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Brazil's New Retailing King Has the Enemies to Prove It
Game Makers Pull Titles From Google+
Frustration With P&G Grows

Weekly Quiz Questions
Discipline-specific multiple-choice questions to help gauge your students' comprehension of Wall Street Journal content.

Brazil's New Retailing King Has the Enemies to Prove It
by: Christina Passariello
Jun 18, 2012
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Competitive Tactics

SUMMARY: Jean-Charles Naouri, a Frenchman born in rural Algeria, will become the king of Brazil's booming and coveted retail market, as his Groupe Casino SA (of France) is set to take majority control of Brazil's biggest retailer, Po de Acar. Naouri built his empire through expertise in finance and via minority stakes in struggling companies, which he often acquired after arming himself with lawyers and contracts. A rarity in retail because he doesn't come from a dynasty of grocers, Naouri has used his outsider status to his advantage.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The rise of Casino in Brazil under Naouri's leadership illustrates the cumulative competitive success that can be achieved over time through the consistent, constant application of firm-specific strategies and resources. Naouri's specialty in finance and law, and his proven ability to out-maneuver and acquire his erstwhile retail partners, has enabled Casino over time to outperform the traditional grocery chains that possess merely traditional operational skills.

1. (Advanced) For traditional grocery chains, what are assumed to be the key success factors? What are the key value chain skills that grocery chains need to master if they want to succeed in competition for international growth markets?

2. (Introductory) What seem to be the idiosyncratic capabilities of Casino under Naouri's leadership? What special strategies has he employed in the grocery business? Why has Naouri been able to out-maneuver some of the big family names in the grocery business?

3. (Advanced) Many big grocery chains are family businesses. Why do you suppose that this is? Why are family firms especially competitive in groceries, even on an international scale?

4. (Advanced) What are some of the possible weaknesses of family-run enterprises? To what extent has Naouri been able to exploit the weaknesses of family-run firms? Is this a sign that the era of family-dominated grocery chains is coming to an end?

Reviewed By: Mark Lehrer, Suffolk University

Jockeying for Position in Hot Brazil, Casino Passes Wal-Mart, Carrefour
by Nadya Masidlover
Jun 18, 2012
Page: B6

Game Makers Pull Titles From Google+
by: Amir Efrati and Ian Sherr
Jun 15, 2012
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Global Strategy, Technology Management

SUMMARY: Some major mobile game developers are pulling several games from Google+, which is struggling to create an alternative gaming hub to Facebook. Meanwhile (related article, below), a pair of Japanese firms, Gree and DeNA, are taking on Zynga, Apple and Google in the race to build a mobile gaming platform. Though little know abroad, they are the two most profitable companies in mobile games, generating far higher revenues per user than Zynga.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Especially the related article (below) reveals the existence of two dimensions of competition in the contest for mobile gaming dominance: 1) competition among platforms like Google+ but also Gree and DeNA; and 2) competition between US and Japanese firms in the globally fragmented, but now consolidating world market for mobile gaming. Interestingly, the leading American and Japanese firms employ disparate business models, possibly augmenting the prospects for some kind of future co-existence as opposed to winner-take-all markets.

1. (Introductory) Why is Google+ not an attractive "platform" for some mobile game developers? Why do game developers need a "platform"? In generic terms, what is platform?

2. (Advanced) According to the related article (below), US and Japanese mobile gaming firms are engaged in a contest for global supremacy. Why are these firms only now coming to loggerheads? How do American and Japanese mobile gaming firms differ in their business model and strategy? Who has the upper hand, do you think?

3. (Advanced) According to the related article, these same firms are likewise seeking to develop a "platform." What is meant by this? Why is developing a platform more attractive strategically than just developing hit games?

4. (Introductory) To what extent do you think the market for mobile platforms will truly become a global market? To what extent do you think it will remain largely a fragmented, "multidomestic" market? Justify your answer!

Reviewed By: Mark Lehrer, Suffolk University

Mobile Game Fight Goes Global
by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Spencer E. Ante
Jun 14, 2012
Page: B1

Frustration With P&G Grows
by: Emily Glazer and Geraldine Amiel
Jun 21, 2012
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Click here to view the video on WSJ.com WSJ Video

TOPICS: Stakeholder Management, Strategy Implementation

SUMMARY: Bob McDonald's fourth year as CEO of Procter & Gamble is getting off to a bad start. Investors had already been frustrated by P&G's inability to deliver results. Now the company's weak stock price and strategic shifts have hurt morale internally as well. Many employees and executives feel there is a need to put someone in charge that will get back to basics and fix the company. McDonald pointedly said the company hadn't produced many new winners: "We haven't created a new category or a meaningful new brand in some time."

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article underlines the frustration of stakeholders (investors, employees) when a company's strategy is ineffective and inconsistent. McDonald wanted to boost margins by raising prices, but the move did not work. He went on expansion in emerging markets but later pulled back in order to stabilize P&G's largest and most profitable businesses. Finally, his innovation initiatives have borne no fruit.

1. (Introductory) Bob McDonald definitely did have some strategic priorities. Reading through the article, can you find at least three original basic stratagems for boosting growth and margins at P&G? What were they?

2. (Introductory) What has been the fate of these efforts so far? Based on your reading of the article, was the problem more one of strategy formulation or more one of strategy implementation?

3. (Advanced) The article mentions "strategic shifts" at P&G. What does the term refer to at P&G? Why are such shifts problematic for stakeholders? Why do investors get frustrated? Why do employees get frustrated?

4. (Advanced) How can a corporate CEO like McDonald best recover from a series of embarrassing "strategic shifts"? How can McDonald now best regain credibility among key stakeholders?

Reviewed By: Mark Lehrer, Suffolk University

Weekly Quiz Questions

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT for the week of 06/21/2012

Who's the Boss? There Isn't One
by Rachel Emma Silverman
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

1. At flat-hierarchy companies like Valve, most decisions are made not by middle managers but by
(a) the CEO directly.
(b) the Steering Committee.
(c) teams within the company.
(d) individuals who rotate the managerial role.
(e) majority vote at the company's "town meetings."

2. General Electric has found that a bossless organization works best in
(a) innovation centers.
(b) assembly-line operations.
(c) virtually all blue-collar operations.
(d) white-collar corporate functions at headquarters.
(e) low-volume factories with a small number of employees.

3. Comparison of Valve and W.L Gore suggests that the bossless structure is most suited to firms where work is fundamentally organized
(a) by projects.
(b) by mass production.
(c) by product divisions.
(d) in an unpredictable way.
(e) as a highly creative, brainstorming activity.

Microsoft Unveils Surface Tablet to Rival iPad
by Shira Ovide
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

4. Microsoft is specifically positioning its Surface tablet as
(a) a lightweight PC.
(b) both a tablet and a PC.
(c) a portable entertainment console.
(d) a low-cost alternative to the iPad.
(e) an open-platform alternative to the iPad.

5. The biggest strategic risk posed by the Surface appears to be that
(a) Microsoft's hardware partners may be alienated.
(b) Microsoft's software developers may be alienated.
(c) it may reinforce impressions of Apple's superiority.
(d) Microsoft's identity as a software firm may jeopardized.
(e) the product, if a failure, may drag down the Windows 8 operating system as well.

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