What Are the Factors in the “Race” Decision?
In the case study titled “Carter Racing”, John and Fred Carter, who are in charge of a business involved in car racing, are trying to make an important decision as to whether or not they should participate in an upcoming Pocono race (Brittain & Sitkin, 1986). The decision is impactful due to the media exposure that their business would enjoy due to participation, as well as the monetary prize in case of their team wins.
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However, the decision-making process is complicated by a series of factors that represent risks for the team, their careers, and the business in general. In particular, one of the major factors that are making the Carters hesitate is the series of fails that their team has suffered during the season due to the problems with engines. The professionals involved in the maintenance and development of the vehicles have clashing opinions as to the causes of the failures – Edwards, the engine mechanic, is convinced that the construction of the engine alongside with the external conditions such as weather and temperature cause failures; at the same time, Burns, the chief mechanic, argues that engine failure is a factor that cannot be controlled, and luck is what the team should hope for (Brittain & Sitkin, 1986).
Another couple of important factors are the sponsor’s support and a promising contract for the future season that depends heavily on the high performance of the Carters’ team. The decision-maker is under a lot of pressure because participating in the race will bring a lot of money to the team and help them develop and expand; at the same time, canceling will result in a significant loss of money. Moreover, a failure (of which there is a 29% chance, as stated by Burns) will throw the team back making them start paving their way to the top all over again.
Should the Carters Race Today? Why?
As it was pointed out by the engine mechanic, who is a highly qualified professional knowledgeable about engines, the head gaskets were the root causes of the engine failures experienced by the team (Brittain & Sitkin, 1986). The mechanic found that due to the uneven expansion rates in the head and block of the engine interacting with the temperature outside their engines failed. Chief mechanic gathered statistics on the air temperatures of every race when failures occurred and pointed out that there was no significant correlation between air temperature and engine failures.
However, John Carter noticed that it was particularly cold on the night before the race; and according to the data presented by Tom Burns, out of the total of 10 engine failures that occurred throughout the season, 6 happened under the temperatures below 65; also, of these 6, 3 engines failed under the temperature of 55 (Brittain & Sitkin, 1986). In that way, it looks like the conclusions made by Paul Edwards make a lot of sense and the cold weather during the Pocono race could result in an engine failure for the team leading to the loss of sponsorship and income.
In that way, the final decision should be to withdraw from the race, save the strong reputation earned by the team throughout this season, and take some time to work on the improvement of the engines. The weather conditions seem to be the determinant of the likelihood of the race outcome for the team. As a result, not the statistics of the entire season should be taken into consideration but only the results of the races that took place under colder temperatures; and this statistics quite distinctively shows that the team has a very high change to suffer another engine failure in Pocono.
Brittain, J. & Sitkin, S. (1986). Carter racing. Case Study.