Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Conflict Management: The Team New Zealand Case

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Conflict Management: The Team New Zealand Case

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case is the effectiveness of risk management strategies associated with the staging of a major international sporting event. A secondary issue examined in the case concerns the proprietary rights of employers to the intellectual capital and skills acquired by employees. The case requires an understanding of strategic risk management and good corporate governance principles.

This case has a difficulty level that makes it most suitable for senior level students in a Corporate Governance/Business Ethics course. The case is designed to be taught in three class hours and would require about eight hours of out-of-class time which includes reading the case material and the articles listed in the references.


Team New Zealand (TNZ) is a syndicate that specialised in defending the title to a major international sporting event, the America's Cup Yacht Challenge (America's Cup). The America's Cup is on a comparable level with Formula One motor racing. Title to the America's Cup is usually challenged and defended in the home waters of the title-holder nation. The implications for the title-holder's national economy are significant and positive, particularly for its tourism and boat-building industries. In early March 2000, TNZ successfully defended its title to the America's Cup. By the end of March the contracts of all TNZ team members had expired and the sailors and boat designers were facing an uncertain future. The yacht skipper, the tactician, and four other long-time sailors, all unbeaten in two America's Cup Yacht Challenges, joined a competitor syndicate, the Swiss challenger, Alinghi. As well as their considerable crewing ability, these ex-TNZ team members took with them considerable knowledge of the design of the 2000 America's Cup winning boat. TNZ was left without an overall leader responsible for balancing the needs of boat development and sailing. The TNZ syndicate failed in its defense of the America's Cup in the 2003 Challenge, losing all races in a series of five to Alinghi.

This case focuses on some of the many challenges encountered by management of the TNZ syndicate in mounting their defense in a highly competitive environment, and their ability to choose the appropriate organisational structure and personnel necessary to meet those challenges. The initial task for the student is to review the current organisational structure of the managing syndicate along with the challenges and opportunities it faces. Students can then use the details provided in the case information and references to develop risk management and corporate governance strategies for success in an environment characterised by uncertainty.


Recommendations for Teaching Approaches

The teaching proceeds by instruction in the principles and practice of good corporate governance and the nexus with the audit function and process. Case study analysis is used to demonstrate the principles and practice in a realistic setting. Case study analysis provides the student with an opportunity to critically analyse the weaknesses and opportunities within a contextual setting and to offer considered solutions. It also affords the student an opportunity to develop team skills by discussing the relevant issues with colleagues and peers within a classroom setting.


These questions cover issues raised in the case study material and the references on the Team New Zealand Challenge for the America's Cup, and the principles and practice of good corporate governance.

1. List the reasons for the failure of the 2003 America's Cup defense by Team New Zealand. Use the following headings:

Reasons for the Team New Zealand failure to defend the America's Cup in 2003 include the following:


* Equipment failure on the test boat.

* The testing program for the race boat was not complete before the commencement of the matches. …

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