Written Case Analysis
You will need to prepare two pieces of written work during the course. Each piece involves a thorough analysis of a case, but you are limited in your written paper to five pages double-spaced, plus exhibits.
NOTE: Students who have had other case-method courses must select cases for written analysis which they have not studied previously. See the professors if the selections announced won't work for you.
- The first paper must be a team effort of not less than four or more than six students per team.
- The second paper is to be completed in teams of up to three students.
Up to 20 points are possible on the paper. Papers will be evaluated according to the GRADING CRITERIA AND SCORING SHEET FOR WRITTEN PAPERS
Teams should plan to delegate a member to QA the paper to ensure that all criteria on the grading sheet are met.
Written papers are due at the start of class on the date indicated. CASES MAY BE HANDED IN EARLY; UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL THEY BE ACCEPTED LATE, I.E. AFTER THE CLASS BEGINS ON THE DUE DATE!
As guidelines for these written assignments, you should keep in mind the following:
- Length and formatting:
- The paper should be nore more than five pages long, plus exhibits. Exhibits do not count toward the page limit, but cannot be primarily text.
- Papers should be on 8 1/2" x 11 paper, double spaced, with normal margins.
- The name of the case should be on the first page of the text in the upper right-hand corner.
- Put only your student ID numbers on the front of the first page.
- Put your name (or each team members name) on the back of the last page only.
- Exhibits should contain specific types of analyses (such as financial, capacity, cost competitiveness, etc.) and information that supports and is relevant, but would be too detailed for the body of the paper. Exhibits should not be simply an extension of the text.
- Please proofread your paper before turning it in. Papers for this course should be of the same quality that you would provide to the management of a business that you are dealing with directly. (Note: It is permissible to have grammar and spelling, but not content, checked by someone else, e.g. a language tutor).
Suggestions and Common Pitfalls
- Review all tools and techniques for business analysis presented thus far in the course and apply them as appropriate.
- Don't focus too heavily on minor (but interesting) issues or those for which there is little data.
- Avoid rehashing of case data. Case facts should not be presented unless they are used to support a specific line of reasoning. Assume the reader is familiar with the case.
- Be sure not to build your recommendations solely based on case data which have questionable validity, e.g. opinions, hearsay, etc.
- Be sure to include a brief discussion of alternatives you did not choose and your reasoning for their dismissal.
- Assure that all quantitative analysis is readily understandable. Analytical work should be presented with simplicity and clarity so that the reader can replicate your analysis. This is generally done in an exhibit or appendix. Be sure that the source of all data is noted.
The areas of greatest weakness in papers historically are:
- Recommendations that are...
- not specific
- not well integrated or conflict with one another
- ignore obvious timing issues
- ignore obvious cost implications
- not directly pertinent to key case issues
- No discussion of company’s financials and how that affects the recommendations. For example if the company is not very profitable, its ability to invest in R&D or marketing may be limited. Or conversely, the company has to bite the bullet, bet the company, and invest for survival.
- All the tools used in the course to date are not reviewed and applied as appropriate in the analysis and recommendations.
- Exhibits are missing or are simply copies of case exhibits. An exhibit is meant to clarify or amplify a point of analysis such as a breakeven calculation or market segmentation chart.
- Too much of the paper is spent summarizing the case, with not enough discussion of recommendations.
- Students do not use the grading sheet to QA their papers prior to submission.