You are to produce a review of the strategic situation of Kepak, the Irish meat company, based on the provided case study “Kepak and the future of the Irish beef industry”. In your review you should use theory from the module to:
• Examine Kepak’s business environment
• Analyse Kepak’s current strategy
• Appraise the strategy – how well does it fit the environment, and how likely is it that the company can sustain competitive advantage?
Analysis of the organisation’s business environment and of industry survival and success factors: 35%
Analysis of the organisation’s strategy: 35%
You are expected to use concepts from the module, such as resources, positioning, differentiation and the value chain to analyse the strategy being followed by the firm you are examining. As in the previous section, work that is descriptive or uses no theory will be given low grades, as will work whose conclusions are drawn entirely from secondary sources – your analysis should be your own.
This section of the report is as important as the previous one (on the environment) and should be about the same length.
You should move beyond A-level techniques such as SWOT. SWOT is not a substitute for the deeper and more detailed analyses we are seeking at final year undergraduate level. It is also surprisingly difficult to do well. You should be warned that published SWOT analyses, such as those from Datamonitor or student crib sites, are often of poor quality – they are shallow, lack supporting evidence and put things under the wrong heading.
For a mark of 70% or better under this section, we should be able to see clear evidence that you have correctly employed a full range of relevant theory and drawn relevant, insightful conclusions that are solidly grounded in the factual evidence. The theory used will include more difficult frameworks such as value chain analysis. Conclusions may be supported with quantitative data if available.
Critical appraisal of the strategy: 20%
You are expected to bring the two previous elements together, to assess the sustainability of the firm’s competitive advantage in the future. You should compare the firm’s strategy with the industry key success factors, and draw suitable conclusions. You may find the “fit/distinctiveness/sustainability” framework from Lecture 1 is helpful in structuring your argument here. The use of a framework such as VRIN or VIRUS to assess the firm’s resources is strongly encouraged.
It is possible to obtain a high mark (80%+) in this section if you argue confidently and clearly, and support your arguments well. It is also possible to obtain a mark of zero if you do not reach coherent conclusions or miss this section out.
As in the previous two sections, if you seek to rely upon the opinions of other people rather than developing your own conclusions, you will get a grade of around 35%.
You are expected to submit work that follows a clear and logical structure, is written in correct English that is easy for the reader to follow and is professionally laid out, with page numbers and numbered sections. Appropriate and (better still) imaginative use of tables and figures will enhance your mark.
Persistent poor spelling and other avoidable errors, such as a poor or missing Executive Summary, will be penalised.
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