Example Case Study

 

There follows a simple example of the type of case study that might be given to you at a selection centre either individually or to solve as a group. This exercise tests your decision making, analytical reasoning skills and your ability to put forward a persuasive case - all important management skills.

In a real life selection centre you would be given about 40 minutes to study the problem which follows and to produce recommendations for action and the reasons behind your decision. This would probably be a group exercise with other candidates, but could also be given as an individual exercise in which you had to produce a report. Real exercises may be more complex than this example.

 

Hitech PLC are a Korean company who produce high technology goods such as CD players. Recently they opened a factory in the town of Marstairs in Thanet, Kent, an economic development area. The factory is doing well with 69% of its sales coming from the British market. However relations with the local population are poor.

The anticipated benefits to the town from the building of the factory haven't materialised, as most of the workforce needed to be highly skilled and were brought in from other areas, thus providing little local employment. These non-locals were highly paid and have pushed up prices in the local shops and also house prices leading to resentment.

The chairman is aware of this resentment and wants to improve the situation. The directors have agreed that up to £300,000 may be spent on a scheme to benefit the community and lift the company's image in the community.

Three possible schemes have been put forward:

 

Scheme 1.

The local hospital wants to set up a new heart disease unit. A donation of £300,000 would make this possible.

Picture of Hospital

Scheme 2.

The Marstairs Arts Centre is a charity that runs a prestigious orchestra for young people as one of its activities. The orchestra has been invited to tour Northern France next Summer. The company could enter into a deed of covenant to pay the Arts Centre £100,000 for the next four years.

Picture of Violin


Scheme 3.

The local football club Marstairs United are a Championship Division club sometimes seen on TV. £250,000 would advertise the company in the ground and on the team's playing strips for two years.

The views of the Chairman and Directors are as follows:

The Finance Director

The Finance Director's Calculations:

  • Scheme 1. No tax savings would accrue.
  • Scheme 2. Tax savings from this would be £25,000 p.a.
  • Scheme 3. A tax saving of £100,000 would accrue from this.Graph

The Marketing Director feels:

  • Scheme 1 would scarcely increase sales at all. The unit would be small but the publicity would be very positive.
  • Scheme 2 would give a moderate increase to sales in France. The company is shortly to launch a marketing operation in France and though there would be no advertising, the company's involvement would be publicised.
  • Scheme 3 would have a major impact on sales. Some problems are that cricket is as popular as football in Kent and hooliganism has been a problem at the club.

The Chairman

The Chairman has said that he would like to see other benefits to the company as well as the public relations boost.

 

 

The Chairman has asked you, as a promising young manager, to study the three proposals and make a recommendation on which of the schemes the company should support and why for consideration by the Board of Directors at its next meeting. Only one of the schemes can be supported. After examining all the information say which scheme the company should support and give your reasons.

 

 

SOLUTION

As in real life there is no single correct answer to this exercise and most others like it. Any of the 3 schemes could be persuasively argued for, and the final solution you choose is not important. You would be assessed on how logically and eloquently you made your case for whichever scheme you decided to support.

Instead of writing your findings you might be asked to give a short presentation of your case in front of the selectors. This would test your public speaking skills, ability to present an argument etc.

This type of exercise might also be given in the form of a group exercise. Here, as part of a group of 5 to 7 candidates you would be given about 25 minutes to come to a consensus on which option to choose. Here your skills of verbal communication, teamworking, persuasiveness and time management would be looked for. A good starting point might be to decide on the criteria (cost, value to the community, publicity) you will use to decide and to rank these in order of importance. Keep an eye on the time as you would be marked down if you didn't finish.

Running this as a group exercise with students

I normally use 25 minutes for the game and then about another 15 to 20 minutes for feedback.

I have about two thirds of the each group doing the exercise (say 6 to 8 people maximum) and then one third of the group (about three people) sitting round the edge taking notes using the observers' form at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/teamwork.htm#Observer

It can be great fun running two, three or four groups in the same room and writing the solutions proposed by the various groups on a board, so they can compare their conclusions.

At the end of the exercise I ask the participants to feed back first, then the observers and then myself: usually, by the time the participants and observers have aired their views, there isn't that much you need to say yourself!

I emphasise that feedback should be positive and constructive! Not "Debbie was hopeless!", but "Debbie made some very useful contributions but her voice was a bit quiet. I couldn't hear her very well, so she needs to raise her voice a bit in future."

This case study is copyright of the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service. We are happy for you to link to this page but not to copy it without our permission. Contact Bruce Woodcock for details.

Related web pages:

"In the written exercises and interviews, they were looking for the ability to look at all sides of an argument objectively."

Graduate attending a selection centre for the Civil Service.