Best Works Motors is currently one of the best car developers in the market. With only a few months from its establishment, we were able to compete in par with other well known car developers which only prove the kind of quality that we are offering to our clients. Aside from this, we are now catering to a number of customers in the market. Our company offers innovative cars that would fit to your style of living as well as on your budget. Currently, we are offering three major car models in the market; we have the Beaut, which is a high end luxury car perfect for those who live in extravagance; we also have the Boffo – a high end family car perfect for people who already have a family; the last but not the least would be the Buzzy – our high end sports car perfect for sports minded individuals and for those people who are actually stylish in nature. Through the aid of advance technology and skilled employees, we have been able to provide our customers with car models that belong to the current mainstream. Although we only have one store, but in the coming months, a number of store branches will be established as per suggestion of the growing number of our clients to further provide efficient service and distribution channel.
Competition is tight in the car production industry, in this regard, it requires for Best Motor Works to become more “creative” in establishing strategies that would make the company stand out among the car modeling firms in the market. One of the possible strategies that might be used by the company would be the acquisition of low cost yet technologically advanced machineries that will be used in the production area. Through this, we could lower down our operational costs which give an avenue for us to maximize profit (St. Clair & Fine 1996: 31). The money that will be save by the management could still be used to finance other strategic plans of the company like providing trainings and seminars for our employees in order to further improve their skills and competencies. Moreover, aside from using the money for providing trainings and seminars to the employees, it could also be used to finance the expansion of the company, like the establishment of new store branches to strategic locations in the economy. As what we can see here, there are a lot of advantages that our company can derive from finding the cheapest yet technologically advance machineries. Since the operational costs of the management can be minimized by this strategy, we could already offer marketing promos to further attract customers. The marketing team of our company could establish brand promotions as well as advertisements to televisions or any kind of media that would inform the market how good the quality of our products is. It has been identified that information dissemination regarding the existence of any product in the market is an effective way of improving the sales and profitability of any business firm. With this, aside from the fact that we are still new in this industry, it is a must to a lot a budget for advertising our products as well as our company. Through this, we could easily penetrate our target market and would surely improve the sales growth of our company.
Based from the market study from the past four periods, I was found out that our company has the sole production of sports cars in the market. This only means that we could monopolize the production of the said product line and establish a good pricing scheme that would consider the factor of the level of demand and supply of sports car in the market. In short, we could charge a bit higher price than what it should be since customers will have no other choice of sports car producer. Moreover, we are also the market leader in the production of luxury cars in the market. It would be logical on our part to charge higher price as compared to our competitor- Firm C. On the other hand, it was also found out that we are currently having a hard time in dealing with the market competition in hybrid cars. This only means that we should improve our research and development team in order to innovate our hybrid cars based on the preference of our target consumers. Moreover, it would be better if the marketing team would find ways on how to successfully penetrate the market for hybrid cars. For instance, lowering the price of hybrid cars as well as offering installment basis of payment with a very low interest rate to attract more customers.
Another factor that Best Motor Works should look upon would be the number of our dealers. During the period 6 of our operation, data shows that, compared to other companies, only our company has the lowest number of dealers. Well, or course this is being justified by the size of our operation, but we are currently expanding and it would be necessary for us to increase the number of dealers alongside with the increase of the number of store branches of the company. Our management must also review the performance of our dealers since they have not been efficient enough on their -work based from the ratings generated for period 6. May be the reason why we are not experiencing the optimal growth for our operation may be because of the performance of our dealers.
Moreover, in order our company could open our stocks to the public to improve the demand of our stocks which eventually create forces for stock prices to increase. The main reason why we would want the prices of our stocks to increase is for the simple reason- to generate more funds to be used for the production and expansion plans of the company. Allowing only the private individuals to buy our stocks is not enough for the expansion plans of the company. It would be better to entertain the capitals of the public, which is actually of great number as compared to the private ones, since there is a large pool of possible stock buyers in the said market. As more and more stocks are sold to them, its prices would go up as based from the law of supply and demand. Another way by which our company could increase the price of our stocks would be to buy our own stock in the market to create an artificial inflation of our stocks. Those stocks that has been bought back could be used by the management as a form of reward for those employees with superb performance or sell it a lower price to their employees who would what to become a part-owner of the company. Another good thing in this strategy would be the chance of boosting the value of the company on the part of the employee since some of them are already part of the company and are already concerned regarding the entire performance and welfare of the organization.
The last but not the least strategy that must be secured by Best Motor Works, considering the last four periods of out operation, would be the poor performance of the security of the design of our Bravo- hybrid car. Maybe this is another reason why there are only few buyers on this car model. In short, we should have to invest more in developing Bravo, specifically, the improving the safety of the said car model. Although our car has the style, the quality and the interior, but if safety lacks from the group, then, consumers might think twice from buying the said product. This could mean additional costs on the upgrading the technology that we already have in order to improve the safeness of our Bravo. We must surpass the performance of Firm D in making cars with high safety standards and we could do this through conducting researches on what kind of technologies that they are applying on their cars to attain high level of safety condition. This is just a matter of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of Firm D’s produced cars.
Goals and Objectives
One of the main objectives of our company is to provide the market with high class, stylish and safety cars for various groups of people. Aside from this, we also want to become the pioneer in the research and development to technologically advanced cars. Being a pioneer in the production of technologically advanced cars would be tantamount to saying that we have the power to dominate and hold the car production industry.
On the other hand, one of the long term goals of the company would be to increase our market share to 15 %. Well, this is a very hard goal to achieve given the tight competition that exists in the market. But through the aid of the identified strategies above, it is not far from happening for the case of Best Motor Works. The main reason why our company would want to increase our market share to 15 percent would be for the simple reason that we would want to have a greater market influence over our competitors and target customers. If one has the large share in the market, it has the power to influence the price level, to some degree, as well as the supply and used this to the advantage of the company. Just imagine if Best Motor Works would have the large share of the market, this only means that we could set the prices of cars in the market depending on the level that we want. We could also use this influence to prevent other firms to enter to our market (Segal 1994: 1). Having a large market share would give us the chance of performing cutthroat competition and would eventually prevent other firms to enter to the industry where we dominate. Aside from this, it is easy for the company to maximize our profit since we could set prices to whatever we would want to.
With regards to the short term goals of the company, we have the targeting of stock prices to $55. It has already been pointed out a while ago the importance of increasing the stock prices on the financial stability of the company. Through Initial Public Offering [IPO], it is sure that prices of stocks would start to inflate since its demand will start to improve alongside with the limited number of stocks coming from vaults of our company (Investopedia.com 2007: 1). The primary reason why we are aiming for this would be for the reason of having enough funds for our expansion plans and improvement of facilities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the production area. It is only through becoming a financially stable wherein Best Motor Works could implement its growth plans for the entire operation of the company.
Another short term goal of the company would be to increase the sales growth of the company by 25-30%. This goal is being supported by the proposed strategies stated above. This goal is somehow connected with the long term goal which is to have a larger market share to 15%. Having impressive sales could also mean that they have the large market share in the industry. To some degree, there is a proportional relationship between sales growth and size of the market share; the higher the sales of the company the larger the share that it has in the market, ceteris paribus. Moreover, by having high sales, there is a possibility that the company could earn high profit since the two has direct relationship with one another. Furthermore, there are times wherein the sales growth serves as one of the factors that attract investors, thus, improving more our financial stability. In this regard, it would be necessary to say that there are a lot of connotations that can be associated to the growth of sales and the primary reason why we are targeting 25-35% growth of sales would be to give us a chance of overtaking our competitors in terms of sales since we are only account for a small portion of the total market sales of the industry. This goal must be attained at the start of the 8th period of the operation of our company.
The last but not the least short term goal would be the successful market launching of Bravo- the hybrid car of Best Motor Works. The reason why we are launching another model of car would be to revitalize our product lines and to get the market of hybrid cars, thus, increasing the sales and market shares of the company. Best Motor Works has been weak in the segment of hybrid cars and Bravo would be the entry of our company to penetrate the said segment and widen the scope of the range of our products. This is just simply a way of “conquering” other segments of the car industry to increase our market influence and established good market position in the industry. From the past four periods of operation of the company, we have been a hard time in penetrating the segment of hybrid cars. But there are already existing plans to address the said problem and this was already discussed in the previous pages of this paper. It is now a matter of time and execution of the strategies for us to upgrade our market position in the production of hybrid cars.
Due to advance technology that is being used by our company, we have been able to produce high quality, good interior and stylish cars. This made our company to out-perform our competitors in the market. Moreover, this factor also serves as the reason behind the continuous growth of sales of our company. In short, it is the technology that serves as the key factor for us to have competitive advantage over our competitors. Moreover, we were also able to expand the number of dealers in just a short period of time and this is a good sign of the readiness of our production team for the expansion of the operation of the company. Only that, we still have to address the efficiency and effectiveness of each dealer in order to maximize their contribution to the entire operation of the company. We also have the advantage over the production of sports cars since we almost have all the market for the said segment and this could be used by the company in order to maximize our profit to create more funds for our operation. As far as the last four periods is concerned, Best Motor Works has been exhibiting progressive market share and already reached 14.9% in just 6 period as compared to the original target of 15% market share after 8 periods. This only tells us that we are performing beyond the expectations of the many and currently maintaining the said reputation as what we can see in the data collected for the past four periods. In this regard, it would be justifiable to say that despite of the fact that we are just new into this industry, still, we managed to overcome the barriers and hardships and provide new standards in the car manufacturing industry.
Investopedia.com (2007) Initial Public Offering [online]. Available: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/ipo.asp [Accessed 14 January 2008].
Segal, Eliezer (1994) Cutthroat Competition [online]. Available: http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/940303_Cutthroat.html [Accessed 14 January 2008].
St. Clair, Richard & Fine, Chares H. (1996) The U.S. Automobile Manufacturing Industry [online]. Available: http://www.technology.gov/Reports/autos/auto.pdf [Accessed 14 January 2008].
Thomas Frank, Consumerism And Dissent
The contemporary problem of a society which has a democratic and liberal political setting alongside a free market economic system or any society which gears towards such characterizations remains to be one that involves what contemporary political thinkers and scholars refer to as the notion of the plurality of values. Isaiah Berlin, for instance, considers what he called values pluralism as an inevitable consequence of the processes of democratization and liberalization.
For the sake of clarity, it is but proper to lay down at the onset, what the task of this paper is. This paper’s task remains two-fold; first it seeks to explicate Thomas Frank’s views in his essay entitled, Why Johnny Can’t Dissent from the book, Commodify Your Dissent, and second, it aims to give substantive criticisms to Frank’s views and comment on how media and advertising have caused business culture and counterculture to become, essentially, one and the same. In what sense may they be considered as one and the same?
Now that the task of this paper had been laid down, we will now immediately proceed with Frank’s views. Prior to discussing Frank’s views, it is however, equally important to give a few remarks on commercialism and capitalism. Commercialism, as may be observed, has taken hold of many societies since the inception of globalization and capitalist paradigms on the scene. These current paradigms are paradigms that have met considerably many criticisms and yet were able to flourish. For this reason, it is important to examine the reasons behind the continued existence of such paradigms.
Adorno and Horkheimer, for instance, view commercialism, the weapon of capitalism in and through which it is possible to transform a society into a mediocre herd which prefers popular culture’s logic of style and false notions of values such as “individuality” over more pure expressions of truth, as the culprit for the erosion not only of societal values but also of culture. As they see it, commercialism made possible the existence of the “deceived masses” (133).
The deception of the masses is a phenomenon that is worth the time to evaluate. How is this phenomenon possible? It is at this point that media and advertising steps into the scene. In Legal Philosophy, fundamental rights are those rights that are inalienable to human persons. An example of this kind of right is the right of free speech. The state’s recognition that free speech is a fundamental right that ought to be granted to individuals or citizens of a free democracy has crucial implications on the current problems of any state claiming to be “democratic”.
For one, free speech, by virtue of being a fundamental right, paves the way for differing ideas, worldviews and values. In a liberal and democratic political setting, this is actually healthy. Ideally, it ensures that decisions are arrived at through proper deliberation. By proper deliberation, we refer to different ideas being examined critically through rational discourse. However, there had been considerably significant drawbacks to the recognition of free speech as a fundamental right and these drawbacks involve among many other things the core notions of social obligation and social responsibility that the press or the media ought to be mindful of in terms of proliferating false notions and values through the mechanism of advertising.
Naturally, societies which adhere to the tenets of liberalism and democracy will be flooded by too many ideas, worldviews and values. This is an accurate characterization of current liberal and democratic societies. Capitalism, in itself, has a commercial mechanism which Barthes calls “censorship by repletion” (185). Commercialism thus, produces confusion and perhaps, intellectual anarchy, by flooding too many false notions as exemplified in the slogans that capitalists use to market their products. In a certain sense, the rise of commercialism endangers the very fabric of society; society’s cultural, historical and intellectual heritage. Eventually, marketing and advertising were able to replace political discourse. People, oftentimes readily accept the truthfulness of advertisements. They rarely take the time to think for themselves the truthfulness of slogans and advertisements on the television and the Internet. Such a setting of course, poses serious threats not only on the individual but more importantly, to the whole of society. We seem to forget that we have an important epistemic obligation, that is, not to accept the truth of a belief or a statement unless we have sufficient evidence for it.
Undeniably, popular culture affects how the current generation thinks and reasons. To a certain extent, popular culture predisposes and moulds our children to behave and more importantly, to think in such and such ways. Culture, being a way of life, is a social phenomenon; it is the society which creates culture. It is the society which creates certain patterns of living, as argued by some social theorists. The idea is that it is ultimately, the people who draft their culture and their history. This idea is however, threatened by commercialism and capitalism. Vein Lasn adds up to this idea: “Culture isn’t created from the bottom up by the people anymore – it’s fed to us top-down by corporations” (189). What Van Lasn is pointing out is the fact that the market is too powerful a force that dictates culture.
In Frank’s view, the corporate world feeds on the masses’ desire to individuality. The capitalists exploit this desire to be different, to be unique, or to stand out by linking the notion of individuality with a certain product that they sell on the market. The commercial mechanism of capitalism is, as stated earlier in the discussion, is the media through advertising. Businesses make extensive use of media and advertising to get the attention of the consumers.
Capitalism, through media and advertising commodifies values such as individuality. By linking the false notion of individuality to a certain commodity, consumers think that they are unique, that they are different. A deeper analysis however reveals that the aforementioned claim to individuality is nothing but an illusion; a figment of the mind manufactured and institutionalized by capitalists. It is not only the case that it is manufactured and institutionalized; it is also sold to the consumers. Frank offers a metaphor: “The race track, the plane on which all individuals race for stardom, is run by those who create and instill conformity. The harder one tries to rebel, the deeper they play into the new consumer hip world, thus defeating their original goal entirely”.
At this point, we will discuss how media and advertising marketed the idea of rebellion and how the subversive youth counterculture became, in itself, an affirmation not of individuality but of conformity. The quoted statement above from the last paragraph of Frank’s essay raises considerably significant issues that need to be dealt with accordingly. As Frank sees it, the race for individuality is a race that can never be won. The problem, as he sees it, is the fact that the “race track” or the playing field is in itself, owned by those who create and instill conformity – the capitalists. In addition to this, the aforementioned race cannot be won simply because it is the capitalist who dictates the rules. As a matter of fact, they do so because they are the ones who create the rules. So, following Frank’s reasoning in his metaphor, it is indeed the case that no matter how one tries to rebel, one inevitably gets caught up, entangled with the webs of commercialism and capitalism.
The goal to be non-conformists is in vain. Why is this so? As Frank sees it, the current youth counterculture and its attempt to rebel involves a contradiction at its very core. Frank argues that “consumerism is no longer about conforming but about difference” (113). How did this happen? In the preceding discussions, consumerism is associated with conformity but why is it that Frank now claims that it is about difference? For him, the answer is simple. The youth counterculture rebels through material means like fashion and clothing or cars. The idea of individuality, the idea of being unique or different is limited to the shallow definition that the youth appropriates for itself. Consumerism is no longer about conforming but about difference, as Frank claims, since individuals are desperately trying not to conform but by trying not to conform, they end up conforming. Indeed, conforming and not-conforming becomes one and the same since they all play by the rules of the game; and the rules of the game as stated earlier, are created and thereby, controlled by the capitalists.
Frank also makes mention of how the television makes significant contributions to the deception of the masses. It makes them believe that they are in control of themselves and their lives. On a superficial level, one may think that one is free in choosing the kind of television shows that he or she may choose according to the dictates of his or her will. The problem is however, much more complex and to think in the way described above is an oversimplification of the problem. It simply misses the point, so to speak. For even the shows on the television are dictated by the “fad”, by what is considered hip during a particular point in time. As Frank states: “hip is their official ideology” (121).
Moreover, flipping channels on the television may generate feelings of being in control but this is not exactly true. It is still the market-driven, capitalist-owned television networks that dictate the range of the so called “choices”. The people’s experiences with the advertisements on the television are just the same. These advertisements proliferate false consciousness, false notions of values. The television is indeed, also contributory to the aforementioned deception of the masses.
Aside from generating feelings of being in control, the television industry also generates feelings that people are capable of rebelling against popular culture. Even brilliant and innovative television producers and directors may be tempted to think that by coming up with a new idea, they are rebelling against popular culture. But the crucial point that must be underscored here is the fact that since these people are all engaged in a competition against rivals, they would naturally do what is best for their respective television networks. And so, they think and do the same things; thinking and trying to come up with something new, something unique that they can offer in the hope that they would provide entertainment to the audience. Again, the point is clear; these television show producers and directors just like everyone else are caught up in the web.
In The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, Frank still has a lot to say regarding American business and advertising. What he has to say includes among many other things, how the business culture was able to benefit from advertising propaganda and how the advertising industry mocks the intelligence of the masses by treating them as such. In describing the status of advertising in the fifties, he writes: “Never has advertising been so unwilling to acknowledge the myriad petty frustrations, the anger, the fear that make up so much of daily existence, consuming and otherwise. Never has it insisted so dogmatically on such an abstractly glowing vision of American life. And never has it been so vulnerable to mockery” (48b).
The statement above further supports and strengthens the points that were previously established regarding the deception made by advertisers on the masses. The technique employed by these advisers is the use of a simple, catchy slogan, which is oftentimes repeated over and over again to facilitate better recall. The point however, in the above statement is that these advertisements were painting an all too beautiful picture of American life; a picture that may be considered as far from reality. It is also important to note that there are even advertisements that are not simply far from reality but divorced from reality. In addition to this, there are also advertisements that defy the very foundation of rational discourse. There are advertisements that are, so to speak, simply illogical; a non-sequitur.
For Frank, “the counterculture may be more accurately understood as a stage in the development of the values of the American middle class, a colorful installment in the twentieth century drama of consumer subjectivity” (28b). The counterculture for him is still held fast by and is still rooted in consumer capitalism. Indeed, consumer subjectivity had been an accurate description and characterization of the American society.
What mat be called as youth subculture started out in the sixties; which is in part, an attempt to capture the youth. For the business culture, the very idea of “being young” is in itself, an idea that may be considered “marketable”. He further argued that the reason for this is that the youth is a symbol of something new and exciting. It symbolizes an attitude and a break from the old; from the very idea of conformity. An example of a slogan used by advertisers in the past is “think young” which is intuitively appealing not to the youth but to the older generations.
The striking fact though in the case of the counterculture is how the business sector together with the help of advertisers were able to transform what is supposedly, an act of rebellion through new and revolutionary ideas to one that would further their interests. Consumer capitalism provides as with an answer to such a query. It was able to feed on the vanity of individual persons.
As I reckon it, the important contribution made by Frank is the idea that we must fix our gaze on those who may be regarded as the creators of mass culture since they are the ones who dictates the rules of the game. The playing field is owned by them. By focusing on those who create mass culture, we will learn what needs to be done to solve the problems confronting us. Frank actually gave a recommendation in the last paragraph of his essay, Why Johnny Can’t Dissent. According to him, “we should knock over the stage”. As stated in the earlier part of the essay, it may be inferred that this knocking over the stage means that if we want change to happen, we must identify the root of the problem. As I reckon it, what Frank is pointing at is the fact that metaphorically speaking, there are people who “own what he calls the race track or the stage”; if I may be allowed, to use my preferred term, the “playing field”. The materially, capitalist-driven economy paved the way for consumerist values to flourish. These values are however, arguably not the kind of values that would allow for a society to flourish. Society in itself has gone through a tedious process of transformation to the extent that the values of the past were replaced by emerging values albeit of a different character. As a matter or fact, these values are built upon false notions of values such as individuality.
The final part of the paper is devoted to a discussion of the value of “dissent” in a free democracy. Frank presented plausible arguments in support of his claims however, as I reckon it, he overlooked the vital role of the notion of rebellion or of dissent in a free democracy. I will argue that even if Frank’s arguments are true, it does not necessarily follow that rebelling or dissenting against the status quo or the paradigms of capitalism and consumerism. For this part, I will use Levinson’s ideas to serve as a starting point to further my point. In his work entitled, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct I), he put forward ideas that induced significantly considerable insights which led me to think that Frank overlooked the values of dissent and rebellion. Levinson’s project albeit, ambitious is in itself a powerful criticism against the status quo. Of course, such a “dissenter” inevitably meets various criticisms. However, in a deeper analysis, dissention reveals itself as a valuable and vital condition for a constitutional democracy. It is also important for political stability and conceptually plays a very crucial role in the avoidance of political stagnation. The core notion of dissention is an issue that I would like to discuss next. We were able to point out several important criticisms posed by Levinson on the American Constitution and his appreciation for dissention; the need to challenge and change the status quo.
The philosopher Descartes found it helpful to doubt in order to arrive at something that he cannot deny, an indubitable truth. In the same vein, it is also helpful for us to practice a healthy kind of skepticism; we must have room for doubts, for questioning things. In a free democracy, one is bombarded by so many ideas; there are occasions when all these ideas produce certain kinds of uneasiness on the part of the individual since it seems that there are so many ideas to choose from. A free democracy is indeed, a marketplace of ideas.
There are issues within this universe of discourse that we may take time to consider. It is not uncommon, for instance, to see advertisements on the television that boast of acquiring a certain value for purchasing a certain product. There are even advertisements on the television that makes an improper and questionable use of notions such as “individuality” by linking it with a particular product like a watch, a pair of shoes or a new model of a cellular phone. It is not also uncommon to see advertisements of beauty products on the television or the Internet. These advertisements oftentimes create a notion of beauty in the sense of having white skin, blemish-free skin, slim figure and the likes. Capitalists know where to hit the consumers. The media, being given the right to do so, oftentimes fail to take note of the so-called boundaries; the limitations of their state-given rights. It is not uncommon to see media people who have acted irresponsibly and unethically in the practice of their professions.
In line with the discussion regarding Levinson, the need to challenge the status quo, the importance of doubt, we will now turn to the idea of “dissent” and its distinctive function in the kind of society depicted above; a free democracy. In a free democracy, there exists a plurality of worldviews and values. Inevitably, these worldviews and values would, at some point, conflict with one another. This is a characterization of the current American society.
The kind of advertisements we see on the television and the Internet, these are mere chimeras of the values that they promise. A particular product may have a slogan that tells you that they value “individuality” and say “you are what you wear” but the truth is that the promised individuality is merely a figment of the imagination manufactured by capitalists. The capitalist-driven industries have indeed affected a vast majority of people in so many different ways. As pointed out earlier, the promised individuality is merely a figment of the imagination; there is no individuality in buying those things, there is only “conformity”. Sustein claims that “Much of the time, dissenters benefit others, while conformists benefit themselves” (6). Sustein is trying to demystify the belief that dissenters have nothing good to contribute to society; that they are mere troublemakers who, by dissenting to public opinion and standards are merely pulling society backwards. This is one of the issues in a free democracy. Given the wide range of choices we have, what will we choose? Given the many values there are, what values will we adhere to? If we are to be more specific about this, we may ask ourselves the question as to what it is that we must do, “to conform or to dissent?” How do we distinguish the truth given that we live in the time when the dominant paradigm is that there are multiple truths?
In a free democracy, it is important to have dissenters because contrary to popular belief, they do have something good to contribute. Unanimity, although usually held as a sign of agreement and cooperation may also mean inefficiency and stagnation since there is no opposing side to check whether the decisions, policies and statutes are arrived at through proper deliberation. In the government, it is important to have dissenters; it is always healthy to have an opposing side to ensure that there are “checks and balances”. Sustein argues that, “Freedom of speech provides the key safeguard against senseless cascades. It opens up space for dissent by forbidding government from mandating conformity or from insulating itself, and citizens generally, from disagreeable, unwanted, and even offensive opinions” (96). From this statement, one may thus infer that for Sustein, individual liberty, in the sense of the fundamental rights such as the freedom of speech takes priority over the interests of the state; that fundamental rights ought to be respected by the state.
Adorno and Horkheimer. The Dialectic of the Enlightenment. Herder and Herder, c. 1972.
Barthes, R. Image, Music, Text. Hill, c. 1977.
Frank, Thomas. “Why Johnny Can’t Dissent.” Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler. W. W. Norton & Company; 1st ed., c. 1997.
_____. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism. University of Chicago Press, c. 1997.
Lasn, K. Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America. Eagle Brook, c. 1999.
Levinson, Sanford. Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong And
How We the People Can Correct It. Oxford University Press, c. 2006.
Sunstein, Cass. Why Societies Need Dissent. Harvard University Press, c. 2003.
Marketing Research (Exam)
Question 1 (7 points)
Industrial Health Technologies, Ltd. (IHT), located on the East Coast, is a manufacturer of industrial respirators. The Research and Development (R & D) department recently designed a prototype respirator for the asbestos-abatement industry that is battery powered and would extend the operating life of current models from 8 to 30 hours without recharging. A similar model introduced by Deep Mine Safety Apparatus (DMSA) four months earlier was marginally successful. However, both IHT’s and DMSA’s models suffered from a technical flaw. It was found that use of the respirators without recharging for 30 hours required 18 hours of recharging to return the batteries to a state of full charge. Notwithstanding this technical flaw, IHT’s management team, headed by Chuck Montford, was excited about R & D’s efforts. Carl Corydon, IHT’s marketing manager, and Chuck had decided to do a sample survey to ++A random of 100 asbestos-abatement firms was to be chosen from a list of East Coast federally licensed asbestos-abatement firms. Mail questionnaires were designed to determine respondents’ attitudes and opinions towards this new respirator.
(2 pts) (a) Identify the underlying research objective(s) in this one.
The research objective in this case is setting out to gauge customers’ reactions in relation to the capability of the new battery. The Industrial Health Technologies Ltd, (IHT) team would like to establish how consumers perceived the prototype respirator which although which can stay 30 hrs without recharging, requires an additional 18 hours of recharging so that the full state of battery charge can be returned and maintained.
The other objective relates to the technical flaw that the respirator posses basing on the customers opinions and attitude. The technical flaw that is experienced by this prototype respiratory device is that it cannot charge for a shorter time despite its long duration in sustaining the amount of battery charge that it has. The Research and Development department at Industrial Health Technologies, Ltd has therefore embarked on a mission to establish the reasons behind this technological flaw carrying out a sample survey that will be able to establish why this prototype respiratory takes a lot of time while charging. Therefore the objectives are conceived with an aim of satisfying a need in the organization. How specific,measurable, realiable, achievable and timebound objectives are determine whether the research will achieve their goals and obtain valid results.
(2 pts) (b) What type of research design is being used?
The research design which is used in the case above is an experiment carried out by performing a sample survey to ++A random of a total of 100 aspects – abatement firms. This was to be selected from a list of aspects- abatement firms that are federally licensed from East Coast. In addition mail questionnaires will also be distributed to various people so that their opinions about the device can be established. This therefore makes it a quantitative research that applies the use of questionnaires in order to obtain valuable information to aid in the establishment of hypotheses and research questions.
The type of design is a causal research describes the causation elements in this case it is a field experiment. The research design used will apply the use of questionnaires that will be distributed in order to find out individuals opinions and attitudes as regards the use of prototype respirator which currently has technical flaws. Causation will be determined in terms of explaining why people do not find the device to be effective.
(3 pts) (c) Is the research design appropriate? If yes, why? If no, why not?
The above research design is appropriate. This is because it has the capability of providing information on any relationships relating to cause-and-effect. The cause and effect analysis will be able to determine why the prototype respiratory takes a long time to charge and what can be done to solve this problem. In addition, the impact of one variable on another is also established. This variable could be explained in terms of dependent and independent variables. Independent variables influence the outcome of dependent variables and in this case the firm wants to establish what factors influence the device’s duration in sustaining its battery capacity.
Question 2 (5 Points)
2. Airways Luggage is a producer of cloth-covered luggage, one of the primary
advantages of which is its light weight. The company distributes its luggage through major department stores, mail order houses, clothing retailers, and other retail outlets such as stationary stores, leather goods stores, and so on. The company advertises rather heavily, but it also supplements this promotional effort with a large staff of sales representatives, numbering around 400. The numbers vary because one of the historical problems confronting Airways Luggage has been the large number of sales representatives’ resignations. It is not unusual for 10 to 20 percent of the sales force to turn over every year. Since the cost of training a new person is estimated at $5,000 to $10,000, not including the lost sales that might result because of a personnel switch, Mrs. Brooks, the sales manager, is rightly concerned. She has been concerned for some time and, therefore, has been conducting exit interviews with each departing sales representative. On the basis of these interviews, she has formulated the opinion that the major reason for this high turnover is general sales representatives’ dissatisfaction with company policies, promotional opportunities, and pay. Top management, however, has not been sympathetic to Mrs. Brooks’ pleas regarding the changes needed in these areas of corporate policy. Rather, it was tended to counter Mrs. Brooks’ pleas with arguments that to much of what she is suggesting is based on her gut reactions and little hard data. Top management desires more systematic evidence that job satisfaction, in general, and these dimensions of job satisfaction, in particular, are the real reasons for the high turnover before they would be willing to change things. Mrs. Brooks has called on the Marketing Research Department in Airways Luggage to assist her in solving this problem.
(2 pts) (a) Does Mrs. Brooks have a specific hypothesis? If yes, state
Mrs. Brooks does have a specific hypothesis. The hypothesis is that the major reason for high turnover of sales representatives from Airways luggage is their dissatisfaction as regards the company’s promotional opportunities, pay and policies. Airways luggage firm is currently experiencing high turn over rates among its sale representatives and the company does not know the exact reason behind this and this is why it wants to establish the real reasons behind this.
However, Mrs. Brooks and the other top management have their own reasons and have formulated their own hypotheses. The top management on the other hand feels that the high turn over rates among the sale representatives of the firm is because they have acquired the desired job satisfaction and therefore would like a switch in order to establish change somewhere else.
(3 pts) (b) What type of research design would you recommend to Mrs. Brooks?
Justify your answer.
I would recommend Mrs. Brooks to use a qualitative research design. This is because a qualitative research design attempts to keenly establish the behavior of various variables in their natural setting. The natural setting in this case means that the employee behavior is closely monitored from the workplace and this will be done through the use of interviews hence gaining response at firsthand. Qualitative research design is able to create comprehensive and in-depth information by applying interviews. By using the qualitative research design, Mrs. Brooks will be able to establish the main reason as to why there is high turn over of sales representatives at Airways luggage and find the appropriate solutions.
Question 3 (8 points)
3. Emilie Malti, president of Jamaican Specialties, a specialty food marketing firm, was convinced that the target audience for her line of Caribbean conserves in mango, lime, passion fruit, and papaya consisted of women, age 25 to 44, with household incomes of $30,000 and up. Jamaican Specialties’ major competitor’s (Pacific Flavor) market segment appeared to be more widely dispersed with respect to both age and income. Emilie and her marketing vice-president, Ruth Marion, attributed this difference to the type of magazines in which Pacific Flavor advertised. Emilie and Ruth decided to conduct a study to determine the socioeconomic characteristics of their firm’s market segment. They formed a panel of 800 women ages 18 and up. Mail questionnaires would be sent to all panel members. One month after receiving all questionnaires, the company would again send similar questionnaires to all of the panel members.
(2 pts) (a) What is the research objective(s)?
The research objective established in the above scenario concerns the determination of some of the socioeconomic characteristics of the Jamaican specialties’ market segment. The reason is that Jamaican Specialties’ competitor pacific Flavor has taken control over the entire market segment with respect to income and age as seen through its target audience. Jamaican Specialties firm is unable to retain its target market effectively because it’s closest competitor Pacific Flavor has taken charge and therefore the firm has set out to establish the socioeconomic characteristics of its market segment. The firm wishes to use mail questionnaires for its research by also forming a panel that consists of 800 women who are 18 years and above.
(2 pts) (b) What type of Research design is being used?
The above type of research design being used is the quantitative research design. Quantitative research design normally uses a large sample or population while conducting the research study. This is seen through the mail questionnaires that Jamaican specialties firm is using to establish its socioeconomic characteristics in its market segment. Through the use of questionnaires, Jamaican Specialties will be able to establish its socioeconomic characteristics and why nit is behind its competitor in the target market segment hence formulating the appropriate research question to address the situation. The information is bound to be collected from a wider range because of the population.
(4 pts) (c) Is the design appropriate for the research objective(s)? If yes, why? If not
appropriate, what is an appropriate design?
The above research design is appropriate for the research objective. It is a quantitative research that covers a range of various techniques, in this case, a questionnaire. The main objective of administering these questionnaires is to be able to get information which is required for effective decision making processes in the firm as regards its socioeconomic characteristics in the market segment. This is also appropriate as it mainly focuses on large group of individuals or population, unlike the qualitative one which is small. In this case, 800 women who are 18 years and above are randomly selected to be used in the firm’s research.
Question 4 (7 points)
4. In 1985 one of the largest firms of stock brokers in the United States notes that
its option trading business was growing extremely rapidly. This growth had occurred even though the firm had never had an active training program in options for its account executives. The top management of the company believed that by instituting a comprehensive training program in options for its account executives, their sales performance could be further improved. With this goal in mind, the firm’s training department put together a comprehensive training program in options utilizing a number of leading business and academic experts. The fifty account executives in the New York area that had done the greatest volume of options trading in the first six months of 1985 were selected to participate in the course. Before exposing further large groups of account executives to the new program, the firm decided to monitor the performance of the employees who had participated in the course. In the first six months of 1986 the average option volume of these account executives rose by 5% over the comparable period in 1985. The average option volume of the account executives in the New York area who had not participated in the program was 29% higher in the first six months of 1986 as compared to the comparable period in 1985.
(2 pts) (a) What is the experimental variable and what is the outcome variable?
The experimental variable in this scenario is the account executives who participated in the training program in options so as to determine the growth in the average option trading business in this firm. This is also the independent variable. The outcome variable of option trading of this firm and it is also the dependent variable. The account executives are being used as experiments through training to establish whether there will be a further increase in the company’s rate of options. On the other hand, the company’s growth in its options represents the outcome which is influenced by the dependent variable.
(2 pts) (b) What type of experimental design is being used?
The type of experimental design which is being used is the true experimental design through the use of a control group. The groups have been randomized into control and treatment groups. This experimental design is preferred due to its ability to bring out the desired outcome. The true experimental design is preferred in this particular study again due to its reliability and the fact that it is easy to administer. The expected outcome also plays a role in the choice of design as different designs can yield into conflicting results even where the variables remain unchanged. For purposes of replicability, the entire study design must be clear and easy to follow. This is the case for this study as it is clear which measurement instruments the research used.
(3 pts) (c) What factors may have affected the result?
The validity of any results in a given study very much depend on whether they yield answers to the research problems highlighted in the hypothesis or research questions. Factors relating to internal and external validity factors that relate to intend validity include history, maturation, pre-testing, measuring instruments, statistical regression, differential selection, experimental mortality and interaction of factors. The process of data collection also had effects on the result. Obtaining data is the most important part of research studies since the data forms the basis upon which arguments are founded. Appropriate measures should be taken in the choice of data collection procedures to employ, defining the type of data to collect and how the data will be analyzed. Through this, one ensures accurate and dependable results.
History refers to the events that occur between the first two measures as well as experimental variable which could have an impact on the measurements. Maturation refers to the degree of maturation which means to grow older or tired.
Factors relating to external validity include pre-testing, differential selection, experimental procedures, and multiple treatment interference. In a study of this nature, reliability of measurement tools is very central to the success of the study; usually the choice of the measurement tools is determined by the research design and the suitability depending on the sample size.
Question 5 (9 points)
ACTION FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN CORPORATION
5. Steve Miles made his big move six months ago. He quit his job as director of retail marketing at the largest bank in the state to become marketing manager for Action Federal Savings and Loan. It had been only three-and-a-half years since he received his bachelor’s degree in marketing at the largest university in the state. But he was bright, personable, and ambitious. Now, after several months of orientation at Action Federal (Steve called it “Mickey Mouse”), he was beginning his own marketing operations. Roberta Nimoy from City University was hired as his marketing research assistant.
Steve wanted to do an image study of each of the 13 branches of Action Federal
located through out the state. The main branch and three others were located in the capital city and nearby suburbs; these were housed in tall office buildings in down town locations. The other branches were located in rural areas, and their architecture was designed around the surroundings. One was located in a restored colonial home. Another, the Old Mill branch, located next to a park with a historic windmill, was designed to be compatible with the nearby river and mill.
Steve asked Roberta to develop the sampling plan for the study. After some
investigation, she learned that all the accounts were alphabetically listed in the main
branch’s computer. She thought that a list of names and addresses could be generated
by taking a sample of 1,300. The computer would be programmed to randomly select
every nth name. Since the savings and loan had approximately 112,000 customers, every 86th name would be selected.
(2 pts) (a) What is the research objective?
The main research objective is to establish an image study each of the currently 13 branches of Action Federal Savings and Loan. This is intended to determine whether customers in the area are satisfied with the services that are being offered by the Action Federal Savings and Loan organization. This will be done through the development of a sampling plan that will be used in carrying out the research.
In the process, objectives will be established which will be helpful in the formulation of research questions. The 13 branches that are distributed will be brought together through sampling techniques by picking a portion of the population consisting of 1,300 while at the same time randomly programming the available computers picking every 86th customer for the sample study.
(2 pts) (b) What is Action Federal’s current sampling plan?
The current sampling plan consists of all the accounts of Action Federal’s branches listed in an alphabetical order in the main branch’s computer. Action Federal has 13 branches which are located throughout the state with the main branch and the other three located in the city as well as the nearby suburbs whereas other branches are located in the rural areas having there architecture designed around surroundings. However, Action Federal wants to restructure its current sampling plan to a more appropriate one (Churchill, 99).
(2 pts) (c) What are the limitations of the current plan?
The current plan does not have the full information as regards the names and addresses of the customers. Moreover, these names are alphabetically listed in the main branch computer. This therefore makes it difficult to conduct a comprehensive study on the company’s image since there is lack of full information as regards the firm’s 13 branches. The other limitation is that the company’s records are centralized in only one place and that is the company’s main branch computer. This is risky since the company’s records on its progress as relates to the other 13 branches which are distributed may not be sufficient.
Clearly, Steve is faced with the constraint of finances as what he would love implemented is a comprehensive plan which the company may for the time being find quite challenging. Therefore , finances are a constraint to the study. What Steve needs to do is to convince the management about the importance of the study to the organization and therefore make the rest of he management team understand why the study is important despite the costs involved. Another constraint is time, since the organization is looking for quick problem-fixing which means that, there is pressure on Steve to deliver results. This can be challenging to researchers considering that an effective study requires proper scheduling and any sort of pressure may act negatively on the results of the study.
Finally, since a study, no matter how well designed it is, can lack in constraints, what is required is for the researchers to put in control such constraints once they are identified in order to ensure tat, they do not compromise on the reliability and validity of the results.
(3 pts) (d) What would be an appropriate? Explain
The appropriate plan will be to take a sample of 1,300 names and addresses of its customers and carry out a random selection picking every 86th name so as to carry out a research on the image of Action Federal Savings and Loan. This plan is far much better than the one currently adopted by the study in that it promises to be less flawed and is more appropriate.
Question 6 (4 points)
6. Comment on the following statements in terms of whether they are correct or not
(1 pt) (a) Focus groups are useful for testing hypotheses.
Focus groups are used in exploring various issues that are specific. Individuals who are chosen are brought together so that a specific profile is met. These individuals could be homogeneous, heterogeneous and a structured setting which is formal is used in exploring a number of limited questions. Interaction among members is enhanced in focus groups.
Quantitative methods such as surveys are also used in focus groups for effective discussion through the exploration of people’s feelings and thoughts. Focus groups are therefore useful in generating hypotheses since it is a participatory method of generating news and opinions during research. They are useful especially in the establishment of early understanding of issues that create controversy hence helps in the generation of research questions.
The generated hypotheses are used for testing later on in research work. Moreover, focus groups are efficient, quick, flexible, and relatively easy to manage. However caution must be taken in deciding on the composition of focus groups. The first consideration is to ensure that, all ethical concerns are addressed as research subjects are likely to fail to open up whenever they think that, the questions are intrusive.
(1 pt) (b) A literature search is one of the quickest and most economical ways to develop hypotheses.
Also known as literature review, literature search demonstrates that, a researcher is ready to give credence to past research in his/her area of study. Indeed the literature search process calls for a researcher to consult past similar studies and identify research gaps which informs the kind of hypothesis to guide the intended study. With the advent of online libraries, it has become increasingly easy for researchers to retrieve information from any part of the world making it very possible to identify research gaps and come up with researchable ideas. A hypothesis must be answered at the end of the research process and therefore a good hypothesis is all that, matters in any given study.
There is a direct relationship between hypotheses and theory and hypothesis enables a researcher to determine if at all the research theory is correct. Hypotheses are developed in several ways and literature is one of the methods used in the development of hypothesis. It could be termed as one of the quickest as well as economical methods used in the development of hypotheses that would be used in the later stages of research to develop research questions.
Literature search is quick and effective since it gives permanent record of information which could literature on be referred back to. It is economical in that one does not have to use a lot of money to search for information as seen through the use of web information through the internet.
(1 pt) (c) Ideas of one focus group member can stimulate responses and ideas from other group members.
Focus groups have multiple reasons concerning their use. Such reasons include determining if there are ready markets for a particular product, whether a product is acceptable as well as the level of awareness amongst consumers.
Ideas from one focus group member can stimulate responses and ideas from other group members since these participants mostly build themselves on the ideas of each other. Often, focus groups sessions are opportunities for members to learn and freely contribute to questions; this affords the researcher an opportunity to direct the group to the main issues. In addition, the researcher gets an opportunity to make sure that the discussion stays on course. Stimulation of new thoughts among the group members is generated in focus groups.
(1 pt) (d) What is the most appealing aspect of web surveys?
Surveys aim at garnering the required information in regard to the area of study. A good survey should be affordable, easy to administer, reliable, valid, not time- consuming as well as ability to reach as many respondents as possible and get the maximum number of responses possible.
Of all types of surveys, web surveys meet majority of the criteria listed above and this to a big extent makes them very appealing.
Web surveys are mostly used for data collection. However, they pose methodological problems such as estimation problems, non response and coverage problems.
The most appealing aspect of web survey is that the design experiments that are conducted on population have findings that do not confound with errors related to coverage. Population lists include email addresses and this allows easier matching of samples. It may also include quite a number of elements such as visual, verbal and interactive.
Churchill, G, Jr. Marketing Research: Methodological Foundations, Seventh Edition, Fort
Worth: Dryden Press, 1999.