Posted by & filed under Entrepreneurship.

Research from the University of British Columbia suggests that initial entrepreneurial success leads to future success. Peter Gustavson certainly hopes this is true. The entrepreneur spent nearly two decades developing Custom House Currency before selling to Western Union. Now he is partnering with another entrepreneur, Marv Holland, to take his company to a new level of performance. Professor Thomas Hellmann says it is not uncommon for successful entrepreneurs to want to try again and not necessarily in the same industry.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Describe both Peter Gustavson and Marv Holland as entrepreneurs. Is there a difference? Could this explain why one is “buying in” and the other is “selling out?”
  2. Examine the reasons small businesses fail. What synergies does the combined management of Marv Holland and Peter Gustavson bring to Marv Holland Apparel? Do you think the company is more or less likely to succeed with Gustavson involved?
  3. In what stage of its life cycle was Marv Holland Apparel prior to the arrival of Mr. Gustavson? What evidence from the article would suggest that he can move the company into the next stage and beyond?

SOURCE: C. Atkinson, “Serial Entrepreneurs Profit From Past Mistakes,” The Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/your-business/grow/new-product-development/serial-entrepreneurs-profit-from-past-mistakes/article1783755/)

Posted by & filed under Strategy.

Marathon Oil, with operations throughout the United States and Canada, will soon be two companies. The move has been in the works for nearly two years, but low oil and gas prices kept the company from making it until now. Marathon Petroleum will be responsible for refining operations. Marathon Oil will focus exploration and production.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Marathon is an established company operating in a mature industry. Should it be concerned about competitive advantage? What source of competitive advantage does the move to split into two companies represent? Can it become a sustainable competitive advantage?
  2. The business split represents what level of strategy?
  3. From the standpoint of SWOT analysis, why is now a good time for Marathon to make the split?
  4. What type of restructuring strategy does this move represent?

SOURCE: Associated Press, “Marathon Oil Will Spin Off Refining and Marketing,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2011-01-13-marathon-oil-spinoff_N.htm?csp=obinsite)

Posted by & filed under Ethics.

Newly-appointed Environment Minister Peter Kent is promoting a position advanced by Calgary author Ezra Levant. That position holds that Canada’s oil sands oil is “ethically superior” to oil sold by countries with repressive regimes and are known to support terrorism. The argument is a “better than” response to critics that claim oil sands oil production leads to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than more traditional methods of production. While Minister Kent is quick to reject that argument, even if it were true, he claims democratic countries have an obligation to consider how their money will be used post-sale. This position is very similar to the “fair trade” argument in other markets.

QUESTIONS:

  1. When Environmental Minister Peter Kent labels oil sands oil as “ethical oil,” what is he attempting do (vis-à-vis other forms of oil around the world)?
  2. What alternative view of ethics can be associated with “ethical oil?”
  3. The comparison of Canadian oil with oil purchases from other countries raises this to a cultural level. Where would you place Canada’s argument for “ethical oil” on the cultural relativism-universalism continuum?
  4. What makes the decision whether or not to purchase Canadian oil sands oil an ethical dilemma for U.S. President Barack Obama?

SOURCE: S. Chase, “Peter Kent’s Green Agenda: Clean Up Oil Sands’ Dirty Reputation,” The Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/peter-kents-green-agenda-clean-up-oil-sands-dirty-reputation/article1860820/)

Posted by & filed under Decision Making.

The nature of business today – shrinking workforces and increasing responsibilities – makes it difficult for employees to focus. Mobile technologies add to the distraction. Once attention has been diverted from a task, it can take as long as 20 minutes to get restarted. The article offers a couple of simple suggestions to help retain focus. More importantly, it gives readers a chance to consider the implications for decision making.

QUESTIONS:

  1. It rarely comes as a surprise any more, when we are talking about a task, that someone in the group says “Did you know there is an app (smart phone application) for that?” Discuss ways that over-availability of information might impede decision making in organizations.
  2. The text makes it clear that information technology changes relationships within and without the organizations. Let’s consider changes on a more fundamental level (as implied by the article). What are the pros and cons of on-the-go (i.e., always in your hand/pocket) information technology?
  3. Are multi-dimensional thinking and multi-tasking the same? Discuss.

SOURCE: R. Pulfer, “Multi-Tasking: Tuning Out the Noise,” Canadian Business (Retrievable online at http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/employees/article.jsp?content=20090817_10017_10017)

Posted by & filed under Individual Behavior.

Barely a week into January and it is already the human interest story of 2011. A homeless man in Columbus, Ohio is discovered by a videographer for the local newspaper. After capturing the man’s voice on video and posting it to the paper’s website, it goes viral. Ted Williams becomes more popular on the internet than the Hall of Fame baseball player. He also becomes the little darling of the media. Numerous lucrative job offers follow. Is this truly a “rags to riches” story or is Williams likely to be back on the streets somewhere in the future?

QUESTIONS:

  1. You’ve probably seen them before – panhandlers standing at a major intersection in a large city. What thoughts go through your mind? What attributions (about their situation) do you make? Managers make similar attributions about their employees. Think about this – if the Ted Williams that appeared in the original video walked in off the street and asked you for a job, would you hire him?
  2. Talk about it. What role do stereotypes play in the judgments you make about others? Our stereotypes extend not just to the homeless, but also to the opposite sex, people with different ethnicities/nationalities, and people with different levels of attractiveness. How can you guard against misusing stereotypes?
  3. Many wonder how a homeless man could become an overnight sensation. Ted Williams’ personality has a lot to do with it. View video of Mr. Williams. What Big Five personality dimensions draw people to him?
  4. While being homeless is bound to be stressful, Mr. Williams definitely has a lot more to deal with now than he did before his discovery. How would you categorize his current stress? What are the possible reactions he could have if the stress becomes too great?

SOURCE: Associated Press, “Silky-Voiced Homeless Man Copes With Sudden Fame,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2011-01-07-williams-fame_N.htm)

Original video clip:

Related video clip:

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

For 75 years, the focus of the United Auto Workers has been on the Big Three Detroit auto makers. With two of those companies in bankruptcy and membership continuing to decline, the UAW now says it will target foreign-owned car plants for membership drives. Many of the plants are in right-to-work (protecting workers from being forced into unions) states. One labor expert says the move is critical to the UAW’s survival. One thing is certain, the UAW is willing to spend money in this effort. Members approved spending $60 million for organizing from a fund that contains more than $800 million.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Examine the legal protections for workers and legal issues that exist in the workplace. Take a position for or against labor unions and use the information in these sections to build your case.
  2. Review the information on labor unions in the chapter. Aside from being legally permitted to do so, what reasons are there for the UAW to target foreign-owned car plants? Are these reasons legitimate?
  3. Review the practices associated with maintaining a quality workforce. From your reading of the article, what things are foreign-owned car companies currently doing for their workers? Imagine you were the human resources manager at one of these facilities. What strategy would you develop to keep the UAW from being a threat?

SOURCE: M. Dolan, “UAW Sets a Strategy on Foreign Car Plants,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704735304576057980652700842.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Beginning with the new year, Marriott International is launching a sustainable seafood program called Future Fish. All Marriott hotels must purchase at least 50% of their seafood from certified sustainable vendors. A Marriott spokesperson says the move was driven partially by chefs and partially by customers that are concerned about green issues. The program means that Marriott will be changing its seafood menu, dropping some items it deems are not currently sustainable and adding new sustainable items, which may require educating customers.

QUESTIONS:

  1. There is little question that Marriott’s sustainable seafood program reflects values. Whose values? Are the values represented terminal or instrumental? Can both be represented in this initiative?
  2. What ethical view is represented by Marriott’s decision to launch Future Fish?
  3. Make a case that Marriott’s move to sustainable fish is corporate social responsibility. Defend both sides of the definition.
  4. What type of social responsibility strategy is Marriott following?

SOURCE: B. DeLollis, “Marriott International Launches Sustainable Seafood Program,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2010/12/marriott-international-launches-sustainable-seafood-program/134426/1)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

When the Penn State women’s volleyball team had their NCAA-record 109-match winning streak snapped in September, many volleyball insiders thought this might also signal the end of the Nittany Lion’s consecutive national championships streak. The Lady Lions lost five matches during the regular season – as many as they lost during the previous four seasons. The team was seeded 4th in NCAA Tournament, leaving few to predict they would win it all. Penn State advanced to the Final Four dropping only one of the 13 sets they played. They would not lose again. The team had plenty of senior experience, but were powered as much by freshmen Deja McClendon, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and Katie Slay.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Review Coach Rose’s comments about his players. How does this reflect synergy?
  2. Many times, people judge team effectiveness solely on outcomes. Take a close look at the definition for an effective team. Undoubtedly, no team in the history of NCAA volleyball has outperformed Penn State. How would you assess them on the other two dimensions?
  3. Now review Figure 14.3. What inputs and throughputs contribute to Penn State’s team effectiveness?
  4. What are some of the team norms evident in the articles?

SOURCE: Associated Press, “Penn State Sweeps Cal to Win 4th Consecutive Volleyball Title,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/volleyball/2010-12-18-penn-state-cal-championship_N.htm)

SEE ALSO: Associated Press, “Dynasty: Penn State Continues Dominance on Volleyball Court,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/volleyball/2010-12-19-penn-state-dynasty_N.htm)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

You probably heard the phrase “starving artists.” For artists in Japan, the phrase is a little bit too true. Demand for art in the country has dried up to the point where Japanese artists are looking to other countries in the region (and beyond) for buyers. Demand is so tight that many up  and coming artists are not getting any recognition.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Take a look at the definition for entrepreneurship. Are the artists described in the article entrepreneurial? Defend your answer.
  2. Consider what you know about artists. What characteristics do they possess that match up well or do not match up well with the characteristics typically associated with entrepreneurs?
  3. Look at the section titled Entrepreneurship and Small Business in your text. Using the information provided there, suggest a way for Japanese artists to expand their business.

SOURCE: S. Sesser, “For Artists, A Chilly Landscape in Japan,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704694004576020022791838068.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Two corporate mainstays – one in the United States (Sara Lee) and one in Brazil (JBS) – are considering a deal to join the two companies. The move comes in a frenzy of acquisitions by foreign companies in the United States, with Brazilian companies leading the way. Markets reacted favorably to news of a possible acquisition. The deal is not done and Sara Lee is considering several options.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Use Porter’s Five Forces Model to analyze Sara Lee as a takeover target. What forces make it attractive? Unattractive?
  2. How did Sara Lee and JBS grow their companies? Does it make sense for JBS to depart from this strategy to acquire Sara Lee?
  3. Analyze the purchase of Sara Lee from the standpoint of global strategy.

SOURCE: G. Chon, A. Das, I. Brat, & J. Lublin, “Sara Lee Weighs Foreign Takeover,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704034804576025920799954668.html)