Nalysis of a major strategic move: BMWs launch of the Mini brand in the US

” Analysis of a Major Strategic Move
Under this option, the paper should apply course ideas to analyze a major strategic move by a firm. Examples of strategic moves that you could study would be a decision to introduce a new product, a decision to reposition an existing product, or a decision to expand capacity. You may choose moves that firms have already made or those that firms are still contemplating. For your study to be interesting, the move should be strategically important to the firm, it should entail significant resource outlays, and it should have a reasonable probability of shaping the industry landscape in which the firm competes. If you choose this option, special attention should be given to the strategic implications of the expectations that firms seemed to have about the future actions and reactions of competitors, i.e., did firms seem to act naively, ignoring potential competitive reactions, or strategically, taking competitive reactions into account? A key part of this analysis should be an attempt to assess the tradeoff between committing early to pre-empt competitors versus waiting or committing at a smaller scale in order to retain flexibility. Examples of past 441 term papers that have chosen this option include: Boeing s decision about whether to launch a super-jumbo jet, Gillette s decision to introduce the Mach 3 shaving system, Citizens Gas & Coke s decision to expand its coke manufacturing capacity, Intel s decision to expand chip capacity in the late 1990s, and American Airline s strategic move to reduce cabin seating capacity.

” Logical and theoretical consistency: Do the basic premises and accepted facts that you begin with logically lead to the conclusions you draw? In addition, are your arguments consistent with the insights of the theory we study in the course. For example, I would look very skeptically on an argument that high concentration intensifies price competition because high concentration usually works the other way. If a highly concentrated industry does have intense price rivalry, what are the factors at work that lead to a departure from the Usualprediction of the theory?

” Specificity: Your paper should tightly link the generalizations and abstractions from the readings and lectures to the facts of the situation you are studying. Do not simply say, for example, that entry barriers are high. Carefully explain what features of the industrys technology or business practices creates the barriers.

” Research: Facts usually settle an argument quicker than pages of theorizing. While I have no specific requirements as to how you should do your research, all things equal, better researched papers will receive a higher grade than more superficially researched papers.

The most common shortcoming is to fail to apply theory, concepts, and thought-processes used in the course. The paper should be tightly focused on a particular episode (strategic bet, industry dynamic, or competitive battle among firms) that illustrates the principles of analysis that we develop during the quarter. A paper does not have to use every concept, nor does it need to display explicit microeconomic theory (e.g., a computation of a Bertrand equilibrium or a graphical display of a monopolistically competitive equilibrium is not necessary). But you must use some concepts and microeconomic reasoning in your analysis, at least at an intuitive level. (At the same time, of course, you should feel free to draw on ideas you studied in strategy, microeconomics, marketing, finance, and organizational behavior.) I encourage you to choose your topics with an eye toward being able to exploit course concepts to the maximum possible extent.

There is no fixed format you need to follow in writing your paper. I do insist, however, that all sources you use be carefully referenced using an unambiguous, consistent, and concise system. Be sure to identify unpublished materials or personal interviews that were significant in shaping your paper. You dont need to Footnoteyour own personal knowledge of the industry or firms you are writing about each time you draw on it, but you should indicate early on (perhaps in the form of a footnote) that the paper has been shaped by personal knowledge possessed by one or more group members. If you are uncertain about standard styles for footnotes and references, there are many excellent manuals of style (Chicago Manual Style) available for sale at Norris that can give you guidance.

Page Limit
The limit on length is 15 pages of text (assuming 1margins, double spacing, and 12 point font). Graphs, tables, exhibits, or appendices do not count against this limit. But be sure not to use an exhibit or appendix as a way of circumventing page limits (e.g., by including essential discussions in an exhibit, rather than the text).