LB160: Professional Communication Skills for Business Studies First Semester 2012-2013

| September 1, 2016


Faculty of Business Studies

LB160: Professional Communication Skills for Business Studies

First Semester 2012-2013

Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA)

Academic Year 2012 – 2013

Semester: Fall


Program: Faculty of Business Studies

Course Title: Professional Communication Skills for Business Studies

Course Code:LB160

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Notes on plagiarism:

A. According to the Arab Open University By-laws, “thefollowing acts represent cases of cheating and


§ Verbatim copying of printed material and submitting them as part of TMAs without proper academic acknowledgement and documentation.

§ Verbatim copying of material from the Internet, including tables and graphics.

§ Copying other students’ notes or reports.

§ Using paid or unpaid material prepared for the student by individuals or firms.

B. Penalties for plagiarism ranges from failure in the TMA to expulsion from the university.

Declaration: I hereby declare that the submitted TMA is my own work and I have not copied any other person’s work or plagiarized in any other form as specified above.

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· This TMA contains 2 parts. You should answer both parts.

· The value of TMA is 20 points.

· The mark assigned to each part is 10 points.

PART 1 (10 points)


· To check the student’s skill in applying SWOT when analyzing a case study (B1S4, pp122).

Learning Outcomes (B1S4, pp.109)

· To look at how different framing techniques- including a new one called SWOT- can help in problem identification.

· To practice using these techniques in writing your own problem analysis.

Q. In about 300 – 400 words, write an essay analyzing the below case study using the SWOT framework.


Levi Strauss & Co. is a flourishing business. Since the early days, it has been a leader in the garment industry. The original and most famous Levi Strauss product is blue jeans. Jeans have become desirable and even fashionable clothing for not only miners, farmers, and cowboys, but also for movie stars, executives, women, children, and teenagers from all over the world. Throughout its history, however, the company has researched and developed a number of other products. The company now markets a wide range of clothing and accessories, all under the brand name Levi’s. Many new Levi products have been launched over the years. Some of these have succeeded beautifully, but others have flopped completely. The company is still best known, however, as the maker of Levi jeans, the pants that are guaranteed to shrink1, wrinkle, and fade2.

In 1954, flushed with the success of the cotton twill pants it had introduced a few years earlier, Levi brought out a line of permanent press (no-iron) slacks. Within six months, 5 out of every 100 pairs sold had been returned, and Levi had to admit it didn’t have the right fabric for permanent press. Fifteen years later, as the company was planning its major expansion, it hit on a couple of equally dramatic flops. First was the denim bathing suit—which, when wet, weighed the wearer down to the point of imminent drowning. Next was a line of disposable (throw-away) sheets and towels. These, Levi discovered, were not high on the consumer’s list of priorities. Unable to interest hotels in the product, the company was saved when the factory that made the sheets burned down. Levi absorbed the $250,000 loss.

Eventually Levi created six new divisions, ranging from jeans to accessories and including a sizable effort in women’s sportswear, Levi’s for Gals. The diversification3worked. In the mid-1970s Levi’s sales hit the billion-dollar mark, having taken 125 years to reach that milestone. Four years later sales hit $2 billion. In 1979 the company ranked 167 on Fortune’s4list of the 500 largest industrial corporations, and 20 in net profits.5Between 1970 and 1980 Levi had grown an average of 23 percent a year. In 1979 alone it sold 143 million garments.

In menswear, though, all Levi products had been aimed at the middle of the market. The company had brought out a line of moderately dressy slacks and polyester leisure suits—the Action Slack and Action Suit—and was doing a brisk business with them. But the tempting upper end of the market remained untouched.

“If we want to grow we’re probably going to have to go to upper moderate price points,” one Levi official explained, “and somewhat higher taste level for our products.” In short, they needed to sell more expensive clothes—like the Tailored Classic. If Levi could sell sport coats, dress slacks, and, above all, suits, a whole new market would open up. The Tailored Classic might make money all by itself. But even more important, it would get Levi into the business of producing fancier and costlier clothing. The consumer would come to think of it as a manufacturer of dress apparel and it could spin off6many more such lines in the future.

Why, with such a record of success would any company be worrying about making new products? Part of the answer, obviously, is the sheer riskiness of depending so heavily on a single item. The boom in jeans was in many ways a historical accident, and what history has given it can also take away.

Then, too, the demographics of the marketplace were already beginning to change. Jeans, to be sure, were no longer the exclusive province of youth: baby boomers7who had grown up on Levi’s kept on wearing them into their twenties. But they would no longer be wearing them everywhere and all the time, as they did when they were teenagers. And the next generation of adolescents was not so numerous. The birthrate had peaked in 1957; by 1964, demographers agreed, the baby boom in the United Stated was over. The bulge in the population that the boom had created would soon be moving into a world of casual slacks, leisure suits, and coats and ties. From a marketing point of view, that’s where the action would be.

Finally, the competition had been gearing up. Levi’s had always shared the market with Blue Bell’s Wranglers and other national brands like Lee. But now everyone seemed to be selling jeans. Back in 1970 Levi probably couldn’t have foreseen the popularity of “designer” jeans skimming off8 the upper end of the market. But they could certainly anticipate cut-rate models gnawing away at the low end. To sell their wares, Levi knew, retailers would have to slash prices. The profit outlook in a saturated, competitive marketplace like this was bleak.

Adapted from: Boyd, F. (1994). Making Business Decisions: Real Cases from Real Companies.USA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.


1. Become smaller after washing

2. Lose color

3. Production of very different kinds of products

4. An important U.S. business magazine

5. Profits after the company pays income taxes

6. Create (other related products)

7. U.S. citizens born immediately after World War II (a period of high population growth)

8. Taking away

Answer Notes: Students may begin by creating a grid to identify the SWOT components as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and a mind map to construct the analysis text. Then to write an analytical text for the case study, you may refer to Text 4.3 in the Resource Book 1 as an example.

Answer Guide:

B1S4, Act. 4.10- 4.11, pp. 123; RB1 Extract 4.3(use as an example of analysis writing), pp. 56-57.


PART II (10 points)

In a changing world, many products are becoming obsolete such as the cassettes. To survive, companies that produced obsolete items have to adapt to the market needs by finding new production lines.

Decide on a company that relied on the production of items that are no longer in demand. In a well-written essay of around 500 words, discuss the problem the company faced when its major production line lost its glow, and the new production line it had to resort to as a solution.

At least 2 outside resources are to be used. The resources are to be submitted to the tutor. The criteria on pp. 50-53 of B2S2 should be observed while locating source material.

Purpose: To write a well structured essay.

Learning Outcomes: (B2S3 pp.69, B2S2 pp.41, & B2S4 pp.98):

· to analyse an essay title to be clear about its requirement

· to develop an argument that is relevant to the essay title

· to select and manage essay source material

· to paraphrase and use business studies language

· Review features of essay writing.

Comments: The student needs to select a specific company that relied on producing obsolete goods, discuss the problem it faced when the goods became obsolete, and the solution it adopted by shifting to a new production line.Paraphrasing, summarizing, and citing the sources used are essential since using the words of others or including their work without acknowledgment is considered plagiarism. The Harvard referencing system, as presented on pp. 167-171 of B2S6, should be respected regarding the in-text referencing as well as the reference list.

Answer Notes: Your essay should include the features of essay writing as described by the checklist on pp.183-184

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