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Strategic Case Method

1.

Case Studies

A case describes the events and organisational circumstances surrounding a particular managerial situation. It puts readers at the scene of the action and familiarises them with the relevant circumstances. A Strategic Management case may concern a whole industry, a single organisation, or some part of an organisation. The essence of case analysis is to diagnose and size up the situation described in the case and then to recommend appropriate action steps. The objectives of case analysis are: 1. 2. To increase your understanding of what managers should do in guiding an organisation to success; To build your skills in conducting strategic analysis in a variety of industries, competitive situations, and organisational circumstances; To give you practice in diagnosing strategic issues, evaluating strategic alternatives, and formulating workable plans of action; To enhance your sense of managerial judgement by wrestling with actual problems of actual managers and from practice working with complex situations and incomplete information; To gain an in-depth exposure to a range of different industries and companies, thereby gaining something close to actual management experience.

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The purpose of a case assignment is not to cause you to run to the library to look up what the company actually did but, rather, to enhance your skills in sizing up situations and developing your managerial judgement about what needs to be done and how to do it. The aim of case analysis is for you to bear the strains of thinking actively, of offering your analysis, of proposing action plans, and of explaining and defending your assessments. Working as a team provides opportunities to discuss and debate the case details and your analysis. As you learn from each other, your collective understanding of the organisation, its situation and the alternatives available, improves. The overall quality of the your team=s case evaluation will reflect the synergy created by the team.
(Thompson & Strickland, 1995:318-320)

2.

Analysing a Case

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a) b)

Read the case through quickly for familiarity - to get a general flavour of the situation and the issues involved. Read the case a second time - to understand the finer details. Highlight or underline key facts. Note the date when the case is set to put your analysis in context. Study all the exhibits carefully - often the real story is in the numbers in the exhibits! Financial statements will need thorough scrutiny and analysis. Make a preliminary list of the strategic issues and problems in the case. Try to distinguish the problems from the symptoms (or evidence of problems). For example, consider a medical analogy: if the symptoms are fever and abdominal pain, the problem may be appendicitis! Remember to base your analysis on the information likely to have been available to the organisation at the time of the case. Try to understand the organisation=s current vision, mission and strategy. Look for statements about what the organisation wants to be or what it wants to do. These pronouncements may be contradictory or misleading so you may have to deduce the strategy by looking at where the organisation spends its money. Look at what the organisation sells and to whom - identify products and markets. Also consider the competitive focus which is indicative of significant competencies, resources or capabilities. Does the organisation compete on the basis of price, quality, technology, and/or marketing skills? Is it a leader or follower in product research? How important is service? ... Select and apply appropriate strategic management models/tools/frameworks to develop your understanding of the organisations= current strategic position and the specific strategic issues which need to be addressed. Your evaluation will include a series of internal and external environmental analyses. Identify the major strategic problem or issue which the key decision maker in the case needs to resolve and any related secondary issues which need to be addressed. Craft two or three potential scenarios which provide feasible alternative strategies to resolve the major strategic problem or issue. These alternatives should evolve from your analysis and need to be quite specific. Try to craft these detailed options to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the theoretical models you have studied. It is at this stage that you can practise combining your analytical skills with your creative abilities! Establish a set of decision criteria for evaluating the alternative strategies. These criteria will be derived from key internal and

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external factors and/or issues from the case analysis; building on your understanding of performance, positioning, and the appropriability and sustainability of competitive advantage. j) Use this set of decision criteria to evaluate each of the alternative strategies and select a specific strategy to recommend for the manager to implement. Make sure that your recommended strategy is addressing the key strategic problem or issue you have identified. Develop an action plan that spells out the details required to implement your chosen strategy. This plan needs to address key issues in each of the major functional areas including finance, marketing, HRM, and systems.
analysis and your recommendations! This material will be useful and important in both the written report and the case presentation.

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***** Remember to prepare reasons, evidence and arguments to support all of your

3.

Writing a Case Report

The written analysis of a case is the communication of your team=s decision and rationale; it summarises your solution to the case. Your primary objective is to convince senior managers and others with a stake in the firm of the worth of your recommendations. The idea is to put yourselves in the key decision makers shoes and deal with the case problem or opportunity at the time, based upon the information stated in the case. Try to include as many specific details from your analyses as possible to substantiate and support your views. 3.1 a) Required Contents of the Written Case Report The cover page, which is not numbered, must be printed with a barcode using the Assignment Cover Sheet@ program located on any computer in MS6, MSB0 or MSC. Succinct introductory summary of the organisation=s current strategic position. The opening paragraph should state the purpose of the report and the name of the organisation, its line of business, (i.e. products? markets? industry or industries?), its size and structure, and any special distinctive features. Provide as much detail as you can (e.g. include numbers to indicate size rather than saying it is Asmall@ or Alarge@). The develop a second paragraph explaining the organisations vision and mission. If not explicitly stated in the case, you should still provide these details (indicating that they are inferred). Use quotation marks for any sentences copied from the case. Describe
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the organisation=s current strategy. Most strategy cases will focus on the corporate or business level strategy, but some functional level strategies should also be discernible. c) Detailed description of the case situation based on the internal and external environmental analyses. Think about the patterns of information you have generated in your analyses, not just the tools you have used, and then you will be able to make your report more interesting by having a sequence which shows or develops linkages between results. For some cases you may choose to go from the big picture to the small; starting with external analysis and the results at macro level, then industry level analyses before moving to internal firm level analyses. You do NOT need to include a description of any of the models or tools just focus on your key results including as much detail as possible. Lists of SWOT or STEP factors go in appendices NOT in the body of your report. You are expected to use the models we have covered this semester; look at the Thompson and Strickland article for ideas on external analysis. d) A statement of the major strategic issues and problems which need to be addressed. Most strategy cases require you to address the long term future direction of the organisation (i.e. to develop a Areal@ strategy). You may have to handle simultaneously a number of functional issues which seem urgent at the present time. So look carefully at the issues in the case and don=t forget the future strategic direction. Description of the feasible alternative strategies which have been crafted to address the major strategic issues/problems. Two or three good alternatives will be sufficient for this exercise. Use the terminology covered in class for the different types of strategies. Give each one a short descriptive title based on the type of strategy; describe and discuss what is involved.. Be specific.... name products, markets etc. Each alternative should provide a different potential path for the organisation=s future. Do not include options that are not worthy of serious consideration. Remember, this report would go to the CEO of the company: what credibility would you have if you proposed an option which was unrealistic? You need to integrate product/ market positioning with the organisational capabilities approach. Evaluation of the alternative strategies using the customised set of decision criteria. The decision criteria will need to be customised for the case and described in an appendix. You need a mix of internal and external factors, and some which incorporate long term impacts. Remember to provide explanations of your comparisons. The strategy which is recommended for the organisation to move

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forward and deal effectively with the issues it faces. The recommended strategy will need further elaboration and support. For example, if your recommendation includes an acquisition then details of the value of the acquisition, the price the company will pay, how the acquisition will be financed, what impact this has on the debt/equity target, ROI expected and the payback period. Your rationale for the strategy is very important. h) An action plan which provides details of the activities, priorities and responsibilities in each of the functional areas to implement the recommended strategy. Be as specific as possible (not with lists) but priorities activties.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmcccxii) A concluding summary which states or shows that the strategy you are recommending offers the best strategic direction of this organisation and addresses the major strategic issues in the case. j) Appendices which are included to provide supporting evidence of your analyses. Appendices need good headings so we know what you are analysing. For example: Porter=s Five Forces Analysis of the Construction Industry in NZ in 1998. Appendices are used to provide evidence of your supporting analysis. Types of useful appendices differ from case to case. For a particular case you might include STEP analysis coupled with industry driving forces, Porter=s Five Forces, SWOT analysis, SWOT analysis of a prospective acquisition (including the parent company and any relevant divisions or subsidiaries, Core Competencies, Financial Analysis, a combined Balance Sheet using at least one cost saving scenario, an acquisition price worksheet and customised evaluation criteria. 3.2 Format of the Written Case Report

The length of the written report is expected to be a maximum of 10 pages of text word-processed on size A4 paper, with 1.5 line spacing, font size 12, and 2.5cm margins. Up to 5 pages of appendices may be attached but will be ignored unless they are appropriately referenced in the text. ALL of the critical information should be included in the main report. The report should be stapled in the top left hand corner; please do not use a report cover or binding.

Handy Hints for a Professional Report


* Use descriptive headings and sub-headings to structure your report.

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Be complete and direct. throughout the report.

Use specific examples to illustrate main points

Present your thoughts in complete sentences (avoid simply listing points) structured into paragraphs. Identify new paragraphs by either indenting or skipping an extra line. Try to remember to use the appropriate vocabulary and grammar. Avoid jargon and slang expressions. Avoid absolute terms such as Aobvious@ or Acertainly@. Avoid value-laden words or phrasing such as Aproper@ planning, etc Do not needlessly repeat case material or unimportant facts. You can assume that the report reader is familiar with the general circumstances of the case. You may make assumptions but they need to be clearly stated. Try not to make unwarranted assumptions. Do not quote any outside sources of information, commercial or academic, unless they are directly relevant to an argument. There is usually more than enough material in the case to do a thorough analysis. Do not use material that contains information about the organisation subsequent to the period referred to in the case. Edit and revise! Edit and revise!

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Proof read and use a SPELL CHECKER to check for any typos or spelling mistakes!

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4.

Strategic Case Presentation

The oral presentation provides an opportunity for your team to articulate a convincing and compelling solution to the major strategic issue in the case. As you will have generated far more knowledge of the case from your in-depth analysis and reflection than you can include in your presentation, you will need to be selective. However, you also need to be very specific and provide as many details as you can in the time available. The aim of the presentation is to concisely describe the coherent strategy that you are recommending, using your analysis and appropriate theory to amplify and support your solution. One way to do this is to provide a brief introduction, a description of major issues, and integrate your analysis with the description of your recommended strategy and action plan. The presentation allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the intricate details of the case and the fundamental frameworks and principles of Strategic Management. Further, it enables you to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. Your presentation is expected to cover the same content as your written report; no significant changes from the content of your written analysis are allowed! Don=t make changes because of what you see others doing. 4.1 Timing of the Case Presentation

Each oral presentation is expected to take up to 20 minutes as follows: * The first 10 minutes will consist of an executive summary presentation of the team=s solution to the case, emphasising the issues the team considers most important; The next 10 minutes allow the team to demonstrate their understanding of the case by answering questions from the class and the lecturer; and

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Format of the Case Presentations Each team member is expected to contribute and participate in the oral presentation; at least three speakers are required, but all team members are to be involved with answering questions on the case and their strategy.

Questions may be directed to either the team as a whole or to individual members. Team members may refer a question to another team member who is more familiar with the issue and

better prepared to answer. * Questions may relate to any aspect of the case including the current vision, mission and strategy, internal analysis, external analysis, strategic issues, alternative strategies, evaluative criteria, recommended strategy, implementation issues and the action plan. Follow-up questions on key issues are useful, but to cover the complete case analysis the number of questions in any one area needs to be restricted. At the end of each presentation, an assessment sheet will be completed by each study team and by all staff attending the presentation. Assessment of Presentation the Case

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The oral presentation is worth half of the total case study assessment for each team case. Assessment of the oral presentation will focus on the delivery and the content of the presentation. Specific assessment criteria are listed on the case assessment sheet provided as Appendix 2.

Handy Hints for a Professional Presentation


* * * To ensure a polished performance within the time constraints you are advised to practise your presentation; going over the time limit will not be allowed! Remember to start by briefly introducing the team. Delivery style is important: speak clearly and audibly, dont just read out your notes, aim to be able to present extemporaneously, make eye contact and try to establish some rapport with your audience, avoid distracting mannerisms. Presentation aids should be used only to enhance your explanation; overhead transparencies and/or computer slide presentations need to be clear, readable and used effectively.

Appendix 1 : Written Case Report Assessment


Team: _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Case: ______________________________________________________ ________________ Date:

The following factors will be considered in assessing the written strategic case reports: Content 1. Case knowledge Excellent thorough knowledge of case 2. Case analysis Excellent identification of vision & mission internal analysis external analysis strategic issues alternative strategies evaluative criteria recommended strategy action plan 3. Use of theory Excellent arguments supported by appropriate theory accurate use of key concepts effective use of evaluative criteria 4. Case solution Excellent detailed description of strategy recommended strategy addresses key issues realistic action plan some evidence of creative thought 5. Overall impact Poor Excellent thorough analysis consistency throughout (analysis to action) convincing arguments quality of recommended actions Presentation 6. Style Excellent writing style, spelling, punctuation, headings and layout 7. Structure Excellent introduction logical sequence of ideas convincing summary to finish Poor Poor Marginal Good Very Good Poor Marginal Good Very Good

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Comments

Grade:______

Appendix 2 : Team Case Presentation Assessment


Team: _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Case: ______________________________________________________ ________________ Date:

The following factors will be considered in assessing the strategic case presentations: Content 1. Case knowledge Excellent thorough knowledge of case Poor Marginal Good Very Good

2. Case analysis Excellent evidence of detailed analysis accuracy of analysis complete case sequence consistency throughout (analysis to action) 3. Use of theory Excellent arguments supported by appropriate theory effective use of evaluative criteria 4. Case solution Excellent recommended strategy addresses key issues realistic action plan some evidence of creative thought 5. Question responses Excellent ability to answer specific questions use of analysis to support answers ability to explain relevant theory Delivery 6. Style Excellent audibility? pace? eye contact? notes? language? rapport? extemporaneous! 7. Visual aids Poor Excellent enough? clear/readable? used effectively?

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8. Format Poor Excellent introduction of speakers and topics effective transitions between speakers logical and interesting sequence of ideas convincing summary to finish 9. Overall impact Excellent interest? convincing arguments? enthusiasm? impressive presentation? Comments Poor

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