International Business - Launching the Wii
This case is structured as a country screening and follows a logical progression, facilitating learning by evoking a narrative arc. Student interest can be captured by placing the case in the context of current trends. I like to do this with a few slides illustrating the premise, which is: "In 2007 the Nintendo Wii took the United States by storm, selling 6.3 million units at $250 each, compared to 4.6 million units for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and 2.6 million for Sony’s PlayStation 3. By November Nintendo's market capitalization was the second highest of any Japanese company, behind only Toyota. You’ve been hired to research markets outside Japan and the U.S. and tell Nintendo where to launch the Wii next."
A discussion of the kinds of information that will be useful for this scenario results in factors such as the demographics and prosperity of candidate nations' populations, the competitive environment, and the regulatory environment. This is followed by a discussion differentiating primary and secondary research and what kinds of information are available through the library. Qualitative discussions about free versus licensed resources are of particular interest to students who will soon be graduating but expect to experience similar information needs during their professional careers.
During the preliminary discussion students may have conjectured that a candidate nation should have a significant population of young people with adequate disposable income--the target demographic for game consoles. The librarian can now demonstrate a source for this kind of demographic and economic data, such as the World Bank's World Development Indicators database, or the freely available UNdata website (http://data.un.org/). The librarian then assigns students a specific objective, such as indentifying a handful of nations exhibiting the desired demographic and economic characteristics, and allows students several minutes to explore the resource with this purpose. One or two students can then describe their findings and reasoning to the rest of the class.
In the preliminary discussion students may have suggested that knowing which competitors or suppliers operate in a nation would be useful, as would an awareness of local consumer behavior. However, not every information need can be addressed during a library instruction session nor can every resource be demonstrated, especially if students are to have hands-on experience with each resource. The librarian should demonstrate either a source for international company information, like Bureau van Dijk's Mint Global database, or a source for international marketing information, like Euromonitor’s Global Market Information Database. Attendees can then explore the resource on their own, seeking to narrow their handful of nations down to two or three nations, after which one or two volunteers present their findings.
Students may have discussed the importance of a business-friendly regulatory environment. The librarian can demonstrate free resources like the World Bank's Doing Business website (http://www.doingbusiness.org/) or the U.S. Commercial Service's Country Commercial Guides. Students should then use the resource to make a final selection, and one or two students can explain their decision.
It is always beneficial to review the issues raised during the preliminary discussion, the principles of information literacy revealed through that discussion, and the ways that specific resources introduced during the discussion met the information needs voiced by students. The librarian should emphasize to students that there are probably additional information needs inherent in the case, and there are many other resources available. Distributing a handout that describes these additional resources helps the librarian remain focused on effectively introducing a limited set of resources.
The librarian should remind students that the objective of the session was not to teach them how to conduct a country screening, but to demonstrate information-seeking strategies and resources that would be useful in conducting a country screening.
Andy Spackman, MBA, MLS
Business and Economics Librarian
1522 Harold B. Lee Library
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602