Case Studies

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Case Study #1

Technical Skills – (Helpful – chapter 6 & 9)

Northern UniTech promotes from within, When seeking a new first-line supervisor, the company  generally selects the person with the greatest technical skills. UniTech believes that its focus on  technical skills inspires non-management employees to improve those skills so as to ultimately  work up into management thus, resulting in more productive employees. Furthermore, UniTech  believes that workers are more likely to respect and willingly follow the leadership of a supervisor  who is an expert in the technical area which he or she supervises as opposed to someone who may  know the big picture and how to get along with everyone but understands less about the work  than the people he or she is supervising.

In fact, the company places so much focus on technical skills that even top managers are  periodically taken away from their work for a few days to work alongside non-management  employees at jobs. They often simply “get in the way” but generally the employees feel that it is  desirable for the managers to “get down to their level” and gain first hand knowledge of how the  company’s products are actually made.


1. What arguments would Support UniTech’s focus on technical skills among first-line  supervisors? What arguments could be made against that focus? What are the pros and cons of  periodically sending top managernent out to work alongside non-management employees?

2. Suppose you have just finished your degree program and a company has selected you to take  over a department involving many different skills. You are not an expert in any of those skills.  Suppose there were people in that department who were well respected by their fellow employees,  people who were seeking that same management position but lost out on it to you – and you know  very well that the people in the department think that was unfair. How would you handle that?


Case Study 2

 Marketing One’s Self – (Helpful – chapter 11)

DR. JANE LEE : “Bob happened to be on campus today to attend a meeting of community leaders and I asked him to drop by my class for a few minutes during a break. He was once a student of mine and attended class in this very room. I told him that we have been talking about marketing and I asked him if he could share how he made use of what he learned here. I will let him take it from there.”

BOB : “Thank you, Dr. Lee. In this class, I learned about the importance of doing research and learning as much as you can about your customer and what your customer wants. You should learn what that customer wants regarding a product or service, the amount the customer will buy at various possible prices, the promotional techniques which will best inform the customer that you have what he or she desires, and the place or distribution system which will be most convenient for your customer. I applied the concept of marketing to searching for a job.

Before beginning that search, I recognized that I was marketing myself. I therefore did some research to find those potential employers who would most likely need my skills. As best I could, I tried to discover what they wanted in a potential employee. It was especially useful if I could get information about the portion of the organization where I would likely work and its particular challenges. Usually there was a lot of information available through public relations or shareholder relations and sometimes I simply asked friends and relatives if they knew anyone who worked for the company and they put me in touch with folks who could give a lot of insight into areas where the company needed help with something. I especially tried to learn the names of those people who might be interviewing me or who might make the decision to hire me. In some cases I was able to learn a little bit about their background and their interests.

That research was useful because I am the “product” I was trying to market and I had to determine what will most affect the “customers” (employers) buying or hiring decision. There could have been a be a lot of skills and background required for the job but current needs in the company at the time could mean that some of those qualifications were more vital than others. Also, the hiring decision could be influenced by qualifications, which were not listed, such as your ability to get along with those who would be interviewing you. The more I knew about the interviewer, I might be better able to show that we have some things that we share in common (whether it involved recreational interests, philosophical views, a place where we have both lived, etc.) and thus find it easier to gain the support of that person.

Knowing what the potential customer wanted in its product (the employee) to justify a particular price (salary) helped in my promotional efforts: the interview and the resume’. The interview was much like a sales call and my resume’ was a sales brochure. I never used “middlemen” (recruiting and job placement firms) but contacted each potential customer directly.

Of course, there were many competitors who were also seeking some of the same customers. However, I believe that by learning marketing to the point that I actually applied it to a real world situation, I had an advantage over many people who had no idea of how to market themselves.


1. How could it be mutually beneficial to both an employer and a prospective employee when one approaches a job search in the same way as Bob?

2. Why do you suppose that many students study marketing in school and know how to use it in the business world but never realize that it has a wide array of applications to all areas of their life?

Case 3

Terra Lycos: Go Get It!  – (Helpful – chapter 14)

In a few short years, the Internet has revolutionized the way companies do business. Of course, there have been huge successes as well as painful failures among the companies that have embraced the Internet-particularly those that have relied on the Internet for their very survival. But overall, the Internet offers global opportunities for a variety of individuals and organizations. One of those is Lycos Inc.

Founded in 1995, Lycos Network was initially an Internet portal-an entryway much like its larger competitors Yahoo! and America Online. Within a few years, experts predicted that the company would capsize in the Web, swamped by its giant competitors. “We were in danger of being an afterthought in early 1998,” recalls Lycos chief financial officer Edward Philip. But a series of changes has turned Lycos around. Today, according to industry watcher Media Matrix, the company’s collection of sites is the fourth-largest destination for people using the Web. “We had less funding and were late to market, yet we beat the odds and have flourished,” boasts CEO Bob Davis. The company also has a new name: Terra Lycos. More on that later.

Lycos saved itself largely through a series of alliances and acquisitions, along with the introduction of new tools and services that benefit both consumers and business customers. One service, the “Lycos Daily 50 Report,” helps marketers follow emerging consumer trends by tracking the topics that typical users search the Internet for. The report is simply a list of the fifty most popular search terms of the past seven days. It removes company names, porn sites, and Internet utility terms such as “chat room” and comes up with the fifty most useful words and phrases. “Our goal is to create an up-to-date list of the people, places, and things that Internet users are interested in,” explains Jonathan Levine, director of content development. “It’s a great way for people to stay current. For marketers, this tool can be used to get an idea about emerging consumer trends.” This is just one way that the Lycos site helps create opportunities for other businesses.

During the past few years, Lycos has allied with or acquired companies such as Tripod Inc. and HotBot. Lycos and Bell Canada created a now company called Sympatico-Lycos, which would provide Canadians with expanded Internet resources for the business-to-business market. In the fall of 2000, Lycos became the ” exclusive community provider for the Olympic Games,” hosting and managing all Olympic athlete chats, message boards, and fan clubs for the Sydney Olympics. McDonald’s joined the party as a sponsor of the Lycos Olympic site, in exchange for featured advertising. ” This is a powerful combination linking two global leaders in support of the Sydney Olympic Games, and we look forward to continuing to work with McDonald’s to further leverage the strengths of both companies,” stated Jeff Bennett, senior vice president of corporate development at Lycos. Later, Lycos Asia received a license from the Chinese government to operate one of China’s first foreign-owned Web sites. Previously, foreign-owned Web companies could function only through partnerships with Chinese institutions that would exert control over operations.

While all of these alliances are potential opportunities, they also increased the complexity of the company-and the complexity of its problems. So, Lycos hired its first chief information officer, Tim Wright. “They were looking for someone with experience in acquisitions, someone who knew how to handle multiple staffs of skilled people and knew how to blend disparate pieces together,” Wright explains. In other words, Wright’s job was to figure out how to weave technology and people together in a way that allowed workers and managers in the acquired companies to continue to do what they do best. He also showed them how their relationship with Lycos could actually increase their business. “We let [acquired companies] know right away that we can help them by redirecting our traffic to their site and re-circulating traffic back their way,” says Wright.

But the biggest deal for Lycos was still to come. The company agreed to be acquired by Spanish Internet service provider Terra Networks in a stock swap that valued Lycos at around $12.5 billion, with the idea that the merger would begin to create a megaportal to the Internet that would dominate Europe and Latin America. Pep Valles, the founder of Terra, views the deal as the global opportunity of a lifetime. “Who hits first hits twice,” he remarks, repeating an old Spanish saying. “On the Internet, who hits first hits ten times.” He sounds a bit like the first Lycos television commercial, which brought Lycos to the attention of many American consumers. The ad featured a black lab retriever named Lycos who streaked back and forth from the edge of the world to his owner, finding anything that his owner asked for. “Go get it!” the voice of Lycos’s owner commanded. And Lycos did.


1.    Using information in the Text, outline three ways that you think Terra Lycos could help other businesses create opportunities for themselves using the Internet.

2.    What methods might Terra Lycos use to measure the effectiveness of the various Web sites of its affiliates and subsidiaries?

3.    Identify three challenges that managers of Terra Networks and Lycos will likely face as they merge the two organizations.

4.    Visit the Terra Lycos web site at As a user, what do you think its strengths and weaknesses are?



The case studies are graded using the following guidelines.

Grammar =                                                                 10%

Issue identification=                                                   20%

Presentment of solutions=                                          40%

Defense of solution (reasoning)=                               30%

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