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Case Studies

We also collaborate with Canadian universities to develop international business case studies that focus on Canadian exporters. These cases may be used for material for teaching in business faculties, to build recognition for university program specializations, or for entry into business-case competitions.

Access is limited to professors, so students are asked to discuss with their professor. Professors are asked to email to community@edc.ca indicating which of the cases below you are requesting, as well as a brief description of the course and level in which you intend on using these teaching materials.

Available Case Studies and teaching notes

1. Teqswitch Inc.: Business in Buenos Aires

Produced by: Christina A. Cavanagh, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*
Two engineers formed Teqswitch Inc. to design and produce faster networking equipment. Five years after they began, the company has 120 employees in Canada, England and Australia and sales in the tens of millions. The company decided to expand into Latin America and has worked out a $15 million joint venture with Unitas in Argentina to sell components. Teqswitch establishes an office in Buenos Aires and works with Unitas to develop sales personnel and business processes. As the company is about to launch its next generation of products, the vice-president international of Teqswitch receives information from the joint venture partner about terminating the agreement. He must determine what has gone wrong.

Topics: Joint Ventures, Relationship Management, Cross Cultural Management
Industry: Communications & Electronic Equipment
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: June 2002

2. Extreme CCTV

Produced by: Stewart Thornhill, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*

Extreme CCTV, a start-up company that specializes in closed circuit television equipment, is looking at purchasing one of it distribution partners, Derwent Systems Ltd - a leading European manufacturer of infrared illuminators. The two companies have been successful in promoting the others products in their respective markets, now Derwent's founder wants to retire. Without Derwent's founder, Extreme CCTV will lose the ability to sell complementary Derwent products in North America and will have to look for another way to distribute its products in the European market. The president and founder of Extreme CCTV has to decide whether or not he should proceed with the purchase of Derwent Systems Ltd. and how he would manage both companies while preparing for an initial public offer.

Topics: Corporate Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, Growth
Industry: Communications Equipment
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: October 2002

3. Omega Air Charters: Trouble in Azerbaijan

Produced by: Gerard Sejits, Simon Taggar, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*

Omega Air Charters is an air transportation company that provides service to the global mining industry. The company has negotiated a contract with a group of European mining companies that requires Omega Air to provide air service in Azerbaijan - once part of the former Soviet Union. Based on the agreement made with the country, the company must staff the operation with Azerbaijan pilots and engineers who resent a western corporation operating western aircraft in their country. The executive vice-president must resolve this issue and gain the trust of the pilots and engineers if this project is to succeed.

Topics: Cross Cultural Management, Career Development, Women in Management, Management Behavior
Industry: Transportation
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: February 2003

4. Antamina Copper- Zinc Project: Political Risk Insurance

Produced by: Stephen Sapp
Richard Ivey School of Business*

Compania Minera Antamina S.A. is a consortium of three large multinational Canadian mining companies set up to exploit a very large copper-zinc deposit north central Peru. The project requires about US$2 billion of financing for the development and exploitation of the deposit. The finance committee needs to determine the best means to raise the necessary funds: loans guaranteed by the sponsors or project finance. The costs and benefits are different across alternatives because the project involves both business and political risks to which the exposure for all of the stakeholders is different.

Topics: Finance, International Finance, Risk Analysis, Political Environment
Industry: Extractive (Mining)
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: February 2003

5. Research in Motion: The Acquisition of Slangsoft

Produced by: Produced by: Rod E. White, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*

Research in Motion is an integrated wireless solutions provider. The director of strategic alliances is excited about completing his first major acquisition for the company. His presentation to senior managers was a success and the company has agreed to go ahead with the acquisition. He must meet with the chief executive officer to have the letter of intent signed and present the offer to Slangsoft.

Topics: Crisis Management, Project Management, Strategic Alliances
Industry: Mobile Wireless Communications
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: May 2003

6. Metafix: Going International

Produced by: Stewart Thornhill, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*

Metafix is a small company that sells silver recovery equipment for the photo processing industry. The company has been successful in the medical X-ray and mini lab segments by adapting its equipment specifically for each segment and developing a database on its thousands of customers. The president of Metafix is looking at expanding into the U.S. photo processing lab market and must decide on what price to charge and how to manage the additional customers.

Topics: Expansion, Strategic Change
Industry: Chemicals and Alloyed Products
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: May 2003

7. Exporting to Ghana

Produced by: David J. Sharp, Ken Mark
Richard Ivey School of Business*

A loan assessment officer at Export Development Canada is evaluating a proposed deal involving the export of refurbished machines used in the forestry industry. He must decide whether Export Development Corporation should extend loans to a foreign firm that is interested in purchasing from a Canadian supplier. Issues include international business risk and the role of an export development agency in facilitating a country's exports.

Topics: Accounting, Entrepreneurship, International Trade
Industry: Forestry
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: January 2005

8. Mariner Products: The Politics of Power - Managing Subsidiaries in Foreign Countries

Produced by: Export Development Canada

Case Simulation: Requests for bribes come in many shapes and forms; not all are overt, many pass virtually unnoticed, some requests even seem legitimate. This exercise: The Politics of Power - Managing Subsidiaries in Foreign Countries, simulates a common business situation – a teleconference discussion between the founder/CEO of an international company, his foreign office managers and the chairperson of the board of directors – during which the temptation to meet financial targets can be overwhelming. Issue: Mariner is faced with a number of non-financial dilemmas in the operation of its foreign subsidiaries in Russian, Indonesia and the United States. The main theme of the case is business ethics and corruption. Students role-play the parts of country managers to obtain optimal financial outcomes while balancing ethical issues.

Topics: Business Ethics, Corruption, Corporate Social Responsibility
Industry: Extractive (Mining)
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Last time reviewed in 2007

9. Avanti Resources Corporation (ARC): The Politics of Power - Making Project Funding Decisions

Produced by: Export Development Canada and Ken Mark

Case Simulation: When threatened with losing their jobs due to a cut in project funding (as is the case in deselected mining projects), employees tend to engage in self-preservation. When self-interests are at stake, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility can easily be overlooked. This exercise: The Politics of Power -Making Project Funding Decisions, simulates a funding dilemma – which mine will be chosen? And by extension, in this zero-sum game, which mine will not be chosen? In an effort to convince others to choose Kassala or Uvita (the two mining projects described), what role does Corporate Social Responsibility play?

Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility
Industry: Extractive (Mining)
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Last time reviewed in 2008

10. Gemcom Technology

Produced by: Conor Vibert
Fred C. Manning School of Business, Acadia University

Video interview with Rick Moignard, President and Chief Executive Officer also available.

In early 2006, Rick Moignard and his team at Vancouver based Gemcom Software International Inc. find themselves in an intriguing position. They are an important supplier of software to the global mining industry, one that is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Driven by growth in emerging economies such as China, mined mineral prices are expected to continue their upward trend for the foreseeable future. Employing over 100 individuals, Gemcom software products are MS Windows based, target open pit hard rock mining environments, are known for their exceptional database capabilities and improve mining productivity of clients. Their competitors are based in Australia, the U.K and the U.S. while their customers are a who’s who of global mining giants. Despite controlling approximately 20% of sales in the niche marketplace, they are only marginally profitable and will need to grow in order to prosper in the long run. Growing implies globalizing their operations. Their challenge is to do both.

Topics: Mergers and Acquisitions, International Expansion, Business Strategy
Industry: Mining Technology
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: January 2009

11. North American Tungsten

Produced by: Conor Vibert
Fred C. Manning School of Business, Acadia University

Video interview with Stephen Leahy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, also available.

Stephen Leahy’s mining company North American Tungsten Corporation (NTC) controls 12% of the world’s known reserves of Tungsten. With demand greater than supply and China controlling much of the world’s market for this metal, he needs to decide how to grow his company. His options are internal growth, an acquisition, an alliance, or a long term supply relationship. It is early 2006 and a global commodity boom is underway. NTC’s Cantung is the only operating tungsten mine North America. Its sister mine Mactung is supposed to be operational in 2010. There is no shortage of potential partners. Some are small mine property owners while others are large tungsten fabricators and processors with established, global distribution networks. Another potential partner has an unproven new processing technology that is potentially cleaner and more efficient. The role of the case is to help students explore the growth options and the risks associated with each one.

Topics: Mergers and Acquisitions, Growth, Socially Responsible Mining
Industry: Extractive (Mining)
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA
Published: March 2009

12. Melville Trade Finance Inc.

Produced by: Prescott Ensign and Andrew Lunney
Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa

Melville Trade Finance Inc. is approached by a Canadian bottling equipment manufacturer to provide $3.4 million of capital investment foreign buyer financing to their customer, a rapidly expanding Chinese bottling company. The Chinese company needs to purchase the equipment and increase its production capacity to secure long-term, multi-million dollar contracts with Pepsi and Coca-Cola in Korea. With very short deadlines, Melville’s CEO works with Export Development Canada (EDC) to assess the risks involved in offering full financing and insurance for the Chinese bottler, and must keep in mind that the Canadian manufacturer will lose the sale if the financing does not get approved. The deal presents several challenges to Melville; an unknown foreign buyer with no proven credit history, language & communication barriers, geographic distance, incongruent accounting standards, etc.. As the risk variables emerge, both Melville and EDC must decide if the stakes are too high to support the transaction.

Topics: Risk Management, International Financing
Industry: Finance, Manufacturing
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business
Published: November 2009

13. Acadia Videos

Produced by: Conor Vibert
Fred C. Manning School of Business, Acadia University

Video interview with Conor Vibert, Professor/Co-Creator also available.

It is late in 2009. Dave Sheehan, a multimedia producer at Acadia University is part of a small team of individuals who have successfully commercialized a collection of video interview clips of managers for the Canadian higher education sector with a major publisher. The clips are part of a larger teaching product that takes the form of a web-hosted searchable database of video interviews. Sheehan and his colleagues have their eye on the export market for these clips. They believe that China represents an attractive market given the size of its higher education sector and their experiences dealing with Chinese students on campus. The case focuses on identifying whether they should indeed attempt to export the videos to the Chinese market. The case highlights the state of the existing technology and the organizational infrastructure in place to support it.

Topics: Risk Management, Export Readiness
Industry: Educational software
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business
Published: August 2010

14. Atlantic Industries Limited

Produced by: Conor Vibert
Fred C. Manning School of Business, Acadia University

Video interview with Michael Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer also available.

Atlantic Industries Limited (AIL) is a private company located in Dorchester, New Brunswick that develops proprietary engineered solutions in corrugated metal structures, modular steel bridges, retaining walls and other products used in infrastructure construction and renewal in the transportation, public works, mining, forestry and environmental sectors. Set in 2004, it employed approximately 150 individuals with annual sales between $25 million and $50 million. It competes in North America with publicly traded Armtec Infrastructure Fund and a number of very large cement and concrete manufacturers. Wilson is contemplating a growth strategy but realizes that each option has its own risks. Along with the options and risks, he needs to consider how his company might enter new foreign markets.

Topics: Risk Management, New Market Entry
Industry: Engineered Bridge Solutions
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business
Published: August 2010

15. VIH Aviation Group

Produced by: Charlene Zietsma, Dan Day
University of Victoria
***Won the Best Case Award for the Case track division of ASAC at the 2011 Conference

Video interview with Charles J. Hodgins, Senior Vice President, Finance & Chief Financial Officer, and Christian Kittleson, Director of Financial Operations, also available.

In the fall of 2008, VIH Aviation Group, a privately held helicopter services firm, had to decide among three major growth opportunities in the growing offshore oil and gas business: a joint venture in China, an acquisition or joint venture in Australia, or expansion of the company’s facility in the US Gulf of Mexico. Each growth option would require substantial investment in new helicopters and facilities and feature various risks and uncertainties. The CFO of VIH has to recommend a growth strategy and a plan to finance it.

Topics: International growth; entry options; risk factors in international expansion
Industry: Helicopter services for the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / MBA / Executive MBA
Published: August 2010

16. Financial and operational risk management at Molson Coors

Produced by: Dennis Kira, Ahmet Satir and Dia Bandaly
Concordia University, John Molson School of Business

Molson Coors Brewing Company, fifth largest brewer by volume in the world, was created by the merger of Molson of Canada and Coors of the United States. This case outlines the various operational and financial risks Molson Coors faces and how they have been managed by the company. The main purpose is to explore approaches in supply chain risk management. Emphasis is on financial and operational hedging approaches used to mitigate risks emanating from demand uncertainty and fluctuations in commodity (aluminum) price and foreign exchange rates. Moreover, the case also makes reference to the use of information sharing and establishing closer relationships with suppliers as an effective means to mitigate supply risks.

Topics: Supply chain risk management; financial and operational hedging
Industry: Light manufacturing; food & beverage
Recommended for: Senior Undergraduate Business / MBA / Executive MBA
Published: September 2011

17. Implementing Lean at Export Development Canada (EDC)

Produced by: Yvonne Latta
IPAC Case Study Program Inventory

This case study traces how Export Development Canada (EDC) successfully implemented the lean methodology of process and organizational change in a financial services sector setting. It recounts EDC’s lean transformation from planning and implementation to the results stage. The EDC case study demonstrates the lessons learned in the lean process and how they can be adapted to other organizations confronting similar challenges to their core business streams. The case also shows how to translate this approach into the public context by proactively shifting the mindsets and behaviours of employees to embrace change through the use of targeted communication strategies. There is a Teaching Note for this case.

Topics: Lean methodology
Industry: Public sector; finance
Recommended for: Leaders from the public sector / MBA / Executive MBA
Published: October 2012

18. Christie Digital Systems

Produced by: William Polushin, Aiyin Wang and Zirong Wang
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

This case illustrates the story of Christie Digital Systems Inc. (Christie), a global leader in high performance projection display technologies and solutions. Through its offices in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, Christie serves customers worldwide. Operationally, the company has a unique structure that has managerial and business functions split between Canada and the United States. The case illustrates the linkages between many activities within the organization, including the challenge of having responsibilities divided functionally, and of being a subsidiary of a Japanese enterprise.
Christie wishes to capitalize on the overall growth in Professional Audio and Visual Industry. With industry growth rates of 8 to 10%, where should the firm focus its energy and resources in order to fully take advantage of this opportunity?
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Managing international operations
Industry: Media Technology
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business/MBA
Published: July 2014

19. Thales Canada

Produced by: William Polushin, James Pappadopoulos and Carla Aguirre
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

Thales Canada is a successful subsidiary of a global information systems and technology firm – Thales Group. Thales designs, develops and deploys equipment, systems and services for the aerospace, transportation, and defense and security industries. The focus of the case study is on two particular divisions within the broader company – Thales Canada Optronics Division, which design and produces thermal vision systems for both domestic and international military and non-civilian markets; and Thales Rail Signalling Solutions, which caters to the urban rail signalling market. Both of these divisions operate in highly competitive industries and have erratic revenue curves.
Thales Canada is in an interesting position vis-a-vis its parent company Thales Group. Being in two very competitive market spaces, the firm must continue to focus on its sales, earnings and profitability. What should Thales Canada do? Which products should it focus on and where should it grow?
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Operating regional subsidiaries
Industry: Defense; technology
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business / MBA
Published: July 2014

20. Greenlite Lighting Corporation

Produced by: William Polushin, Sergiy Zhukov and Richard Doyle
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

This case is about a small and successful Canadian distributor and exporter which sells energy-efficient lighting alternatives. It provides insights into the commercial and competitive challenges faced by the company and highlights the steps taken to become a competitive and profitable enterprise since its foundation. Increased competition, new entrants into the energy-efficient lighting market, its heavy reliance on Chinese manufacturers, and its sole focus on the North American market are all issues it must address.
Greenlite’s objective is to steadily increase annual revenues over the next 5 years without expanding beyond the North American market. However, it must do so in a way that will ensure the company remains profitable and sustainable. What is Greenlite to do?
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Small business, Overseas Manufacturing
Industry: Technology; Light Manufacturing
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business / MBA
Published: July 2014

21. St. Johns Packaging

Produced by: William Polushin, Sergiy Zhukov and Nisha Shankar
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

This case illustrates the story of St. Johns Packaging (SJP), a vertically integrated flexible packaging manufacturer with operations in Canada, the United States and China. Strong relationships with its clients have led SJP to transition from wax packaging to rigid packaging to flexible packaging. As a vertically integrated company SJP is in a unique position to respond to its customers’ demands faster than its competitors. However, transitioning from a Canadian and U.S. centric sales focus to one that includes China, Mexico and other international markets presents new challenges for the company.
Having a goal to be the world largest wicket bag manufacturer is quite ambitious especially when competitor’s sales are in the billions and SJP had sales of $72M in 2010.
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Vertical integration, market expansion
Industry: Packaging
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business / MBA
Published: July 2014

22. Smardt Chiller Inc.

Produced by: William Polushin, Sergiy Zhukov, Simran Kohli and Joel Kwan
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

This case illustrates the story of Smardt Chiller Inc., which started in 1992 as a modular chiller company in Melbourne Australia to become Smardt Chiller Inc. in Montreal in 2005. This transition included the Turbocore acquisition in 1996, almost shutting down in 1999 and going into a joint venture in 2004. Students will be exposed to a very unique industry as they work through this case study.
Smardt Chiller Inc. wishes to capitalize on its advanced technology to gain additional market share and thus increase its profits. However, working in different geographical markets poses challenges with different standards, having access to competent technicians for installations and maintenance, intellectual property protection and currency fluctuations. These challenges are not insurmountable but are nonetheless hurdles for a small company like Smardt.
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Human resources and technology implementation challenges
Industry: Manufacturing
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business / MBA
Published: July 2014

23. Saputo Inc.

Produced by: William Polushin, Adrian Cook and Arturo Cardenas
McGill’s Desautels Program for International Competitiveness

This case illustrates the story of Saputo Inc. which is synonymous with cheese and milk products. In a concerted attempt to grow in a very controlled Canadian market, Saputo grew to include over 50 brands. The timeline from 1954 to present is a very busy one with acquisitions both nationally and internationally. Doing business in five countries and exporting to over 40 countries, Saputo is a global player in its industry.
Almost all of Saputo’s growth has come from acquisition as greenfield developments are much more difficult in this sector. Most of its profits are derived from efficient production, economies of scale and by being extremely streamlined with zero-cost budgeting and the attitude that “we manage with what we need”.
This case is a part of a series of six case studies developed to provide insights into international competitiveness. Teaching notes are available.

Topics: Multiple divisions and multiple challenges
Industry: Consumer goods (Dairy products)
Recommended for: Undergraduate Business / College Business / MBA
Published: July 2014

* The case studies produced in collaboration with the Richard Ivey School of Business are only available to some universities. To confirm if your school has access please send an email to community@edc.ca.

We have sponsored case studies which are publicly available as well. For instance, EDC was one of the sponsors of a series of 13 case studies developed by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) in collaboration with a number of business schools to learn about the global business practices of various Canadian agri-food companies. The following is a sample of the cases developed:

This project was accompanied by a cross-case study analysis which identifies four conditions that are considered key determinants of company success in this sector. For the full list of case studies and more information, please visit CAPI’s website.

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