CSB and SJU team places third at case research competition

April 12, 2013

Members of the CSB/SJU Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM) case study team (from left): Anthony Retica, Jack Ryan, Laurel Kennedy, Chris Otterstetter, Melissa Mehaffey.  All the students are seniors.

A five-student team from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University placed third at the Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM) Case Research Competition in Washington, D.C.

The competition was held during the SAM National Conference March 21-24.

CSB students Laurel Kennedy (senior, management major, Corcoran, Minn.) and Melissa Mehaffey (senior, accounting major, Dayton, Minn.) and SJU students Chris Otterstetter (senior, management major, Burnsville, Minn.), Anthony Retica (senior, management major, Minnetonka, Minn.) and Jack Ryan (senior, accounting major, Deephaven, Minn.) continued a strong string of success for the CSB and SJU team. The team has placed in the top three four of the last five years, and won the competition in 2012.

Each January, the CSB and SJU team is sent a case study. Working independently (faculty guidance is forbidden once the students receive the case study), the team researched Netflix and the movie rental industry to prepare their strategic recommendations.

The students said that Netflix was an exciting yet difficult company to research.

"Each day, new articles were being written on Netflix changing their recommendations," said Steve Schwarz, adjunct assistant professor of global business leadership at CSB and SJU and the faculty adviser to SAM. For example, the students were considering a buyout of Netflix. When they started the case study in January, Netflix's stock was trading for $100 a share, but by February its stock had jumped to $196 a share, making a buyout very expensive, Schwarz said.

The team's final recommendations for Netflix included:

  • • A partnership with cable network AMC for TV shows such as "Mad Men;"
  • • A plan to increase online streaming and phasing out DVDs;
  • • A fundraising platform called Crowdflix for independent film makers to launch their film projects similar to what Kickstarter does for business startups.  The site would allow Netflix to receive exclusive rights to new content.

"The team excelled in their ability to take the most up-to-date information, think creatively, gather research on Netflix and industry and integrate their recommendations strategically," Schwarz said.

While in Washington, the students were treated to a dinner by Kiyoshi Nakasaka, president and CEO of Washington CORE. Nakasaka attended SJU in the 1980s.

The team received funding for the trip through Undergraduate Research Grants from the Office of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement at CSB and SJU.