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ESMT Case Study

The future of Basler AG

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-319-0185-1
Bianca Schmitz, Olaf Plötner, Johannes Habel (2020)
Strategy and general management
Corporate strategy, crisis management (internally), market analysis, performance evaluation of business units, strategic change management, hidden champions

Basler is one of those lesser-known midsize companies (the so-called hidden champions), which, despite their moderate scale of operation, enjoy worldwide leadership in several niche markets. Basler primarily comprises two business segments: one, quality control systems for industrial goods production; and, two, cameras for diverse industries. The 2008/2009 global financial crisis, however, spelled trouble for Basler. With the company’s very survival at stake, Basler’s CEO had to make a strategic decision, namely, cut back on critical resources (human, financial, and material); this would include slashing as many as 50 jobs, which represented a fifth of its workforce. While so doing, some key questions remained unanswered in his mind:

  • In which of the company's two business segments should he reduce resources and cut those 50 jobs?

  • At the same time, regardless of the financial crisis, in which area, if any, should he consider investing resources in order to drive the company’s growth in the next 5- 10 years?

The case study provides the student with the crucial inputs required to answer the above questions convincingly. To arrive at an optimal solution, the student would need to think through the various options before the CEO during one of the worst financial crises in global history and weigh up their pros and cons.

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