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SBWL Strategy and Data

Strategic thinking and evidence-based analysis are of utter importance in the world of business and government. Too many bad decisions are made because of a lack of understanding of basic incentives and proper analysis of data. The SBWL “Strategy and Data” trains students’ strategic thinking and analytical capabilities in applied problem-solving. In a problem-based teaching approach, it shows students how to generate data to substantiate evidence-based managerial decision-making, properly analyze it and draw conclusions. It further trains them to analyze the incentives of decision-makers and the market forces they are subjected to, and to predict their strategic behavior.

The obtained competencies will prepare students directly for the job market. The main target audience are students who want to work and excel in positions with analytical and strategic roles. This includes consultants in all flavors like corporate finance (e.g. due diligence work), human resources (e.g. incentive systems), strategy consultancy (e.g. analysis of strategic market positioning), or supply chain management (process optimization and negotiation handling). It also includes corresponding roles within companies, like special assistant to management, key project managers, HR managers, data analytics specialists, risk management, forensic analysts, mergers and acquisitions, or supply chain management.

The SBWL “Strategy and Data” builds on the foundations provided in the STEOP/CBK (Grundlagen der BW/VW, Angewandte Mikorökonomik, Mathematik & Statistik) and the common BW courses (e.g. Personal, Führung, Organisation). The SBWL can provide important foundations for the study of other SBWLs (e.g. Entrepreneurship und Innovation, Unternehmensführung und Controlling, Personalmanagement, Verhaltenswissenschaftlich orientiertes Management, Data Science etc).

Structure and courses

The SBWL Strategy and Data will be completely taught in English. It comprises a set of five courses which are all compulsory. All courses will be offered in each semester.

  • The courses Data I and Strategic Thinking I (full names and contents below) will be usually offered in the first half of a semester.

  • The courses Data II and Strategic Thinking II (full names and contents below) will be usually offered in the second half of a semester.

  • The project course will be offered in the second half of the semester.

Based on this organization, students are very flexible in their individual approach to the SBWL, and can complete it in three, two, or even one semester. Exemplary schedules are:

On successful completion of the SBWL, students should be able to:

  • be familiar with different sources of empirical evidence (surveys, experiments, field data) and the appropriate methods to analyze them,

  • demonstrate basic knowledge and understanding of game-theoretical tools and solution concepts,

  • analyze strategic situations and the incentives of players therein, and to derive predictions about strategic behavior,

  • evaluate and analyze data of actual decisions made in strategic situations, and derive conclusions,

  • based on these insights, formulate recommendations for policy/strategy interventions,

  • present and discuss findings from that strategic analysis and evaluation of actual decisions,

  • work collaboratively to analyze and understand strategic problems and data.

Strategy I + II: Strategic Thinking and Analysis

The strategic thinking courses will introduce the students to the analytical tools of game theory. Unlike standard game theory courses, these courses will be organized around applications of game theory (and not around formal game characteristics). Each class will last about 3 hours. At the end of each class, students will participate in classroom experiments where they will be put in business-like decision situations and make real choices. Homework assignments will consist of guided theoretical analysis of the games played, as well as of analysis of the collected decision data. The lectures will be used for an interactive (cold-call-supported) in-depth discussion of the games and data and to provide the necessary theory and game-theoretic tools to fully understand these problems. Student will be asked to reflect on the applicability of the learned content in an online blog.


Strategic Thinking and Analysis I: Strategic behavior (PI, 2 SWS)

  • Basics of game theory, what is a strategy?

  • Markets: Competition and collusion, market structure

  • Markets: Timing and commitment

  • Bargaining and negotiation, committee agenda setting

  • Cooperation, common pools and public goods

  • Reward and punishment, the carrot and the stick

  • Coordination

  • Finite and infinite horizons


Strategic Thinking and Analysis I: Information (PI, 2 SWS)

  • Advanced concepts in game theory, imperfect information

  • Reputation

  • Private value auctions

  • Common value auctions

  • Signaling and cheap talk

  • Herding and information cascades

Data I + II: Empirical Research and Analysis

After a short introduction and recap of prerequisites, both data courses are centered on specific problem-based case studies. That is, each case study starts with a management/governance problem that needs to be addressed based on prior empirical data analysis. Typically, each broader topic/method is organized in 2 classes. In the first class we will start with the business/strategy-related research question, and discuss how to find and/or generate data to answer the question. This is followed by an introduction of the respective analysis method. In a homework assignment, students are asked to try out the analysis themselves. The second meeting then discusses specific analysis concepts related to the case, and includes practical work with STATA as well as more examples for applications of the method.


Empirical Research and Analysis I (PI, 2 SWS)

  • Recap: basic statistics and econometrics

  • Empirical identification problem

  • Parametric vs. non-parametric analysis

  • Surveys and questionnaire design

  • Surveys and discrete choice model analysis


Empirical Research and Analysis II (PI, 2 SWS)

  • Laboratory and online experiments analysis

  • Real-world field experiments analysis

  • Instrumental variables, regression discontinuities analysis

  • Time series data analysis

  • Issues and prospects of big data analysis


Markets and Strategy project: Putting it to work (PI, 2 SWS)

The specific design of this course may vary from semester to semester depending on the availability of a real-world business project in which students can apply their strategic thinking and data analysis skills.

The course comprises a research project on the analysis of strategic questions with support from the analysis of decision data. In case a real industry partner is available in that semester, students will be divided in teams which study different research questions.

(For example, if the industry partner is an online trading platform, one team may analyze their selling mechanisms (auctions etc.), another team the design of trader feedback, a further team may look at search behavior of consumers, etc. All these analyses will rely on information and data provided by the industry partner and will target strategic research questions of direct value to the partner.)

The project usually starts with a kickoff meeting in which the industry partner is present. After a definition of research question and scope of project, the teams will work independently, under close guidance of advisors. The project work will result in an intermediate presentation of preliminary results, a final project report as well as a project presentation to the industry partner.

For some projects it is possible for students to take online courses at datacamp.

SBWL entry requirements

We are currently admitting 35 students per term.

If you are enrolled in any of the following programs, you are eligible to apply for the SBWL Strategy and Data:

  • BW

  • IBW

  • WINF

  • Bachelor WIRE (Math required)

  • BBE



  • BBE students: Business and Society, Foundations in Microeconomics, Quantitative Methods 1+2; or equivalent  

  • Other students: STEOP: Intro BWL, Intro VWL, Math; CBK: Stats; or equivalent


If you want to apply, you will need to:

  • Register for AG Access to Specialization in Business Administration: Strategy and Data (entry exam) in LPIS (for the winter term 2020/2021 TBA) and  ´

  • Apply via institute website (for winter term 2020/21 by August 31st, 2020)


Applicants will be ranked. 70% of a cohort will be admitted based on GPA, with quantitative courses receiving a higher weight. 30% of a cohort will be admitted based on the entry exam (TBA, Audimax), which tests logical and quantitative skills.

If you are enrolled in any of the following programs, you are eligible to apply for the SBWL Strategy and Data:

  • BW

  • IBW

  • WINF

  • Bachelor WIRE

  • BBE



If you have any more questions, please visit our FAQ page.


Here you can apply for the SBWL.