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BA 301 Research & Analysis of Business Problems: Identify a Problem

Research Tips

1. Problems might not be obvious.

2. Read up on the company, its competitors, and its environment. Problems will likely emerge as you gain a comprehensive and holistic view of the current position the company is in.

3. Approach your topic from two aspects: what does the company say about itself, and how does the company connect and interact with other stakeholders.

4. You will have to identify possible problems by using different sources.

5. Be flexible in your research, synthesize the findings, and draw your own conclusion.

The company's point of view

Several sections of a public company's website are especially useful in learning about the company's "story": * specific section names might vary on different sites; some companies may not have a mission or vision statement per se, but you can still get an idea from how they describe what they do and what they believe in, etc.)

About: history, strategies, missions, visions, values, etc..-> Is the reality aligned with the proclaimed missions/visions/values?

Investor Relations: financials, SEC filings, annual reports, corporate social responsibility (or sustainability) reports, strategies, etc.. -> What did the company say in their annual report or sustainability report (if available)? The company's annual report or 10-K includes a section called “Risk Factors” that tackles possible threats or vulnerabilities. How do company executives responding to questions at an earnings call?

Press releases: usually listed under "press", "news", or "media" -> Possible topics or keywords you can use? If there is a current scandal/crisis, how are they responding to it? 

What are others saying about this company?

Find info from other stakeholders like: government agencies (e.g., regulatory bodies), industry associations, advocacy groups, competitors, customers, journalists, and researchers (e.g., investment analysts, industry experts, academics). Try the following:

Company profiles. business description, news and other articles, court cases, etc.. Some library databases have SWOT analysis on select companies. The W - weaknesses and T - threats are current and potential problems.

Industry profiles and consumer information.  Every company is subject to risks in its industry (e.g., regulatory changes, social/demographic trends, technological advances, competition, etc.). Is your company adapting to these changes?

Environmental scan: are there broader economic, social, political, technological, and cultural factors that the company is not addressing? 

Articles: articles from trade publications, business magazines, newspapers, etc.. What are people saying about this company?