Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce: "The Biggest and the best".(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce: "The Biggest and the best".(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case concerns regional economic development. Secondary issues examined include the role of the Chamber of Commerce and the integration of business and social concerns. The case has a difficulty level of two, appropriate for sophomore level courses. The case is designed to be taught in 2 - 4 class hours and is expected to require 2-4 hours of outside preparation by students, depending on the related projects selected.


The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce was the fifth largest Chamber of Commerce in New England in 2001. The Merrimack Valley region was being confronted with a series of challenges to the continued economic growth of the region, including sky-rocketing housing prices, a shortage of skilled labor, and the continued influx of high tech companies with complicated infrastructure demands. The cyclical nature of the regional economic development, highlighted from the Industrial Revolution to the high tech evolution, presents a context for understanding the "big picture" problems and macro issues that exist within the business community, as well as the immediate and pressing problems that the Chamber of Commerce had to face. The reader is introduced to the problems through the eyes of the President of the Chamber.


Case Overview and Learning Objectives:

1. Understand the background of business development on a macro-level,

2. Recognize the cyclical nature of the economy and its impact on the growth of business communities,

3. Understand the integration of business and social community,

4. Understand the role of the Chamber of Commerce in commercial development,

5. Identify and prioritize a series of economic and demographic challenges.

Courses and Levels of Students:

This case is designed for undergraduate students who have had little or no previous exposure to business courses. One of the greatest challenges inherent in teaching undergraduate business students is the need to start at "ground zero" in the subject matter. Some of this challenge can be addressed through the use of business cases, as business problems can be focused on efficiently and accurately through them by providing ready examples of issues that students have not yet experienced. Yet, most business cases posit at least a minimal understanding of the way businesses function and their relationship to the larger community. With beginning undergraduate business students, especially those of "traditional" age, this understanding is often missing.

Courses such as "Introduction to Business" or "Introduction to Management" are geared to guiding students through the background issues of business. This case serves as a vehicle for contextualizing business knowledge, especially in integrated course formats. Introductory courses are often team taught by instructors from a variety of disciplinary approaches. The issues presented in this case can be tackled from several perspectives and are not limited to "management" issues. The case would also work with an introductory course on not-for-profit management.

A number of introductory texts have sections that correspond directly to the case: Business: An Integrative Approach (Fred L. Fry, Charles R. Stoner, Richard E. Hattwick. 2000. Irwin/McGraw-Hill), Business: A Changing World (O.C. Ferrell, Jeffrey Hirt. 2000. Irwin/McGraw-Hill), i+Business in Action (Courtland L. Bovee, John V. Thill. 2001. Prentice Hall) to name just three of the many introduction to business texts that are available. If used with an introduction to management text, Modern Management (Samuel C. Certo. 2000. Prentice Hall) works particularly well.

If you are using the Ferrell/Hirt volume, Chapter 1 is devoted to the context of business, and covers topics such as the nature of business, the economic foundations of business and their cycles, the role of entrepreneurship, a brief history of the growth of industrialization and current movements in technology. …

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