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

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How to frame a business case

1.5 A student’s STEP analysis of ‘US Airlines’ – the process

Active reading strategies can be used to get an overview of the case study but when you read to analyse it, you are searching for information. This kind of reading can be called search-reading.

There are two strategies from the active reading method which are particularly important in search reading:

  • think of a question that the text is going to answer for you before you read
  • keep asking more questions during reading.

When you search-read for a STEP analysis you are reading with the following questions in mind.

  • Is this event economic (or social, or political, or technological)?
  • Is it in the external environment?
  • Does it influence the big airline companies?

It is also important to make notes actively when you search-read. It is best when making notes for a STEP analysis to use a STEP analysis table, as the next activity shows.

Activity 10

Task 1

Purpose: to practise making notes for a STEP analysis.

The noun groups below are factors from the ‘US Airlines’ case. Write each factor in the appropriate category in the blank STEP analysis boxes.

uncertain geopoliticsnewspaper articles
use of e-ticketsgovernment deregulation
downturn in passenger trafficuse of internet to obtain best fares
willingness to use low-cost flightswar with Iraq
threat of terrorismwillingness to use internet
cabin baggage regulations to enforce excess baggage fees
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Answer

Social: newspaper articles; downturn in passenger traffic; willingness to use low cost flights; willingness to use the internet.

Political: war with Iraq; government deregulation; threat of terrorism; cabin baggage regulations to enforce excess baggage fees; uncertain geopolitics.

Technical: use of e-tickets to reduce costs; use of internet to obtain best fares.

Task 2

Purpose: to practise active search reading and note making.

No economic factors are included in the list above. Search read the ‘US Airlines’ case study looking for economic factors. Use the following questions.

  • Is this event economic?
  • Is it in the external environment?
  • Does it influence the big carriers?

Note down the economic factors, reducing the sentences to word groups.

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Answer

Economic: potential rise in oil prices; cut price or ‘no frills’ operators; impact of airlines filing for bankruptcy; uncertainty over health of economy; companies reconsidering business travel policies.

Task 3

Are there any factors included in the STEP table which shouldn’t be there because they are not in the external environment?

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Answer

Cabin baggage regulations is possibly not an external factor influencing the airlines but a response by the airlines to the external factors. Airlines filing for bankruptcy may also not be an external factor.

Comment

Like all reading, it is easier to do the search-reading process in Activity 2 if you already know something about the concepts and language of the text. However, for a STEP analysis you use a mind map of concepts which are not in the text but are in your mind. The economic concepts from the text which you looked at in Activity 7 include: the impact of banks, stock markets, the world money markets, and trading blocs such as the European Union.

If these were all the economic concepts you had in mind when you read ‘US Airlines’, you would not find any economic factors. None of these are mentioned. However, if your mind map for economic influences includes concepts such as rise in oil prices, airlines filing for bankruptcy and recession, you will be able to frame these events using a STEP framework. This is why business studies courses stress the importance of key concepts. Business studies involve a process of learning which concepts to use and how these concepts are understood by other people.

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