Locate in the popular business media of your choice 3 companies that have been either suffering significant performance setbacks or enjoying performance improvements.
Research briefly the organisational sources of these performance problems or successes. There may certainly be other sources of their failures/successes, such as macro-economic factors, global/political factors, etc., but focus on organisational root causes.
That is, how do strategic design, political, and cultural issues help us to understand these corporations’ performance problems/successes. No first hand information is required; you only need to rely upon media coverage or public reporting. I understand that this will limit the depth of understanding in some cases, but you should therefore look to media sources that provide longer, exposé type articles about companies (e.g., Fortune, Forbes, some WSJ articles, BusinessWeek, etc.).
The library can help you think of other sources. In some cases, books may be available. These stories could be several years old, but preferably after 2005. For example, Apple rode an amazing success wave over a couple of decades; why were they so successful? On the other hand, numerous banks, such a Lehman Brothers, suffered terribly during the financial meltdown; why did they collapse?
How can organisational factors explain what happened? There are likely to be several sources of information on the organisational causes of these problems, including blogs. If you choose an interesting firm to research, you may find an abundance of public information.
You need to use judgment to sift through what you find. You should also try to answer the question “what was the role of the CEO and top executive leaders in this failure/success?”
Your papers should be concise and to the point, outlining root causes in a maximum of 4 pages per company (Times New Roman, 5 spaced, 12-point font). Note that 4 pages allow you to say more than “the culture was bad”.
Your explanations should provide some depth of insight, although I fully understand that you will not have first-hand knowledge and will rely on media sources.
Excellent papers will provide insightful interpretations of even limited information. Papers should conclude with a brief statement, a maximum of one page, summarizing key themes and lessons from the companies you have chosen to analyse.