EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Major Objectives

This course presents the major functional areas and key concepts involved in making successful business decisions. These areas include: corporate strategy, new product development, product marketing, sales, distribution, intellectual property, financial accounting, and human behavior in business organizations The central objective is to teach students how to identify and analyze issues in each of these areas. The course develops frameworks and tools for formulating, evaluating and recommending action from the perspective of the general manager in computer, high tech, and Silicon Valley firms.

Beyond developing this knowledge base, a second objective is to simulate the business management experience by communicating and defending ideas in a team environment. Students focus on teamwork through participating in required study groups. Oral communications skills are developed through study group case preparation and class discussion. Written communications skills are developed through two written case assignments, one completed by the study group and one by the individual student. Each of these projects is meant to prepare students for the real-world environment of building, presenting, and defending their recommendations orally and in writing..

Class Profile

The class is meant for highly motivated students with little or no business experience who are pursuing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The class is limited to 60 students. The case discussion format does not permit auditing. The course workload is consistently rated as high by most students. Check with your adviser to see if this conflicts with other demands on your time such as Ph.D. qualifying exams.

The course must be taken for a grade (no CR/NC). Students from non EE & CS departments are welcome on a space-available basis. Note that Computer Science M.S. and Ph.D. students can count EE204 as an elective. No special approval is required; students enter it in the 'Electives' area of their M.S. program sheet. Attendance is mandatory. If you'll miss more than two classes in the quarter for any reason, your grade will suffer from a lack of class participation. Student course reviews have been very positive in the past.

Class Work

Classroom time will be devoted primarily to casework and related discussion, not to lectures. Thorough preparation of the cases and active participation in the class discussion are expected of all students. Preparation and participation represent the only way to succeed. Please read the note entitled "The Case Method of Instruction" included within this web site.

Most students read a case at least twice. The first reading is fast and focused on identifying the major issues and facts. Assignment study questions to help you prepare each case are listed on this web site. You will need to read the case thoroughly to answer these questions, which should serve only as a starting point for your own analysis of each case. The questions serve as a test of your preparation and understanding. Most importantly, you should identify the key issues and how they can best be addressed.

In most cases you are expected to assume the view of the general manager or functional manager. In that position, you must assess the position of the company, the alternatives open to the company, and the resources available to the company.

With the analysis in mind, you will make specific decisions and formulate plans of action. Cogent analysis of problems presented in the cases is important but not sufficient. As a line manager, you must decide and act. Your action plans will directly -- and often immediately -- affect the health of the enterprise.

As a line manager you must be able to communicate your analyses and plans of action in a coherent, concise and convincing manner. Clear, "tight" and effective communication in the classroom and in written assignments is important here because it is important in management.

You are expected to be an active participant throughout the entire class and to contribute to the quality of the discussion. Please note that the frequency with which you speak in class is not a key criterion for effective class participation. The classroom should be considered a laboratory in which you can test your ability to convince your peers that you have approached complex problems correctly and that your plan of action will achieve the desired results.

Expected Behavior

A few observations about expected behavior in this particular class setting, since it will be a very new experience for most of you:

  1. We understand that other demands may require you to miss class, but you should not have more than two absences during the quarter. When you must miss a class, you need to follow the procedures outlined on the grading page.
  2. To help us learn your names as quickly as possible, we would like you to use a name card in class. During the second or third class, we will fill out a seating chart and ask you to use the same seat for the remainder of the course so that it will be easier to learn your names.
  3. We plan to be prepared for every class and expect you to do the same. Because we frequently call on individuals whose hands are not raised, you should let us know before class if an emergency has made it impossible for you to be prepared adequately for that class.
  4. For purposes of general class preparation, group work is acceptable and encouraged. However, at no time should notes or papers from other courses where these materials might have been taught be used.
  5. We will try very hard to use class time effectively and request that you do the same. This includes starting and ending on time.