Can SBI Cases Be Done outside of Business Schools?
Worthington, E. R., Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship
This paper examines the expanding needs of the entrepreneurial community and how Small Business Institute (SBI) directors may utilize academic resources outside the business school to meet these demands. An exploratory investigation of non-business departments completing SBI projects was conducted. A random sample of Region VI SBIs was surveyed to determine if SBI directors were using non-business academic departments for SBI cases; none were. An example of how non-business resources could be used is described.
It is not uncommon for a Small Business Institute (SBI) director to receive requests for assistance requiring expertise not normally found within the resources of the business school. The SBI usually will have to turn down the request or seek help outside the business school. Consider the following examples.
A West Texas rancher was interested in the possibility of commercially harvesting the dense, bushy Kochia weed as a food supplemental for feedlot cattle. This SBI project required an analysis of the nutritional properties of the Kochia weed to determine its potential as cattle fodder. The SBI project was completed by an MBA candidate who had an undergraduate agricultural degree. Research for this case was supervised by his former agricultural professors.
An inventor had developed a technological process for the desalination of sea water. The problem to be resolved concerned the economic feasibility of utilizing the process in a profitable commercial venture. The SBI team was supervised by faculty from industrial engineering technology and industrial chemistry.
The Chamber of Commerce in a small southwestern city created a committee to explore ways to persuade local residents to shop the city's small businesses rather than in a large city some 42 miles away. One solution was to develop a multi-media advertising campaign advocating local shopping. The SBI team, in this case, consisted of four senior advertising students from the Department of Journalism in the College of Arts and Sciences.
This paper examines the expanding needs of the business community and how SBI directors may tap resources outside of the business school to meet these new demands.
THE CHANGING BUSINESS WORLD
In the early 1980s, two business consultants became overnight management gurus with the publication of their book, In Search of Excellence (Peters & Waterman, 1982). A popular tome on how and why America's best-run corporations achieved their levels of excellence, the book became a best seller. This was the beginning of corporate merger-mania when bigger was better, and all of the businesses studied for the book were big. Being bigger, though, also required much more in the way of managerial expertise. Peters and Waterman carefully explained how this could be done. In spite of their best advice, the expansion by acquisition trend hurt more businesses than it helped.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, corporations realized being biggest was not always best. There was more to running businesses than just managing human resources. Divestiture has become a mainstay to amend the financial over-commitments of the 1980s.
Merger-mania unknowingly contributed to the growth of small businesses in at least three different ways. First, the combining of similar staffs in a merger resulted in excess personnel, forcing some good people out of the corporate world. second, the increased stress produced by the awesome task of managing large and diverse departments swelled by acquisitions convinced many managers and executives to bail out while still remaining sane. Third, the burden-some debt built up during the corporate buying spree eventually exceeded the parent company's ability to remain solvent. Resulting bankruptcies forced many people out in the streets.
Many highly skilled and talented business people wanted to remain in business but not at the level just vacated. …