Weaken—CE. The correct answer choice is (E)
Travaillier Corporation is a company that has traditionally provided services to customers who travel by air, and surveys show that these customers have not changed their travel preferences. Regardless, the company has decided to shift focus to the bus tour industry by hiring employees with relevant experience and negotiating to subcontract with companies in the industry. Based on this information, the author concludes that Travaillier’s efforts must be directed toward new customers to expand their base.
This is a causal argument: the effect is the company’s shift in focus, from primarily air travel to the bus tour industry. The author believes that since Travaillier’s current customers don’t appear to have changed their preferences, the cause must be a desire to pull in new customers:
- Cause Effect
Desire to expand customer base Shift in focus to bus tour industry
This cause-effect stimulus is followed by a weaken question, and the shift in company focus has been established. The author makes an assertion regarding the cause of this shift in focus. The correct answer choice will weaken this causal assertion, possibly by providing the possibility of an alternative cause.
Answer choice (A): This choice does not weaken the author’s argument; if the company has found it difficult to change customer preferences in the past, then that would strengthen the author’s argument that the company must be attempting to attract new customers.
Answer choice (B): Regardless how many other companies have attempted a similar expansion and failed, the author has already provided that Travallier is trying to expand into the bus tour industry—the question is not about whether this is a wise move on the company’s part. The only question concerns whether or not this shift in focus is attributable to a desire to expand the company’s customer base.
Answer choice (C): The fact that there is one employee (or possibly more) that has experience in the air travel industry is not relevant to the author’s causal argument. The company has made it fairly clear that it is looking into the bus tour industry, and the author’s causal conclusion is not about whether Travallier is interested in the bus tour industry, but rather why the company has shifted focus.
Answer choice (D): Other companies’ secrets of success are irrelevant to the author’s causal conclusion, which is limited to the reason for the company’s recent shift in focus.
Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. The author’s conclusion is that the company must be trying to draw new customers. This choice provides an alternative cause: if the company has been advised to introduce its existing customer base to new forms of travel, this would also explain the company’s recent changes.