Topic 2 in the pool of sample topics
The following appeared in a memorandum from the business department of the Apogee Company:
“When the Apogee Company had all its operations in one location, it was more profitable than it is today. Therefore, the Apogee Company should close down its field offices and conduct all its operations from a single location. Such centralization would improve profitability by cutting costs and helping the company maintain better supervision of all employees.”
Instruction: Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion, be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.
指令部分提示了我们可以展开分析的切入口：questionable assumptions、 alternative explanations or counterexamples、evidence。
1) The Apogee Company achieved higher profits under that particular historical condition, which may be a favorable market, and the same better profitability may not be attained under today’s condition, because the market has probably turned unfavorable.
The higher profitability, which is a fact, may not be attributed to the number of locations in which the company had its operations. There may be other reasons for the higher profit margins, for example, the particular historical condition, possibly a market in which the demand is strong. The same higher profit levels may not be attained under today’s condition, because the market has probably turned unfavorable.
2) The number of locations may not be the reason for the company’s better profitability in the past. Instead, it might have been the specific location of the company that helped it achieve the profitability.
Another alternative explanation is that the specific location of the company helped the company achieve the profitability. In other words, the company was more profitable probably not because there is one single location; instead, it may be because the specific location is advantageous to business that the company achieved high profits.
3) Centralization does not necessarily cut operational costs, because when all staff move in to one single location, the location will have to prepare more space to accommodate a larger staff and more facilities will be needed. The increase in space and facilities incurs costs.
4) Centralization implies the change in the company’s organizational structure, which may be unfavorable to the management’s supervision of employees.