EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

The Discipline of Innovation


  1. The Discipline of Innovation (HBS materials)
  2. Samsung Electronics: Global Flash Memory Market (HBS materials)

Group Case Analysis

The first written case analysis is a group assignment. The paper must be strictly your own group's individual work, independent of discussions or consultations with other groups. This means the first case will be done in teams of 4-6 students. Please refer to the Guidelines and Grading for Written Case Analyses page of the web site. Prepared following the guidelines given in that document. You should attempt to present important background case information, and use the tools discussed in class and in the readings as a basis for your analysis. Make sure that your paper addresses the written assignment. The study questions should be addressed as part of the written assignment. The case will be due at 9AM, before the beginning of class on the due date. Papers submitted after this date and time will not be accepted (including but not limited to later in the same day).

Case Summary

In 2006, Samsung Electronics semiconductor business was the world's largest supplier of flash memory components. The company, however, did not originally invent flash technology and entered the market in the early 1990s behind technology leader Toshiba Corporation of Japan. This case explains how Samsung became a leader in the global market for flash memory over the following fifteen years. Readers are asked how they would make investment decisions to maintain this leadership position going forward.

Written Assignment

Recommend a comprehensive strategy, including analysis of alternatives and risks, to the head of Samsung's Semiconductor Business and the Chairman of Samsung. Support your recommendation with an analysis of case facts and answers to the questions below. NOTE: Only the facts presented in the case should be used in your recommendation. This assures consistency of information and consistency in grading.

Discussion Questions

Answers to the questions below should be incorporated into your writeup.

  1. The present Chairman of Samsung is reflecting upon his company's success with flash memory and the go-forward plans to continue growth of the Samsung Electronics Semiconductor Business. He has asked you to review the flash project. Identify what created the opportunity; the drivers for its market success; and what forces are likely to cause change in the future. Integrate these factors into your recommendation, addressing the critical questions the Chairman has proposed.
  2. Assess the factors contributing to Samsung's dominance of the flash memory market, including ecosystem and company culture.
  3. How can Samsung retain its leading market share? The business is on the verge of explosive growth, but large investments would be required and the corporation already has many other demands on its capital.
  4. Should Samsung invest aggressively in capacity in order to maintain its market share? Should Samsung consider outsourcing production to fabrication plants it does not own?
  5. Can Samsung's engineers maintain their motivation to stay at the cutting edge? Are there things that should change in the company culture or leadership to improve Samsung's chances of success?
  6. The Chairman has also asked you to include, as one of your exhibits, a five-slide summary that he can use to present your findings at the next board meeting. Note: These slides should be as simple as possible. All exhibits in total count for 4/20 in the grading criteria.

In-Class Presentations

We would like three teams to present their slides in class on the day the paper is due (Thursday, 5/3/12). Please notify Fred, Micah, and Blair via email by the end of the day on Wednesday, 5/2/12, if your team would like to present. If more than three teams volunteer, three will be selected at random.

SCPD Students

See the SCPD Resource Page for general information on assignment submission, team building, expectations, and getting help. See the SCPD Grading Page for evaluation procedures for daily written assignments.

Written work should be submitted using SCPD Homework Processing procedures.

All times listed below are PDT (California time).

  1. Submit your group paper by 9am Thursday 5/3/2012.
  2. The videotaped class meeting should be available via SCPD by 2pm, Thursday 5/3/2012.
  3. Watch the video of the class meeting and meet with your team to discuss.
  4. Submit Writeup 2 (1-2 pages) by 9am Tuesday 5/8/2012. This writeup should include the following:
    • A summary of the main points of the class discussion
    • Any points from the discussion that you found particularly enlightening or disagreed with
    • A discussion of how your initial responses did or did not align with the direction of the class discussion
    • A revised go-forward strategy for Samsung