives. The course includes transformative changes in the context of business turnarounds as well as responding to continuous change. Change leaders and agents often are confronted with the widely-cited statistic, 70% of change initiatives fail. While many organizational, team, and personal changes prove to be challenging, this particular statistic does not appear to have empirical support despite being frequently cited in the management literature. Out and out failures – failure to meet all key change criteria such as change timelines, budget constraints, and value creation – appear to be significantly less likely than is commonly believed with some experts estimating only a 15% total failure rate. Nevertheless, a substantial number of change initiatives strike out on one or more key dimensions. The focus of this course is on practical tools and frameworks that will enable change leaders to increase the likelihood their change initiatives will be successful. A note on the course format. Each student is expected to view the lecture videos posted on Canvas as well as any other required video content, listen to podcasts, and complete the readings before class begins on Mondays at 6PM. I will not repeat the lectures in class. Weekly class time will be devoted to case discussions, exercises, and activities.The course approaches change management from three different organizational levels. 1. Individual; 2. Teams; and 3. Total Organization.
  • STRAT 6850-090 - Managing Organizational Change (On Line)
    This course examines ways to implement organizational change in order to improve firm performance and respond to strategic challenges. Students will learn change management theories and how to apply them as well as analytical frameworks that facilitate change initiatives. The course includes transformative changes in the context of business turnarounds as well as responding to continuous change. Change leaders and agents often are confronted with the widely-cited statistic, 70% of change initiatives fail. While many organizational, team, and personal changes prove to be challenging, this particular statistic does not appear to have empirical support despite being frequently cited in the management literature. Out and out failures – failure to meet all key change criteria such as change timelines, budget constraints, and value creation – appear to be significantly less likely than is commonly believed with some experts estimating only a 15% total failure rate. Nevertheless, a substantial number of change initiatives strike out on one or more key dimensions. The focus of this course is on practical tools and frameworks that will enable change leaders to increase the likelihood their change initiatives will be successful. The course approaches change management from three different organizational levels. 1. Individual; 2. Teams; and 3. Total Organization.
  • STRAT/MGT 4900 - International Business (Study Abroad - Paris)
    The central question of strategic management courses, and of much of strategy research over the past thirty years is “Why do some firms outperform others?” STRAT/MGT 4900 will place this question in an international context by helping students discover some of the answers to the course’s central question, “How do some firms succeed – outperform others - in international markets? We will spend the term learning strategy and international management theories and applying them to real business situations presented in cases, classroom exercises, in a company visit, and through interactions with a guest speaker. This course incorporates strategy issues related to foreign exchange so students will use financial analysis tools to understand the implications of currency fluctuations. Students also will complete projects and class exercises that are related to French culture and business.

Teaching Interest

Strategic Management
Business Turnarounds

Change Management

Strategic Leadership