AQA June 2005 Unit 2 & 3
Pre – Release Case Study
? General Advise on pre-release case studies
? T – Terminology
? L – Levels of response
? C – Context
Pre- release and the specification – building the links
Analysing the case study
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General Advice on Pre-release case studies
If this is the first time you have come across a pre-release case study – DON‟T PANIC. The thought behind them is to give you enough preparation time to fully analyse and understand a complex
business scenario, something that QCA and the examination boards knew you would not be able to
do in the time allowed for an examination.
The Case Study is your friend
Don‟t file the case study away in your folder, treat it as a pet it needs taking out on a daily basis and exercising. The more you read it the more familiar and confident you will be with it. Equally don‟t
rely on your teacher or handouts to be able to cover everything that within the case – it is designed for you.
The first read through
As you will be aware the pre-release is quiet a size and at first this might be daunting – it doesn‟t need to be. Break the case in to sections that you feel happy with. After you have been through it a
number of times you will begin to see the obvious links to the areas and topics of work that you
have covered in preparation for this paper. You may find it helpful to number each paragraph to
allow you to develop a structure for the case.
Once you feel you‟ve got to grips with the general theme of the paper try the following
? Produce a SWOT analysis of the organisation taking into account both internal and external
? Identify the main characters of the case study, build a picture up of how they operate – look
at their management style, the way they communicate and how they relate to the other main
? Try and sum up the whole or part of the case study in simple bullet points or spider graphs
to allow you to remember the main points easily (never answer in bullet points)
? Produce a glossary of terms for everything that is covered in the case. Ideally you will
already have done something like this by looking through the specification (www.aqa.org.uk)
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Terminology – Levels of Response and Context
This is a really useful method to increase your grade; if you follow the above acronym (TLC) it will
help you to ensure that your answer is picking up marks.
Draw a full and detailed list of the terms that come up through the case study. By doing this it
allows you to:
? Understand what is going on
? To answer any questions that relate to it.
Highlight or underline all the terms in the case study, when you have finished a well prepared case
study will have as much of your notes and comments on as the original authors (remember treat it
like a pet – once a day every day). If you are unsure try TT100.BIZ JARGON BUSTER
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Levels of response
This is probably the most difficult yet important part of your whole AS/A2 course. Examiners will
look at your answers and mark them against a pre-given mark sheet. Familiarise yourself with what
this looks like (www.aqa.org.uk assessment material). Bear in mind that 60% of AS marks are for
level 1 and 2 Knowledge and Application and that 40% are for levels 3 and 4 Analysis and
A very and simple overview is as follows
Level 1 Knowledge
Do you understand what is going on (highlighting the importance of terminology) a good definition
will pick up marks for this level
Application – can you apply that knowledge to the case study – this raises the issue of context
which we will cover next.
Level 3 Analysis
This is asking you to consider the positive and negative aspects of the issue or for you to play two
factors of against each other. A very useful tool to use here is to play devils advocate. What might
happen if you didn‟t take a particular course of action allowing you to analyse the possible
outcomes of an issue. A question style favourite at this level is „To what extent do you ….‟ This
should lead you to answer in the form of developing two sides to an argument.
There is no need to develop more than two key areas fully.
Level 4 Evaluation
In very simple terms this is the conclusion to your answer it will highlight the most important
factors and sum them up ideally coming to a decision or judgement.
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It is essential that you take into account what is happening in the case study. Many students start merrily writing away about a particular topic in excellent detail and depth – that bears no
appreciation of the organisations circumstances. The end result is that they can only achieve lower marks than a student who has considered the context of the question in relation to the case study.
Consider the following key areas
What type of business is it?
What is the financial situation of the business?
What type of market are they operating in?
Refer back to your SWOT analysis what does that tell you about the current environment.
What management styles do you see - are they appropriate for the circumstances? It is unlikely to refer to a style in itself it is up to you to interpret the case study. Look at how they communicate or deal with other member of the business.
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Pre- release and the specification – building the links
As well as getting to grips with the case study it is essential that you have a copy of the
specification, if you have not been given one you can find one at www.aqa.org.uk
As you go through the case study the links between what you have been taught and the main
features of the case study should become apparent. By looking at the two pieces of information
together it will ensure that your preparation time is being used effectively.
The examination questions will deal with the two units separately, one set of questions will address
Unit 2 People and Operations Management and the second set will focus on Unit 3 External
Influences and Objectives and Strategy.
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Case study analysis and interpretation
AS Module 2 – People
11.1 Management Structure and Organisation
Span of control
There are two instances in the case where span of control is referred to. Firstly, when Jack moves
the restaurant to larger premises, there is mention of the „need to hire 24 chefs‟. There is no
mention of a head chef or supervisory levels, but we are told that the 24 chefs will be organised into
four separate sections. Therefore, can we assume that Jack is responsible for overseeing all the
chefs? This would imply that his span of control is very wide. Obviously, this could have many
consequences which should be considered. It also suggests that the structure of the restaurant will
be relatively flat, having only 2 layers (3 if including waiting staff).
Secondly, page 6 outlines the organisational structure of Wei Foods Ltd. The Works Manager has a
span of control of 5 – this is ideal. However, the case tells us that there will be 80 factory workers
and 60 others „with maintenance, administration, supervisory or managerial jobs‟. Studying the
organisational chart, there is an absence of supervisors which again raises issues about span of
control and the problems of managers having too wide a span. Again this structure is quite flat,
having only a few layers. Therefore, appropriateness of the structure could be questioned as 140
people could be organised into a more effective structure. The lack of clear defined roles may be a
contributing factor to the argument that Ling has with the Works Manager in paragraph 24.
Areas for revision Limitations of the different types of organisational structure, the implications of narrow and wide
spans of control.
To support your revision of this area visit the Coca Cola case study
Delegation and consultation
Delegation refers to the passing of power and authority down the hierarchy, but at the same time the
responsibility still lies with the superior setting the task. Throughout the case, there are indications
that Ling is not effective in her delegation. In paragraph 21, Ling retains responsibility for
checking production, hygiene and quality standards. As these are key areas to a business in the
food industry, Ling could have created a distinct role within the organisational structure to oversee
these standards. As Managing Director, it could be argued that this is not really Ling‟s role. The
incident with the Works manager in paragraph 24 again supports the argument that she is not
effectively delegating as she is accused of „undermining the authority of management‟.
Areas for revision The concepts of, and differences between, delegation and consultation. Also the advantages of
effective delegation and possible disadvantages. The consequences of ineffective delegation can be
applied to the case study.
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Throughout the case there are some indications of various motivational theories. In the kitchen in
Jack‟s restaurant there is mention of the kitchen being too crowded and unsafe to work in
(paragraph 5). This could be linked to Herzberg‟s two factor theory, as the hygiene factors are
obviously not in place, causing dissatisfaction amongst Jack‟s workers. Later in the paragraph, Jack makes changes to operations in the kitchen and increases wages by 20% - possibly supporting
Taylor‟s perspective on motivation (this also gives us some hints about Jack‟s style of leadership –
see later in this document). The fact that a special crew is employed to carry out preparatory work
could have a positive effect on chefs, raising their self-esteem which is part of Maslow‟s hierarchy.
This „special crew‟ is the first sign of specialisation, again referring to Taylor‟s Scientific
Management. All of the changes are indicative of Mayo‟s Hawthorne Effect, as the low staff
turnover suggests that Jack‟s employees are motivated by the interest he has shown in them.
Later in the case, as we see Ling becoming a successful entrepreneur, the conflict between Ling and
Jack highlights the determination of Ling. The fact that she is willing to make a loss in the test
market for her Chinese dishes, may refer to the top level of Maslow‟s hierarchy of needs (paragraph
15). Later again, when the offer from Carrefour is made, Ling is fully focused on making this new
venture a success and is willing to take a large risk even if this is against the wishes of her husband.
As Jack mentions, their businesses are already making sufficient profits for their family‟s needs. Self-actualisation and the motivation „to become everything that she is capable of becoming‟ may
account for the willpower and drive of Ling.
Referring again to Scientific Management, workers on the assembly line at Wei Foods Ltd
complain to Ling that their work is boring. Being an advocate of specialisation, an outcome of
Taylor‟s work was the assembly line. Monotonous and repetitive tasks are typical of those set for
workers on an assembly line in order to maximise productivity. However, one of the drawbacks of
this system of production is low workforce morale and the related consequences of this.
Areas for revision
All motivational theorists, especially their limitations and how they contrast against each other. For
example, having put right the hygiene factors, Jack then goes on to increase wages. However,
Herzberg felt that financial rewards were not a motivating factor. Low labour turnover suggests
that Jack did do something right in this case. Remember, one motivational theory will not fit all
organisations; their effectiveness depends on many other factors.
To support your revision of this area visit the Polestar case study
Leadership and Management styles Throughout the case we can see an increasing difference in Jack and Ling‟s own leadership styles.
We see a developing Ling approach her staff with a caring, involving management style. The
contrast between the two is perhaps emphasised most in paragraph 9, as Jack and Ling differ in
their approach to the dismissal of restaurant staff. Again, towards the end of the case, Jack offers a
sensible, cautious approach to the offer from Carrefour, whereas Ling is more determined in her
manner and willing to take a larger risk. Here Sam Yip is the calming influence, logically asking
for forecasts of the economic climate.
In paragraph 24, the Works Manager is fuming when Ling asks staff about reasons for
dissatisfaction. His outburst at Ling may suggest a problem with ineffective delegation by Ling.
Interestingly, the Assembly Manager has set up a quality circle that Ling had no knowledge of
because of a lack in communication by the Works Manager. There is talk here of cell production
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(possible links here to motivation in practice – job enrichment/empowerment). With these two
employee‟s approaches, we can apply McGregor‟s Theory X and Y to the two managers approaches.
This could also be linked to leadership styles and worker motivation.
Areas for revision
Cell production and links to motivation in practice. McGregor‟s Theory X and Y and the various
characteristics of different leadership styles. It may also be useful here to think of links between the
different types of organisational structures which are conducive to the leadership styles.
To support your revision of this area visit the Arcadia case study
11.3 Human Resource Management
The absence of any kind of market research raises issues about the lack of objectives for the
restaurant at Chinatown. The move to the larger premises is a result of the success of the restaurant
at Lisle Street; as the original business become very profitable Jack assumed there was an
opportunity to extend this success by moving to the larger premises in Chinatown. The huge
capacity here and the excess capacity the restaurant first experiences again reinforce the lack of
clearly defined objectives. The assumption that the capacity at the new premises will be largely
filled highlights Jack‟s lack of business experience and knowledge.
As the concept of workforce planning is fundamentally based on anticipated demand and company
objectives, Jack‟s forecast of needing 24 chefs and 50 waiting staff seems rather arbitrary given the
absence of market research and competitor analysis. This decision has disastrous consequences as
Jack and Ling have to make staff redundant (paragraph 9) indicating that workforce planning may
have been of use to Jack and Ling here.
Later in the case, at Wei Foods Ltd, 140 staff „are budgeted for‟ (paragraph 18). The wording here suggests some planning has been undertaken, although we are not told what these figures are based
on (it could be that the supermarket has researched potential demand for the Chinese meals).
While there seem to be sufficient factory workers to cope with fluctuations in demand, it is not
entirely clear where sixty indirect workers will be efficiently used within the business. Again this
may indicate a lack of effective workforce planning, although some planning is evident here.
Areas for revision
Workforce planning: the main concept behind it is meeting demand with supply by assessing future
labour needs. Be aware of the limitations of any type of plan or forecast and, for analysis purposes,
the usefulness of workforce planning.
To support your revision in this area visit the Wincanton case study
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Recruitment and training
Ling recruits an experienced production engineer „with enormous experience in the mass production
of food‟ (paragraph 16). This can again be linked back to the idea of workforce planning, in that
Ling is recruiting externally to fill an existing skills gap. The advantages of external recruitment can be discussed here. For example, in this case a specialist has been brought in to work on a
specific project; he is well experienced and fully capable in this area. The Production Engineer is responsible for making some very important decisions in the setting up of Wei Foods Ltd. Later in
paragraph 23, it becomes apparent that he working on a consultancy basis, as Ling calls him back in when the factory comes close to maximum capacity.
Recruitment is again referred to in paragraph 24, as several staff leave and need to be replaced. As a consequence of these employees leaving, productivity and production suffers as training of new
employees takes place. This again refers to the disadvantages of external recruitment, if indeed we assume that new factory workers are recruited externally.
Areas for revision The reasons for, and advantages and disadvantages to a business of, recruiting internally and
To support your revision in this area visit the McDonalds case study
And Travis Perkins
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