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Robins Case Network

Welcome:  The Robins School of Business provides business professors with comprehensive business cases that they can use in their classrooms free of charge. Most cases are written by Robins School students and professors and cover a range of interesting companies and situations. Cases submitted from outside sources will be reviewed and, if they are found to be of high quality, will also be added to the Network (authors retain copyright). New cases will be added periodically, so make sure to check back regularly.

Teaching notes for instructors: If you are an instructor and would like to obtain the teaching note, contact Jeff Harrison at RCNcases@richmond.edu. In your e-mail, identify which case note or notes you desire, and please provide a http address that shows you are an instructor. We will send you the note free of charge after we have confirmed your instructor status. 

Pfizer

Description: Despite being a global leader in pharmaceuticals, ranking as the second largest company in its industry, Pfizer’s 167-year future has never faced such difficulty and uncertainty. With growing federal regulation, the changing nature of pharmaceutical growth strategy, shrinking opportunity for revolutionary drugs, and both political and societal scrutiny, Pfizer must become radically innovative in its corporate and process strategy to avoid losing market share to its largest foreign competitors.

Case date: January 2017 

Primary topics: Industry environment, corporate strategy, competitive dynamics, mature businesses, innovation, corporate social responsibility

Case Discussion Questions

The Volkswagen Scandal

Description: Volkswagen is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. For years the company has focused on producing attractive and environmentally friendly automobiles, and recent initiatives have included a project to reduce CO2 production, along with advertisements claiming lower emission of greenhouse gases. The world was shocked to hear that Volkswagen had been producing diesel engines for its cars that were able to trick emissions testing equipment. The engines were producing many times the EPA standards for emissions, yet they passed emission tests. This case provides detailed information about the scandal as well as information about the history, operations, and stated values of Volkswagen, as well as some of the early actions of the company to deal with the scandal.

Case date: January 2016

Primary topics: business ethics, sustainability, corruption, automobile industry, corporate values, global competition

Case Discussion Questions

Salesforce.com

Description:  Innovation! One of the most innovative companies, and also one of the best companies to work for, is losing money. This case traces the meteoric rise of the number one customer relationship management service provider against huge rivals such as Microsoft and Oracle. Detail regarding their highly innovative Scrum system is provided, along with detail regarding their marketing approach. How can Salesforce.com regain profitability while continuing to grow in a highly competitive industry?

Case date: January 2015

Primary topics: innovation, marketing, information technology, competitive strategy

Case Discussion Questions

Ryanair Holdings

Description:  The crass Irish CEO of Ryanair presides over a modern miracle. Ryanair, with its ridiculously low prices and poor reputation for service, has become one of Europe’s largest and most successful airlines. Employees pay for their own training, flights are cancelled if they won’t be full enough to be profitable, and the concept of “no frills” is heartily embraced. However, some new competitors have come on the scene, and Ryanair may be forced to improve its service and reputation to keep up.

Case date: January 2015

Primary topics: generic competitive strategies, competition and government regulation, external organizational environment, buyer and supplier bargaining power, growth strategies, international management

Case Discussion Questions

Investcorp

Description: Investcorp is a publicly traded global alternative asset management company headquartered in Manama, Bahrain. It manages a huge hedge fund, along with other assets. The case describes Investcorp’s history, investment strategies, and major competitors. The company has a highly aggressive growth strategy, but it is also facing the retirement of its CEO.

Case date: January 2015

Primary topics: finance, hedge funds, alternative investments, executive succession, international finance strategy

Case Discussion Questions

Safaricom: Innovative Telecom Solutions to Empower Kenyans

Description: Safaricom is thriving by selling what many would consider a luxury product in an impoverished country. Africa is a vast market for telecommunications, and Kenya is the third largest mobile market. It is also one of the fastest growing economies in the region. This case contains a fascinating perspective on Kenya, and on the range of services Safaricom provides to its citizens. It also contains excellent detail on Safaricom’s business and philanthropic strategies.

Case date: January 2014

Primary topics: international strategy, developing nations, organizational environment, service management, developing economies, innovation, human and relationship capital, telecommunications

Case Discussion Questions

Chesapeake Energy Corporation

Description: Chesapeake is the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States, but the company is struggling financially. In addition, its CEO left the company amid governance concerns. This case provides a description of upstream, midstream and downstream energy production and trends in those segments, and how Chesapeake has shifted its emphasis in an effort to increase its performance. The extreme price volatility in this industry is also described, as are technological advances in areas such as “fracking.”

Case date: January 2014

Primary topics: energy production, supply chain management, industrial organization economics, strategic management 

Case Discussion Questions

India – Censorship for a Good Cause?

Description: Information technology (IT) companies face significant censorship challenges in countries such as China and India. This case deals with the ethical issues associated with government censorship, and specifically whether corporations that comply with such censorship are complicit in violating basic human rights. The context is India, and the case provides a summary of relevant cultural and legal issues in this very turbulent country. 

Case date: May 2013

Primary topics: business ethics, information technology (IT), government control, human rights, freedom 

Case Discussion Questions

Amazon.com: Offering Everything from A to Z

Description: Amazon’s focus on customer service has led to an impressive record of growth and profitability. However, late in 2012, the company posted a quarterly loss. This asks whether the company may be sacrificing profits in the interest of growing rapidly. It also explores the incredibly competitive environment Amazon faces. 

Case date: December 2012

Primary topics: e-commerce, competitive dynamics, organizational growth and adaptation, executive compensation, buyer and supplier relationships, organizational culture

Case Discussion Questions

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Description: The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is to “cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.” As a not-for-profit organization, LLS is structured differently from most for-profit companies. It’s unique structure allows it to focus on its mission, but also puts the organization in direct competition with other charitable fundraising organizations, and especially the American Cancer Society and Susan B. Komen for the Cure. Economic problems have made fundraising more difficult for all companies in the industry. LLS is also in the position of partnering with big pharmaceutical companies as a deliberate part of its strategy.

Case date: December 2012

Primary topics: non-profit organizations, business ethics, organizational structure, organizational transparency, strategic marketing, revenue sources, competitive dynamics

Case Discussion Questions

Sony Corporation: Reinventing Itself to Rediscover the Technological Edge

Description: Sony is a global conglomerate with a wide variety of businesses in its portfolio, but a heavy emphasis on electronics and related products. Due to a number of setbacks such as the earthquake in Japan and a weak global economy, the firm has experienced sales declines and negative earnings in recent years. In early 2012 the company announced a major restructuring and new strategy to regain its edge. However, Sony has an uphill battle.

Case date: November 2012

Primary topics: strategic management, portfolio management, restructuring, international strategy

Case Discussion Questions

The Walt Disney Company: A Corporate Strategy Analysis

Description:  Walt Disney is a completely integrated media powerhouse. Films provide material for theme parks and resorts, consumer products, and even a cruise ship. Network and cable broadcasting is also a part of the integrated Disney package. None of Disney’s competitors are as successfully integrated. Still, in spite of a long record of success, Disney is facing more competition on many fronts and, like other media and entertainment companies, must continue to adapt to a changing technological and social environment.

Case date:  November 2012

Primary topics: diversification strategies, international culture, corporate social responsibility, international expansion, international joint ventures, branding

Case Discussion Questions

Nestlé

Description:  Nestlé has a worldwide presence in the food industry. In spite of its market strength associated with its well-known brands, the company has been experiencing declining overall sales for several years.  This case describes Nestlé’s diversification strategy and business portfolio in depth, as well as its industry and major competitors. Solving the company’s problems is challenging because of complexity and dependence on so many external factors.

Case date:  November 2012

Primary topics:  strategic management, portfolio management, international strategy

Case Discussion Questions

Groupon, Inc

Description:  Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason refused to accept Google’s $6 billion dollar offer to acquire his company. About a year after its IPO in 2011, Groupon’s market capitalization was only $2.5 billion, and its main product was coming to be thought of as junk e-mail. The company has pursued growth through expanding into new services and products, with the goal of becoming an e-commerce platform that “locks in” the business of local merchants. 

Case date: November 2012

Primary topics: entrepreneurial orientation, technology and innovation, top management teams, new venture growth, first mover advantage, nascent industries

Case Discussion Questions

American Airlines: Bankrupt, Like Every Other Legacy Airline

Description:  American held out to the end, being the last of the large legacy carriers to file for Chapter 11 protection. This case reviews the history of American from its inception through its filing. Current strategies and industry trends are also examined.

Case date:  June 2012

Primary topics:  strategic management, marketing, restructuring, organizational environment, generic competitive strategies, human capital, strategic human resources, alliances and partnerships

Case Discussion Questions

General Motors Company: Restructured to Rediscover American Innovation

Description:  Many analysts predicted that General Motors was not salvageable. However, after a government-backed restructuring, the company seems to be doing much better. The big question is whether the turnaround is sustainable. The company is investing heavily in technology in an effort to continue its record of success. This case examines GM up to its reorganization and also details its current strategies.

Case date:  June 2012

Primary topics: strategic management, operations/technology, industrial economics, restructuring

Case Discussion Questions

Lockheed Martin:  Dealing With Dependence on a Single Customer

Description: Lockheed Martin is a giant in the aerospace and defense industry, and obtains more than four fifths of its revenues from governments for national defense. The aerospace and defense industry is mature in the United States and the company has already made a considerable amount of acquisitions, divestitures, and minority-interest purchases. A merger with one of their largest competitors was rejected by the government. Budget deficits have caused the United States and other governments to carefully evaluate the amount they allocate to defense, and sharp cuts are anticipated. What can Lockheed Martin do to deal with reductions in demand from its most important customer? How can Lockheed Martin best allocate resources to continue to grow?

Case date:  June 2012

Primary topics: strategic management, diversification, supply chains, strategic resources, competitive dynamics, industrial economics

Case Discussion Questions

Dr Pepper Snapple Group: Fighting to Prosper In a Highly Competitive Market

Description: Since its separation from the food giant Cadbury Schweppes, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has experienced successes such as the turnaround of the Snapple brand and growth in demand for some of its popular brands. However, the company is still a distant third in an incredibly competitive industry. How can the company achieve continued success in the shadows of Coca Cola and PepsiCo?

Case date:  June 2011

Primary topics:  strategic management, marketing, industrial economics

Case Discussion Questions