ARG-142

The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of a company that builds shopping malls around the country.

"The surface of a section of Route 101, paved just two years ago by Good Intentions Roadways, is now badly cracked with a number of dangerous potholes. In another part of the state, a section of Route 40, paved by Appian Roadways more than four years ago, is still in good condition. In a demonstration of their continuing commitment to quality, Appian Roadways recently purchased state-of-the-art paving machinery and hired a new quality-control manager. Therefore, I recommend hiring Appian Roadways to construct the access roads for all our new shopping malls. I predict that our Appian access roads will not have to be repaired for at least four years."


Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


In this memo, the vice president of a shopping-mall building company recommends hiring Appian Roadways over Good Intentions Roadways to construct the roads outside the mall. The author first presents the fact that Route 40, paved by Appian, remains in good quality after four years of use, whereas a section of Route 101 paved by Good Intentions has become badly cracked in two years. Then, he/she predicts if the company hires Appian Roadways, who just installed state-of-the-art machinery and hired a new quality-control manager, the roads around the mall would not need to be repaired in at least four years as well. This recommendation, though convincing at the first glance, contains some logical gaps that make the conclusion tenuous as it current stands. To evaluate whether the recommendation can have the predicted result, three more questions need to be answered and evaluated.


First, we need to know whether the current road conditions are related to factors other than the quality of construction. The author in his/her argument makes a comparison between the two sections of roads because he/she assumes that these two routes are similar in nature in the first place. However, the natural and traffic conditions of Routes 40 and 101 could be drastically different, and the quality of the construction company may have little impact on road quality. For example, the local weather might be much worse and traffic flow much heavier in the part of the state where Route 101 is located. The huge influx of cars and trucks as well as raining and snowing may cause the formation of cracks and potholes overtime. In this case, that Good Intentions Roadways is inferior to Appian is an invalid claim. If so, the predicted result of the author’s suggestion might not be reached before more information regarding Appian Roadways is needed. On the contrary, if it could be shown that the two routes are of similar conditions, then they are sufficient to prove Appian is indeed better than Good Intentions in terms of highway paving, making the author’s recommendation more credible.


Next, granted Appian Roadways does possess the ability to construct high-quality roads, we still need to ask if Appian’s building techniques and human resources are suitable for mall access roads. The procedures of building roads around malls might be different from those of highways. As a consequence, a company that is specialized in paving highways might have a hard time switching to paving mall access roads. In this case, one cannot infer how Appian Roadways previous experience in Route 40 will guarantee the quality of mall access raods. Additionally, it remains unclear whether the state-of-the-art machinery can be applied to roads around a mall. A similar concern can be raised for the quality-control manager, who might be specialized in highway projects. If the aforementioned scenarios are true, hiring Appian Roadways might lead to very deviated results than predicted ones, which weakens the author’s argument. However, if Appian’s machinery is also suited for building roads around the mall and the manager is familiar with doing so, then the author’s predicted result could be achieved.


Finally, even if we concede the superior service quality of Appian Roadways in terms of paving highways and mall access roads, we still need to know whether no road repair work would be needed for at least four years, like Route 40 does. The fact that one route remains free from major repairs for four years does not means the other road built by the same company would also keep the same condition for the same amount of time. More investigations are needed regarding route 40 and the mall access roads’ conditions. If the shopping-mall roads experience heavy use every day due to the number of visitors to the mall and Route 40 on the other hand sees little traffic, it is natural that the mall access roads would require more maintenance and renovations. That is, it is unlikely that roads won’t need to be repaired for four years, which challenges the author’s position. Yet, if surveys prove that the roads and route do experience similar flow, then it is possible that the roads remain decent for four years, strengthening the author’s recommendation.


Overall, there are more complicated aspects to consider behind the author’s recommendation. Until new evidence proves that Appian Roadways is truly superior in road paving quality, that Appian’s advanced machinery and expertise can be applied to mall access roads, and that the conditions of shopping-mall roads are similar to Route 40, the author’s suggestion remains inconclusive.


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