Part I: Descriptive (20 points possible)
Evaluate the decision making described in this case. Focus on the following four questions (but some sections will be longer than others will).
- Analyze the JCP shopping experience using course concepts, both before and after the changes described in the case.
- Analyze the strengths in the decision making process, if any, and what decision errors these strengths reduced or eliminated.
- Analyze the weaknesses in the decision making process (errors, biases, etc.). Be specific about identifying the psychological drivers underlying these shortcomings.
- The CEO is not the only player in this story. What organizational factors either exacerbated or reduced decision errors?
Part II: Prescriptive (10 points possible)
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Based on your Part I analyses, how can JCP (or a similar company) improve their decision making process in this type of scenario?
- Suggest one or two prescriptions that would help a company like JCP make better decisions in such situations. Be as specific as possible about what you would do and what biases or problems you are trying to combat. Be concrete about how these prescription(s) would be implemented. Take into account the costs (money, time, and psychological) associated with your suggested changes and be realistic. Feel free to be creative here, but please make sure to rely on concepts from this class.
- Be aware that CEOs and managers may not be particularly receptive to your advice. What are the sources of resistance and how would you overcome them?
Hints (read carefully)
- Please restrict yourself to the information provided in the case. There are many articles about the company and these events in the news and online, but they are not relevant for the final. Evidence from outside the case will NOT count.
- This is not a research paper. Searching the Internet will NOT help you on the exam but CAN hurt you by distracting you with irrelevant information. I’m interested in YOUR application of our course concepts to a specific case, not your research abilities.
- Assume we understand the class concepts (don’t waste words explaining them), but indicate why the concepts are relevant. Use your application to show your understanding.
- Do not just laundry list every bias you think applies to the situation. Thoughtful analysis and justification are required. I would rather you concentrate on making a few points well than listing a number of points and not elaborating on any of them in depth.
- Do not just regurgitate stuff from class. Provide evidence from the case to support the psychology, not examples from other companies or life.
- Use only the concepts from this class to analyze the case! Do not base your response on your knowledge from other business classes, especially marketing, or OB, or strategy.
- I discourage direct quotes from the case. A few quotes may be useful, but you can usually make the point more succinctly in your own words. You should definitely not directly quote or even paraphrase from readings other than the case.
- Use the principles we discussed in the week on organizational decision making to maximize the efficacy of working with a partner. Do not just split up writing for Parts I and II. Your prescriptions (Part II) should flow from your descriptive analysis (Part I)!
- Finally, remember that hindsight is 20/20. It is natural to conclude that every bad outcome results from a bad decision, but we discussed in class how good decisions can still have bad outcomes due to inherent risks and uncertainty (and vice versa). It is important for you to show that you are able to delineate good decisions from bad ones. The case may not always have all the detailed information you would need to identify a decision error definitively. However, do your best to convince us that your analysis does not reflect a hindsight bias.
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