Stable Diet: Growing within an Expanding Niche

Case details
About the authors

Denis Harrington, Head of Graduate Business and Chris O'Riordan, Lecturer in Accounting at the School of Business, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland on Stable Diet: Growing within an Expanding Niche.

Deciding on the case

Our school is keenly interested in the case method. Lecturers are encouraged to develop their own materials and we regularly collaborate to produce cases of national and international significance. There is a dearth of case studies of both Irish and small companies, which allow one to get deeper into what is going on and give more of the personality of the enterprise. Stable Diet was a local success story, in a niche market, with its own strengths and weaknesses, but without significant national exposure and, therefore, fresh.


We reviewed the company website and newspaper articles to get some background and a better appreciation of the market. Katherine Carroll, the MD, very kindly agreed to an interview on the company's premises. This helped us see the operation and get a feel for the business. Katherine gave us a whole day generating over two hours of invaluable recorded interviews and formed the real meat of the case. Establishing a good relationship with Katherine and the senior team from the start created trust, a key issue for new case writers. We circulated interview questions in advance and the company was given full editorial discretion and sign off over both the case and the teaching note. In fact, only minor amendments were made - we feel that the openness of all parties was a factor here. We invited Katherine to attend student presentations. Together, we devised questions for discussion and invited her to participate in the case evaluations. This allowed for discussion of the key strategic issues and gave students the opportunity to better understand her perspective.

Teaching objectives

The case essentially challenges students to advise a small company on the way forward. This requires them to think carefully - what works for a large firm might not be practical. The case comes with suggested questions and can be used on management, strategy and marketing courses at both post and undergraduate levels. We tested the case in two separate postgraduate classes: one marketing, and one of accounting students studying strategy. We achieved our objectives and participants expressed their enjoyment of the case being different from what they are used to. We also worked this case with executive groups with overall positive results including an interest in further collaboration with us.

Any advice?

Getting the important good rapport and mutual respect with your case target means being honest about your objectives at the start and giving them ultimate sign off. Katherine emphasised to us how much she enjoyed the experience and was willing to repeat the classroom sessions: in one go we heard the comments of independent students and the company on the case.

Case details

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Stable Diet: Growing within an Expanding Niche
Ref 305-392-1
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Teaching note

Ref 305-392-8

About the authors

Dr Denis Harrington is Head of Graduate Business at the School of Business, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.

Chris O'Riordan is a Lecturer in Accounting at the School of Business, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. 

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