In consultation with the professor, you are to choose two companies in the same industry and prepare an analysis/comparison of the them based on the criteria below. (No two students may choose the same companies.) To the extent possible, use the comparison to illuminate effective vs. ineffective ways to run a company. Please read and reread these requirements.
The project report is to be double spaced typed/printed, 12-18 pages in length, with normal-sized type (not courier -- use Times or similar) and margins. It is better to turn in a tight and coherent 12 page paper than a rambling and padded 16 page one.
Best results come with companies that are similar but have clear and interesting differences. For example, one big and diversified and one small and focused, one privately held and one publicly traded, one established and one new, one low cost and one full service, etc. It is not necessary for the two firms to be the major competitors of each other, but they should overlap substantially in their industries. If you know, or can find, people who work for at least one of the companies then this may make for a more insightful treatment. Also, remember that many well known brands (Burger King, Pillsbury, Old Navy, etc) are just small parts of larger diversified corporations -- it is fine to focus more on one particular division, but you will have to talk about the firm as a whole and it does make it harder to isolate its performance. Finally, you'll be able to find more hard information on publicly traded companies because of disclosure requirements.
When grading, attention will be paid to each of the main areas listed below. While you will focus on some more than others, try to cover each one. If you want to change the focus of the assignment to omit certain areas then you must clear this with me at the planning stages.
Presentation is important, so write grammatically and clearly. Think of this as a major report to your boss. Your written project should include a bibliography and full references in the text. That is, wherever information is provided, there should be a note in the text to give its source. This includes, but is not limited to, direct quotes. (Direct quotes should always be introduced--never thrown in to stand on their own.) The format of the noting is up to you; just be certain that it is clear and consistent. Do not rely heavily on material from the corporate homepages; rather, seek out books as well as articles in major newspapers and magazines. Ignoring this is the surest way to get a bad grade.
A caveat: Many companies will provide you with material that makes them look like "The best thing since sliced bread," saying, for example, that they are the innovators in their industry or the market leaders. Some of this hype is for their own internal consumption and for marketing purposes. Their competitors may be saying exactly the same things about themselves, so beware, be careful, and be critical.