York University
Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies
School of Administrative Studies

Course Syllabus
M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.

AK/ADMS4290 3.0
Marketing for Competitive Advantage
I retired as of July 1, 2015 and will no longer be supporting this website
                                           -- Louise Ripley

Updated 07/01/15


Welcome to Marketing for Competitive Advantage. Read this syllabus carefully before registering and as you start the course, to be sure the course is what you want and that you are willing and able to meet the requirements. These pages form part of the rules you agree to by staying registered in this course.

(I have not taught this course in a while and am retiring July 1, 2015)

Calendar Description A study of the conceptual and analytical tools needed to survive in today's increased domestic and international competition

Prerequisite A grade of C+ or better in Introductory Marketing

Course Director
Professor M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.
Atkinson 268C
lripley@yorku.ca (not by telephone)
Course Consultation Hours: TBA

Course Time and Location TBA
Catalogue Number xxxxxx

Organization of the Course We meet once a week for three hours for twelve weeks in a traditional classroom, but I do not do a lot of traditional lecturing. You will be taking responsibility for your learning as you read the course materials and prepare to be active in in-class discussion and small group work. Students will work in groups to complete a project involving studying the topic in a "real-life" organization; some class time is provided for group work.

The Course Kit for this course is only online, and consists of this Course Syllabus and anything linked from it. The web pages are colour coded: each course has its own coloured stripe down the left side. The Teaching Policy Pages all have a common stripe; in addition to the ground rules and information about communicating, grades, and tests, there is page of frequently asked questions in courses I teach, and a warranty page that tells you that after completing a course with me you have a life-long invitation to return, either to ask for help or to give it, or just to chat. At the top of this page are links to pages that tell you about my teaching, research, and service, some more about me, a page of important other links, and a general alphabetical index  to my website.

Important Dates and Information
Start Date xxxxxx  End Date xxxxxx
Grade Components Date xxxxxx 
Last Day to Drop Without a Grade xxxxxx
Last Day to Enrol Without Permission of the Professor xxxxxx
(Read here why I do not give permission to enrol after this date or in a class that is full)
Academic Fees
   Information About Helping Finance Your University Education
Dates for Withdrawal and Return of Fees

 Course Readings and Materials
Warning: Photocopying more than 10% of a textbook is illegal, and may involve penalties. Do not duplicate textbooks or obtain these photocopies. 

Supplementary Reading Regular reading of a good daily newspaper and some of the popular business magazines

Topics and Readings
This is a rough outline from the last time I taught the course in the winter of 2000.

Week 1 - Internal Marketing: Key to Competitive Advantage
Start Zen

Week 2 - The Chilly Climate for Women
FILM (in-class/library)
Week 3 - Misplaced Marketing/Social Marketing  
WEEK 4 - Corporate Ethics and Advertising
Due: Part 1 of Project 
Week 5 - Relationship Marketing: Unions & The Public Image  
READINGS “Food Lion"
Week 6 - Women's Work 
READINGS “Mismanaged Ms"
Week 7 - Reading Week
Week 8 - Reaching the Gay Market  
Week 9 - Internal Marketing: Different Ways of Managing  
READINGS “Structure of Spontaneity"
Week 10 - Minorities in Business: Valuing Diversity
"Diversity Management”
Guest Speaker
Week 11 - Test 
(In-class, open book, 3 hrs)
Week 12 
Due: Final Project and Presentations

Getting Started 
What You Will Need To Complete This Course
To be registered: unless you are registered in this section of this course, I cannot grade your work
Regular access to a Yorku.ca student (or York employee) email account: Click here to activate
   We use this for group work correspondence and it's how I contact you individually
The Webpage Learning Units prepared by the professor: access these at any time; I use no passwords
(there are none for this course at this time)
Textbook: find this at the York University Bookstore and other places
  Willingness to participate in class discussion; review the Waving Hand Exercises in each week's online materials to prepare for discussion
Time to spend in contact with group members for the Final Exam Substitute Project
Contact addresses for possible help:

Academic Integrity:  http://www.yorku.ca/academicintegrity/students/index.htm
Administrative Questions: akcde@yorku.ca or your home faculty
Awards:  http://sfs.yorku.ca/aid/index.htm
Computer Help: helpdesk@yorku.ca
Computer PC Help: http://www.helpwithpcs.com/ or http://www.pcguide.com/
Computers better than you own: York computer labs

Computers, Getting connected: Communications Policy Page
Grade Reappraisal:  http://www.yorku.ca/laps/students/reappraisal.html
Internet Basics: http://www.learnthenet.com/english/index.html
Petitions :  http://www.yorku.ca/laps/council/students/petitions.html
Professor, reaching me: lripley@yorku.ca (tell me your name and course number) 
Uploading Assignments at eServices Office: disted@yorku.ca or 416-736-5831
Web page use on Louise's site:
Idiot's Guide to This Web Site
Writing:  http://www.yorku.ca/laps/writ/writing_centre.html

Course Purpose/Learning Objectives

In addition to the basic learning objectives that are common to all courses I teach, in this course I want you to come to realize that a major purpose of education is to disturb you. You might finish reading this syllabus and ten pages of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and throw both across the room. If you do, I will be very pleased. I hope that you will, however, pick them up again, and give it a second thought. We’re doing something here that needs to be done more often in business. We are using the tools of our trade, the techniques we’ve learned in Marketing, to critique Marketing itself, to take a good hard look at business and how it organizes itself to market itself and its products, and to think about how we might do it better. This is one of the single best ways to achieve competitive advantage. 

Expanded Course Description This course applies conceptual and analytical tools of Marketing to an examination of how a company creates competitive advantage not only by meeting the direct needs of its customers (a cup of hot  cocoa?) but also by confronting issues of importance to customers, employees, suppliers, the community, shareholders - all the stakeholders in business decisions. We examine issues of public image, the role of unions, marketing to gays and lesbians, women and minorities’ concerns, employment issues such as harassment and the glass ceiling, environmental concerns, different styles of management, all issues of Internal Marketing, and hence, since they ultimately affect how the customer views the firm, of Relationship Marketing, and of Competitive Advantage. 

Too often we still think of Competitive Advantage as producing a better product. In today's global economy where products are more and more alike, we need to look at untapped areas for increased advantage, and one is the workplace itself. "Internal Marketing" refers to marketing the work place to the employees, making it a place that will be rewarding and enjoyable and will attract the best employees. "Relationship Marketing" is something that every business strives for today, and one of the best ways to establish it is to be aware of the diversity of customers and employees a company has. This is crucial to the development of new and loyal old customers.

Click here for a view of the business rat race which fits my philosophy in teaching this course.

A NOTE ABOUT TEAMWORK: Part of the curriculum of Business education is learning to work in teams; you cannot do the Final Exam Substitute Group Project alone. Take a look now at the project and be sure that you are willing and able to commit to it the time and cooperation it requires. It is a term-long project, and is not to be left until the last week.

Evaluation Summary and Description of Assignments
Effective writing is one of the most important skills you can acquire in a university course, and one that you will use in your education, your career and your life; so too is the skill of following instructions. All assignments in all courses I teach require you to write well and to submit work properly. Read carefully the full instructions on this web site on Writing Well for a Better Grade, on References, and on Format For Submitting Work Properly, and check out the Writing Programmes. Do not assume that because you have written papers before you have mastered the art; writing is something we continually work on to improve. Note that you may be asked to make reference in tests to any assignments and final projects.

See below for the Final Exam Substitute Group Project used in Winter 2000

If you took your required Introductory Marketing prerequisite some time ago and would like a review, click here to view the materials I use to teach Intro on the Internet 

Grading, Assignment Submission, Lateness Penalties and Missed Tests

Grading The grading scheme for the course conforms to the 9-point grading system used in undergraduate programmes at York. For a full description of York grading system see the York University Undergraduate Calendar. Students may take a limited number of courses for degree credit on an ungraded (pass/fail) basis. For full information on this option see Alternative Grading Option and scroll down to "Grading." 

Assignment Submission To be submitted in the classroom

Lateness Penalty/Missed Tests: Proper academic performance depends on students doing their work not only well, but on time. Accordingly assignments for this course must be received on the due date specified for the assignment. With the exception of the Final Exam Substitute, you may submit any assignment up to one week late for a grade of not more than the lowest mark earned by anyone who handed it in on time. For the Final Exam Substitute, you may hand it in up to one DAY late with the same arrangement. In either case, you do not have to request the extension, just send the late paper to my personal email: lripley@yorku.ca. Due to large class sizes, I can no longer make informal arrangements for exceptions to the lateness penalty or for missing a test. If you must defer work or miss a test for any reason, and wish to obtain full credit for it, you must do it by petitioning for a Deferred Standing Agreement. The one exception to this is if you are registered with the Office for Persons with Disabilities or a York Counseling Centre, in which case, please contact me directly as early in the course as possible either in person or by email at lripley@yorku.ca.

About Your Professor
picture of Louise Ripley
Photograph by Timothy Hudson
I'm your professor, Louise Ripley. Call me "Louise" or address me as "Dr. Ripley" but just don't call me "Miss" because where I grew up that's for young girls, old unmarried ladies, and schoolmarms, or "Mrs. Ripley" because that's my Mom; I'm happily married but I'm not anyone's "Mrs." The name Ripley belonged to my labour-union-organizer father and I carry it proudly. My office is 268C Atkinson. Email me; I don't answer my phone but I'm always on the email.

I am a Professor of Marketing and in Women's Studies and Environmental Studies, with a PhD in Management Studies (major in Marketing) from University of Toronto, an MBA in Finance from Loyola University of Chicago, and a Bachelor's degree from Shimer, one of the world's finest (and smallest) liberal arts undergraduate schools. I worked in Finance and Marketing Research in Chicago and have taught at York for over twenty years. Click here to read more about me professionally and personally. 


Academic Honesty and Integrity York students are required to maintain high standards of academic integrity and are subject to the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty. By staying in this course, you agree to abide by these rules. Students should also review materials on the Academic Integrity Website.

I expect that all work submitted by individuals or groups is the work of only that individual or group, for only this course, not having been done for any other course in any way, by the current members or any one else. You are welcome to talk with anyone you like while preparing for any part of this course, but what you put together and hand in must be your own work and original to this course. Violation of these premises is grounds for prosecution under the rules of the Faculty and the University. 

Read here York's new booklet, "Beware! Says Who? Avoiding Plagiarism"Accommodation Procedures:

Deferred Standing: I do not give permission to defer work. If you feel you must defer work, you must petition. See School Policy on Deferred Exams.
Students with Special Needs
York University is committed to making reasonable accommodations and adaptations in order to make equitable the educational experience of students with special needs and to promote their full integration into the campus community. If you require special accommodations, alert the Course Director as soon as possible. Failure to notify the course director of your needs in a timely manner may jeopardize the opportunity to arrange for academic accommodation. Visit the Counselling Centre for more information.

Ethics Review Process York students are subject to the York University Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. In particular, students proposing to undertake research which involves human subjects such as interviewing the director of a company or government agency or having people complete a questionnaire, are required to submit an Application for Ethical Approval of Research Involving Human Participants at least one month before you plan to begin the research. If you are in doubt as to whether this requirement applies to you, contact your Course Director immediately.

Grade Component Deadline
The course assignment structure and grading scheme (i.e. kinds and weights of assignments, essays, exams, etc.) must be announced and be available in writing to students within the first two weeks of classes. Please see Important Dates.

Graded Feedback Rule
Under normal circumstances, students should receive some graded feedback worth at least 15% per cent of the final grade for Fall, Winter or Summer term, and 30% for full-year courses in the Fall/Winter term prior to the final date for withdrawal from a course without receiving a grade, with the following exceptions:

  • graduate or upper level undergraduate courses where course work typically, or at the instructor's discretion, consists of a single piece of work and/or is based predominantly or solely on student presentations;
  • practicum courses;
  • ungraded courses;
  • courses in Faculties where the drop date occurs within the first three weeks of classes;
  • courses which run on a compressed schedule, e.g.: a course which accomplishes its academic credits of work at a rate of one credit hour per two calendar weeks or faster.

Note: Under unusual and/or unforeseeable circumstances which disrupt the academic norm, instructors are expected to provide grading schemes and academic feedback in the spirit of these regulations as soon as possible. For more information, see the Graded Feedback Rule.

For reappraisal procedures and information, seehttp://www.yorku.ca/laps/students/reappraisal.html

Religious Observance Days York University is committed to respecting the religious beliefs and practices of all members of the community and making accommodations for observances of special significance to adherents. Should any of the dates specified in this syllabus for in-class test or examination, or for any scheduled lab, practicum, workshop or other assignment pose a conflict for you, contact the Course Director within the first three weeks of class and obviously before the date that is a problem; you cannot do this after-the-fact. To arrange an alternative date or time for an examination scheduled in the formal examination periods (December and April/May), students must complete an Online Examination Accommodation Form or pick one up from the Student Client Services in the Student Services Centre.

Student Conduct Students and instructors are expected to maintain a professional relationship characterized by courtesy and mutual respect and to refrain from actions disruptive to such a relationship. It is the responsibility of the instructor to maintain an appropriate academic atmosphere in the classroom, and the responsibility of the student to cooperate in that endeavour. The instructor is the best person to decide, in the first instance, whether such an atmosphere is present in the class. Read the full Policy on Disruptive and/or Harassing Behaviour.

Twenty Percent (20%) Rule No examination or test worth more than 20% of the final grade will be given during the last two weeks of classes in a term, with the exception of classes which regularly meet Friday evenings or any time on Saturday or Sunday.


Questions? Try:
Comprehensive Index to the website
Home Page Search Engine
Teaching Policies links
Links to Other Information at the Top of this Page
email me: lripley@yorku.ca 


Business Education
The Quality of Life

An American businessman stood at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large Yellowtail tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I have an MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, “15-20 years."  "But what then, senor?" The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions." "Millions, senor?  Then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos."

Applying the Concepts - Final Group Project Winter 2000

You either work somewhere, or shop somewhere, or both. Your group assignment is to find a business and examine it. Look at how it handles relationships with customers and how it treats its employees, how it fits amongst its competitors, how it performs in the areas we address in this course. Look at how happy its people are to work there and how its customers feel joy when they enter the doors, or how miserable a place it is and how customers tend to stay away, or maybe how they treat their employees like dirt and people still flock there to buy. Go find out what is happening; what do they do that is very old, what do they do that is new and creative? How does what they do relate to what you are studying in the course?

Describe the company and place it in its industry setting, so that your reader has a feel for the company you are working with. Do not spend a lot of time on this part – this is NOT a Marketing Plan. Then describe in detail the climate and culture of the firm, how it works (or doesn’t), what its policies are, how the company is going about marketing itself to its own employees (Internal Marketing) and how that affects how they make their customers feel (Relationship Marketing). Explain why you think this is happening; analyze what you have found. Your paper must do much more than just list what the company does. This you can obtain from them in written form or through interviews. Your responsibility as a university student is to critique critically what you find. Analyze and synthesize what you see and read. Think critically. (Look at the course objectives under Number 4, above). Compare your company to those you have read about and talked about in class. Compare what your company does to what the theories say should work.

End your report with your recommendations as to what can be done to improve the company (or if it’s perfect, tell us what they are doing right and how you could apply their techniques to other companies). But be very very wary if you think you have found the perfect company. Remember that you are not writing their promotional material for them; you are critiquing them as a Marketing organization with the perspective of an outsider (although one of you may indeed be an insider working for the firm), and with the perspective of a university student studying business theory.

In all of this, you must make specific reference to the course readings. I do not want gratuitous quotations cherry-picked from the readings. I want to be able to read your final paper and see a direct connection between what we have read about, what we have talked about in class, what your group has discussed in review sessions, what guest speakers have taught you, what you have learned from films, lectures, etc. – there must be a direct connection between all of this and the work you are doing in analyzing the company you are studying.

Ground Rules for the Final Project
It must relate directly to the course.
It must make specific reference to the required text
   Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 
It must make specific reference to the required readings. 
It must show learning acquired from these course readings. 
It must show research, both library and field. 
It must be your group’s own work, done only for this course
   and done by the whole group together. 
You must critique the company as well as praising it. 
You must, to the greatest extent possible, enjoy yourselves.  

You are asked as a group to present to the class a short summary of your research and results in the Group Project. This will be done informally, without visual aids; you will be asked to stand up and tell us about your work. 

Examples of how to use numbers in this kind of an oral report: 
It took MAC Cosmetics six years to make a profit; then they made $100,000. Last year they made $200 million, and they recently sold out to Estee Lauder  

From Pirsig: "This screw is worth exactly the price of the whole motorcycle"
A screw is significant for the functioning of the motorcycle and an employee is necessary for the functioning of the organization. What is an employee worth?  


An interesting correlation of course readings with Marketing terms
from a paper by Kelly Tsorias and Ann Novogradec
Winter 2000

Mind = internal marketing
Matter = External marketing
Quality = Relationship marketing


Suggestions From Sandi Warren (guest speaker)

You cannot negate a person's spirit; they will drop out or get sick
The closer you are to the product the greater your financial compensation ought to be
It is better to show how diverse we are and still together, than how we're different
Timeless imperatives, in values, treatment, philosophy: those that survive have a core ethical base
What does your company stand for? For Volvo, it's safety. It used to be physical, now companies are moving to more spiritual and emotional values 

Sandi's Recommended Texts 

Barrentine, Pat When the Canary Stops Singing: Women's Perspectives in Transforming Business
Berger, John Ways of Seeing
Blanchard, Ken and Sheldon Bowles Gung Ho! Turn on the People of Any Organization
Collins, James and Jerry I. Porras Built To Last
Goldberger, Nancy, Jill Tarule, Blythe Clinchy, and Mary Belenky Knowledge, Difference and Power: Essays Inspired by Women's Ways of Knowing
Goldratt, Elivahu M. The Goal
Harman, Willis and John Harmann Creative Work: The Constructive Role of Business in a Transforming Society
Kotter, John Leading Change
Lynch, Dudley and Paul Kordis Strategies for the Dolphin
Miller, Christine and Patricia Chuchryk (eds.) Women of the First Nations: Power, Wisdom, and Strength 
Perkins, John Shapeshifting: Shamanic Techniques for Global and Personal Transformation
Wilson, Shawn Gwich'in Native Elders: Not Just Knowledge, But a Way of Looking at the World

Full Reference for Required Readings

Food Lion: Bad Publicity Throttles Success” From Hartley, Robert F. (1998) Marketing Mistakes and Successes. New York: John Wiley & Sons: 28-42.  

The Mismanaged Ms" From Mikalachki, A., Dorothy R. Mikalachki, and Ronald J. Burke (1992) Gender Issues in Management: Contemporary Cases. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. 

The Structure of Spontaneity: Barbara Grogan, Western Industrial Contractors" from Helgesen, Sally (1990) The Female Advantage. New York: Doubleday Currency: 107-139.

Diversity Management from Karsten, Margaret Foegen (1994) Management and Gender. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers: 73-81.

Additional Recommended Texts
Full texts of any excerpted readings.
Collins, James C. and Jerry I. Porras (1997) Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Harperbusiness.
Goldratt, Eliyahu M. and Jeff Cox (1984) The Goal. Great Barrington, Massachusetts: North River Press.

AK/ADMS3210 3.0 Consumer Behaviour
York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.