Assignment 1: Case analysis guidelines

There is no one best way to analyze a case just as there is no the single correct way to internationalize a business or tackle a marketing problem. Note too that there is no right or wrong answer. Also case studies are just like your life: In most situations, you are very unlikely to be in a position to know all the facts or information you would like in order to find a “perfect” solution for a problem. However, I expect you to focus on as many of the following points as possible, which would help you to analyze case studies more effectively:

1. Analysis of industry, market and other environmental factors: You are expected to discuss the following: structure of firms competing in the industry, performance of the industry (e.g, growth rate), strengths and weaknesses of competitors, buyer behaviors (e.g., where they would buy, what features they look for in a product, when they buy, etc.), drivers of success in the industry (e.g., innovation, product quality, low price, etc.)

2. Analysis of the focal company (Alibaba): You are expected to discuss the following: distinctive competency of the company, nature of the company’s market offerings, past and present performance and factors that led to the current position of the company. A SWOT analysis may help.

3. Action plan: You are expected to discuss the following: choices that are available to the company (please identify at least two), pros and cons of each choice.

4. Potential outcomes: You are expected to discuss the following for each of the choices identified in #3: possible reactions from the customers, competitors and the value delivery network, potential impact on profitability and future performance of the company.

5. You need to make a recommendation to the company among the choices identified earlier. Note that recommendations are required to provide actionable, operational and strategic guidance to the company/industry/country. It would be a good idea to discuss in details why you choose the recommendation as well as why you dismissed other alternatives.

6. You are also expected to provide answers (explicitly or implicitly) to the questions listed at the end of the case.

It is a good idea to do additional research about the company and/or the environment facing the company.

Expected length: About 2,000-2,500 words excluding references.

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