Ultralight Aircraft and Product Liability

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Higher Planes, Inc. :

Ultralight Aircraft and Product Liability

Case Synopsis: Higher planes, Inc. manufactures ultralight aircraft, a growing but high liability business. The design owned by Higher Planes is the Mitchell Wing, an ultralight with a long and positive history. Although Higher Planes has had success in building and marketing the airframe, undercapitalization and concerns about product liability have caused the owner to reevaluate his options. The student-analyst is encouraged to empathize with the young entrepreneur of a start-up venture in a high-risk business beset by managerial and legal constraints.
Case Teaching Objectives:
1). To penetrate the various environmental layers surrounding the operational domain of a high-risk business.
2). To examine the practice of enterpreneurship in an industry with ambiguous financial potential and pervasive legal complications.
3). To overview product liability theories and how they relate to product innovation in the penultimate-risk industry.
4). To highlight the consequences of business continuity decision-making.
Case Preparation and Discussion Questions:
1). What options exist for Ed Peden at this time? What are the pros and cons of each? Which alternative should he pursue?
2). What type of buyer would purchase Higher Planes, Inc?
3). What were his goals? Were they realistic, did he achieve them? Is Peden risk taker? Is he the right person to own and manage Higher Planes, Inc?
4). What are the product liability risk management options?
5). What additional (or new) uses could Peter make of the silo, should he decide to sell the Mitchell Wing? What factors would need to be considered for each possibility?
6). Given recent legislative changes in product liability, what course of actions might Peter take?
7). How does liability issue affect the salability of the business?
8). What information would be needed to quantify the product liability of this business? Where would it be obtained?

Adventures in Toyland – Chapter 11

Case Synopsis: On January 28, 1983 an industry report on Coleco by the international brokerage firm of Warburg, Paribas & Becker gave Coleco a strong buy recommenda-tion. In 1983, Coleco’s stock reached a high of $65, and in 1988 it was selling for $1.25. In July of that latter year, Coleco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This case is a narrative of the roller-coaster-ride history of the maker of the Cabagge Patch doll – the only doll to grace the cover of the popular weekly periodical, Newsweek, as well as, in pen-sketch form, the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. This case was prepared by Ms. Harriet Farney, an adjunct professor in the Barney School, for delivery and discussion in her case-oriented accounting sections. But the scope of the case content with its multidisciplinary underpinning renders it a superb pedagogical vehicle for analysis in a World-of-Business course.
Case Teaching Objectives:
1). To introduce undergraduates to the complexities and risks of strategizing in a runaway fad market.
2). To critique glaring managerial lapses in a heretofore high-flier company, the darling of Wall Street gurus, and their calamitous impact on firm survival.
3). To ruminate on proper marketing tactics in a sinusoidal fad market.
4). To afford business-school collegians practice in the analysis of accounting documentation.
5). To Z-profile Coleco to determine if there were early-warning indicators of the impending financial apocalypse.

Case Preparation and Discussion Questions:
1). Identify the major management mistakes made by Coleco.
2). Formulate a plan, beginning in 1983, when Coleco’s stock was at its all time high, that would helped the company remain profitable.

Conscience or the Competitive Edge?

Case Synopsis: This case is a classic social responsibility/personal values situation. An up-and-coming “western” manager becomes concerned when she discovers how she and her firm are able to obtain a price/cost advantage in the European marketplace – i.e. through the supposed exploitation (and deregulation) of workers in lesser developed countries (LDCs) or newly industrialized countries (NICs). “What should Oliva Jones do?” is the action question of this case. Students-participant should eschew the do nothing alternative, leverage their personal values and tender clinical and dispassionate advice to Ms. Jones.
Case Teaching Objectives:
1). To illustrate the problems associated with trying to act in a socially responsible manner from the perspective of a front-line manager.
2). To show the tension that exists between economically motivated organizations and the challenge to act in a socially responsible fashion.
3). To demonstrate that there are some ways for organizations to act in a socially responsible fashion. However, they need to protect themselves from those companies who are not so inclined and who are waiting to take advantage of the goodness of others.
Case Preparation and Discussion Questions:
1). What is Ms. Jones’ problem?
2). What are her alternatives? What should she do?
3). What would you do in her place?

L’Oreal Nederland B.V.:

Product Introduction
Case Synopsis: L’Oreal Nederlands was considering the introduction of Garnier family brand Synergie skin care and Belle Color coloring products. Both lines were developed and successfully sold in France.
Case Teaching Objectives:
1). To give first-year business-school students an exercise in product-line management., the development of a launch strategy for either one or both Garnier brands in different product categories.
2). To focus on the tactical elements of a marketing mix and how they are integrated to form a consistent and synergistic approach to the cosmetic marketplace.
3). To demonstrate the utility of marketing-research data in product-line decision-making.
4). To discuss the feasibility of a country specific or ethnocentric approach to the Dutch cosmetic market.
5). To speculate on the Eurobranding gambit.
Case Preparation and Discussion Questions:
1). From a strategic prospective do you intend to introduce Synergie and/or Belle Color?
2). Once the number issue is resolved, students need to focus on one or more marketing mix (es); specifically should the products have been changed for the Dutch market? If so, what changes are needed? Why might L’Oreal France not have made any changes for the Dutch market?
3). Which retailers should have carried the lines?
4). What should the advertising positioning statements have been? Should they simply have translated the French ad copy?
5). Tentative prices were set. Should they have been lowered, raised or kept at the suggested levels?
6). When developing the marketing plan how could L’Oreal have reduced the cannibalization effects on the Garnier lines? What marketing activities could L’Oreal have taken with its currently offered products, Plenitude and Recital, to reduce the cannibalization from the Garnier lines.

SR CORP: Decisions for an Emerging Technology

Case Synopsis: This case focuses on selecting markets for emerging technologies. The company, SR CORP, had developed a technological breakthrough in the accuracy of and natural language processing capabilities of voice recognition. SR Corp’s system consisted of voice acquisition and speech processing algorithms embedded in firmware running on printed circuit boards slotted into “racks” controlled by high-end personal computers. The system allowed computers to understand human speech. It was ideal for companies that wished to make more intelligent use of the telephone for automated applications such as general customer service, directory assistance, or making an airplane reservation. Having developed the technology, SR CORP now had to establish its game plan for penetrating the market. The market for the technology was new itself at an early stage of growth. Thus, the technology was new and had not yet been placed in a high volume field application. Its target markets were highly dynamic and fraught with potential competitors. Case analysts are provided information to consider the initial markets the firm should address.

Case Learning Objectives

1). To define a market strategy in markets conflicted with both technological and marketplace uncertainty.

2). To project beyond a traditional marketing perspective and develop the analytical skills of students-participant in the creation of new business concepts and preparing effective business plans for technology-based businesses.
3). To help undergraduates understand how firms segment and prioritize market niches for dynamic, emerging technologies.
4). To assist students in comprehending how factors other than projected financial returns influence the prioritization process.
5). To develop the coping skills of students in a technology-intense case.

Case Preparation and Discussion Questions

1). What has been your personal experience using automated voice response systems? What were the applications? Did these systems prove useful? What were your frustrations as a user?

2). What was the distinctiveness of SR Corp’s technology? From the user’s perspective, how might this technology improve automated voice response systems? What were functional and cost advantages that SR Corp’s system enjoyed relative to existing voice button systems? How might the system fit into the overall system at a customer’s site?
3). What were the major market niches within technology applications that the company could address with its technology? How would firms in these niches use SR Corp’s technology? How would SR Corp reach these firms and help them to use the technology? What would the structure of the business relationship look like?
4). Does a firm in SR Corp’s position need to focus its marketing activities? What criteria might be used to prioritize these three market niches?
5). Which market niche should SR Corp target first?

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