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Essential distinctiveness: strategic alternatives in updating the business core curriculum

Jeffrey W. Alstete (Hagan School of Business, Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 19 April 2013



This paper seeks to propose the use of specific strategic management tools for identifying opportunities for gaining competitive advantage in the business core curricula offered at colleges and universities.


A brief review of the literature on business core curriculum innovation and change is examined, and strategic management concepts are used to compare with a set of competitive peer institutions. The techniques employed in the analysis include a representative weighted competitive strength assessment and a strategic group map in an example case analysis.


The results show that in this particular sample competitive environment, a business core course program could gain a competitive lead over rivals by improving innovation and distinctiveness in the core program content and/or teaching methods.

Research limitations/implications

The concepts proposed in this paper are limited by the measures that are selected, the subjective level of importance weights assigned by the users to the measures, the possible overlap among some measures, and the use of a single case with five selected peer institutions.

Practical implications

There is potential usefulness of these strategic management analytical tools in the field of higher education by practitioners and researchers to examine the fundamental business core curricula in a systematic manner. The approach proposed could be used for other practical analyses of educational programs, organizational processes and services.

Social implications

Considering that higher education courses and degree programs are important to individuals, organizations, and society at large, this proposed adaption of business strategic management concepts by educators could have a positive impact by enabling colleges and universities to discover and implement more opportunities for distinctiveness and improvement.


While there are previous research journal articles describing the importance of making changes to business core curricula and programs in today's rapidly changing environment, this paper offers practical and methodical analytical tools that administrators, faculty members and committee leaders can use for informed decision making.



Alstete, J.W. (2013), "Essential distinctiveness: strategic alternatives in updating the business core curriculum", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 199-210.



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