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A Method for Analyzing Cases or Problems

Prof. Andrew Van de Ven
Carlson School, Univ. of Minnesota

Claim: You can increase learning and
understanding of cases or managerial
problems by doing four things:
1. Ground the problem & question in reality (evidence).
2. Use a conceptual model or theory to address the question.
3. Evaluate how well the model applies to the case.
4. Implement a solution that solves the problem/question.
© Andrew H. Van de Ven, Carlson School, Univ. of Minnesota, 2006. Forthcoming in Engaged Scholarship

A Diamond Model for Case Analysis
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Impact Criterion .apply findings to problem Question/Problem .minor premise -Proposition .knowledge for what? who? .Empirical refutations: truth . 2003 2 . assumptions Criterion . question.assumptions .Logical refutations: validity . Press.Relevance A Good Solution is a Strong Argument Background – the problem.Logic underlying claim .Truth Criterion .map & diagnose it .from who’s perspective? .identify research users Criterion . qualifications Model -build crucial propositions -evidence-based decisions -clarify context.boundary conditions .develop implementation plan Reality .Local adaptation & reinvention . The Uses of Argument.Major premise .Cogency of argument: persuasiveness Stephen Toulmin.visit & study it .contingencies . Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Updated Edition. context of the claim Reasons Evidence Claim .when claim holds Limitations .Grounds for Rebuttal .Validity M n tio od ua e lB l va ui E ld el in od g M Solution Problem/ n Question io Fit at Pr ul ob rm le Fo m So m le lv Ground the Problem/Case ob in Application to Case/Problem g Pr .A Diamond Model for Examining Cases or Problems Evaluate Model’s Application Answers & Arguments -Does model apply to the case? -build strong arguments Conceptual -Revise model to fit the case -consider plausible alternatives -Test model revisions.Grounds .data backing reason -Hypothesis .warrants Qualifiers Reservations .

answer.problem. context of the claim • Claim -. Components of an Argument • Background -. • the judge and jury reminds us to answer opposing arguments fully. a judge or jury.conclusion. (Ramage and Bean. Toulmin’s model reminds us not to construct an argument that appeals only to those who already agree with us. or logic underlying the claim • Evidence -. and to present positive reasons for supporting our case as well as negative reasons for disbelieving the opposing case. warrants. question.limitations or grounds for rebuttal of a claim: Toulmin Model of Argument Toulmin’s courtroom model of argumentation assumes: • all assertions and assumptions are contestable by “opposing counsel.minor premise. 1995: 102). • the “opposing counsel” forces us to anticipate counter- arguments and to question our assumptions. 3 . grounds. or data backing the reasons • Qualifiers --boundary conditions and assumptions when claim holds • Reservations -.” • all final “verdicts” about the persuasiveness of the opposing arguments will be rendered by a neutral third party. proposition or hypothesis • Reasons --major premise. without rancor.

steps in a consistent.Exercise: Form Your Answer as an Argument • Background • Claim: • Reasons: • Evidence: • Reservations: • Qualifications: Argument for Diamond Model to Examine Cases or Problems Reason (major premise) Claim Decision quality and creativity Qualifiers Diamond model increase by applying problem Most likely. model development & understanding and testing. or without adequate problem formulation. permit local adaptation or reinvention. promotes learning formulation. or too general in addressing the Unless time or talents prevent analyst particulars of a case. balanced way. question. Evidence (minor premise) Low quality decisions are often Reservation produced by jumping to solutions Unless the problem. one-sided or by selecting models that are invalid closed-minded. solution are pre-determined. and problem solving of a case or problem. 4 .. or that do not from covering all 4 bases of the model. model..

.proposals • A problem (negative evaluation) that needs solution (to avoid bad consequence) – E. What are its causes or effects? − causal propositions 3. 34..g. MBA students don’t think critically. What should be done about it? − Proposals (ethical categorical and causal propositions) The audience determines the quality of answers and the behavior or the speaker Source: Jeanne Fahnestock. Carlson MBA students are critical thinkers • Define the predicate (critical thinkers know provable.. What is this thing? − categorical propositions 2.. Critical thinking can and should be taught to MBA students. probable & plausible truths) • Convincing evidence that subject (MBA students) exhibit the predicate 2.g. no spurious factors 3. What should be done about it? .” College Composition and Communication. Types of Arguments 1. • Qualifications. temporal precedence. Critical thinking can be taught • Evidence: co-variation. predicate − E.. hence won’t become good managers • A solution that eradicates the cause. Is it good or bad? − Evaluations (ethical categorical propositions) 4. “Teaching Argument: A Theory of Types. and is feasible − E. linking verb. Critical thinking is an essential skill of good managers • Same in form as a categorical proposition: definition & evidence • Find acceptable criteria appropriate to the subject 4. reservations.evaluations • A value judgment applying ethical criteria – E. What is this thing? – categorical propositions • A subject.g. What are its causes or effects? – causal propositions • Agency – a belief in what can cause an effect − E.g. Is it good or bad? . is ethically right.g. 1 (1983): pp 20-30 Types of Arguments – Some Details 1. and concerns of the audience 5 .

reasons. assumptions and reservations). • Explore plausible alternative problems and solution models of issue. adopt evidence-based decision making. they decrease decision traps and biases that lead to faulty decisions and increase motivations of relevant stakeholders who are critical for implementing the decision.Steps for Improving Quality & Motivation in Problem Solving • Insist on data. Reservation These steps do not insure success. • Generate solution quality and motivation by involving different stakeholders in stages of planning or problem solving process. consider improbable or unpopular perspectives. Keeney & Raiffa. 6 . However. • Challenge and debate the assumptions and conclusions. evidence. Decision Traps & Biases Individual Decisions Group Decisions • Anchoring • Group think • Status-Quo • Risky shift • Sunk Costs • Conformity • Falling into a “rut” • Confirmation bias • Conflict avoidance • Framing • Estimating & Forecasting Sources: Hammond. Delbecq & Van de Ven A Group Process Model for Problem Identification and Program Planning. • Develop strong argument for proposed solution (claim. The Hidden Traps in Decision Making.

Diagnose a key problem or issue that was common to your three cases.ohiou. reservations. and qualifiers in 2 pages or less.Web Sites on Toulmin Method of Argumentation Bradley at the University of Maryland uses Toulmin's original terms: http://bradley. leadership.cfm MGMT 6050 Mid-Term Report Questions Case comparison report questions 1. and discuss the most interesting comparisons in 2 pages or your analysis.wam.html 3.) 2. (Support your recommendation with an argument by stating your claim. (Make your diagnosis explicit by listing the data or symptoms.colostate. or external relationships? (Suggestion: present answer in a How is your case similar and different to Qnetics (TAP) and CIP in terms of the common elements of the innovation journey. evidence.html#arg http://writing. learning.html Other web sites that use language similar to mine provide good visual examples for evaluating and writing arguments: http://www.) Please attach this Midterm Report Evaluation Form as the cover page of your report. and your inference of the problem in 2 pages or 7 . reasons.umd. Propose a recommendation for managing this problem.

therefore q − denying the consequent: If p then q. therefore p − Fallacy of denying the antecedent: If p then q. or hypotheses − reason: major premise. assumptions. or data backing the reason − qualifier: conditions. If q then r. grounds or logic underlying the claim − evidence: minor premise. warrants. q. p. Validity is independent of truth. Not q. Not p. Socrates is mortal • Toulmin adaptation of formal logic with jurisprudence − claim: conclusion.two premises and a conclusion that the premises logically imply − major premise: All men are mortal − minor premise: Socrates is a man − conclusion: Therefore.Argument • Two or more propositions that lead to a conclusion that may be: − Provably true with logical deductive reasoning on certain knowledge − Probably true with inductive empirical reasoning − Plausibly true with dialectical rhetorical reasoning that convinces an audience • Aristotle’s formal analytic syllogism . therefore not p − chain argument: If p then q. therefore not q 8 . Valid syllogism consisting of false propositions − invalid syllogism consisting of true propositions • Validity is assessed by the form/structure of the argument − affirming the antecedent: If p then q. answer. If p then r − Fallacy of affirming the consequent: If p then q. or limits when claim holds − reservation: limits or grounds for rebutal of a claim Logical Validity • Formal logical validity depends solely on the relation between premises and conclusion.

then the predicted fact is true. -. values legitimacy. imagination of appearance the audience & authority Source: Chaim Perelman & L. -. 1971. then the predicted fact is true • Not q The predicted fact is not true. • We reject hypothesis by denying the consequent • If p then q If hypothesis is true. beliefs. no p Therefore. IN: University of Notre Dame. the hypothesis is false. − The greater the number & variety of p. Therefore. that would be the fallacy of affirming the consequent • If p then q If hypothesis is true. The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation. • Therefore. the stronger the hypothesis.Valid • We cannot prove hypothesis. all p are q. 9 . Olbrechts-Tyteca. • q The predicted fact is true • Therefore. The Rhetorical Triangle: Plausible Truth ‘Evidence’ is whatever convinces a reasonable audience Logos logical validity & empirical truth of the message Pathos Ethos persuasiveness: the speaker’s stir emotions credibility. scientists evaluate the logical validity and empirical truth of their theories • We use inductive conditional propositions to test hypothesis: − all observed members of p are q. − Search and rule out plausible alternative hypothesis. Empirical (Probable) Truth Whereas logicians assess the validity of their arguments. p Therefore the hypothesis is true. Notre Dame.Not valid − Existing facts may have more than one explanation.