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

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How to frame a business case

1.3 The STEP framework

Here is the assignment question again.

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

The main concept – or set of concepts – is the STEP framework. If you have studied this framework before, this assignment instruction will make sense. In case you haven’t, the next activity introduces the STEP framework. It shows that it is based on four key concepts which you use to frame the case. When you analyse a case using the STEP framework, the concepts you use come from outside the case. You use the STEP concepts to turn the case from a story into an analysis.

Activity 7

Purpose: to relate the four high-level concepts of a STEP framework to the details they frame.

Task: Text 9 explains the four concepts which make up a STEP analysis. They are: social, technological, economic and political influences. Each paragraph gives details about one of these concepts. Choose the correct heading for each paragraph to go in the gap at the beginning of the paragraph.

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The correct headings are political, economic, social, technological.


You might not have needed to read all the words in this text to do this task. The four key concept words can be placed in the correct gap as soon as you recognise one or two details in the paragraph. Each general concept is the central word of a mind map with many other concepts. Figure 5 is the mind map from the text for political influences.

Figure 5
Figure 5 For use with Activity 8

This is a limited mind map and there are many other concepts which could be included under political influences but, like all mind maps, this is a starting point.

Influences and impacts

There is a third concept in the assignment title which must frame the case study analysis. All the social, technological, economic or political influences must be factors which influence the US airline industry. There is a difference between a political event or situation and a political factor.

Activity 8

Purpose: to contrast factor with event or situation.

Task: extract B below gives some information about an economic situation. Which part of the situation is a factor which influences Nike?

Extract B

Nike’s presence in emerging countries can have an enormous economic impact on them. China is now the biggest shoe-producing country in the world; Nike is Vietnam’s biggest employer. Jobs are scarce and people want to work for companies such as Nike and Reebok.

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The economic factor influencing Nike is that jobs are scarce in these countries. The information that Nike is having an economic impact on the country is a factor influencing the country not Nike.


There is a difference between the information framed by the concept economic events or situation, and the information framed by the concept economic factors.

In summary, for an event to fit the economic category in a STEP analysis, the criteria are that it is (i) economic, (ii) in the external environment and (iii) a factor influencing the industry.

If you read a case with business concepts such as this in mind, you are framing the case.

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