How to frame a business case
How to frame a business case

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How to frame a business case

1.1 Framing a case with a STEP framework

A good example of an output text organised by business studies concepts is a STEP analysis (Figure 2).

Figure 2 The STEP analysis process
Figure 2 The STEP analysis process

Processing an assignment title

The assignment title gives you the questions to ask when you read a case study. Here is an example of an assignment question about STEP analysis.

“Carry out a STEP analysis outlining the main factors in the external environment influencing the US airlines industry.”

The assignment title tells you what output text to produce and frames the way you read the input text. It usually does this by giving you an instruction and some of the key concepts you should use.

Activity 1

Purpose: to introduce a method for processing an assignment question and to develop your understanding of the STEP analysis framework.

Task: copy the instruction and the key concepts in the assignment question above and paste them into the box below.

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Answer

The instruction is: Carry out a STEP analysis outlining ...

The key concepts are: (i) the STEP framework; (ii) the external environment; (iii) factors ... influencing; (iv) the US airline industry.

Comment

This method of copying the instructions and the key concepts is useful for any assignment question. It means that you won’t arrive at the end of a long case study analysis to discover that you followed the wrong instruction or framed the case using the wrong concepts.

Activity 2

Purpose: to practise identifying instructions and key concepts in case study assignment questions.

Task: copy the instructions and key concepts in the five assignment questions below. Please note: you don’t have to understand the concepts to do this activity and then paste them into the box.

  1. Use the stakeholder model of business environments to examine critically the external environment of Asda–Wal-Mart as outlined in the Case Study.
  2. The changes in Potts Garden Centre business appear to be based on a move from one type of business structure to another. Describe the two types of structure using appropriate concepts. Then write about the problems and benefits of moving from one structure to another.
  3. Wal-Mart is a US-based multinational corporation. Critically discuss the likely costs and benefits of its takeover of Asda, a UK-based company.
  4. Gap takes great care in its vendor selection process, but still receives criticism for the working conditions in some of its suppliers. Outline the key aspects of a vendor selection and monitoring process that will serve Gap’s long-term best interests.
  5. Compare and contrast Gap’s staff management policy with its outsourcing policy.

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Answer

The key concepts are in bold and the instructions are italicised. Text that falls into both categories is shown in bold italics.

  1. Use the stakeholder model of business environments to examine critically the external environment of Asda–Wal-Mart as outlined in the Case Study.
  2. The changes in Potts Garden Centre business appear to be based on a move from one type of business structure to another. Describe the two types of structure using appropriate concepts. Then write about the problems and benefits of moving from one structure to another.
  3. Wal-Mart is a US-based multinational corporation. Critically discuss the likely costs and benefits of its takeover of Asda, a UK-based company.
  4. Gap takes great care in its vendor selection process, but still receives criticism for the working conditions in some of its suppliers. Outline the key aspects of a vendor selection and monitoring process that will serve Gap’s long-term best interests.
  5. Compare and contrast Gap’s staff management policy with its outsourcing policy.

Comment

Each of the concepts in these titles is a conceptual framework to frame your reading of the case study. For example, the second assignment asks you to use the concept business structure.

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