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BA 2030: Business Communication: Choosing a Company

Part of a BA 2030 class? Start here!

Best Employers

Various media rank employers according to criteria they believe identifies good companies for whom to work. One website with such rankings plus access to typical interview questions, typical salaries by job title, and more is Glassdoor.

Selecting a Company with a Problem

You may have come across a company problem in your daily exposure to newspapers, blogs, t.v. or other media.

If not yet sure which company to research, one of the best ways to find a company with problems for your class project is to read the Wall Street Journal or the Business section of newspapers like the New York Times.

Once you begin browsing articles, companies with recent problems - financial or otherwise - should be fairly easy to spot. Both of these newspapers are available via an off campus connection as well as in the University Libraries.

 

You can also search databases such as Business Source Complete and the "News" section of Lexis-Nexis Academic. Figuring out the best search terms to use is often the most difficult part of the research process. Try searching for articles using these search terms

  • company and bankruptcy
  • sales and (decease or drop)
  • stock price and (decline or losses)
  • company and (layoffs or labor)
  • company and financial trouble
  • company and (buyout or merger) NOTE: not all buyouts or mergers signify financial problems!

How Do I Find a SWOT?

Click here to see an example of a SWOT analysis (a listing and/or discussion of company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). It is a great starting point for convincing the teacher why your proposed solutions to company problems are likely to work. For example, if sales of a high-tech product are falling and you suspect better tech support would induce more people to buy the product, you could propose introducing 24/7 tech support.

This would only work if your company strengths included adequate resources to implement this solution -- for example, some combination of factors like these:

  • adequate cash reserves to develop and mount the infrastructure for phone, chat, or email help
  • a critical mass of current employees who can hire qualified technicians to staff the service or can train new hires who lack advanced skills
  • a corporate partner who could supply the tech expertise for this new service.

Not every company will make its SWOT analysis available to the public. But two research databases often include SWOT's for large. well-established companies. There are two ways to look:

  • Company Profiles    Company profiles in Business Source Complete  often include a SWOT analysis as part of an up-to-date and authoritative report ranging from 3 or 4 pages to 30 pages. The top toolbar drop-down menu under More has a link to company reports. In  Lexis Nexis Academic a keyword search for the company name and the letters SWOT may lead to an extensive analysis  of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Click this link to see a demo.
  • In this guide, Click on the Company Reports and News tab  to see step-by-step instructions for finding company profiles.
  • Articles    If there is no company profile,  a search on the company name and the term SWOT sometimes will retrieve one even if there is no lengthy company report.

What If I'm Not Finding Information?

Choosing the right company to use for your assignment can save you a lot of time in the library. Three kinds of companies or other entities can be difficult to research because they are not required to make information available. It is not in their interest to let competitors find out proprietary information. And they might  not want employees or customers to know certain things either.

  • Private companies
  • Subsidiaries
  • Non-profit organizations

And even some public companies just don't get a lot of press. They may be operating in a small or less profitable segment of the market (e.g. sports teams or suppliers of consumer automotive parts) or their corporate culture may be conservative about sharing information beyond the basic required disclosures (e.g. banks). 

The Private vs Public Companies tab of this guide gives examples of each kind of company. The Finding Company Reports and News  tab identifies sources of information about non-public companies. Even after checking the recommended sources, however, you may have to rely on one or more of the following strategies to get information:

  • Talk to someone who works there.
  • Go to the company web site. Remember the tendency to include here only information that reflects well on the company and will please owners, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
  • Research a larger company in the same market. Be sure to mention in your analysis significant information that is the same or different for your company's problem.
  • Extrapolate from industry analyses information germane to your company's problem and the proposed solution. Be sure to acknowledge aspects of this information that may not apply to your company's situation.