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

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How to frame a business case

1.6 The language of STEP analysis

Sentences become word groups

Most of the factors the student wrote in the STEP analysis table were abstract noun groups such as government deregulation, potential rise in oil prices and use of e-tickets.

As suggested before, abstract nouns are useful in note making because they reduce generalisations to fewer words.

Activity 11

Task 1

Purpose: to see how STEP factors are sentences turned into word groups.

Below there are six word groups used in the STEP table and six extracts from the ‘US Airlines’ case study text. For each extract write down the word group that summarises it.

Word groups

(a) use of internet to obtain best fares(b) use of e-tickets
(c) threat of terrorism(d) willingness to use low-cost flights
(e) government deregulation(f) potential rise in oil prices

Extracts from ‘US Airlines’

  • i.Since the government deregulated the industry in 1978, it has faced two serious recessions in the early 1980s and 1990s.
  • ii.… the increasingly likely prospect of a war with Iraq could cause oil prices to spike, further undermining the shaky health of many US airlines and leading to the possibility that other carriers could go bust.
  • iii.Other airlines have begun to charge an additional fee of up to $25 if passengers insist on using paper tickets instead of electronic ones.
  • iv.At the same time, the internet has made it much easier for both business and leisure travellers to compare prices and tinker with itineraries in order to save money.
  • v.the combination of the fear created by September 2001 terrorist attacks ... makes this downturn different, say analysts
  • vi.the traditional carriers in the US were already facing fierce competition from cut-price operators such as Southwest Airlines and three-year-old upstart, Jet Blue. Most have acknowledged that they will have to slash costs if they are to survive. The success of low cost ‘no-frills’ carriers in lucrative markets such as California and the east coast has destroyed the traditional carriers’ profits on many routes that they once dominated. For example, Southwest Airlines’ share of the California market has jumped to more than 60 per cent in the 18 months while United’s share has fallen to less than 20 per cent.
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(i) Government deregulation; (ii) potential rise in oil prices; (iii) use of e-tickets; (iv) use of internet to obtain best fares; (v) threat of terrorism; (vi) willingness to use low cost flights.


As discussed before, abstract nouns such as deregulation, rise and threat are concepts packed with meaning. They can also be combined with other words such as government, potential, oil prices and terrorism to include even more meaning.

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