The fundamental purpose of this assignment is to provide an opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts and frameworks discussed in class to a real organization of your choice. You will analyze the competitive position of this organization and present your findings in a written report. This project requires independent research and, using the data and information that you gather, application of several strategy tools.
Project Selection and Conducting Research
Select an organization that you’re interested in analyzing. Data on publicly traded companies are more readily available than for privately held businesses and non-profit organizations, but consider entrepreneurial ventures, small businesses, and non-profits if that industry or organization interests you.
Conduct research on topics that touch directly or indirectly on the industry and company you have selected. The Internet is a good place to start, but be sure to use information posted by the firms themselves, established news or media outlets, and universities.
IMPORTANT: Keep a list of reference sources so that you can compile a complete bibliography to include with your report.
Conduct your analysis. If it is helpful to do so, you might think of yourself as a management consultant hired to advise the organization. Alternatively, you might be a top manager within the organization that has been asked to brief the executive team.
- Identify and briefly describe the industry and strategic groups within the industry. Who are the major competitors within each strategic group and how do they compete? How has the industry structure changed? For example, have barriers to entry become less significant, and if so, why? What is the nature of competitive rivalry in the industry?
- Consider the effect of each of the five competitive forces in the firm’s industry, as well as factors in the general environment affecting this industry. Decide which factors are most relevant to your industry, explain why they’re most relevant, and focus on those. How have these factors influenced any or all of the five competitive forces you analyze?
- Analyze the firm’s capabilities. Are they distinctive, and difficult to imitate? Do they create a competitive advantage? Are the firm’s capabilities a good ‘fit’ with the insights revealed from your analysis of the industry’s five forces, the changing business environment, and the position of the firm’s competitors? Why or why not?
- Synthesize your findings into a report assessing this firm’s competitive position.
Your final deliverable is a written report (no more than 1500 words) plus an addendum including any relevant exhibits (such as a five forces analysis, competitor analysis, or strategy map), data, and citations.
Your report will be reviewed based on how you support your assertions with facts, how you utilize and apply the tools and frameworks, and on how you present the information. Strong analyses generally display these characteristics:
- Identifies firm capabilities, analyzes alignment with value proposition
- Defines industry, discusses and provides data on competitors
- Identifies key factors of interest in this competitive setting and provides relevant data explaining these factors
- Analyzes the five forces in depth
- Provides rich and relevant data in several exhibits
- Refers to course concepts in depth and applies them accurately and with sophistication
- Synthesizes findings into a logical assessment of the firm’s competitive position
- Is succinct, compelling, and clearly argued; ideas flow logically
- Is written for the appropriate audience using appropriate language
- Clearly cites sources throughout
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