Grades for the second case (Men’s Wearhouse) are uploaded on D2L. This time, the class average was 60% (90/150). Again, this is a typical average for case assignment.
Some common mistakes that we saw:
– For question 1, most of you described what the declining industry looks like (i.e. firms exiting, weak performance, etc.). However, the full answer should include not only the symptoms but also the underlying reasons for such trend and also evidence from the case. For example, a full-point answer would describe how customer demands decreased as general culture shifts (reason), and how the industry consolidated (symptom/reason) and experienced deteriorating labor conditions (symptom/ reason), based on the reports discussed in the case (evidence), and how this led to heightened competition (reason). Also, barriers to entry is not a reason for declining industry, unless the level of barrier changed and thus caused the decline.
– For question 2a, in general, we looked for your arguments as to how this specific category of activities add value to TMW. Many answered described what TWM did (they did “I guarantee it” marketing, etc.), but not how it creates value (i.e. retain customers, provide least cost of procurement, employee morale transferring to company efficiency and low turnover, etc.). Other than this, some answers were in an incorrect direction. For example, service, as described in the model, is really supposed to be a post-sales effort to maintain or increase the value of purchases. Wardrobe consultants providing good “service” is not necessarily service in the value-chain sense, and the sales-focused training of employees is certainly under the HRM umbrella.
– For question 2b, it is especially crucial that you describe a specific resource or capability and discuss why that satisfies each of the four RBV criteria (valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, difficult to substitute). Some of you also provided fairly weak defenses for why the resource/capability was difficult to imitate (e.g., having a training program or prioritizing employees is not particularly difficult to imitate; “a resource is valuable because it is rare” is a tautological argument, etc.).
– For question 3, our advice is largely similar to last week. Many of you, this time, suggested something they were already doing—build a website, keep up the culture, etc.). Or some of you included some incremental suggestions—change up the hiring process (open to outside hiring, further improve training etc.). As the examples we gave you in the first week’s assignment, answers that receive full-points need to be substantive and creative. For the same reason, suggestions that are somewhat reasonable but not supported had points deducted. These answers include increasing advertising but no support argument, target new customers without specifying the new target or without explaining why, implement state-of-the-art technology without specifying or what value the new tech bring, or suggested an alliance without adequate justification etc. Some high-score answers include above recommendations with strong arguments, diversifying product portfolio (and explained why, in relation to the prior analysis, and provided evidence from case to support the recommendation), acquiring a specific candidate (and discussed reasoning in relation to the industry landscape analysis, expected synergies, and expected risks) etc.