Case Studies

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Yamato Transport: Part-time Employment of Housewives

by Mr Joo Yong Lowe, Mr Fumiyuki Kosugi (MBA graduated student), Ms Teng Hwee Ng (MBA graduated student) and Mr Andre Chun Mun Wai (MBA graduated student)

Publication Date: 08/10/2014

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. innovatively used the field cast model of housewives as part-time employees to meet the increasing delivery demands of morning peak-load hours. The housewives provided Yamato with a cost-efficient source of human resources and the nimbleness to adjust its staff deployment to respond reliably and quickly to customers' needs. A series of recruitment, training, and compensation and appraisal processes was designed for the field cast model.

The case outlines the challenges with the implementation of the field cast model and the decision facing Yamato's managers of whether to expand it throughout the company's Japanese operations. Yamato's managers were largely satisfied with the progress of the field cast model; although field casts made up less than 2 per cent of the delivery manpower at Yamato, they played a crucial role in improving customer satisfaction levels and lowering parcel delivery costs. However, the implications of the expansion plan were multi-dimensional. At an operational level, the inconsistency in the field casts' performance could be magnified as the number of field casts continued to increase over the coming months. As well, the sales drivers might struggle to cope with the additional responsibility to train and supervise field casts. More broadly, the sustainability of the field cast model was unknown because of Japan's changing social structure. In addition, with the improvement of the global economy since 2010, the supply of part-time employees was threatened by competition from alternative employment opportunities.

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Insights Analytics: Technology for a Knowledge Management Program

by Dr Rohit Nishant (ESC Rennes School of Business), Assoc Prof Thompson S.H. Teo, Assoc Prof Mark Goh and Mr Sameer Agarwal (LinkedIn).

Publication Date: 29/08/2014

Leading analytics firm, Insights Global Analytics, handled many analytics processes and projects requiring extensive domain and statistical expertise. Employees with prior analytics experience had skill-sets that could be utilized for other projects. Analysts and consultants working on business research projects had strong domain knowledge about various technological trends. However, sometimes one team did not know about the rich skills possessed by another team. To build a knowledge-sharing culture that would facilitate the incubation of new ideas, spread different skills across the organization, break the silos among teams and promote free exchange of ideas among employees the company decided to implement a knowledge management (KM) program. A team was appointed with the challenge of selecting an appropriate cost-effective technology that would achieve the objective of fostering a knowledge-sharing culture.

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Putien: The Road to the Unexplored

by Assoc Prof Jane W. Lu

Publication Date: 21/08/2014

Started in 2001, Putien, a full-service Chinese restaurant, has grown successfully in Singapore. By the end of 2011, it has nine restaurants in Singapore, one in Jakarta, Indonesia and one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Except for the one in Jakarta, which is a joint venture, all the other restaurants are fully owned by the company. From the beginning, Putien has differentiated itself from its competition by focusing on its unique cuisine, based on fresh and flavourful food from Fujian Province, China and by its creation of a home-like atmosphere with fine furnishings and tableware, elegant décor and a serving staff that is warm and sincere. The company keeps in touch with its customers through requesting feedback and answering queries on Facebook and Twitter. Now, the founder and chief executive officer is considering growth by expanding into international markets. With limited international experience, he needs to consider carefully where to go and how to enter these markets without jeopardizing the quality standards that have made Putien so successful.

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Denka Chemicals

by Ms Chia Miaw Ling Elly (participant, Asia-Pacific Executive EMBA Intake 22) and Assoc Prof Singfat Chu

Publication Date: 27/06/2014

A manufacturer of over 75 grades of styrenic resins — used to make DVD cases, refrigerator trays, packaging materials and auto parts — faces a "transition loss" each time it switches production from one grade to another. A transition loss for each grade arises from the initial 16 metric tons produced, which are sub-standard and unsuitable for usage by customers. To the company, this implies a loss of resources (raw material and production cost) and a disposal fee ($10,000) to remove each sub-standard production.

The case illustrates a sample of 15 grades for which data on their requirements for machine time usage, raw materials and labour hours are provided, as well as their production cost, selling price and market demand. Some of these grades must also be sold jointly in specific ratios. A newly hired sales executive must present an optimization template that would meet the company's production constraints and maximize its profitability. Which grades of styrenic resins should be produced? Furthermore, how much of each grade should be produced?

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Financing Alibaba's Buyout: Syndicated Loan in Asia

by Dr Emir Hrnjić and Professor David Reeb

Publication Date: 04/06/2014

Alibaba is the world's largest online trading platform, with higher revenues than Amazon and eBay combined. Its 2012 syndicated loan was the first sizable loan for a Chinese technology company with few tangible assets. Creative loan covenants stated that the subsidiaries would repatriate 100 per cent of the distributable profits for debt service. The loan was partially used for the buyback of Yahoo!'s stake in Alibaba. In the agreement, Yahoo! would sell half of its stake back to Alibaba immediately and an additional 10 per cent during Alibaba's IPO in the next few years, and divest the remainder sometime after that. Now, Alibaba thinks it is time to tap the debt market in order to pay off the $4 billion in loans it received in 2012 and to finish the payments owed to Yahoo! for the stock repurchase.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
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Rodamas Group: Designing the Portfolio

by Assoc Prof Marleen Dieleman

Publication Date: 07/05/2014

This is a supplement to Rodamas Group: Designing Strategies for Emerging Realities in Emerging Economies (9B09M049). The original case was set in 2009 and reflected on the strength of Rodamas's core competence — a local partnership role in a difficult emerging market - Indonesia. This second case is set in 2013 and gives an update on the group's diversified portfolio and asks where attention should be focused. It offers an opportunity to perform a portfolio (BCG matrix/GE business screen) exercise. 

Emirates Airline: A Billion-dollar Sukuk-Bond Issue

by Dr Emir Hrnjić, Mr Harun Kapetanović (Government of Dubai) and Prof David Reeb

Publication Date: 08/04/2014

Emirates Airline (EA) needs to fund the purchase of 30 new A380 aircraft. On March 11, 2013, EA announced plans to issue US$1 billion of Islamic bonds (sukuk) and $750 million of regular bonds. These bonds arguably share similar risks and seniority even though the sukuk bonds sold with a lower implied yield. This difference in pricing for securities with similar default risks seems at odds with conventional finance thinking. Against this backdrop, the EA treasury department must decide on the appropriate funding for this next batch of A380 airplanes.

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JOG Sports: Sports Apparel and Ice Hockey in Thailand

by Prof Andrew Karl Delios

Publication Date: 24/03/2014

JOG Sports, a sports apparel and sports marketing business, has crossed the psychologically important threshold of $1 million in annual sales. Although the company was started as a hobby and side interest of the chief executive officer (CEO) and main founder, management of the company soon became his only occupation. The scale of the company increased quickly, with the sports apparel business growing in product lines, geographic scope of sales and diversity within products. Meanwhile, the sports marketing arm also grew as the CEO organized new and larger ice hockey tournaments. The CEO needs to make some important decisions regarding the future growth of the company, including issues of strategy formulation and strategy implementation, an explicit process within the rapidly growing company.

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Yamato Transport Co. Ltd.: TA-Q-BIN

by Assoc Prof H. Brian Hwarng and Ms Motoka Mouri (MBA student)

Publication Date: 28/02/2014

Since 1976, Yamato had enjoyed steady growth in the Japanese domestic parcel delivery market. Yamato had maintained its leading position in Japan through its highly acclaimed TA-Q-BIN service. However, with changing demographics and market conditions, the business landscape had been changing. Overdependence on the domestic delivery business limited the overall growth of Yamato. Furthermore, the growth of the TA-Q-BIN business in Japan was limited by the stagnant growth of Japan's economy. Makoto Kigawa, president and then chairman of Yamato Transport, had been relentlessly pursuing business restructuring as well as promoting productivity improvements. His goal was to increase the share of the delivery business related to overseas markets from four to twenty per cent of total revenue by the time of Yamato's centennial celebrations in 2019. How could he successfully implement the TA-Q-BIN service system in overseas markets such as Taiwan, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Malaysia?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
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by Dr Mei Qi and Prof Lieven Demeester

Publication Date: 24/02/2014

Founded in 1973 with a vision of inclusion, integration and normalization, Monnikenheide had pioneered a series of innovative approaches to improve the quality of life of people with mental disabilities. It had introduced some of its practices to local partners in China, India and Indonesia and now had the most sought-after facilities in Belgium for families with special-needs children and other family members. At the age of 69, the co-founder of Monnikenheide felt the necessity to plan for the transition for Monnikenheide, and decided to appoint her third son to be the director of the board. Her son and the board were confronted with how to evaluate the options for the transition. Should it continue as an independent organization or join a larger group with adequate organizational capabilities? How should Monnikenheide go about meeting its financial targets? Should Monnikenheide play a bigger role globally and, if so, how?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

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