UCI Competition of Companies in The Internet Video Streaming Business Case Study

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Business Finance

University of California Irvine

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Read "Netflix" in the casebook.

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1. California State University - Fullerton BUAD 301 20-21 General CSUF SP/FA 20 BUAD 301 20-21 General CSUF SP/FA 20 California State University - Fullerton Table of Contents Course Pack Organization................................................................................................................5 The Student Guide to the Case Method...........................................................................................7 Ethics in Practice............................................................................................................................71 Building a Backdoor to the iPhone: An Ethical Dilemma................................................................79 The Generation Illusion...................................................................................................................89 Intergenerational Management at GlaxoSmithKline in Asia Pacific................................................95 In Search of Global Leaders.........................................................................................................109 Netflix: International Expansion....................................................................................................119 2. Course Pack Organization* • • • • • • • Note 1: Understanding the Case Method Note 2: Performing a Case Analysis Note 3: Preparing to Discuss a Case Note 4: Preparing a Written Case Report Note 5: Making an Oral Case Presentation Note 6: Preparing for and Writing a Case Exam Note 7: Using Common Tools for Case Analysis Unit 1: • • Reading 1: Ethics in Practice Case 1: Building a “Backdoor” to the iPhone: An Ethical Dilemma Unit 2: • • Reading 2: Generational Illusion Case 2: Intergenerational Management at GlaxoSmithKline in Asia Pacific Unit 3: • Reading 3: In Search of Global Leaders Final • Final Case: Netflix: International Expansion *This course pack is organized to align with the units in your class schedule. Please refer to your syllabus for clarification on due dates for each reading. 5 Authorized for use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method THE STUDENT GUIDE TO THE CASE METHOD By Laurie George Busuttil and Susan J. Van Weelden Product # 9B18M128 IVEY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS FOUNDATION COPYRIGHT © 2018 To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, please contact: Ivey Publishing, Ivey School of Business Foundation c/o Ivey Business School Western University 1255 Western Road London, Ontario N6G 0N1 Tel: (519) 661-3208 Fax: (519) 661-3882 Email: cases@ivey.ca Ivey School of Business Foundation prohibits any form of reproduction, storage, posting, or transmission of this material without its written permission. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. 7 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 3. The Student Guide to the Case Method 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Introduction to Understanding the Case Method ..............................................................................6 Purpose of the Case Method ............................................................................................................6 Reading a Case.................................................................................................................................7 Analyzing a Case ..............................................................................................................................7 Scope of the Case Guide Series .......................................................................................................7 Case Analysis and Academic Integrity ..............................................................................................8 NOTE 2: PERFORMING A CASE ANALYSIS .........................................................................................10 1. 2. Introduction to Performing a Case Analysis ....................................................................................11 Identify the Issues ...........................................................................................................................11 2.1. Pay Attention to Questions ......................................................................................................11 2.2. Distinguish Symptoms from Issues ..........................................................................................12 2.3. Limit Issues to a Manageable Set ............................................................................................12 3. Analyze the Issues ..........................................................................................................................12 3.1. Use Case Facts........................................................................................................................13 3.2. Use Business Concepts, Models, and Tools ...........................................................................13 3.3. Use Outside Research Sparingly .............................................................................................13 4. Develop and Evaluate the Alternatives ...........................................................................................13 4.1. Develop Alternative Solutions ..................................................................................................14 4.2. Evaluate the Alternative Solutions ...........................................................................................14 4.3. Use Case Facts and Business Concepts, Models, and Theories to Evaluate the Alternatives ..............................................................................................................................15 5. Recommendations ..........................................................................................................................16 5.1. Apply Criteria for Making Sound Recommendations ...............................................................16 5.2. Craft Your Recommendations..................................................................................................16 5.3. Base Your Recommendation on the Information You Have ....................................................16 5.4. Evaluate Your Recommendations ...........................................................................................17 6. Variations on performing a Full Case Analysis ...............................................................................17 6.1. Analytical Cases.......................................................................................................................17 6.2. Partial Case Analysis ...............................................................................................................17 NOTE 3: PREPARING TO DISCUSS A CASE .........................................................................................18 1. 2. 3. 4. Introduction to Preparing to Discuss a Case in Class .....................................................................19 Prepare before Class ......................................................................................................................19 Contribute to In-Class Discussion ...................................................................................................19 Listen to others in Class ..................................................................................................................20 4.1. Use Active Listening Techniques .............................................................................................20 4.2. Use Listening Etiquette ............................................................................................................21 5. Enhance the Quality of Your Class Participation ............................................................................21 NOTE 4: PREPARING A WRITTEN CASE REPORT ..............................................................................22 1. 2. 3. Introduction to Preparing a Written Case Report ............................................................................23 Play Your Assigned Role ................................................................................................................23 Identify the Issues ...........................................................................................................................23 3.1. Be Clear ...................................................................................................................................23 3.2. Settle on a Manageable Set of Issues .....................................................................................24 3.3. Use Your Issue Statement to Let the Reader Know What to Expect ......................................24 4. Analyze the Issues ..........................................................................................................................25 4.1. Test the Case Facts .................................................................................................................25 4.2. Use Business Concepts ...........................................................................................................25 4.3. Use External Research Sparingly ............................................................................................26 4.4. Adhere to Length Constraints ..................................................................................................26 2 8 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. NOTE 1: UNDERSTANDING THE CASE METHOD ..................................................................................5 The Student Guide to the Case Method Develop and Evaluate Your Alternatives.........................................................................................26 Make Recommendations ................................................................................................................27 Content and Format of your Report ................................................................................................27 7.1. Length ......................................................................................................................................27 7.2. Font ..........................................................................................................................................27 7.3. Spacing ....................................................................................................................................28 7.4. Page Numbers .........................................................................................................................28 7.5. Headings and Subheadings .....................................................................................................28 7.6. Cover Page ..............................................................................................................................28 7.7. Executive Summary .................................................................................................................28 7.8. Introduction ..............................................................................................................................29 7.9. Body of the Report ...................................................................................................................29 7.10. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................29 7.11. Figures and Appendices.......................................................................................................29 7.11.1. The Purpose of Figures and Appendices……………………………………………………29 7.11.2. Quantitative Figures and Appendices……………………………….……………………….30 7.11.3. Numbering of Figures and Appendices……………………………………….……………..30 8. Writing Style, Grammar, and Spelling .............................................................................................31 8.1. Basic Criteria of a Well-Written Report ....................................................................................31 8.2. Use of “I Think” and “I Believe” ................................................................................................31 8.3. Formal versus Informal Reports...............................................................................................31 9. Professional Language, Tone, and Tact .........................................................................................32 9.1. Use Professional Language .....................................................................................................32 9.2. Use Constructive Language.....................................................................................................33 9.3. Use Must and Need Sparingly .................................................................................................33 10. Case Reports Written by Teams .................................................................................................33 10.1. Team Meetings .....................................................................................................................33 10.2. Brainstorming .......................................................................................................................34 10.3. The Task of Writing the Report ............................................................................................34 11. Case Analysis and Academic Integrity ........................................................................................34 NOTE 5: MAKING AN ORAL CASE PRESENTATION ...........................................................................35 1. 2. 3. 4. Introduction to Making An Oral Case Presentation .........................................................................36 Purpose of a Case Presentation .....................................................................................................36 Criteria of a Good Presentation.......................................................................................................36 Content of a Case Presentation ......................................................................................................37 4.1. Presentation of a Full Case Report ..........................................................................................37 4.2. Presentation without a Case Report ........................................................................................37 5. Audiovisual Aids ..............................................................................................................................38 6. Presentation Skills ...........................................................................................................................38 7. Handling Audience Questions .........................................................................................................39 8. Team Presentations ........................................................................................................................39 9. Role Of The Audience .....................................................................................................................40 10. Dress for Success........................................................................................................................40 NOTE 6: PREPARING FOR AND WRITING A CASE EXAM ..................................................................41 1. 2. 3. Introduction to Writing a Case Exam...............................................................................................42 Purpose of a Case Exam ................................................................................................................42 Preparing for a Case Exam .............................................................................................................42 3.1. Reread Notes and Texts ..........................................................................................................42 3.2. Practise Writing a Case under Exam Conditions .....................................................................43 4. Writing a Case Exam.......................................................................................................................43 4.1. Read the Instructions ...............................................................................................................43 4.2. Read the Case .........................................................................................................................44 3 9 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 5. 6. 7. 4.3. Prepare an Outline ...................................................................................................................44 4.4. Write Your Report ....................................................................................................................45 4.4.1. Prioritize and Manage Your Time…………………...………………………………………..45 4.4.2. Identify the Issues…………………………....………………………………………………...45 4.4.3. Analyze the Issues……………………………………………………………………………..45 4.4.4. Identify Alternative Solutions…………………………………….……………………………45 4.4.5. Evaluate Alternative Solutions………………………..……………………………………...45 4.4.6. Make Your Recommendation………………………………………………..……………….46 NOTE 7: USING COMMON TOOLS FOR CASE ANALYSIS ..................................................................47 1. 2. 3. 4. Introduction to Common Tools for Case Analysis………………………………….….…………….48 Horizontal Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………48 Vertical Analysis…………………………………………………………………………………………49 Ratio Analysis……………………………………………………………………………..……………..49 4.1 Profitability or Activity Ratios………………………………………………………………………50 4.1.1 Return on Assets……………………………………………………………………………….50 4.1.2 Profit Margin…………………………………………………………………….………………50 4.1.3 Gross Profit Margin…………………………………………………………………………….51 4.1.4 Expense Ratios……………………………………………………………………….………..51 4.1.5 Asset Turnover…………………………………………………………………………………51 4.1.6 Inventory Turnover………………………………………………………………………..……51 4.1.7 Receivables Turnover………………………………………………………………………….52 4.1.8 Return on Equity………………………………………………………………………………..52 4.1.9 Earnings per Share………………………………………………………………………...…..53 4.1.10 Price-Earnings Ratio………………………………………………………………………..….53 4.2 Liquidity Ratios………………………………………………………………………………………53 4.2.1 Current Ratio ……………………………………………………………………………..……53 4.2.2 Acid Test Ratio (Quick Ratio)……………………………………………………………..….54 4.3 Solvency Ratios…………………………………………………………………………………..…54 4.3.1 Debt Ratio…………………………………………………………………….………………...54 4.3.2 Debt to Equity Ratio………………………………………………………….…..…………….55 4.3.3 Times Interest Earned……………………………………………………….…….…………..55 5. Assessing Profitability………………………………………………………………….…….………….55 6. Break-Even Analysis…………………………………………………………………….…...…………56 7. Market Potential and Market Share…………………………………………………….…….………..56 8. SWOT Analysis…………………………………………………………………………….…………….57 9. PESTLE Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………..57 10. Porter’s Five Forces Framework………………………………………………………………….……58 11. Stakeholder Analysis………………………………………………………………………………..…..60 12. Industry Success Factors……………………………………………………………………………….60 13. Value Chain Analysis………………………………………………………………………………..…..60 13.1. Industry Value Chain………………………………………………………………………………60 13.2. Organizational Value Chain…………………………………………………………………..…..61 14. Competitive Position Matrix………………………………………………………………………...…..61 15. Strategic Cluster Map………………………………………………………………………………..….62 16. Resource Gap Analysis…………………………………………………………………………………62 17. Core Competencies…………………………………………………………...…………….…………..63 18. Competitive Advantage Analysis VRIO………………………………………………………………..63 19. Case Analysis and Academic Integrity.........................................................................................64 4 10 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method NOTE 1: UNDERSTANDING THE CASE METHOD 11 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method 5 A case or case study is a real business story that requires you to step into the role of a manager or a member of the management team that faces a dilemma, or the role of a consultant assisting an organization that faces a dilemma. Acting in that role, you are tasked with resolving the issues or problems that the profiled organization is facing at a particular moment in time. Alternatively, you are asked to evaluate and choose among opportunities that exist for the organization at a specific point in time. Those issues and opportunities may be confined to a specific discipline in business, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, or strategic management. However, the challenges often involve several disciplines, reflecting the multi-faceted nature of business in practice. The case method involves learning by doing. It provides you with an opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to real-life and realistic situations. Listening to class lectures, reading about various business subjects, and performing quantitative and qualitative analyses to solve well-defined problems are all valuable learning tools; however, management skills and knowledge cannot be developed by these methods alone. Management requires more than applying a storehouse of prepackaged solutions or standard answers. Each situation faced by management has its own variables unique to the situation. Using the case method provides you with valuable opportunities to develop and practise skills you will need in those situations. 1. INTRODUCTION TO UNDERSTANDING THE CASE METHOD This note introduces you to the case method. It provides an overview of the steps used in case analysis and the types of case assignments you might encounter. It is designed to help you develop a basic understanding of the case method and to guide you in approaching your first few cases. Subsequent notes provide more detailed guidance about individual steps in the process. 2. PURPOSE OF THE CASE METHOD Case analysis is used as a teaching and learning tool to practise the art and science of management. The situations described in cases are less structured than the typical problems and questions found in most textbooks. There is not necessarily one right answer to resolving the issues, problems, or opportunities (collectively referred to hereafter as “issues”) faced by the organization in the case. While some answers could be better than others, there is no answer key at the back of the book to tell you whether you have made the right choices. The organization described in the case might be familiar to you, and you might even be able to find out what the organization actually did in the situation described in the case; however, the approach taken by the organization is not necessarily the one you should recommend. Also, because cases describe relatively current or recent situations, enough time might not have passed since the decision point in the case to allow you—or others in the business world—to evaluate whether the organization made the best possible choices. You are asked to draw your own conclusions and support them with your own analysis. Learning with the case method will help you develop essential management competencies, skills, and abilities. You will use technical, analytical, problem-solving, and creative skills. You will hone your written and oral communication skills by writing reports, participating in class discussions, and making presentations. You will develop your ability to work effectively with others by preparing team case reports and presentations. Along the way, you will learn about a wide variety of industries, organizations, and management issues. 6 12 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method Before reading the case itself, read the course requirements in the syllabus or on the course website. In addition to understanding the general purpose of the case method, it helps to know what your instructor wants you to do with the case—prepare for a class, answer questions, perform a complete analysis, prepare a written report or presentation, or undertake some combination of those tasks. When you read the case for the first time, resist the temptation to highlight important facts and to begin doing analysis and generating alternative solutions. If you use a highlighter on the first read, you will soon find yourself highlighting most of the case, especially in a short case that is rich in details. Instead, during the initial read, establish who the decision maker is and what decision needs to be made. Highlight any questions raised by the principal actors or characters: they usually indicate what work is expected (e.g., answers to specific questions, specific types of analysis, or evaluation of specific alternatives). Identify key goals of the organization, industry key success factors (if they are made explicit), and important constraints (e.g., the urgency of a decision, or the lack of resources or expertise). Develop a preliminary understanding of the issues facing the decision maker. Then read the case more carefully a second time. Armed with an initial understanding of the issues, you are now prepared to assess the relevance and importance of specific case facts. Highlighting the case facts at this stage will help you to be able to quickly extract them and use them effectively in your analysis. During your second read of the case, you can also gain a better understanding of the issues and begin to consider what analysis to perform with the case facts you have identified as relevant and important. Subsequent reads of the case will likely be confined to rereading specific sections of the case as you undertake the analysis described briefly in Section 3 and described in more detail in Note 2 of the Case Guide Series—“Performing a Case Analysis,” No. 9B18M054. 4. ANALYZING A CASE Over the course of your business studies, you will face a variety of cases. Most of the cases will be in written format, but cases can also be provided as videos. The length of cases will vary, as will the breadth and complexity of issues they cover. As well, some cases will direct and limit the scope of your analysis, while other cases will pose general questions that require a more skilled approach to case analysis. Regardless of the size and scope of the case, case analysis involves four basic steps: A. B. C. D. Identify the issues, problems, and opportunities. Analyze the issues, problems, and opportunities. Develop and evaluate alternative solutions. Make recommendations for action. Especially for complex cases, a case analysis is usually an iterative process. While an essential first step is to identify the issues to be resolved, analysis of those issues can refine the issues that were initially identified, leading to a revised issue statement. 5. SCOPE OF THE CASE GUIDE SERIES This note and others in the Case Guide Series are designed to provide an overview of the case method. They provide a general template or pattern for case analysis that you can apply in various courses throughout your business studies. There is no one right way to analyze a case, just as there is no one right answer or solution to the issues presented in a case. You will encounter a variety of situations, issues, tasks, and topics that all require you to use judgment in applying the guidelines provided in the Case Guide Series. 7 13 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 3. READING A CASE The Student Guide to the Case Method Case analysis: For all case assignments, you will be required to analyze the case by performing one or more of the steps described in Section 3 (i.e., identify the issues, analyze the issues, develop and evaluate alternatives, and recommend a course of action). Analyze, in the broad sense, refers to the full process of applying the case method. Analyze can also specifically refer to the case analysis step of probing into and dissecting issues. In both contexts, analysis is a critical component of the case method, so it is discussed first and receives the most attention. (See Note 2—“Performing a Case Analysis,” No. 9B18M054, and Note 7—“Common Tools for Case Analysis”, No. 9B18M059.) Class discussion: In some courses, instructors will use discussion of the case to apply and supplement the lecture material; in other courses, instructors will use discussion of the case as the main pedagogical tool. To benefit from the discussion and to provide meaningful input, it is important to adequately prepare. (See Note 3—“Preparing to Discuss a Case,” No. 9B18M055.) Report writing: You could be asked to prepare a written case report—either individually or as part of a small team. For this task, the emphasis is on organizing your analysis and findings in a written report that effectively communicates those findings to the reader. In most instances, you will be asked to play a specific role (e.g., the internal manager who is the decision maker in the case or an external consultant to that decision maker), and to write a report to a specific reader or group of readers (e.g., the vice-president of marketing or the board of directors). (See Note 4—“Preparing a Written Case Report,” No. 9B18M056.) Oral presentation: You could be asked to present your analysis and findings to the class, either individually or as part of a small team. The goal in this exercise is to develop and deliver a concise presentation that captures the main thrusts of your analysis and presents them in a professional and engaging manner. Here, too, you will usually be asked to play a specific role and to present to a specific target audience. (See Note 5—“Making an Oral Case Presentation,” No. 9B18M057.) Case exam: Your instructor might use the case method as a testing or examination tool. The goal in this situation is to showcase your analytical and writing skills under the time pressure of an exam setting. It will be important to read the case intentionally so that you can isolate relevant facts and data, identify issues, decide on the appropriate qualitative and quantitative analytical tools to use, and perform the necessary analysis. Time management will be crucial so that you can complete all required steps, including providing appropriate recommendations and a plan for their implementation. (See Note 6—“Preparing for and Writing a Case Exam,” No. 9B18M058.) When completing any of the above tasks, follow the specific instructions provided by your instructor in the course syllabus or course package. These specific instructions always supersede those contained in the Case Guide Series. Different instructors have differing expectations, which is good practice for the workplace, where you will need to give careful consideration to the preferences of your supervisor or client—in terms of both content and style. 6. CASE ANALYSIS AND ACADEMIC INTEGRITY Because case analysis is complex, it may often seem helpful to discuss the case informally or formally with other students before participating in a class discussion, writing a report, or making a presentation. Managers and consultants often discuss problems with other people, within the constraints allowed by confidentiality. Therefore, your instructor may allow, encourage, or even require such discussion. However, to ensure academic integrity and to avoid plagiarism, unless your instructor has specifically indicated that some degree of discussion is permissible, you should consult with your instructor before engaging in any collaboration. This restriction on outside discussion is especially necessary when preparing reports and presentations. 8 14 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Case Guide Series covers five separate tasks that can form part of your case assignments. The Student Guide to the Case Method While using the work of others may appear to provide a shortcut to a good grade, the quality of online sources and the work of other students is often suspect, at best. Most importantly, you deprive yourself of the learning opportunities the case method offers. 9 15 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. It may also seem helpful to search the Internet for teaching notes for cases or for case reports or slide presentations prepared by other students. Academic integrity requires that you refrain from using such resources, in full or in part. Any attempt to use the work of others and to pass it off as your own is plagiarism. If the instructor is suspicious that plagiarism might be involved, you may be asked to upload a copy of your case report through Turnitin.com. NOTE 2: PERFORMING A CASE ANALYSIS 10 16 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method For all case assignments, you will be required to analyze the case by performing one or more of the basic steps of analysis (i.e., identify the issues, analyze the issues, develop and evaluate alternative solutions, and recommend a course of action). Analyze, in the broad sense, refers to the full process of applying the case method. Analyze can also specifically refer to the case analysis step of probing into and dissecting issues. In both contexts, analysis is a critical component of the case method. This note of the Case Guide Series guides you through the specific process of analyzing a case. This method for basic case analysis can be used for several purposes: discussing the case in class, writing a report, making a presentation, and writing a case exam. 2. IDENTIFY THE ISSUES The first step in analyzing the case is to identify the organization’s issues, problems, and opportunities (collectively referred to hereafter as “issues”) that you will attempt to resolve. A clear understanding of the issues is paramount; otherwise, your analysis and your generation of alternative solutions will lack the necessary focus. Although some cases will direct your attention toward specific issues (especially early in your business studies), a considerable degree of judgment is usually required to identify the issues. 2.1. Pay Attention to Questions Questions from three sources provide important clues about the key issues:    The principal actors or characters in the case. These clues are musings or direct questions raised by the principal actors themselves. You can usually find these clues at the beginning and end of the case, but they might also be sprinkled throughout the case. Your instructor. Questions can often be found in the syllabus or course package, or on the course website. These questions are sometimes intended to limit your analysis to issues that fit within a specific topic of discussion. At other times, these questions are intended to focus your attention on the most important issues. The author of the case. In cases presented in textbooks, the case author sometimes provides attentiondirecting questions at the end of the case. If, in your analysis of the case, you have not answered all of the questions posed in the case or in your course syllabus, you have likely either omitted an important issue or become sidetracked by minor issues. Moreover, even if you have resolved some issues, if you have not addressed all of the questions posed in the case or in your course syllabus, your analysis will likely fail to totally satisfy your instructor—and later, your supervisor or client. Especially in upper-level courses where the cases are, in general, more complex, your instructor could expect you to look beyond the more obvious issues or those suggested by the case principals to consider issues that people close to the situation could have overlooked. You should address these supplementary issues in addition to, not instead of, addressing the specific requests posed by principals in the case or by your instructor. 11 17 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 1. INTRODUCTION TO PERFORMING A CASE ANALYSIS The Student Guide to the Case Method 2.2. Distinguish Symptoms from Issues For instance, an organization might be suffering from low productivity. Asking why productivity is low might lead you to conclude that employee morale is low and that employees are not motivated to perform well. Probing further, you might find that both of these issues arise because the reward system does not adequately recognize good performance. Low productivity and employee morale are symptoms of the underlying cause. Alternatively, an organization might be plagued by low customer retention. Asking why customers are going elsewhere might lead you to conclude that customer service is poor, product defect rates are high, existing competitors have improved their product, and a new competitor has entered the market. The last two items are root causes because asking “why” will not lead to further answers. Therefore, they are issues to resolve even though they are not within the organization’s control. Asking “why” for the first two items might lead you to the third issue, namely that the company’s goals and reward systems emphasize efficiency rather than product quality. 2.3. Limit Issues to a Manageable Set Once you have identified the issues, you might need to reduce them to a manageable size to enable you to effectively carry out the subsequent steps in case analysis. For some cases, you might be required to resolve a single issue. However, you should still identify sub-issues, and decide which are most important and which you have the time and space to tackle. For example, the issue might be to set an admission price for a new museum. Possible sub-issues to consider include fit with the mission of the museum, customers’ ability and willingness to pay, the possibility of differential pricing (e.g., lower rates for students), competing forms of entertainment and their admission prices, costs that need to be covered by the admission price, and the break-even point. To identify the most important sub-issues, consider the information in the case, the questions discussed in Section 2.1, and the nature of the course. Other cases might present multiple issues. You might find it helpful to look for relationships among the issues and cluster them under one overarching issue. For instance, in an organizational behaviour case, you might be able to trace several issues—such as unclear decision making processes, inability to deal with job stresses, and inability to delegate—to the root issue of inadequate training of managers. Dealing with one issue is easier than dealing with three separate issues and will lead to better solutions. Other cases might not have an overarching issue; instead, you might face a seemingly unconnected set of distinct issues. You will then need to prioritize the issues, using the questions referred to in Section 2.1, and your judgment, so that you give adequate time and attention to the most important issues. 3. ANALYZE THE ISSUES Analysis involves examining the issues in detail. It requires that you dissect the issues and consider them closely to understand their nature and key elements. 12 18 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. To correctly identify issues, it is important to distinguish between symptoms and underlying causes. Your goal should be to focus on the underlying causes. To uncover them, ask the question “Why?” until you can no longer provide a satisfactory answer. The Student Guide to the Case Method Use Case Facts One aspect of analysis is using case facts to develop a detailed understanding of the issues. You can use the case facts to help build logical arguments, develop findings, and draw educated inferences rather than casual guesses. For instance, if the issue in an organizational behaviour case is inadequate managerial training, facts from the case should indicate that the training provided to managers did not sufficiently clarify decision making processes or how to delegate tasks, or both. Or, for a marketing case, an issue with increased competition might be supported by the case facts describing the entrance of new competitors into the market, new products introduced by competitors, or price reductions offered by competitors. Many important case facts are contained in a case’s figures and exhibits. These case facts could include data about the worldwide market size, the competition, the company’s revenues and profit, industry sales, product prices, or organizational charts. Study each figure or exhibit to determine the key insights it offers. Go beyond the specific facts highlighted in the body of the case; figures and exhibits usually include additional facts that can be interpreted in other ways to enhance your analysis. 3.2. Use Business Concepts, Models, and Tools Another aspect of analysis is the use of business concepts, models, and tools to analyze the issues. For example, in an organizational behaviour case, you could use equity theory or expectancy theory to explain why an organization’s reward system has been unsuccessful in motivating employees. In a marketing case, you could apply the model of a product life cycle or the concept of a target market; you could also calculate market share and changes in market share. To analyze issues in an accounting case, you could use tools such as contribution margin analysis or capital budgeting. In an integrated strategic management case, you might apply the concepts of value chain and competitive advantage, compute financial ratios, and apply tools such as a competitive position matrix and Porter’s five forces framework. You will sometimes be given directions to apply specific concepts or tools; other times, you are expected to use your discretion in selecting the most relevant concepts or tools to apply. For some cases, the analysis will largely rely on qualitative models and tools. However, many cases will involve both qualitative and quantitative elements. Note 7 of the Case Guide Series—“Using Common Tools for Case Analysis,” No. 9B18M059—describes some common qualitative and quantitative tools for analyzing issues and possible courses of action. 3.3. Use Outside Research Sparingly Analysis might also include conducting and integrating outside research—for example, researching the industry and competitors—to supplement the information provided in the case. However, for many cases you will encounter in your studies, you will not be asked to obtain outside research beyond any background knowledge required to understand the facts of the case. This approach is consistent with the requirement that you put yourself in the role of either the manager or a member of the management team making the decision. You are asked to make that decision based on the same information the actual managers in the actual organization had at that actual point in time. 4. DEVELOP AND EVALUATE THE ALTERNATIVES In this step of a case analysis, you first identify alternative solutions to address the issues you previously identified and analyzed, and then evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. The best alternatives will resolve more than one of the identified issues. 13 19 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 3.1. The Student Guide to the Case Method Develop Alternative Solutions When identifying alternative solutions, go beyond the status quo (which might or might not be a viable solution, depending on the company’s situation) and beyond identifying a poor alternative and a very good one. Strive to develop multiple viable alternatives that are not chosen with a bias toward or against a particular course of action. Creative thinking will enable you to develop novel approaches. Avoid a premature evaluation of the alternatives, and try to develop as many alternatives as possible. Even if you know the course of action the organization ultimately chose, resist the temptation for that knowledge to bias your development and evaluation of alternatives. This topic is further discussed in Section 5.3. 4.2. Evaluate the Alternative Solutions Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative solution represents another form of analysis, as is quantifying the financial impact of an alternative solution. Some of the case analysis tools described in Note 7 can be used to analyze alternative solutions, in addition to being used to analyze issues. When you evaluate your alternatives, present a balanced assessment of both the advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons). Use of biased or one-sided arguments undermines both the usefulness of your analysis and its credibility. Where possible, suggest how to overcome any significant disadvantages. If you have difficulty generating pros and cons, establish a set of criteria for decision making and use those criteria to identify pros and cons. For example, in a strategic management case, decision criteria might include the degree to which the action              fits with the organization’s mission, value proposition, and goals; fits with stakeholder preferences; is profitable; increases market share; enhances the organization’s brand; capitalizes on specific external opportunities; helps to mitigate external threats; uses internal strengths; avoids or mitigates internal weaknesses; builds on an existing competitive advantage or helps to create a competitive advantage; requires additional resources and competencies; can be accomplished within the organization’s existing structure; or mitigates or increases risks, including environmental and reputational risks. The principal in the case or the questions in your syllabus or course pack might have alerted you to some of the decision criteria to be applied. If so, be sure to use those as your starting point in establishing a set of decision criteria. Measuring alternatives against decision criteria also helps to keep the analysis consistent, reducing bias. For instance, by applying the criteria, you avoid citing a loss of market share as a disadvantage of one alternative but overlooking the same disadvantage in another alternative that is your implicit favourite. When identifying pros and cons, be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of stating that an alternative will be unprofitable, indicate that the alternative will result in net losses of $72,800 and $52,500 14 20 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 4.1. The Student Guide to the Case Method When working with financial measures, if you can incorporate all of the information about revenues and costs into a profitability measure, it is unnecessary to then itemize individual revenues or expenses as pros and cons. Doing so would be redundant and is not nearly as valuable as doing the financial analysis required to determine profitability. Your evaluation of alternatives should also go beyond obvious disadvantages such as being “costly” or “time-consuming.” A costly alternative might still be highly advisable, especially if it generates sufficient advantages. Almost all courses of action involve some cost and time, so clearly distinguish how these factors vary from one alternative to the next and, when possible, provide evidence. For instance, one potential product line might require a significant push by the sales department to make it successful, whereas another might not require as much effort because it fits better with the organization’s existing product lines and target market. Once you begin to evaluate your alternatives, you will probably be able to quickly discard a few alternatives after some preliminary analysis. For instance, in a strategic management case, one alternative could lie far outside the organization’s existing competencies and contradict one or more of the organization’s clearly stated goals. Discarding one or more unsuitable alternatives will allow you to focus your detailed analysis on the more feasible and more helpful alternatives. Nonetheless, some preliminary analysis is important to ensure that you do not rule out options too quickly as a result of your own biases. It can sometimes seem expedient to group a few alternative solutions and evaluate them as a package. However, evaluating combined alternatives can be difficult because each component usually has its own pros and cons. Also, evaluating packaged alternative solutions often obscures some of the issues, resulting in an evaluation that is less thorough than if each alternative had been evaluated separately. Therefore, it is usually preferable to wait until the recommendation phase to combine alternatives. 4.3. Use Case Facts and Business Concepts, Models, and Theories to Evaluate the Alternatives When evaluating alternative solutions, you will have another opportunity to introduce key facts from the case and to apply concepts, models, and theories from the course to support your analysis. Some of those concepts and models will tie directly to the decision criteria referred to in Section 4.2. For instance, in a strategic management case, alternatives can be evaluated by assessing their fit with stakeholders’ preferences and by identifying resource gaps that would need to be filled to implement each option. In an organizational behaviour case, if negative group norms are an issue, you could use theory to propose ways to build positive norms, such as rewarding desired behaviour and providing feedback about unacceptable behaviours. In a human resource case, you could evaluate alternative ways to recruit new managers by considering the theoretical pros and cons of various recruitment techniques and assessing their prospects for success, given the company’s specific needs and circumstances. In a finance case, solutions could be evaluated against the company’s required rate of return or payback period. In a marketing case, you could demonstrate how a proposed product is designed to meet the needs of the firm’s current target market or how its short development time would allow the firm to begin selling the product before its competitors do. 15 21 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. in years one and two, respectively. Instead of claiming that an alternative will increase market share, indicate that it will increase market share by an estimated three to four per cent by year five. Rather than arguing that an alternative will capitalize on an organization’s strengths, indicate the specific strengths that will be capitalized on and how they will be leveraged. The examples in the preceding paragraph illustrate that the evaluation of alternative solutions usually involves some additional analysis. The analysis of the issues and of the alternative solutions should fit together; the concepts, models, and theories used to analyze the issues should be consistent with those used to evaluate alternative solutions. The goal in both exercises is to provide analyses that demonstrate sound argument and logic, and are supported by careful use of the case facts and appropriate analytical techniques (some of which are described in Note 7). 5. RECOMMENDATIONS 5.1. Apply Criteria for Making Sound Recommendations The last step of case analysis is to choose your recommended solution to the issues. Your recommended solution will often consist of a combination of alternatives because issues are usually not so simple that a single solution will suffice. Your goal is to develop recommendations that are useful, given the issues that you are trying to resolve; consistent with your analysis; reasonable, given the organization and its environment; feasible, given the organization’s resources; and convincing to your reader. Articulate the decision criteria (e.g., those listed in Section 4.2) that you have established and applied in developing your recommendations. If the principal in the case has established the decision criteria, your recommendations should explicitly address how your recommended solution meets those criteria. 5.2. Craft Your Recommendations Your recommendations should include sufficient operational-level details to enable their implementation. For example, specify who should implement the recommendations, how, when, and in what priority. You might want to develop a more complete implementation plan and attach it to your report as an appendix, after briefly referring to the plan in the body of the report. This approach helps to build a convincing, persuasive argument for your recommendations. If you are specifically asked to design a separate implementation plan, your recommendations will be more general, and the details regarding who, how, when, and in what priority will be included in the implementation plan. Your recommendations should address all the issues you identified, and should be both supported by and consistent with your analysis. Where appropriate, demonstrate how and why your recommendations would be acceptable to key individuals in the organization. Ensure that the organization is financially able to implement the action plan and has the expertise, time, and other organizational resources necessary to do so. 5.3. Base Your Recommendation on the Information You Have Avoid recommending that further information be obtained or that additional analysis be completed. Instead, base your recommendation on the information you have, even if you believe more information is needed. Managers rarely have all of the information they desire. If further analysis is absolutely essential, your recommendation should specifically state what should be done, why, and by whom. If the assigned case study is based on actual events, you might already know the course of action that management chose, or you might be able to obtain this information through further research. Resist the temptation to recommend this alternative, which assumes that management made the best decision. Base your recommendation on the information that management had at the time it faced the decision and on the analysis that you conduct. Only time allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s actual 16 22 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method chosen course of action. Even years later, we might not know whether outcomes would have been better for the organization had another alternative been chosen. Evaluate Your Recommendations Before finalizing your recommendations, take time to evaluate your recommended solution by asking the following key questions:         Does the recommended solution address the issues identified in the analysis? Is there theoretical support for the solution? Does the recommendation address the pros and cons identified when you evaluated the alternative solution? Does the recommendation suggest how to mitigate or overcome the most critical disadvantages, including any risks posed to the organization? Does the recommended solution meet organizational goals? Is the recommended solution financially viable? Is it feasible from a resource perspective? Is the recommended solution acceptable to various stakeholders of the organization (e.g., management, employees, shareholders, and customers)? Does the recommendation provide sufficient details to enable the organization to implement it? Being able to answer these questions affirmatively will help your recommendations meet the key criteria of being useful, consistent, reasonable, feasible, and convincing. 6. VARIATIONS ON PERFORMING A FULL CASE ANALYSIS The basic four steps (identify the issues, analyze the issues, develop and evaluate alternative solutions, and recommend a course of action) are required for a full case analysis. This section discusses two variations to a full case analysis: analytical cases and partial case analysis. 6.1. Analytical Cases Some cases might not describe the issues to be resolved but might, instead, describe issues either in the context of a success story or in a situation where it is too late to resolve the issues. In such cases, the focus is on analyzing what can be learned from the organization’s successes or failures so that future prospects for success can be enhanced, or similar predicaments can be avoided or better handled by either the organization in the case or others. Business concepts, models, and tools should still be applied. For example, the leadership of an organization could be analyzed to identify which styles of leadership were evident and their effectiveness in the circumstances described in the case. Alternatively, a corporate initiative might be analyzed to determine its effectiveness in addressing resistance to change and its application of other change management principles. 6.2. Partial Case Analysis Due to time or space constraints, your instructor might require only a partial case analysis. For example, you might be asked to focus only on identifying and analyzing the issues. Alternatively, the case might clearly define the issues, and you might be asked to only identify and evaluate possible alternative courses of action. Another form of partial case analysis is a “directed case,” in which you are directed to answer a specific set of questions about the case. Even though a full case analysis might not be required, it is still important to see how the task you are asked to perform fits within the larger picture of a full-fledged case analysis involving the four steps discussed above. 17 23 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 5.4. NOTE 3: PREPARING TO DISCUSS A CASE 18 24 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method The method for a basic case analysis presented in Note 2 of the Case Guide Series—“Performing a Case Analysis,” No. 9B18M054—can be used for various purposes: discussing the case in class, writing a report, making a presentation, or writing a case exam. This note helps you to adequately prepare to discuss a case in class and to provide meaningful input to the class discussion. The guidelines in this note are for general use. You should always defer to your instructor’s requirements, which may differ or be more specific. 2. PREPARE BEFORE CLASS To benefit from many of the opportunities of the case method, you need to do your own analysis before class and make your own decisions based on that analysis. Read the case once for familiarity and a second time to gain a full command of the facts, so you have good insight into the issues. As you read the case the second time, highlight the key points and make notes based on your assigned tasks. If questions about the case are provided in the course syllabus, they are intended to be used only as guidelines to identify the issues and some of the analysis to be done. You are still required to come to your own conclusions regarding the issues and relevant analysis. In most instances, you are expected to do a full analysis of each case: identify the key issues, problems, or opportunities (collectively referred to hereafter as “issues”); analyze the issues using case facts and relevant business tools, concepts, and models; develop and evaluate some alternative solutions (again drawing on case facts and appropriate tools, concepts, and models); and recommend a course of action. Prepare two or three pages of notes to take to class. These notes will give you talking points for the class discussion. Use your notes in class to keep track of the points your colleagues raise and to quickly identify opportunities to add to the discussion. As you track the discussion, you can formulate arguments to challenge your colleagues’ analysis of the case or to revise your own thoughts about the case. Due to time or space constraints, your instructor might require only a partial case analysis. For example, you could be asked to focus only on identifying and analyzing the issues. Alternatively, the case might clearly define the issues, and you could be asked to only identify and evaluate possible solutions. Another form of partial case analysis is a “directed case,” in which you are directed to answer a specific set of questions about the case. In such cases, your preparation for class should focus on the partial analysis you have been directed to perform. 3. CONTRIBUTE TO IN-CLASS DISCUSSION Your willingness to participate in the discussion of a case will enable you to consider a variety of viewpoints and insights, and thereby gain the full benefits of the class’s collective knowledge and experience. In class, the instructor’s role is to facilitate discussion, often by asking questions. Students should do most of the talking, and you should be prepared to provide supporting reasons for your views. You are expected to show respect for others’ opinions, but you are also encouraged to challenge each other. Similarly, you are expected to be willing to submit your analysis and conclusions to scrutiny by others, without becoming defensive. Several good plans of action are usually possible, so do not refrain from taking and maintaining a minority position, provided you can defend your position using sound analysis. On the other hand, feel free to change your position and recommendations as others’ views emerge and a more complete range of information is assembled. 19 25 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 1. INTRODUCTION TO PREPARING TO DISCUSS A CASE IN CLASS Due to time constraints, it is impossible to discuss every aspect of a case in class. Therefore, your instructor might steer the discussion in a particular direction, or the discussion might centre on only one or two steps of the case analysis; for example, identification and analysis of issues might be the focus of one case, while on another occasion, the issues might be clearly defined and your task could be to focus on developing possible solutions. Nevertheless, you are welcome to introduce additional ideas, other issues or a new alternative, for instance. Doing so will help to avoid feeling frustrated because some of your best ideas are not discussed. While your instructor might not be able to discuss your ideas to your complete satisfaction, you can enrich the discussion by noting additional aspects of the case that are worthy of more consideration. Generally, the class as a whole will perform a more thorough and creative analysis than would be possible by any one person working alone or by any given small team of students. Therefore, do not be discouraged because you did not consider a particular solution. As new ideas are raised, be prepared to supplement or adjust your prepared analysis and recommendations. 4. LISTEN TO OTHERS IN CLASS Listening to others in class is hard work. Use active listening techniques, apply listening etiquette, and refrain from activities that will prevent you or others from hearing what the speaker is saying. 4.1. Use Active Listening Techniques Listen for the ideas the speaker is presenting, not just the words being spoken. Link what one speaker is saying to what others have already said. By doing so, you can build on their arguments or dispute their conclusions by making direct reference to their statements. Listen critically for the main argument the speaker is presenting, so you can understand how the speaker’s argument differs from yours, and how the speaker uses case facts, concepts, and models in analysis. Recognizing the logic of the speaker’s argument aids you in structuring your own argument in response. Active listening helps you build on analyses and arguments presented by previous speakers. Ask questions that clarify a speaker’s use of case facts, concepts, and models, and that clarify the conclusions drawn by the speaker. Briefly summarizing a previous speaker’s comments in your notes ensures that you have understood what a colleague has said. This summary can also help you to establish and refine agreement among class members at various stages of the case discussion process. Avoid making judgments about a speaker’s ideas; quick judgments limit your willingness to hear what the speaker is saying, which can lead you to discount the value of your colleague’s contribution to the case discussion. Having preconceived ideas about what a speaker might say can cause you to tune out of the conversation; and when you tune back in, you could have missed a critical component of the speaker’s argument. Finally, approach a discussion with an open mind: you might discover during the class discussion that you misinterpreted a fact or misapplied a concept or model, and that the analysis, alternatives, and recommendation provided by others is more appropriate than yours. 20 26 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method 4.2. Use Listening Etiquette Give feedback to the speaker through your body language: maintain eye contact with the speaker, nod and smile when appropriate, and physically lean into the conversation. Show respect by allowing the speaker to completely finish speaking. A pause could simply be the speaker taking an opportunity to gather thoughts, not an indication that the speaker has finished talking. Appropriate listening etiquette requires that you do not carry on side conversations while a speaker has the floor. Side conversations distract not only the speaker but also those around you, and could prevent a speaker’s ideas from being understood by the entire group. Appropriate listening etiquette also requires that you not be distracted by electronic devices. Ensure that your laptop is open to your notes and the case. Turn off your cellphone and put it out of sight. When your attention is distracted by electronic devices, you also distract those around you and interfere with the collective understanding of the case. Good listening etiquette helps you to develop essential management competencies, skills, and abilities. Your technical, analytical, problem-solving, and creative skills will be sharpened as you evaluate your own analysis against that of your colleagues. 5. ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF YOUR CLASS PARTICIPATION There is no one single way to earn high marks for preparation and participation. However, the following guidelines can enhance the quality of your class participation:       Identify the most important issues, including those that might have been overlooked by those closest to the situation. Provide supporting arguments for any statements you make or conclusions you draw, but be clear and to the point. Share appropriate analyses; for example, bring your proposed organizational chart or your financial analysis on a flash drive, or at least be prepared to share a few key specifics of your analysis. This is a clear way to demonstrate your preparation. Come to a decision and be prepared to give your recommendations. Any analysis you have completed is of minimal value if it does not culminate in a decision. Participate in all phases of the discussion—identification and analysis of the issues, development and evaluation of alternatives, and development of an action plan. Interact with other students. Ask them to provide support for their arguments. State why you disagree with their opinion. Build on their analysis, but avoid merely repeating what they have said. 21 27 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. Listening etiquette begins with focused attention on the speaker. Allowing colleagues to share what they have diligently prepared shows respect for the time they have spent preparing and recognizes the value of their thoughts and contributions. NOTE 4: PREPARING A WRITTEN CASE REPORT 22 28 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The Student Guide to the Case Method The Student Guide to the Case Method The method for a basic case analysis presented in Note 2 of the Case Guide Series—“Performing a Case Analysis,” No. 9B18M054—can be used for various purposes: discussing the case in class, writing a report, making a presentation, or writing a case exam. This note guides you in preparing a written case report by applying the four steps of case analysis described in Note 2. The report described in this note assumes that you are performing a full case analysis (rather than doing a partial case analysis or taking an analytical approach). The guidelines relating to format, organization, and written communication are for general use. You should always defer to your instructor’s requirements, which might differ and be more specific. 2. PLAY YOUR ASSIGNED ROLE For each case assignment, you will be asked to adopt a specific role as a student, consultant, employee, or manager who is writing a report to a specific person or persons. Depending on your assigned role, your analysis could be written as a report to your instructor, your supervisor, the board of directors, or to the client who engaged you as a consultant. In this note, we generally refer to the person who will receive the report as the reader. It is important that before you begin writing your report, you have a clear understanding of who will be reading your report and that person’s (or those persons’) needs and expectations. Your report should be written with your reader(s) in mind. Your audience is reading the report to gain an understanding of how you propose to solve an issue. They are pressed for time and are often inundated with information. They want their information quickly and easily without having to bring extra thought to the process of reading. The following are some suggestions to make your report reader-friendly:     Avoid jargon, inside terminology, and undefined abbreviations. Keep your sentences simple and straightforward, use paragraphs to group similar thoughts, and keep your paragraphs short. Make the information easy to find by using headers and page numbers, clear and informative section headings, and accurate cross-references. Avoid decorative elements and be generous with white space—extra lines—between sections so your reader can easily see how information is clustered. Always use professional tone and tact. However, if you are playing the role of an external consultant, you can be a little bolder in making your points than if you are playing the role of someone from within the organization—especially when writing to a supervisor. 3. IDENTIFY THE ISSUES 3.1. Be Clear A high-quality case report focuses on the most important issues and clearly identifies those issues at the start of the report. Without a clear statement of the issues, problems, and opportunities (collectively referred to hereafter as “issues”) that you intend to address, your report will wander aimlessly from one topic to the next and be of limited value to your reader. 23 29 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 1. INTRODUCTION TO PREPARING A WRITTEN CASE REPORT The Student Guide to the Case Method Settle on a Manageable Set of Issues It is important to arrive at a set of relevant issues that are manageable within the size constraints of your written report. (See Note 2 for more information about evaluating and prioritizing issues.) In a short report (e.g., 1,000 to 1,500 words), you can usually effectively address only two or three issues. In a longer report (e.g., 2,500 to 3,000 words), you might be able to address five or six issues. Focusing in-depth on a few key issues is generally more productive than a cursory analysis of many issues. Particularly in long or complex cases, you will need to make choices among the issues and determine priorities. 3.3. Use Your Issue Statement to Let the Reader Know What to Expect An easy way to let the reader know what to expect in the upcoming analysis is to ensure that the issues you identify are the same issues that you subsequently analyze. Something you first identify as an issue might sometimes dissipate or diminish in priority after you begin your analysis, and other issues might surface. This change in priorities is part of the normal iterative process of case analysis. Although you should begin your draft report with a clear issue statement, the issue statement will evolve to a certain degree as you complete your report. Double-back after you have completed your initial analysis of the issues and revise your issue statement accordingly. In the final version of the report, the issues you identify at the start of the report should be in absolute agreement with your subsequent analysis and recommendations. For a complex case, your issue statement should also identify the sub-issues associated with each issue. Noting the sub-issues will help to prepare the reader for the analysis section. For instance, the owner of a business might contemplate whether to expand to the United States. As an issue statement, the question of whether to expand to the United States is superficial and can be made more precise. A full issue statement might include whether the company has the resources to successfully execute such a move, whether the American market is more attractive than the Canadian one, and whether such a move fits with the preferences of others who own a significant share of the company. The reader of the report is then set up to expect, for example, a resource gap analysis; an analysis of market size, growth trends, and the degree of competition in both the American and Canadian markets; and an analysis of stakeholder preferences. To provide another example, a 1999 strategic management case about WestJet Airlines Ltd. asked two questions: “Should WestJet move into Eastern Canada? If so, how soon and to what extent?” For that particular case, a sample issue statement might be The main issue facing WestJet is whether to move into Eastern Canada. Three key factors to consider in this decision are the degree to which such a move will require the company to deviate from its successful Southwest model, how the move would fit with corporate goals, and the level of competition WestJet would face in Eastern Canada compared with in Western Canada. The second issue facing WestJet is to determine the timing and magnitude of any eastward expansion that would be compatible with the company’s goals and resource constraints, and align with competitors’ plans and capabilities. This issue statement provides a logical foundation for the following analyses: an assessment of what the Southwest model involves, and how it gives WestJet a competitive advantage; an assessment of goals, such as keeping debt low and continuing to grow in Western Canada; and an analysis of the competition posed by Air Canada and other low-fare entrants in both Eastern and Western Canada. Although the issue statement does not explicitly lay out the types of analyses that will follow in the report, it should provide enough hints and clues that a reader will not be surprised to find a section on “The Southwest Model” or “Analysis of the Competition.” This approach to building an issue statement also ensures that you are being deliberate in selecting and applying various analytical tools and models. 24 30 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 3.2. The Student Guide to the Case Method 4. ANALYZE THE ISSUES 4.1. Test the Case Facts To produce a high-quality report, you need to present the case facts in a way that contributes to your analysis and adds value to your report. Avoid merely reiterating or rehashing case material. When you restate case facts, be sure they form part of a logical argument and are accompanied by inferences and findings. To ensure that you are using the case facts appropriately, read each sentence in your report that includes a fact from the case and ask yourself, “What’s my point?” If the answer to this question is not addressed in the same sentence or in the next few lines of the report, either delete the fact or explain the inference that you intended to draw. For example, there is little value in repeating that “the company currently holds a five per cent market share in Canada” unless you use that fact to support, say, the contention that the company has room to grow its Canadian customer base prior to expanding into the United States. You do not need to use a formal footnote when referring to material from the case. Direct quotations from the case should be acknowledged by citing the page number of the case in the body of the report, but keep direct quotations to a bare minimum, using them only where special emphasis is desired. 4.2. Use Business Concepts Business concepts that are used as part of your analysis should add value to your report and be relevant to your reader. Avoid discussing theories or models unless you explain them sufficiently and fit them to the situation in the case. For example, discussing what constitutes a competitive advantage is of little value unless you then proceed to use the VRIO model developed by Jay Barney to illustrate that the organization’s resources and capabilities are valuable, rare, inimitable, and that the firm is organized to exploit those resources and capabilities. The required level of explanation depends on the reader’s knowledge, educational background, and organizational position. You might not need to explain common business terms, but do not assume that your reader is familiar with academic or business models such as Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory or the growth–share matrix developed by Boston Consulting Group. Some business terms, such as competitive advantage and core competencies, are widely used but different people might understand them differently. When in doubt, briefly explain a term. For example, you might specify that an organization’s competitive advantage refers to how it intends to attract customers by offering something that is of value to them and differs from what its competitors offer. Specifically and deliberately apply business concepts to the case. For example, a discussion of Raymond Vernon’s model of a product life cycle should categorize the company’s products into various life cycle stages and assess the implications of having two-thirds of the company’s products in the maturity and decline stages. A case report is not an academic research report; avoid writing that is overly theoretical and academic. Considerable skill is required to successfully integrate business theory so that it is perceived as practical and not overly conceptual. At the same time, you want to show your instructor that you are able to apply the course material and demonstrate to the intended reader that you have the appropriate expertise relevant to the situation. 25 31 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. Remember, a reasonable degree of clarity about the issues is necessary to begin preparing your case report, but expect your understanding of the issues to evolve as you progress through your analysis. Ensure that your final issue statement reflects your refined identification of the issues and accurately orients the reader to the rest of the case report. The Student Guide to the Case Method Use External Research Sparingly To keep your task of writing a case report more manageable, most of your reports will not require external research. When your instructor does request external research, the results of your research should also be presented to add value to the report, making it clear why the research is relevant to the situation. Never append external research to your written report without using that research to help dissect issues or build arguments. Acknowledge the source of any external research with a reference note (e.g., a footnote, endnote, or in-text citation). 4.4. Adhere to Length Constraints Your instructor will usually set a word or page limit for your report. Learning to be concise and efficient with your writing will prepare you for writing excellent reports for busy professionals. The analysis portion of your report should be substantial. Together with the evaluation of alternatives, it will form the bulk of your report. However, because of length constraints, be judicious in deciding how much and which parts of your analysis to include in your written report. Some of the analysis is mainly for your own benefit—helping you understand the organization and its industry—rather than being of value to the reader. Your instructor might ask you to include such analysis in an appendix, with appropriate references to the appendix in the report. Alternatively, your instructor might ask you to exclude such analysis from the report to make room for analysis that will be of more value to the reader. 5. DEVELOP AND EVALUATE YOUR ALTERNATIVES Depending on how long your report is and how complex the issues are, you could evaluate as few as three or four alternatives or as many as seven or eight. It is rarely possible to do a good job of evaluating more than eight alternatives. Sometimes, it can seem expedient to group a few alternatives together and evaluate them as a package. However, it can be difficult to evaluate combined alternatives because each component usually has its own pros and cons. As well, evaluating packaged alternatives often obscures some of the issues and results in an evaluation that is less thorough than if each alternative had been evaluated separately. Therefore, it is usually preferable to wait until the recommendation phase to combine alternatives. Rather than providing a complete evaluation of the pros and cons of all your alternatives, it might be sufficient to only briefly mention some of the alternatives and give a short rationale for why they were discarded early in the evaluation process. Since analysis of alternatives is a key part of any written report, ensure that you sufficiently discuss your selected alternatives in the body of the report. Listing the pros and cons in bullet form or presenting such information in tables is an efficient way to evaluate alternatives. However, avoid using phrases that have ambiguous meanings, such as “requires additional resources” or “uses core competencies.” Such phrases leave the reader to draw inferences. Instead, specify the resources that are required or the core competencies to be used. Using lists and tables can also have disadvantages. Too many lists and tables can lead to a report that appears cluttered and is difficult to read. However, a report that is text-heavy can also be cumbersome to read. 26 32 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. 4.3. The Student Guide to the Case Method 6. MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS In general, avoid introducing new analysis or new alternatives in the recommendations section of your report. Your recommended solution will be one of the alternatives or a combination of the alternatives you evaluated. In some instances, in an effort to keep a report short, you might be asked by your instructor to combine your evaluation of alternatives with your recommendations and present only the solutions you recommend for adoption. Your goal is to develop recommendations that will be useful, given the issues that you are trying to resolve; consistent with your analysis; reasonable, given the organization and its environment; feasible, given the organization’s resources; and convincing to your supervisor or client. Your rationale should capture the main reasons for adopting your recommendations and show how you have mitigated any significant drawbacks. Your recommendations should be specific enough that they provide the organization with an action plan, including who will implement the recommendations, how, when, and in what priority. In addition to discussing the basic plan of action in the body of the report, it is helpful with lengthy cases to provide an implementation chart in an appendix to capture the details at a glance. Some instructors prefer that you separate your recommendations and implementation plan into two sections of your report, and provide a more expansive action plan with priorities for implementation, detailed timelines, and personnel assignments. 7. CONTENT AND FORMAT OF YOUR REPORT 7.1. Length Your instructor will specify the number of pages or words for each case assignment. Adhere to the restricted length by organizing your report effectively, prioritizing your material, avoiding repetition, and choosing your words carefully. As discussed in Section 3.2, select a manageable set of issues and ensure your set of alternatives is also workable. Presenting some of your analysis and findings in figures or appendices is an economical use of space, often allowing you to present more information in less space than you could in the body of your report (see Section 7.11). 7.2. Font Use the font specified by your instructor in the assignment or course syllabus or on the course website. 27 33 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. Therefore, strike a balance. For instance, discuss key pros and cons in paragraph form and supplement the text with a table containing additional pros and cons. Avoid duplicating content in both paragraphs and tables. To help evaluate your alternatives, establish a set of decision criteria and use those criteria to identify pros and cons. Measuring alternatives against decision criteria also helps to keep the analysis consistent, reducing bias. (Evaluating alternatives is discussed in detail in Note 2.) The Student Guide to the Case Method 7.3. Spacing 7.4. Page Numbers The executive summary, which appears directly after the cover page, is not numbered, nor is it calculated in the page count or word count. The remaining pages should be numbered, but the page number should not be shown on the first page. Pages containing appendices should also be numbered, using Roman numerals. Appendices are not included in the page count or word count, although your instructor might set a separate limit on the number of appendices or the number of pages used for appendices. 7.5. Headings and Subheadings Use headings even in short reports; include subheadings in longer reports. Headings and subheadings improve readability by informing your reader what to expect and by keeping your reader oriented within the structure of your report. They make it easier for a reader to return to the report and quickly find needed information. Headings and subheadings also help you to organize your thoughts more carefully, keeping you and, subsequently, your reader focused. 7.6. Cover Page A professional report should include a cover page that identifies the name of the person or persons for whom the report is prepared, the name of the person or persons who prepared the report, the date, and the subject of the report, as shown in the following sample. REPORT TO: FROM: DATE: SUBJECT: 7.7. Jordan Kerr, President, Kerr Manufacturing Ltd. Nancy Drake, Eagle Consulting Group September 20, 2017 Customer Retention Difficulties Executive Summary An executive summary is required unless your instructor specifies otherwise. Write the executive summary after you complete the rest of the report, but place it immediately after the cover page and before the report’s main content. The executive summary is designed to outline the report’s most important issues and recommendations. It should stimulate the reader’s interest in the rest of the report, (e.g. by including profit projections for your recommendations, or for indicating the projected growth in market share) convincing the reader that reading the whole report will be worthwhile and valuable. For the size of report you will produce while a student, the executive summary should not exceed one page (250 words). For a very long report (e.g., 40 or 50 pages), a two-page summary might be justified. 28 34 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. Unless your instructor directs you otherwise, reports should be double-spaced. In business, reports are normally single-spaced; however, double-spacing is usually used in academia to allow room for your instructor to provide feedback. The Student Guide to the Case Method 7.8. Introduction The introduction should never include a salutation, such as “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.” The introduction is not a brief summary of the case. Your supervisor or the person who hired you as a consultant is already familiar with the facts. However, a sentence or two in the introduction about the company’s current situation helps to explain the purpose of the report. As discussed in Section 4.1, case facts should be included in the report only to make a specific point. Therefore, do not spend time and words reiterating case facts in the introduction. Depending on the style preferred by your instructor and the complexity of the case, identifying the issues can form a key part of the introduction to your report. Usually, though, you will identify the issues in a subsequent section that focuses exclusively on identifying the issues. The latter approach generally is favoured because it more clearly distinguishes the issues for both you and your reader. In general, the introduction should not exceed a half page in length (125 words). If you identify the issues in your introduction, the introduction could be as long as a page (250 words). 7.9. Body of the Report The body of the report is typically divided into sections for issues, analysis of issues, alternatives, and recommendations. Especially for the analysis and alternatives sections, use subheadings for each issue and each alternative to make your report more readable and user-friendly. Subheadings also help you to organize your thoughts (see Section 7.5). Similarly, use paragraphs to separate each group of related thoughts from the next. Use of many short paragraphs will also make your report more readable. If your report includes figures or appendices, make specific reference to the figure or appendix at the appropriate place in the body of your report. This reference directs the reader to link the content in the body with the supplementary information. 7.10. Conclusion The final section in a written report is the conclusion. This section should provide a very brief (no more than a quarter to a half page) summary of the main findings of the report. The conclusion should also convince the reader that it would be beneficial for the organization to adopt the recommendations in the report. The conclusion should follow strictly from your analysis and avoid introducing any new material, since you will have already clearly built your argument in the analysis section of the report. 7.11. Figures and Appendices 7.11.1. The Purpose of Figures and Appendices Figures or appendices are used to capture some of your analysis or recommendations in a form more succinct than prose. Quantitative analysis is usually best presented in figures and appendices. Some forms 29 35 For use only in the course BUAD 301 20-21 General at California State University - Fullerton taught by CSUF from May 26, 2020 to May 26, 2021. Use outside these parameters is a copyright violation. The first section in the report is a brief introduction, which should capture the purpose and scope of the report. The purpose of the report states why you have been asked to write the report. The scope identifies what you will do in the report (e.g., identify issues, analyze those issues, and develop and evaluate alternatives). The Student Guide to the Case Method Depending on the size of your report, some items should be incorporated within the body of the report while others should be appended to the back. It is conventional to include relatively short charts or tables or small graphs within the report and to attach longer items to the back of the report. Depending on your instructor’s preferences, small charts, tables, and graphs within the body of a report are referred to as figures, illustrations, or exhibits; exhibits sometimes refer to material appended to the end of a report, but, more commonly, that content is referred to as appendices. Whatever terminology you use, be consistent throughout the report. Each appendix is usually considered to be a stand-alone item that the reader can refer to both during and after reading the body of the report. To help draw the reader into the appendi...
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CASE TITLE & NUMBER
____________________________________________
Name
Major Problem
The major problem identified was the competition by companies interested in the Internet videostreaming business. The reason was that companies such as Hulu and Amazon had started offering the same
services on the internet. The DVD business for Netflix was at risk due to this new technology. Facts citing this
as the problem are indicated in the competition. Over 44 million people were using Amazon to stream videos
just the same year it was launched (Busuttil & Van Weelden, 2018). The new st...


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