Decision Making Final Exam – Spring 2021
1. This exam is worth 30% of your grade and will be graded out of 30 total points. It is
intended to cover the entire course, so all topics may be applicable.
2. You may work individually or with one partner. The grading criteria are identical for 1
and 2-person papers.
3. First, buy the exam case here: https://hbsp.harvard.edu/import/814262. You will need to
register for the website if you have not before. Click “Purchase Coursepack” and pay
$4.25 (only 1 copy needed per partnership). Let me know ASAP if there are any issues.
4. This exam is open-note, open-readings, open-slides, but closed Internet. Speak to no one
other than the professor and your final partner about any aspect of the exam or the case.
5. Use the Word template provided. Please bold any class concepts you use in the write-up.
6. Strict 2000 word limit (minus 50 for headings). ½ pt off per 50 words over (rounded up).
7. As usual, no need for introduction, background, or conclusion. You can waste a max of
100 combined words on these superfluous parts, with ½ point off per 50 words over
8. The exam is due by noon on Monday, June 7th. I will give extensions only with
legitimate proof of emergency. ½ point off for every hour you are late (rounded up).
Please do not wait until the last minute! You can of course submit early.
9. Submit a Word document (no PDFs) via iLearn. Do not include your name(s) in the
submission. Include your ID(s) and word count on top of the first page. For pairs, only
the person with the alphabetically earlier username should submit the exam on iLearn.
Part I: Descriptive (20 points possible)
Evaluate the decision making described in this case. Focus on the following four questions (but
some sections will be longer than others).
A. Analyze King’s customer experience using course concepts. What makes their free-
to-play games so successful? NOTE: Talk about the psychology from the players’
B. Analyze the strengths in King’s decision making process, and what decision errors or
biases these strengths reduced or eliminated. NOTE: Parts B & C are about
organizational decisions, not about customer psychology.
C. Analyze the weaknesses in King’s decision making process (errors, biases, etc.). Be
specific about identifying the psychological drivers underlying these shortcomings.
D. What are the psychological factors influencing Zacconi’s decision to accept
Activision’s acquisition offer? NOTE: The actual decision is irrelevant. I’m only
interested in what influenced his decision. (HINT: This is mostly found on p.1 & 9).
Part II: Prescriptive (10 points possible)
Based on your Part I analyses, how can King Digital improve their decision making?
E. Suggest one or two prescriptions that would help a company like King make better
decisions in such situations (these should flow from Part I—this is not the place to
introduce new weaknesses). Be as specific as possible about what you would do and
what biases or errors you are trying to combat. Be concrete about how these
prescription(s) would be implemented. Consider the costs (money, time, and
psychological) associated with your suggested changes and be realistic. Please be
creative here, but justify your prescriptions using concepts only from this class.
F. Be aware that executives may not be particularly receptive to these prescriptions.
What are the psychological sources of resistance? How might being acquired by
Activision help overcome the resistance or make it worse?
Hints (read carefully)
1. Please restrict yourself to the information provided in the case. There are many articles
about the company and information regarding this case and subsequent events online, but
they are not relevant for the final. Evidence from outside the case will NOT count.
2. This is NOT a research paper. Searching the Internet will NOT help you on the exam but
CAN hurt you by distracting you with irrelevant information. I’m interested in YOUR
application of our course concepts to a specific case, not your research abilities.
3. Use only the concepts from this class to analyze the case! Do not base your response on
your knowledge from other business classes, especially marketing, or OB, or strategy.
4. Assume we understand the class concepts (don’t waste words explaining them), but
indicate why the concepts are relevant. Apply concepts well to show your understanding.
5. Do not just laundry list every bias you think might be relevant. Thoughtful analysis and
justification are required. I would rather you concentrate on making a few points well
than list a number of points superficially and not elaborating on any of them in depth.
6. Provide evidence from the case to support the psychology. Do not just regurgitate
examples from lectures or readings or rely on examples from other companies.
7. I discourage direct quotes from the case or readings. A couple quotes at most, but you can
usually make the point more succinctly in your own words. You should definitely not
directly quote or even paraphrase from readings other than the case.
8. Use the principles we discussed in the week on organizational decision making to
maximize the efficacy of working with a partner. Do not just split up writing for Parts I
and II. Your prescriptions (Part II) should flow from your descriptive analysis (Part I)!
9. Remember that hindsight is 20/20. It is natural to conclude that bad outcomes result from
bad decisions, but we discussed in class how good decisions can still have bad outcomes
due to inherent risks and uncertainty (and vice versa). It is important for you to show that
you are able to delineate good decisions from bad ones. The case may not always have all
the detailed information you would need to identify a decision error definitively.
However, do your best to convince us that your analysis does not have outcome bias.
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