Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Gone with the Wind: Home Depot in Florida.(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Gone with the Wind: Home Depot in Florida.(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt


Intended Audience and Course Placement

This case is created primarily for upper division undergraduate students taking an operations management course. The case is designed to be taught in one to two class periods depending upon instructor approach employed. A key feature of this teaching note is the simulation exercise included with this case to allow students to experience the complexity of inventory management under an impending natural disaster. Alternatively, this case can be used as a scenario for discussion on inventory management. The students are expected to spend between 2 to 3 hours of outside preparation time, depending upon instructor's choice of class preparation method.

The case should be introduced after the students have read the relevant chapters on inventory and logistics management (Chapter 10, Inventory Management, Foundations of Operations Management, by Ritzman and Krajewski, 2002; Chapter 12, Independent Demand Inventory Management, Operations Management, by Reid and Sanders, 2004). An instructor may use this case to begin discussion in inventory planning and service quality or use this case for an end-of-chapter discussion in inventory management.

Learning Objectives

The overall purpose of this case is to introduce students to conflicting considerations in decision making within retail operation management, including the tradeoff between costs in transportation and inventory holding, the conflict between operational cost control and service quality maintenance, and the balance between aggregated planning and satisfying immediate local need.

In this case, students consider the difficult tactical operation decisions faced by managers in real world, seasonal inventory items decision making while addressing the uncertainty of a natural disaster.

Specific learning objectives are as follows:

1. Students will be able to identify factors influencing inventory management decisions.

2. Students will be able to understand and appreciate the difficulties in making decisions under insufficient information and uncertainty.

3. Students will be able to recognize the challenges in coordinating conflicting local needs at the regional level.

4. Students will be able to apply logistics tools used for managing the supply chain upon occurrence of natural disasters such as hurricanes.


There are several approaches in preparing the students to analyze this case. It is strongly recommended that students have some understanding of Home Depot's business and target customers. The instructor could assign that the student review the Home Depot website, corporate news link to help familiarize them with the goals/objectives of Home Depot (

Students should have exposure to the factors influencing inventory management decision such as the role of inventories in supply chain and costs associated with inventory decisions. Reading assignments before class, e.g. Chapter 10, Inventory Management, Foundations of Operations Management, will help students in their analysis of the case.


We provide a role playing simulation game to highlight the decision-making procedures demanded by inventory maintenance in an unsettled and dynamic environment. The information used in this simulation, such as strength, path, and landfall locations of each hurricane, is based on actual data from the National Hurricane Center and NASA. To prepare for the simulation exercise, students should be given the Appendix A of this instructor's note prior to class to learn about the uncertainty of nature and the destructive force of hurricanes.

We also provide introductory level questions on inventory management which the instructor can use to build a general understanding of the subject prior to conducting the simulation exercise in class. …

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