Handout: About Case Studies

About Case Studies

Bear in mind the following issues as you start working on the case studies: 1. You will have to make some "grounded assumptions". A case can never provide all the nitty gritty details of a "live situation". Therefore, you will have to make some assumptions about the background. However, be cautious. Your assumptions should be "grounded" or based on a rationale. For example, if your case involves a bank, it would be inappropriate to assume that every employee had a college education. If demographic details are important to the case, then you would want to do some background research on the characteristics of bank employees. At that point you could convincingly argue that your assumptions were "grounded". 2. Distinguish between the stated problems and the actual problems. There may often be a conflict between what you, a communication expert, and the participants in the case perceive to be the primary issue. One of the critical objectives of these cases is for you to "tease out" the partially hidden issues. 3. Clarify your communicative strategy. Based on your problem analysis, you should be able to specify your general "plan of attack" for the case. What are the key communication objectives? For example, if you had to communicate a change, the strategic objectives might include: • • Create a context for employee to understand the need for the change. Legitimize employee fears about the change.

4. Use the strategy to develop more specific tactics. For example, you might develop an employee hotline to help employees cope with their fears. You would need to provide some details about how the hotline would function and how it would be publicized. You might develop a mock brochure for employees, which explains background information about the change. 5. Provide a rationale for your strategy and tactics. The basic objective of the casework is to use the knowledge gleaned from the book to think through the situations. You need to be able to demonstrate the logical link between the case facts, problem analysis, strategy, and tactics. There are many ways to approach these cases. We suggest that you concentrate on the thought process you use to arrive at a solution rather than the "solution" itself. Concentrate more on providing a thorough rationale rather than a complete solution. In fact, it is not unusual for us to suggest that 60% of your efforts in case preparation should be devoted to the rationale and 40% to the "solution". By approaching a case in this manner, you will ultimately develop your own personal "thinking routine" for effectively dealing with communication problems. This is where meaningful learning takes place.


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