What Should My Paper Include?
Your final paper should include the following components:
BRIEF history of company (no more than 1 paragraph)
2019 sales revenue
Number of employees (domestic, and if applicable, worldwide)
HQ location (and international locations, if applicable)
What industry are they in?
What products/services do they offer?
Who are their customers?
Who are their major competitors?
Explain which of the five generic strategies best describes your company and why.
If none of the strategies clearly apply to your company, explain why.
Optional: You may also identify and discuss the company’s corporate-level strategies such as diversification, mergers, acquisitions, international expansion, etc.
Identify the industry that the company is competing in. Yes, you already did this in the introduction. Do it again here.
Using the five forces model of competition, analyze the industry in which your company competes:
Discuss each of the five forces in five SEPARATE paragraphs. DO NOT WRITE ONE LONG PARAGRAPH DISCUSSING ALL FIVE FORCES.
Be sure to clearly identify each of the five forces in your company’s industry; e.g., Who are buyers? Who are suppliers? What are substitutes?
Based on your five forces analysis, is the industry attractive, i.e., strong potential for profitability? Why or why not?
Reminder: The five forces model is used to analyze an industry, NOT a single company in that industry.
Identify and evaluate the company’s important resources and capabilities.
Does your company have a competitive advantage in the industry in which it competes? Explain.
If yes, what resources and capabilities contribute to their competitive advantage?
If not, what resources and capabilities are needed to achieve a competitive advantage?
Obtain financial data from the company’s 2019 annual report or most recently reported financial report to shareholders. Do not use any other source of financial data other than directly from the company. Be sure to cite and reference the source of financial data.
Calculate the following financial ratios. (See Textbook appendix following Chapter 10 – “Key Financial Ratios: How to Calculate Them and What they Mean). Present your ratios in a table in the appendix, including your calculations for each ratio. Round off all numbers here (and everywhere in the paper) to no more than two decimal places. Clearly indicate the time period for which you are reporting data; financial data presented without dates is totally meaningless.You may include additional ratios, but these four are required:
Net profit margin
In the narrative of your paper, interpret and explain your company’s ratios in terms of what they show about the company’s financial and competitive situation. Explain everything; don’t just show the numbers.
Include an overall conclusion about the company’s financial situation and what it indicates about the strength or weakness of their strategy.
Optional: You’re required to analyze 2019 financial data. Optionally, you may also include an analysis of data from the prior 2-3 years to examine trends in the company’s financial performance.
Based on your analysis of the company in the previous sections, identify and discuss at least three recommendations for how the company can improve its competitive situation. Focus on ‘big picture’ strategic recommendations that will significantly impact the company’s performance. Avoid trivial issues and vague, general recommendations. Saying “the company is perfect and doesn’t need to change anything” is not acceptable. All companies need to continually improve or they will cease to exist!
Discuss each recommendation in a SEPARATE paragraph.
For each recommendation, be specific. Include the what, why, and how. Focus on big picture strategic actions, not trivial stuff.
REQUIRED: You must present your financial ratios in a table in the appendix.
You may include additional figures, per the following instructions:
All tables, charts, and graphs must be in an appendix, not in the text of paper.
Label each table/chart/graph consecutively as ‘Figure 1,’ ‘Figure 2,’ etc. along with a title. For example, ‘Figure 1: Netflix Financial Performance for 2019.’
Each figure should be specifically referred to in the text of the paper. Do not put anything in the Appendix that you did not discuss in the paper itself.
Each figure should stand alone. This means that the reader can interpret the information conveyed in the figure without additional explanation.
Keep figures to a minimum. Use only what you need to convey important parts of your analysis. Excessive use of figures will detract from your paper.
Anything in the appendix must be created by YOU. Do NOT copy/paste tables, charts, graphs, etc. from other sources.
Cite and reference the source of data in each figure.
Do not include photos in the Appendix or anywhere in the paper.
References and Citations
Use legitimate external sources only. Do not use Wikipedia or sites similar to Wikipedia. Do not use blogs. Do not use free or paid essay sites – this is cheating.
Anything that is not your own opinion must be cited and referenced.
Use APA style for cites and references. See Purdue OWL for APA style guidance.
I won’t take off points if you don’t follow APA style exactly. Do your best to include complete and accurate cites and references. I can tell the difference between a student making a good faith effort versus those who don’t even try.
Cite all external sources in the text of the paper AND include a reference list at the end of the paper showing all references cited. All cites in the text of the paper must appear in a reference list at the end of the paper. All references in the reference list must be cited at least once somewhere in the paper. All cites must match exactly with references.
For example, if you cite Escandon (2020) in your paper, you must also include the complete reference in the reference list:
Escandon, R. (2020, May 19). Netflix Is the most reliable streaming service new survey shows. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/rosaescandon/2020/05/19/netflix-is-the-most-reliable-streaming-service-new-survey-shows/#2f75c1873edb
A URL by itself is not a complete reference. Include complete reference information.
What Formatting and Writing Guidelines Must I Follow?
You must submit your paper in a Word or PDF file. I will not accept other file formats.
Maximum page length, including everything from beginning to end, is 15 pages.
Double-space, 1-inch margins, 12 pt. Calibri font.
Use a minimalist, professional design. Avoid excessive use of graphics or color.
All financial data must be rounded to no more than 2 decimal places. Report dollar figures as $1.33 billion, NOT $1,330,000,000 and NOT $1,330 million.
Use headers (and sub-headers, as needed) to identify the different parts of the paper.
Use short, focused paragraphs. Do not use long, rambling paragraphs.
Do not copy or paste ANYTHING from ANYWHERE. This includes text, tables, charts, graphs, etc. Do not quote ANYTHING – not even one sentence. Write in your own words as much as possible. Exception: If you include the company’s mission or vision statement, it should be copied exactly as worded from the company’s official website and cited/referenced.
Ensure that writing is clear and organized. Proofread for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and word usage. If your writing skills are weak, I strongly urge you to take advantage of services offered at the U of M Center for Writing & Communication.
Write in 1st person; e.g., “I identified…” or “My analysis showed…”
Use direct, confident, and persuasive language! Don’t be wishy-washy. Avoid distracting fluff words and phrases. Do not say “I think the company’s strategy is…” or “I feel the company should…” or “I believe the company has several opportunities…” or “the company should consider changing…” or “Perhaps the company could…” or “Maybe the company should…” or “In my opinion…” Before submitting your paper, use the search feature in Microsoft Word to find and remove these fluff words and phrases.
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