University of Baltimore
Merrick School of Business

INSS 641 - Information Resources Management - Fall 1995
Cases list and due dates

1. IS/IT environment, 09/23, 09/30

Lithonia Lighting

Author(s): Nohria N, Berkley JD

Abstract: In early 1991, Lithonia, the U.S.'s largest manufacturer of lighting fixtures, faced a major slump in the construction business that threatened to cause its first decline in revenues after over a decade of strong growth. With financial pressures from its parent company mounting, Lithonia was forced to reconsider its investments in LIGHT*LINK(tm), an ambitious information system that tied the company to agents, distributors, and other players in the lighting business. While Light*Link had clearly enabled much of the company's growth, the new economic climate raised a number of questions about the company's investment in information technology. Teaching objective: Requires students to analyze the structure of an industry and to reflect upon the factors that give competitive benefit to information systems investments within the context of an uncertain environment. Setting: Conyers, GA, lighting fixtures, large, $717 million revenues, 5,300 employees, 1991; Length: 18p

2. Planning, 09/30, 10/07

J. B. Ivey & Co

Author(s):Vitale, M.R.

Abstract: J. B. Ivey is confronted with the need to plan information systems in order to support its new retailing strategy. For years Ivey has been under-investing in IS/IT and is faced now with the need for rapid growth in IT deployment to maintain (gain) competitive advantage. The focus is on how to plan for this deployment.

Setting:Charlotte, North Carolina, retailing, department stores, $500 million revenues,1988; Lenght: 14p

3. Budgeting, 10/07,10/14

Aerospace Technology Manufacturing, Inc.: Industry, Company, and I/S Transitions

Author(s): McFarlan FW, Meadows CJ

Abstract: Aerospace Technology Manufacturing, Inc. is struggling to survive and lead in the declining aerospace industry. The company and I/S are facing tremendous cost pressures and are being forced to cut millions of dollars out of the I/S budget. The parent company is centralizing all its subsidiaries' computer operations, however it is also decentralizing its business units according to major product line or customer. In the face of these conflicting pressures, I/S must find a way to provide competitive advantage.

Setting: Northeast, aerospace, 12,400 employees, 1991; Length: 21p

4. Project management, 10/14, 10/21

KPMG Peat Marwick: The Shadow Partner

Author(s): Eccles RG, Gladstone J

Abstract: KPMG Peat Marwick executives needed to decide whether to fund full development of "The Shadow Partner," the name coined to describe a worldwide information network that would link all KPMG professionals to each other and to a wealth of data bases and information services. Partners, by sharing and gathering information through the network, would be able to use the entire company's knowledge and experience to serve clients. Many partners felt that implementation of the shadow partner was vital, as clients had greater demands and competition in the accounting industry had escalated. Other partners questioned the necessity of the shadow partner. The firm had committed to establishing a technology committee to investigate shadow partner design and cost. Since the firm was a partnership, the partners eventually had to decide whether, and to what extent, to support shadow partner implementation.

Setting: New York, NY, accounting, 6,000 employees, 1991;Length: 12p

5. Project management; 10/21,10/28

Concordia Casting Co.

Author(s): McFarlan FW

Abstract: Describes five years of development in a centralized data processing activity serving a highly decentralized corporation. Data processing manager discovers that a major software system conversion is a full year behind schedule, and subsequently makes several managerial and organizational changes. Raises issues of leadership style, human resource management, conflict, and organizational change.

Setting: Midwest, automotive, large, $700 million sales, 1984; Length: 12p

6. Performance measurement; 10/28, 11/04

Rank Xerox U.K. (A)

Author(s): Linder J, Davenport TH

Supplement(s): Supplement (9-192-072) part B.

Abstract: Describes an apparently successful business process redesign experiment at Xerox's U.K. subsidiary. When the new managing director takes over, however, he finds little evidence that anything substantive was actually done, let alone performance improvements gained. He must decide whether to continue the transformation effort on its current course or change it. Describes business process redesign initiative, explains one methodology for conducting such a project, and explores the dynamics of making wholesale change.

Setting: London, England, copiers, Fortune 500, 4,500 employees, 1990; Length: 15p

7. Quality management; 11/04, 11/11

Beth Israel Hospital: Managing Service Excellence

Author(s): Linder J

Abstract: CEO Mitch Rabkin is faced with an industry trend toward clinical quality verification, as well as increasing financial pressures. This case describes the organization of Beth Israel Hospital, its information technology architecture, and several of its services in detail. Given this backdrop, Rabkin must decide whether to implement statistical quality control or some other means to preserve the institution's reputation for quality.

Setting: Boston, MA, hospital, mid-size, $230 million revenues, 1990 ; Length: 29p

8. Information architecture; 11/11, 11/18

Brooklyn Union Gas: OOPS on Big Iron

Author(s): Konsynski B, Andersen E

Abstract: Faced with a situation of a changing external environment and aging information systems, Brooklyn Union Gas, a large natural gas distributor, chose to use object oriented programming to develop their new customer service system. The project was the first to use this technology in a large-scale transaction-based setting. The case chronicles the events leading up to the decision to use object oriented technology, the development phase, and the technical and business implications. Setting: Brooklyn, NY, natural gas distribution, large, $1 billion revenues, 3,500 employees, 1986-1991;Length: 18p

9. Information architecture; 11/18, 12/02

Future of Distributed Systems at Aetna

Author(s): McFarlan FW, Marshall CL

Abstract: The basic challenge the students face is looking at a company with a massive investment in large mainframe computer systems that have evolved over 30 years. The question in the new world of client/server architecture is how to balance the service and user-friendliness of the client/server environment with the reliability and smooth operation of the existing mainframe world.

Setting: Hartford, CT, insurance, large, 43,000 employees, 1986-1993; Length: 15p

10. Human resources; 12/02,12/09

Du Pont Fibers Department Information Systems

Author(s): Mills DQ, Friesen GB

Abstract: Andy Harriss, manager of Fibers information systems, is trying to cut costs, improve services, and increase productivity in his group. To accomplish this objective he has established a series of organizational changes designed to cut the number of supervisors and empowered his professional staff to take more responsibility for their work. Along the way a number of problems occur and some positive and negative outcomes result.

Setting: United States, chemicals, Fortune 500, 1984-1989; Length: 25p

11. IS organization; 12/09, 12/09 (*due in the same day)

Manufacturers Hanover Corp.: The New Information Technology Organization (A)

Author(s): Applegate LM, Smith HJ, Stoddard DB

Abstract: A major corporate decentralization forces the information technology community to examine its own organizational structure. Students are exposed to major functions of an information technology organization and examine several competing structural alternatives. Teaching objectives are: 1) increase awareness of information technology tasks; 2) consider alternative structures for information technology organizations; and 3) stress the need for matching information technology organizational objectives with those of the larger organization. May be used with Manufacturers Hanover Corp.: The New Information Technology Organization (B).

Setting: New York, NY, banking, mid-size, $400 million income, 1985;Length: 17p

This page is maintained by Al Bento who can be reached at This page was last updated on August 27,1995. Although we will attempt to keep this information accurate, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.