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Economics of Competitive Advantage Case Analysis Essay
Length: 2000 words (excluding tables, references, appendices). Worth 25% of final assessment. Special note: compulsory assessment item
Instructions: Choose just one question to address. Using your chosen question as the framework, you are required to develop the structure so you produce a considered case analysis assignment (e.g. formal language; well referenced; intelligent use of graphs, figures and conceptual diagrams; a developed argument like an essay but organised with sub heading to guide the reader).
Question One The Assignment is provided by UK Assignment http://www.ukassignment.org
Choose two or three firms in an industry of your choice. Compare and contrast how these firms create and sustain competitive advantage. What challenges do the firms face in sustaining competitive advantage? In your analysis, apply some economic theories that you have studied such as opportunity cost, economies of scale and scope, cost minimisation and barriers to entry.
(Note: you are not just restricted to successful firms. It might be interesting to choose a firm that failed and compare it to its successful counterpart /s in the same industry.)
Analyse some examples over the past 5 years where mergers and joint ventures have resulted in: a) a competitive advantage for the firms involved, or conversely b) have become a competitive disadvantage. Include one or two positive examples and one or two negative examples and explain why. In your answer, discuss the underlying corporate motives for the decision and what went right and wrong. Integrate concepts such as opportunity cost, economies of scale and scope, industry positioning, cost minimisation and barriers to entry.
Question ThreeThe Assignment is provided by UK Assignment http://www.ukassignment.org
Identify two or three firms that you believe are genuinely environmentally sustainable and analyse how these firms have positioned themselves in the market and the strategies used to be successfully competitive. In your analysis, identify the underlying business strategies in presenting products as ‘environmentally friendly’ and explore how microeconomic instruments (e.g. incentives, credits, taxes, subsidies) have encouraged these firms to achieve sustainability? (For this question, use your economic knowledge and refer to a good microeconomics textbook such as Pindyck and Rubinfeld . There will also be some additional material on BB.)
(Note: you need to be aware of ‘greenwash’. Many firms these days claim that they are environmentally sustainable but your role as a critical thinker is not to just believe the corporate websites but to investigate firms that you believe are genuine. Therefore, your introduction needs to make a strong succinct case as to why these firms were chosen as exemplars of environmental sustainability.)
Useful tips & addressing common student questions about this assignment
•For Questions 1 or 2, choose at least two firms and no more than four firms to compare and contrast. For Q. 1, make sure they are in the same industry.
•For Q. 1, note that we can learn as much from failures as from successes. Therefore you do not need to choose only success stories. Failures could be very interesting to study. However, the choice is yours: you can compare all successes in your case study or use a failure to contrast with a success. The choice will depend on your industry. The Assignment is provided by UK Assignment http://www.ukassignment.org
•The purpose of this individual assignment is to give you the opportunity to analyse and critique competitive advantage between firms, using the theoretical concepts discussed in ‘Economics of Competitive Advantage’. These concepts include strategic positioning, value chain analysis, demand and supply analysis, the importance of understanding demand elasticity, cost minimization, profit maximisation, industry structure, innovation creation, and pricing. Make sure that you attempt to integrate some of these theoretical concepts discussed in GECO 6410 to adequately address the essay topic.
•You should NOT use the same firms that you use for the Industry Analysis Group presentation. The reason is because it will be unfair to other members of your group who need to research different firms /industries. Also, sometimes students are content to stick with an industry or firm that they are familiar with (e.g. the one they work in) which limits the learning experience.
•The word length is approximately 2000 words (+ or – 10%) , excluding appendices, tables and references. Please indicate the word count on the front page. Marks may be deducted for assignments substantially over this word limit. It is challenging to write a detailed analysis within this tight word limit so limit the description to the bare essentials (e.g. company histories, where the firms are located , what they do, recent developments such as acquisitions ect.). Description should only be about 20 -30 % of your word length. Also you can intelligently and creatively use Tables and Figures for descriptive information; this frees up more words for your analysis. Also, please do not ‘dump’ everything you did not use in the body of the analysis into the Appendices. Make your Appendices relevant and succinct, otherwise you will lose marks.
•The assignment is worth 25% of your assessment so take time to research widely and plan your response to ensure a high standard of submitted work. Evidence of wide research would be, for example, using a minimum of 8 references to support arguments and contrast viewpoints. Use a variety of sources. Academic journals can be very useful for providing ideas for analysis, even if the article is not directly related to your particular industry. Journals such as ‘Journal of Strategic Management’, ‘Journal of International Business Studies’ and ‘Management International Review’ are good sources. There are many others; it is your task to dig around the library website and uncover some rich sources of current information. Porter (1985), Boyes (2004) and Besanko et al. (2003 or 2007) are good references to begin with but search beyond this (e.g. corporate websites, annual reports as well as academic journals).The Assignment is provided by UK Assignment http://www.ukassignment.org
•Good research means avoiding ‘recycling’ those case studies that you may have done in International Business or other similar courses. If you do choose well know firms to analyse, make sure your analysis is very insightful, well researched and grounded in economic theory, not other management theories that you may have studied. Also avoid using a SWOT analysis. It is too generalised and not relevant in an economics context.
•You can use examples from non-Western economies but make sure that there is some published material on these firms. For example, company websites and reference to these firms in the local business media would be acceptable. These examples – say from Africa or Asia – could be very interesting but make sure that the firms are large enough to be able to generate enough published material.
Other points to note•Although this exercise focuses on individual firms, do not ignore the general industry, other rival firms and the role of government. However, because the word limit is tight just make a brief reference to the external environment.•The tight word limit means that your introduction needs to be succinct yet still providing the context, with the analysis quickly ‘getting down to business’. •When marking, I do random checks with what is indicated in your reference/ bibliography section and what is cited in the body of the essay. If you list references that are not used in the body of the essay then you will lose marks and in severe cases, fail.•In regards to turnitin, assignments that come up as red or orange are a problem and attract attention. Yet just as worrying is student work that indicates a zero (white) turnitin score. Whether your work comes up in the rainbow of other colours is not a big concern. Academic markers use their own judgment and simply don’t accept or reject work based on turnitin colour (other than red or white). We basically want to know where you got your ideas from and how you interpret them. No one, even the world’s most renowned academics, have totally original ideas in everything they write. Knowledge advances by building on the work of others. Hence is it is important to always reference any idea that is not yours. Having said that, we are very pleased and enthusiastic when your own ideas, based on informed opinion, can shine through. Often the conclusion is a good part to allow your own interpretation to come through but originality can come through in any part of the essay. For example, a conceptual diagram that combines elements of your analysis can be very impressive. Furthermore, experience in writing allows you to develop these skills of being able to successfully integrate other people’s ideas with your own. The Assignment is provided by UK Assignment http://www.ukassignment.org •Some students seem to go to great effort to make multiple turnitin submissions, hoping they can eventually rearrange words to get within ‘acceptable’ limits. To me, this seems like a useless exercise. Why not harness this effort and try and put the information into your own words to begin with, while being very conscientious about referencing any ideas that are not your own. •You can use sub headings but be selective. No more than 4 or 5 subheadings in an assignment of this length. •The term ‘case analysis’ means that you are analysing particular business cases (in this exercise, two to four firms within an industry and explaining how the particular firms sustain or failed to sustain competitive advantage.) •The term ‘essay’ implies a well structured considered argument and means the work needs to have a clear structure and not be just a series of dot points or disjointed paragraphs. Also, longer essays such as this can have subheadings. As a general rule, any written piece over 1000 words should use sub-headings, regardless of whether it is labelled essay, analysis or report.
Some useful tips on searching
•‘Google Scholar’ is a good place to start but don’t ignore listings on search pages 2, 3, 4 etc. as they may be more relevant in some cases than the first listings. Bear in mind, however, that academic research needs to go way beyond even ‘Google Scholar’, both in material gathered and in its critical analysis. •After initial searching, go to more specific databases (e.g. EconLit) to locate relevant academic journals. Investigate the rich sources offered by University of Newcastle’s on-line databases. (Generally, assignments that gain high marks because of strong analysis usually integrate content from academic journals and do not just rely on material from standard textbooks.)•Actual corporate websites are useful but be aware that they are protective of public image and usually won’t highlight an intra-firm crisis unless the media have picked up on it and the corporation is in ‘damage control’. You need to go to the financial press (e.g. Australian Financial Review, crickey.com.au or The Economist) to get the interesting ‘dirt’ on corporate crises. •Avoid reliance on Wikipedia and ‘tutor2u’ websites. These sources are not refereed publications and are not acceptable at a Masters level. (Even their use at an undergraduate level is dubious.) The information cannot be fully trusted due to the lack of peer-reviewed quality control. Wikipedia can be useful for getting started on a topic but you need to go way beyond this. Assignments that only refer to Wikipedia and a few company websites will likely fail.