Case Studies

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Fiett™ Pte Ltd

by Assoc Prof Lau Geok Theng and Ms Janet Ng (NUS student)
Case for NUS International Case Competition 

In September 2012, Charmain Tan, founder and CEO of Fun in Ecological Tech Textile (FIETTTM) faced the issue of having to raise funds required to expand the business. The start-up company specialised in producing eco-friendly, cutting edge tech textile goods. The company’s pilot product, ISGLOVESTM, were a pair of hybrid gloves that could be used to operate touch screen devices while keeping the users hands warm in the cold climate. Gloves of such functionality were unavailable then. The product was manufactured in China and targeted for sale in the Scandinavian countries. FIETTTM had been relying on support and funding from the Singapore government and private initiatives since its inception. To bring the business to the next level, additional funding from other investors were required.

FIETT™’s vision and mission is to go beyond existing frontiers of textile application towards the synthesis of technology and fashion into the creation of new and innovative apparels to add value to consumer experiences of comfort, convenience and style in an ecological way. ISGLOVETM was positioned as a differentiated product from its competitors, focusing on attributes which competitors were not able to satisfy and avoiding competition on mainstream features. Furthermore, the eco-friendly market, touch screen technology market and the Scandinavian glove market all showed great growth potential. For an upcoming presentation to investors, Charmain knew she had to articulate the company’s international sales and marketing strategy for ISGLOVESTM and its global sales potential. She also had to share the long term vision of the company beyond its gloves products.

Singapore Mass Rapid Transit: Going Off Track

by Prof Vivien K.G. Lim and Mr Nikodemus Jaya (BBA Hons graduated student)

Publication Date: 19/02/2015

In January 2012, Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) Corporation’s chief executive officer resigned after two major breakdowns on the North-South Line in December 2011. SMRT was a public transport operator in Singapore, with a transportation network that comprised buses, trains and taxis. The two breakdowns were arguably the largest public transportation incidents in Singapore’s history, prompting public outrage and heavy criticism of the CEO’s qualifications and personal style. However, it was uncertain whether she, as CEO, bore primary responsibility for the train breakdowns. To what extent did her gender and unconventional style affect the public’s perception of her effectiveness as a leader? How much did the media influence the public’s perception? Could the train breakdowns have been averted if a CEO with an engineering background or industry-specific experience had been in charge?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Precena Strategic Partners: Staff Relocation Cost Minimization

by Assoc Prof Singfat Chu and Mr Takahisa Takada (participant, Asia-Pacific Executive MBA Intake 23)


Publication Date: 14/01/2015

A Japanese management consultant company seeks to relocate some of its instructors for a period of between one and three months to Singapore in order to conduct its flagship course catering to Japanese expatriate managers. It must determine which instructors to select in order to minimize relocation costs while taking into account their productivity and availability and the number of courses booked over three future months. Cost minimization is crucial due to the expensive service apartment rentals in Singapore. The firm must develop an optimization template in order to make the best possible decision.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Focus Media Holding Ltd. (2014)

by Dr Emir Hrnjić, Ms Lianting Tu and Assoc Prof Pedro Matos (Darden School of Business)

Publication Date: 19/12/2014

In November 2011, Muddy Waters, a U.S. short-seller fund, accused Focus Media of overstating the size of its business. Focus Media's stock price fell sharply at first but then rebounded as the company countered the attacks. In March 2012, however, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched its own investigation and pressured Focus Media to amend some of its filings. A few months later, CEO Jiang partnered with a group of private equity (PE) firms, to take Focus Media private in a deal valued at more than $3.7 billion, China's largest-ever buyout. In the following months, several Chinese companies followed suit and delisted from the NASDAQ. In mid-2014, the PE firms in the consortium wanted to cash out of their equity positions, and Jiang faced the difficult decision of what to do next.

Alibaba's IPO Dilemma: Hong Kong or New York?

by Dr Emir Hrnjić 

Publication Date: 04/12/2014

In April 2014, Alibaba’s impending initial public offering (IPO) projected to be among the world’s largest IPOs. Alibaba faced many choices regarding ownership structure, trading location, IPO pricing and IPO timing. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange seemed like a natural fit for its IPO due to geographical, cultural and language proximity. Furthermore, 86.7 per cent of Alibaba’s revenues originated within China. However, Alibaba insisted on “partnership governance,” while the Hong Kong Stock Exchange did not allow listing of companies with dual-class share structure. In contrast, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not object to Alibaba’s proposed ownership structure. While the Hong Kong investors knew Alibaba’s business better, the New York exchanges provided more liquidity and visibility. Against this backdrop, Alibaba needed to make difficult decisions regarding its IPO.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

GlaxoSmithKline: Rebalancing Excessive Workloads

by Mr Ronald Kleer (participant, Asia-Pacific Executive MBA Intake 23) and Assoc Prof Singfat Chu

Publication Date: 21/11/2014

End-of-month account closure at many firms often requires long work hours, which may lead to staff fatigue and attrition that will affect productivity and quality of work. This is true for GlaxoSmithKline’s Record to Report Finance team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2014. The company is a science-led global business that researches and develops a broad range of innovative products in three primary areas: pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer health care. The team in Malaysia has 40 employees who provide services including month-end accounts closure, financial reporting and analytics to business units operating in the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. At the end of every month, the team must perform within five days a sequence of 17 activities requiring varying man-hours. The activities must follow a specific flow according to information availability and must, for internal efficiency and quality control reasons, start and end on the same day. Is there a method by which management can help the team achieve work balance or minimize the number of work hours per day?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Sheng Siong Supermarket: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage

by Mr Yi Rong Loh (former BBA exchange student), Mr Ye Jun Lee (former BBA exchange student) and Assoc Prof Marleen Dieleman

Publication Date: 24/10/2014

Sheng Siong was the third-largest supermarket chain in Singapore. Its chief executive officer co-founded it with his two brothers in 1985. Sheng Siong’s business model was well suited to cater to the price-sensitive and more traditional customer segment in Singapore, with a dominant presence in suburban areas called “heartlands.” It also had a unique corporate philosophy, which was influenced by the personal values of its founding family. However, the market became increasingly saturated, competitors were aggressive and costs were rising. The key question was whether Sheng Siong’s original competitive advantage was sustainable and how it could grow.

Yamato Transport: Part-time Employment of Housewives

by Mr Joo Yong Lowe, Mr Fumiyuki Kosugi (MBA graduated student), Ms Teng Hwee Ng (MBA graduated student) and Mr Andre Chun Mun Wai (MBA graduated student)

Publication Date: 08/10/2014

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. innovatively used the field cast model of housewives as part-time employees to meet the increasing delivery demands of morning peak-load hours. The housewives provided Yamato with a cost-efficient source of human resources and the nimbleness to adjust its staff deployment to respond reliably and quickly to customers' needs. A series of recruitment, training, and compensation and appraisal processes was designed for the field cast model.

The case outlines the challenges with the implementation of the field cast model and the decision facing Yamato's managers of whether to expand it throughout the company's Japanese operations. Yamato's managers were largely satisfied with the progress of the field cast model; although field casts made up less than 2 per cent of the delivery manpower at Yamato, they played a crucial role in improving customer satisfaction levels and lowering parcel delivery costs. However, the implications of the expansion plan were multi-dimensional. At an operational level, the inconsistency in the field casts' performance could be magnified as the number of field casts continued to increase over the coming months. As well, the sales drivers might struggle to cope with the additional responsibility to train and supervise field casts. More broadly, the sustainability of the field cast model was unknown because of Japan's changing social structure. In addition, with the improvement of the global economy since 2010, the supply of part-time employees was threatened by competition from alternative employment opportunities.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Insights Analytics: Technology for a Knowledge Management Program

by Dr Rohit Nishant (ESC Rennes School of Business), Assoc Prof Thompson S.H. Teo, Assoc Prof Mark Goh and Mr Sameer Agarwal (LinkedIn).

Publication Date: 29/08/2014

Leading analytics firm, Insights Global Analytics, handled many analytics processes and projects requiring extensive domain and statistical expertise. Employees with prior analytics experience had skill-sets that could be utilized for other projects. Analysts and consultants working on business research projects had strong domain knowledge about various technological trends. However, sometimes one team did not know about the rich skills possessed by another team. To build a knowledge-sharing culture that would facilitate the incubation of new ideas, spread different skills across the organization, break the silos among teams and promote free exchange of ideas among employees the company decided to implement a knowledge management (KM) program. A team was appointed with the challenge of selecting an appropriate cost-effective technology that would achieve the objective of fostering a knowledge-sharing culture.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Putien: The Road to the Unexplored

by Assoc Prof Jane W. Lu

Publication Date: 21/08/2014

Started in 2001, Putien, a full-service Chinese restaurant, has grown successfully in Singapore. By the end of 2011, it has nine restaurants in Singapore, one in Jakarta, Indonesia and one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Except for the one in Jakarta, which is a joint venture, all the other restaurants are fully owned by the company. From the beginning, Putien has differentiated itself from its competition by focusing on its unique cuisine, based on fresh and flavourful food from Fujian Province, China and by its creation of a home-like atmosphere with fine furnishings and tableware, elegant décor and a serving staff that is warm and sincere. The company keeps in touch with its customers through requesting feedback and answering queries on Facebook and Twitter. Now, the founder and chief executive officer is considering growth by expanding into international markets. With limited international experience, he needs to consider carefully where to go and how to enter these markets without jeopardizing the quality standards that have made Putien so successful.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

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