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Case method

The case method is a teaching approach that consists in presenting the students with a
case, putting them in the role of a decision maker facing a problem (Hammond 1976).
The case method is a teaching method that is largely used in business schools. For
instance it was used at the Harvard Business School since the founding of the school in

Teaching cases
Teaching cases are available through clearing repositories such as the Caseplace and
European Case Clearing House, or through professional writing and publishing centers,
such as Globalens at the University of Michigan.

Teaching case studies, and to a lesser extent writing them, is a central function performed
at the top business schools worldwide. Some organizations, such as European Case
Clearing House and GlobaLens, run competitions to identify the best new teaching cases.
Some of the institutions that are the most active at writing teaching cases (as determined
by the quantity and quality validated by awards) are: Harvard Business School, the
Darden School at the University of Virginia, University of Michigan Ross School of
Business (through Globalens, INSEAD, Richard Ivey School of Business, the Asian
Institute of Management, and Asian Case Research Centre at the University of Hong

A business case is a document that illustrates a business or policy situation to be solved
and includes information for classroom discussion and other study. The situation does not
have an obvious solution. The case provides information to stimulate an educated
conversation concerning possible outcomes. Each case has one central decision point,
dilemma, or angle. The nature of the situation is clearly apparent within the first two

The writing in a case is precise and nuanced, yet always clear and concise. It is neither
colloquial nor stuffily formal. It is also engaging and interesting to the reader. It is
imperative for a case writer to always be objective—a case is not a marketing pamphlet
for the featured organization, though the writer may portray biases that the protagonist
may have.

[edit] Structure
Writing styles may be unique to the individuals developing a case, yet almost every
successful case employs the following structure:

[edit] Title and Introduction (½-2 pages)

• For the title, in fewer than 10 words make clear what is special about this particular

• Within the first paragraph, identify the case’s central person and business or
organization, and provide a sense of the situation the person is in.

• Within the first two paragraphs, present, from her or his point of view, what the central
person sees as the decision point or dilemma. Identify other major players if relevant.

• In this section, provide the context for the situation. Include the situation’s time frame
(at least the year), the location and purpose of the company or organization, relevant
important business factors, and the goal or aim of the central person.

[edit] Background on the Company, Industry and Competitors (3-7 pages)

• Begin this section with the first subhead. If the section is long or relatively complex, use
more than one subhead within the section to organize separate aspects.

• Often the best method for writing this section is to organize the information
chronologically, with a very brief history of the company or organization.

• Provide the essential company, organization, competitor, and/or industry information
that the central person had at the time of the case. What and where are the major products
or services and their customers?

• Include enough background information for the reader to analyze the decision point
presented in the introduction. Revenues, profits and losses, and other financial valuations
may be crucial.

• Do not simplify or weight the background section to lead students to an easy decision.

• Include, as appropriate, historical information, trends, direct quotations from
participants and analysts, and simple and/or essential tables and figures. The section can
also include references to exhibits placed in the appendix, though the references should
be clear and complete enough that the reader can continue without having to turn
immediately to the exhibits.

• Consider depicting the culture of the company or organization if relevant.

• What are the important challenges and responsibilities of the central person?

• Are certain portions of the person’s career particularly important to the current

• Connect the background in this section to the current situation, including underlying
causes and current results.

an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. and even extraneous information. use more subheads if appropriate. if true. tables. pictures. diagrams.The Decision Point in More Detail (1-5 pages) • Begin this section with a subhead. quotation. time lines. It is a research strategy. beginning “Exhibit 1:” Exhibits can include financial statements. after the exhibits. . dilemma or central angle. as is often confused by laymen. Include the consequences for the career of the central person as well as for the person’s company or organization. • Go more deeply into the context and possible consequences of the decision point. or the timeline for the decision to be made. or apparent fact. An exhibit can have an endnote or its sourcing can appear as part of the exhibit. and graphs. o A good case should allow for several possible alternative solutions. all together. The endnotes are referred to by number in the text and the notes themselves appear in order. [edit] Exhibits and Endnotes (4-10 pages) Use a subhead before any exhibits and before any listing of endnotes. • Show. figures. In some cases it is possible to include or link to multimedia supplements such as an interview video with the case’s central person. • Conclude the text with alternatives available to the central person. Within it. Use a small title with each exhibit. charts. o Cases provide a large number of essential data. facts. o A case is a factual account of a real-life situation written in a narrative style. An endnote is needed for anything mentioned in the text for which a reasonable reader would want to know the source of the assertion. • Include the degree of urgency involved in the decision-making. o A decision-making situation with a large number of facts that you must sort through and separate into components for analysis. The Case Study Method for Business • What is the Case Study Method? o A case study is not qualitative research. how the decision point or dilemma differs from the one initially perceived.

Executive Summary on the page) 4. 7. one page 3. one page . in a company. 14. 12. Table of Contents 2. Not required for a Mini-Case since there will presentation) be no presentation . one or two paragraphs (less than one page) 6. 13. Action Plan a Mini-Case. Appendices a Mini-Case. PowerPoint (for a 13. Background 4. in government. but it is required for this course. Depends on the complexity of the case.(Not really a part of the Case evaluation Study Method. in other domains). perhaps only a paragraph 10. complex problem for which there is no right answer. Decision 9. less than one page (unless necessary to 7. For a 6. less than one page. it is possible that you don't have any appendices or bibliography yet. 11. A full case should have much more data. o The student should try to put himself in the role of a manager (decision- maker). a paragraph or two to discuss each alternative Alternatives 9. it should have less than one page. etc. Alternatives explain a complicated item) 8. Depends on the complexity of the case. Situation Analysis Mini-Case. o Used to develop analytical skills. o The Case Method is a Problem solving technique that has elements of the Scientific method. o Cases are simulations of the decision-making situations that all students in management will come upon one day in the workplace.the essential components (parts) of The Case Study Method (for Business) 1. it should have at least one or two pages. about one page 5. Problem 5. Bibliography a Mini-Case. Depends on the complexity of the case. o The responsibility for learning is transferred from the teacher to the student.) . For 11. less than one page (but nothing else should be 3. Group peer 14. For 12. Comparison and Analysis of the 8. A full case should have much more detail. it is possible that you don't have any appendices or bibliography yet. For 10. • Where is The Case Study Method used and why? o Classroom (in business school. Depends on the complexity of the case. Cover Page 1. social skills (groups) • Components . o A realistic. one page 2.

o Less than one page. Cover Page 2. the major issue(s). This is a summary of what problem you looked at and how you solved it.the essential components (parts) of The Case Study Method (for Business) 1. Background . This is not a summary of the history of the company or the product or anything else.  Evaluation form .  All students will submit (in class) a written evaluation of each case presentation. with nothing else on that page. you can't participate. o Includes the major points of the case. o One page only (the first page) . This MUST be the LAST part of your paper. the logic behind the solution. Nothing else should be on this page. o Nothing else should be on this page.(requires MS-Word 2007 or better)  If you aren't present for all of the presentations. o Participation is REQUIRED . Executive Summary o Warning! .by the individuals and the group • Participation = Attendance o Participation: Students are expected to attend ALL presentations and demonstrate appropriate comportment during their colleagues' presentations.(No Presentation) o Case . It is the first page. o Do not write this "Executive Summary" until this rest of the Case has been written. o Placed at the front of the report. 3.(with Presentation) • Presentation . 4. • Preparation . Components . This is the VERY LAST thing to write for your the individuals and the group o Mini-Case .  Marks will be awarded on an individual basis. The Executive Summary should be on only one page.This must be a summary of your case that a busy senior executive can use. the chosen solution. Table of Contents o Dot Leaders. You MUST write the Executive Summary after finishing every other part of your assignment.This is a summary of the Case Study you just finished.You must be present in class for all of the presentations by all of the groups.

etc. service. 5.solvable . Customer satisfaction.concise . oBackground or history of the company and the product . your group must define an issue (related to any of the topics from the textbook) that is important and relevant to the company's present situation. Your survival is on the line. o ONE problem = UNO problema = NOT 2 or 3 or 4 problems o Problem Statement  Must be: short .a very brief summary o Only include the relevant facts leading to the resolution of the real problem.important  No more than two sentences. The Problem = the current issue = the dilemma o You must choose a real company and you must determine a problem that you can solve. If the information won't help you solve the case.  Examples: Profitability. You should already know something about your company and your product. Source of competitive advantage.  Obvious problem = Current issue = symptoms = the perceived problem = the dilemma the company is currently facing  Symptoms are simply signs pointing to the true problem(s). groups of companies. In other words. etc.)  URL = Web address  Description of the product (good.  Assume you are the executives responsible for the company or product. don't mention it.  Clearly state what is going wrong or what should be improved.  Stock market code (Give the name of the stock exchange. You don't need to include such details in your report. o Don't forget that you are playing the role of a manager of the company.specific . o VERY BRIEF  Description of company  Company structure.  Assume the reader is already familiar with the company's current situation. you must solve a real problem for a real company. Morale of the company's employees. Do not summarize the situation.  Organizational chart. divisions. Strategic direction of the company. . o Problem = Problem Statement = The main problem or the main issue. idea) selected.  It must not be a problem that has already been solved by the company. etc. Based on the information you have discovered about this company.precise .  Define the key issue (the central problem = the most important current problem)  Current issue (as defined by your group).

if you are in any Marketing course.  Since all problems have solutions. o WARNING . For example.  This is the ONE and ONLY problem that you will try to solve for this case. If you don't.  After proper research and analysis. You must focus in on just the main problem. You must probe the underlying issues in order to solve the real problem. not just the symptoms. the most important problem that the company is facing.The problem must be related to one of the major topics in the textbook. 6. – John Dewey  Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving  Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution  “We need to first define the problem. For example.  Don't try to solve all of the company's problems at once.Do not state what your solution is.  A problem well defined is a problem half-solved.  Did I repeat this enough? --------> Focus on only ONE problem (the most important one). you will come up with the best possible solution to this ONE problem.  You will discover the underlying problem as you do your Situation Analysis. Situation Analysis o What information is provided?  Analysis of the uncontrollable variables in the environment.  Focus on only ONE problem (the most important one). o Course Relevance . you might solve the wrong problem. it's critical that you define your problems correctly.” ~ Stephen Shapiro . the problem must be a Marketing problem that will be solved using Marketing concepts. o Be specific. Albert Einstein once said: “If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions” And I find in most organizations people are running around spending sixty minutes finding solutions to problems that don't matter.  Real problem = Underlying problem = the root cause = opportunity = the cause of the dilemma  You must find the REAL problem. . International or Global courses must tackle a problem related to a situation involving more than one country. Don't try to solve all the company's problems. You must state only what the problem is.

). (For a Marketing course. etc.) You should write about only the information that is relevant to the immediate problem. regulatory (political. legal. assumptions. (Internet.. authority. participant observation. paradigm) for interpreting this scenario?  What are the components of this decision-making situation?  What are the constraints (limitations.  SWOT . personal information. artifacts  Is it possible to collect data? (time. sometimes you may discover that there is some information that you can't find anywhere. If it's not related to the problem. resources (finances. Library. boundaries.)  What are the identifiable parts of the particular business situation?  What is the context (framework.  Assumptions:  As you do your Analysis. direct observation. o What information is not provided?  Background research (current situation. (For a Marketing course.)  Discussion and Analysis of the marketing strategies (4Ps). you will find most of the information you need.  Do NOT analyze anything and everything. etc. technological.  Examples of environmental factors are: social.  Environmental variables that have played a role in the organization's (and the product's) performance. government regulations. . this is very important. etc. Address only the variables that are relevant to your company (and the product). prospectus. new laws etc. interviews. etc.  Focus on the ONE most important problem (see above). However. labour). money. etc. periodicals. the Current issue. economic. competitive. this is very important.  Data collection = Fact finding = Research  documents. the Current issue. opportunities of the firm  only items relevant to the immediate problem. barriers)?  goals  in the environments (internal. don't mention it. the company itself. situation information.. Company info like financial statements. company information.You will probably have to do some research to get enough information to do a good case study - Internet.  Definition of the target market. archival records.) - The environments. external)  supplies. library.)  Will it be necessary to rely entirely on the information already provided?  RESEARCH .

What assumptions (speculations.  Remember that the purpose of SWOT is to develop action strategies.  Analysis (SWOT. Assumptions o What are the resources and constraints associated with the problem? o Analysis (SWOT) .) did you have to make when the information was insufficient? . You are permitted to make Assumptions about the missing data. (realistic decision-making skills)  Case writers deliberately leave out some important information. (see the previous step)  SWOT is only one small part of your Situation Analysis.  Don't do a "Situation Analysis" until after you have clearly defined the main problem.) . etc. o Assumptions .  For competitions on the Case Method and also in some classroom situations. etc. etc.AFTER the definition of the problem. the students may be given a huge bundle of papers with all the information that they need to do the case. You may want to present your assumptions (clearly labeled as such) in your PowerPoint presentation. If the students determine they need more information. In your case. Internet. inferences. o What is happening in the case. you can make assumptions as long as you clearly identify the assumptions. There must be more than just SWOT in your Situation Analysis. but it isn't included in the package.).  What decision has to be made?  What are the goals of the firm?  Who is the key decision-maker? (the protagonist) What are the goals and objectives of the decision-maker in this case? (implicit and explicit)  Who are the other actors in the case? What are their objectives? o What information is relevant (useful)? What information is irrelevant?  Omit the facts and factors that are not important to the problem.  Case writers deliberately include useless information that you must disregard. you have lots of time and you may use any sources to find real information about a real situation.  You MUST use BOTH of the SWOT model tables (perhaps as an attachment). - Research. they can make assumptions as long as they clearly identify the assumptions. They are not allowed much time and they are not allowed to search outside sources (library. but it isn't included in any of the sources you can find. If you determine that you need more information.Critical thinking. and the rest of your Case Study must be consistent with your group's assumptions about the missing data.

(SWOT) . explain why you made those assumptions. then you may need to make ASSUMPTIONS that you can't justify using your research.  DO NOT give general alternatives to any other problem the company may have.  This is not required.  Focus on the ONE most important problem. Explain what YOU propose in order to solve the problem as you defined it (above). Tradeoff. o Solutions possibilities.) did you have to make when the information was insufficient? 8. the key issue) (at least two alternatives) o You must try to solve the ONE problem that you have identified (see above). o Alternatives = Alternative Solutions  These must be alternatives to solve the ONE important problem (see above). Refer to the next step (see below). It must be very clear what you are proposing as a solution to the key problem.  Discussion and Brainstorming  Don't rule out the alternatives at this stage. IF necessary. Your "Alternative Solutions" should try to solve only that ONE problem o Consider the company's objectives (e. Comparison of the Alternatives & Analysis of the Alternatives o Analysis of the Alternatives  Every solution has some positive and some negative outcomes. List all the different ways of solving this problem.g. Relative risks and opportunities.  Please do not provide a history lesson listing solutions that were used by the company in the past. Mission Statement). etc.  status quo  other alternatives . 7. o Assumptions . but failed. IF there is information you wanted/needed.  Be specific. Use point form to list the possible alternative solutions to the problem (= key issue) that you defined above.What assumptions (speculations. to find the information.  YOU must solve the CURRENT problem that you have identified (see above).ALL of the other possible solutions to the problem you defined above.  Do not explain what they have done in the past. IF that is the case.  You have defined only ONE key problem. then you can explain that you tried. inferences. Alternative Solutions o (= alternative plans for action to resolve the main problem. but couldn't find.

e. o Reasons why the other alternatives were not chosen. Maximize (= perfect) 9.Appendices  How well will each alternative resolve the ONE most important problem?  What are the short-term and long-term consequences of each alternative? o Anticipate obstacles to the successful implementation of the solution.  Details. See Appendix F) o as required. In this step. o specific o unambiguous o organized. you listed and analyzed the possible alternatives. o Students should make a clear-cut decision and avoid qualifications and other obvious hedges. a detailed plan of how you will implement your decision)  This is a plan for the future. Decision & Recommendation the most feasible solution (i. tables. Appendix B.g.e. o Solution . so that the body of the case does not contain too much detail 12. Bibliography .  Rationale For or Against each alternative  Advantages (pro) and disadvantages (con) for each alternative  Analysis (charts. o Important information that you can refer to from the body of the document (e. Action Plan o Implementation plan = plan of action = (i. reports. o Explain the logic behind this resolution of the issue. etc. etc.  YOU must develop an Action Plan to solve the CURRENT problem that you have identified (see above). graphs. o The optimum choice is the one that provides the best balance between profit opportunities and the risks and costs of failure. Give the best course of action for the company. etc. calculations.At the end of your paper. Appendix C. (tomorrow?)  Please do not provide a history lesson listing Action Plans for solutions that were used by the company in the past. charts.Be clear and specific in detailing the steps you will follow. o Satisfice (= satisfactory & sufficient) vs.  In the previous steps. sequential steps o realistic o Action Plan . who/when/where/how 11. Don't make up other alternatives now. Appendices o Appendix A. o Graphs.) . have you solved the problem as stated at the beginning? 10. your decision) o Best alternative. financial statements. you select the best of those alternatives.

o References to the sources for your research. o Meet in small study groups to discuss the case. The facts and the details will be presented by the speakers. Preparation . o Prepare your presentation format o Preparation.see the Lecture Notes o You will submit the final version (DOC. PPT . simple. Oral presentation (in-class) and questions and discussion. not on the PPT slides.. 2.  PowerPoint Presentations (PPT) . o Prepare any handouts or audio-visual materials.. Consider all of the essential components of The Case Study Method for Business (see above). 3. o Written report o The Presentation will be a summary of your Case Study. . promptness. before going into class for the presentation 1.hardcopy & softcopy) before you do your presentation. o Read the case. Prepare individually. Graphics. Reflect on the case. 4. clear.What the student (or group of students) must prepare for the assigned case study. easy to read and understand. etc. and will be based on your written report. You have now been warned. and allow the speakers/presenters to keep the attention of the audience. presence (attendance). Written report . • Content .  Your PowerPoint presentation will not include much detail. o Prepare to defend your assumptions and decisions. o Prepare to answer any questions your professor or your peers may ask about the business or about your analysis or about your recommendations.htm 5.  Summaries. participation Presentation = In-class oral presentation by the group • Date of presentation? .Coordination of the group work.see paper.See Components of the Case Method o The Case Method must be used for this assignment. Each slide must be attractive. Analyses. o Warning . o Conduct individual research and define the problem. Prepare with your group. o Prepare both sides of the important issues.

analysis of alternatives. brief description of the case. decision process.  Concepts in the case . group coordination.evident preparation.Coordination of the group work.discussion of the case  10 min .)  projector (if not permanently installed in the classroom)  pointer  clear writing on the chalkboard. easy to hear at the back of the room. marketing concepts.concepts in that chapter.general. SWOT.. in a Marketing course. o PowerPoint slides. You may be required to submit regular progress reports. interesting question/discussion period  The emphasis must be on the topic for the course (for example.• Participation o See Preparation. responsibilities. o Each presentation will be immediately followed by a discussion of the case and the presentation. o Warning .Keep track of your group's progress. the topic MUST be a Marketing topic). calling/e-mailing o Time management  Start now. o Attendance: Each team member must present..  Presentation .  props o Timing  Online Minute Timer  Usual formula for a 30 minute presentation  Summary  01 min . handouts  04 min . The group will initiate and lead the discussion period. dividing the tasks. communication  setting up the meetings. Organize a schedule of group goals and activities.Analysis . o Progress Reports . Please study the PowerPoint page. Group. group members' involvement.  Online Minute Timer o Preparation for the Presentations . duration (too long/short) o Suggestions  proper business attire (= suit) (You want to look professional. Please study the PowerPoint page. coordinating the work. You have now been warned. o Leadership.history of the case (timeline)  05 . Don't wait till the last minute. reasonable conclusions. organized  speaker must keep the attention of the class  Do not read the content of the PPT to the class. • Presentation o You will have about 10 minutes for the entire presentation.

Do not complete this form if any other group members are present CASE STUDY A case study involves a particular method of research.Analysis  02 . Critical instance case study The critical instance case study examines one or a few sites for one of two purposes. goals. analyzing information. Where considerable uncertainty exists about program operations. collecting data. they utilize one or two instances to analyze a situation. longitudinal examination of a single instance or event: a case. (pro vs.REQUIRED . A very frequent application involves the examination of a situation of unique interest.Discussion period • Other formats (very rare in Business) o Debate format  Two teams argue the case. con)  Five minutes per side. A second. and results. the exploratory case study helps identify questions.10 minutes (or less)  03 . This helps interpret other data. followed by three minutes for summary. o Each group member must submit the Group Peer Evaluation page. Rather than using large samples and following a rigid protocol to examine a limited number of variables.Discussion period  For my classes . Case studies lend themselves especially to generating (rather than testing) hypotheses. . This case study serves to make the unfamiliar familiar. Types of case study Illustrative case study An illustrative case study describes a domain. rarer. As a result the researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did. especially when researchers have reason to believe that readers know too little about a program. A case study provides a systematic way of looking at events. o Complete this form when you are alone. case study methods involve an in-depth. and reporting the results. with little or no interest in generalizability. select measurement constructs. The chosen site should typify important variations and contain a small number of cases to sustain readers' interest.Submit AFTER the presentation.Alternatives and Conclusion  05 . and what might become important to look at more extensively in future research. and develop measures. This method particularly suits answering cause-and-effect questions about the instance of concern. .  It usually ends with interaction from the audience.Alternatives and Conclusion  02 . followed by five minutes for rebuttal.  05 . o Public hearing format o Trial format o Team learning format o Scientific research team format • Evaluation Form. application entails calling into question a highly generalized or universal assertion and testing it by examining one instance.Summary  02 . and give readers a common language about the topic. Exploratory case study An exploratory case study condenses the case study process: researchers may undertake them before implementing a large-scale investigation. they also serve to safeguard investment in larger studies.

. structuring a series of investigations for different times in the future. Opinions vary as to the credibility of cumulative case studies for answering program implementation and effects questions. as ". which could lead to a misleading positive view (Berger. Program effects case study Program effects case studies can determine the impact of programs and provide inferences about reasons for success or failure. a partial. Extensive. then verifying these findings through examination of administrative data. If properly used.. or a prospective outlook. clinical study of a situation which has confronted a practising administrator or managerial group. prior reports. collecting information across studies done in the past. researchers may then implement case studies in selected sites to maximize the usefulness of the information. Another solution involves using other methods first. it may become difficult to answer the questions adequately and retain a manageable number of sites. Retrospective cumulation allows generalization without cost and time of conducting numerous new case studies.Inadequate specification of the evaluation question forms the most serious pitfall in this type of study. skills and attitudes. Program implementation case study A program implementation case study helps discern whether implementation complies with intent. historical. As with the program implementation case study. We may consider a case. 1989). One approach involves first conducting the case study in sites chosen for their representativeness. The method of discussion also replicates the manner in which most decisions are taken in practice. Appropriate application of the critical instance case study crucially involves probing the underlying concerns in a request. researchers aim for generalization and must carefully negotiate the evaluation questions with their customer. This case study may also prove useful when concern exists about implementation problems. The case method The case method has long been accepted as an important method for training managers and administrators. 1983). peers or subordinates. It also involves replicating discussions with supervisors. The cumulative case study can have a retrospective focus. One authority notes that publication biases may favor programs that seem to work. Cumulative case study The cumulative case study aggregates information from several sites collected at different times. prospective cumulation also allows generalization without unmanageably large numbers of cases in process at any one time. longitudinal reports of what has happened over time can set a context for interpreting a finding of implementation variability. the evaluation questions usually require generalizability and. What is a case? No universally accepted definition of 'case' exists. In either case. It is a method of learning based on active participation and cooperative or democratic discussion of a situation faced by a group of managers. Presented in a narrative form to encourage student . for a highly diverse program. or a survey. to quote Carl Christensen. The latter aid in retrospective cumulation as a means of obtaining information from authors that permits use of otherwise insufficiently detailed case studies. Features of the cumulative case study include the case survey method (used as a means of aggregating findings) and backfill techniques. it has the power to improve the acquisition of knowledge. After identifying findings of specific interest. Others raise concerns about problems in verifying the quality of the original data and analyses (Yin. The techniques for ensuring sufficient comparability and quality and for aggregating the information constitute the "cumulative" part of the methodology. But methodological solutions to this problem exist.

• discussion in a small group (6-10 individuals) of the individual learner's analysis and proposals. The nature of presentation could be written. A case could merely describe an individual. namely acquiring knowledge.' It could also be extensive and detailed. recognizing the complexity and the ambiguity of the practical world.' Dimensions of a case Three possible dimensions encompass a large part of the case: What is described. an incident. Case discussion The case method should more appropriately be called the 'case discussion method' as discussion in a group of co-learners is an integral part of the method. if needed. gaining skills." Thus. description with very little quantitative or qualitative information. audiovisual or oral. This is usually termed a 'caselet.involvement. The purpose of a case may be either research or learning. On the other hand. If the purpose is learning. with a focus on one or more of the elements of the problem solving approach.substantive and process . a case is a description of a situation faced by an individual or organization. or a system.essential to an analysis of a specific situation. for the framing of alternative action programmes and for their implementation. This involves the following steps: • study of a case by an individual learner. and consequent revisions. forming what is called a 'comprehensive case. and developing attitudes and values. the emphasis could be on one or more of the forms of learning. Purpose. analysis of the case. Mode of description. broadly speaking. it provides data . involving part or whole of the organization. or even smaller. . • discussion in a plenary session (up to 80 to 100 individuals) with the help of a discussion leader (resource person/faculty member). and • post-plenary session discussion with co-learners and discussion leader to consolidate the learning. an organization. it could describe a decision making situation faced by a manager. if necessary. Types of cases A case could be a one-page. and development of a strategy and action plan from the point of view of the decision-maker in the case. of a situation faced by a manager concerning just one of the aspects of management involving just another individual.

to discriminate properly between the situations where particular skills could or could not be applied.Study and analysis of a case by an individual manager would bring to bear only that individual's knowledge. situation-specific concerning policies of those . knowledge. particularly with co-learners. Co- learners try to see the similarities and differences in such presentations. Thus. Discussion is supposed to take place in a democratic spirit. Developing skills Development of skills involves an element of actually doing. with their respective backgrounds. The case method helps. convincing others and social interaction in a group setting. The practice part could be accomplished by doing the exercise repeatedly or using different cases over a period of time. and not brute force of lung power. On the basis of strong logic. as attitudes and values are fixed early in life. an individual would: • acquire new knowledge. not merely as words but so as to be able to appropriately interpret it for improved decision making. where each participant is free to present their analysis and the rest of the class or group tries to assimilate and understand it. In the case method. helps a great deal in re-examining the attitudes and values of managers. tension free. concepts. experiences and attitudes in resolving the problems faced by the manager in the case situation. and. or from other sources. • reflect on the applicability of their own knowledge. Discussion in small groups or a class by several managers. and learn about skills and attitudes possessed by others. Acquiring knowledge In the managerial context. Exposure to different ways of looking at the same situation might provoke . developing skills. secondly. approaches and techniques expounded in the literature or by colleagues. Usefulness of the case method The case method has been found to be extremely useful in acquiring knowledge. skills and attitudes and values.both external and internal . has the potential to enlarge the perspective of each individual. skill. and • learn the art of listening to others. through discussion of real-life situations. forming attitudes and influencing behaviour. firstly. Forming attitudes and values Formation of attitudes and values for adults is a time consuming process. through discussion in small groups and class. knowledge is acquired while grappling with a real-life situation and not in isolation of its context. non-evaluative atmosphere in which participants may discuss their own experiences. the issues are analysed and final assessments made. Such discussions in small groups should be characterized by a relaxed. skills and attitudes or values. knowledge is.who influence managers' actions. It seems that the discussion mode of the case method. A manager needs to acquire such knowledge.

the longer the duration of the programme. an element of feedback also leads to improved learning of positively reinforced action. use of the problem solving approach. the higher the likelihood of more participants starting such personal re-examination and attaining a greater degree of change in attitudes and values. difficult to use this method in short-duration. the discussion leader or teacher may have to provide feedback to improve the learning climate. there too. Some of the important features and dimensions of the case method which have enhanced learning are: • The approach suits the mission of training managers and administrators. This matches with the everchanging and complex situations encountered by managers and administrators.the process of re-examining one's own attitudes and values. • The method provides practical experience in group behaviour. the process of arriving at the situation in real life. Needless to say. executive development programmes (SEDPs). i. . also matches with the process used in the method. Participants would receive the feedback and develop their own mechanisms of improving learning. This would not only help in learning during a programme but also afterwards in real life. express and gain confidence in one's judgment. Firstly. Facilitating the process of learning For any learner.. Secondly. The application of learning obtained through the case method is effective on two counts. Behavioural learning Behavioural learning is done mostly through on-the-job training and experience. and convincing others about one's proposed action. the major motivating element in the case method is the process of grappling with a situation faced by another manager. It is. and. Other motivating elements could be embedded in the process by which participants are selected by their organizations. not merely to act but to learn how to act. Field projects are widely used in degree-type programmes to provide real life behavioural exposure. such as learning to listen. depending on the maturity and experience of participants. In SEDPs. A better identification with the situation leads to increased involvement and enhanced learning for the entire group of participants. the learning of attitudes and behaviour could be enhanced by supplementing the case method with the syndicate method and field project work. discussion with peers. The syndicate method (discussions in small groups) is an integral part of the case method. However. Training of managers The case method has been found to be quite successful for training managers and administrators in both conceptual and pragmatic considerations. possibly in combination with the interest they show in the programme. which is not merely to know but to act.e. As noted earlier. the learning instrument (a case) is just like the situation faced in real life. however.

and also discussion with the help of a discussion leader (resource person) of a situation as described in the case. generating options to resolve the issues. (ii) In stage (i) participants first go through and prepare each case individually by assuming the role of the decision-maker in the situation and then decide on appropriate decisions and action plans to resolve the problems faced. purposes and criteria for resolving the issues. on-the-job training and small group learning could be very costly and time consuming. The learning from each class session and from the programme could be significantly influenced by some characteristics of short-duration executive development programmes. specifying objectives. and after-class discussion and reflection. (i) The case method involves preparation. • It meets the learning and research needs of a resource person in a professional institution by requiring him or her to keep in touch with practice by way of writing cases and deep interaction with practitioners in the teaching-learning encounter. evaluating the alternatives on the basis of . • It is suitable for all three forms of learning: acquiring knowledge. second. potential participant profile and contents of the programme. defining the appropriate decision areas. class discussion by participants with the help and guidance of a resource person. as each group of participants raises different questions and group dynamics are always distinct. In comparison. a participant struggles with. fourth.• It helps individuals discover and develop their own unique frameworks for decision making. third. although the case being discussed may be same. first. This is done with the aim of not only of solving the problems faced by the manager in that situation. gaining skills and developing attitudes and values. Sequential process of the case method The process of training through the case method involves the steps below. The above processes take place each session. day after day. besides having a narrower perspective. both individual and in small groups. discussion in a small group (of 6 to 8 members) before attending the class. • It is an economically efficient method for a class size as large as 60 to 100 participants. but also of learning to solve problems by gaining repeated experience in resolving real-life problems through analysis and discussion of a variety of cases. During this preparation. during the programme to achieve the programme objectives and to match the contents and the profile of participants. • The resource person finds the method intellectually stimulating. The case method of learning requires significant preparation by individual participants. Using the case method The decision to use cases would be based on programme objectives.

the group atmosphere should be as free as possible. attitudes and values for improved decision making in the future. involving presenting. the resource person should not seem to teach but merely provide learning impetus and thought space during the course of class discussion. for particular clarification or synthesizing. In other words. and in fact do. the particular situation. • how to open the discussion. they apply a problem solving approach. come up with different inferences and action plans. (v) After-class discussion should be used to reflect on class discussion. Group members need to carefully listen. understand. (iv) In-class discussion is also like small-group discussion. along with the programme faculty and support staff. except that the range of experiences encountered in the inferences and action plans may be much larger. and also tentative generalizations about individual approaches. deciding the course of action and contingency plan on the basis of their best judgment. • how much direction to use in the particular case discussion. and make themselves available for any clarifications. listening. finally. and better decisions made in. and appreciate these different views.information available. Synthesis should be made within the initial small group. creates a learning climate conducive to peer learning through planning as well as implementing both academic and non-academic components of the programme. if any. a participant or a group of participants should not try to dominate the discussion. and thus expand their range of thinking as well as depth of analysis. However. clarifying. To enhance class learning. (vii) The programme coordinator. . aiming to arrive at both an improved understanding of. and • how to close the discussion. which is usually incomplete. (iii) The individual participants next discuss their inferences and action plans in the forum of a small group of 6 to 10 participants. and that there is also a discussion leader to help the class in its deliberations. • whom to call on for opening the discussion. and should try to convince rather than to impose their views on co-participants. and focusing on important issues. Different individuals might. For this to happen effectively. While doing all this. individual participants can play different roles. for preparation. which includes: • deciding the objectives of the session. • decide on the nature of questioning to bring out certain crucial issues if participants do not touch those issues. synthesizing and generalizing. They do a thorough analysis of the case and devise a class strategy for themselves. provide guidance. (vi) The instructors assign the cases and associated readings for the classes. and.

This could be frustrating. there is no single solution to the situation described in the case. The resource persons should keep themselves in the background until they feel that direction has been lost.(viii) The method as such demands time. The case method relies heavily on the leadership skills of the resource person. the pace and quality of learning improve and is quite satisfying in terms of achieving the learning objectives. Many participants will need assistance in drawing out concepts from the ongoing discussion. with a minimum of intervention. To resolve this dilemma. particularly at the beginning of a programme. that there is a need for more analysis. as the programme progresses. To be effective. and • should summarize at the end and leave time to pull together the key points of the case. There is no hard and fast answer. more often than not. Discussions are best for cases which are short and can be analysed on the spot. the resource person must make clear to the participants that the case method is designed to develop their analytical and judgmental skills. • should never become emotionally involved in the case discussion. but ask as few as possible to support the open nature of the decision without leading into unproductive channels. they should never advocate or oppose a particular idea. Role of participants The case method heavily relies on adequate preparation and analysis by participants. • should ask questions when necessary. The objective is to keep the discussion moving towards useful goals. • should be flexible. involvement and self-discipline from participants as well as from the programme teachers and resource persons. However. or that the key points are not receiving proper emphasis. not to communicate facts to be memorized. The role of the resource person in a case discussion is basically to guide and direct. It is the process by which they reach their decision that is important. can still be a valuable learning experience if the resource person is fully prepared. poorly prepared by the participants. together with both instructions as to the amount of time they should spend . Participants in the case method approach often feel uncomfortable because. the resource person: • should be prepared. The objective of the case method is to nurture this thought process. A poor case. effort. There are likely to be no irrefutable principles of management highlighted by the case which can be remembered for use in future situations. Role of the resource person One of the critical components in the effective use of the case method is the degree of preparedness of the resource person. Accept the fact that this is necessary in using case materials. Case materials should be given to the participants at least one day before the proposed discussion. Try not to force the discussion along predetermined lines.

For example. such as the complexity of the case. A preliminary analysis might take a further hour. development. and some insights as to how the case should be analysed. analyse and determine the major as well as the secondary issues. • The characteristics of the organization's product.examining the background environment in which the organization operates and the events and circumstances leading to the points at issue..determining the major areas with which the problem is concerned. For example. Guidance to participants The extent to which a resource person may wish to provide guidance as to the optimal line of analysis will depend on a number of factors. it may be conducted by . The analysis itself can be done in several ways. • National economic conditions and their effect on the demand for R&D. consultancy. which could be given to workshop participants to help them with case analyses. Case analysis is clearly not something which can be dismissed in ten minutes just before the discussion. If the case is complex and there is a strong possibility that the class discussion will fail to focus on the key topics. (i) Read the case through quickly to get a first impression of what it is about or what the basic issues may be.e. re-read more slowly and begin to note down the facts and quasi-facts supplied and their relationship. (ii) Once the data in the case have been itemized. etc. The former is important since many participants underestimate the amount of effort needed for effective case analysis. depending upon the complexity of the case. a 30-page case would require approximately one hour to read. and . • The organization's reputation and how this affects the issues. and the participants' experience and skills in analyses. • The characteristics of the user community for the R&D organization's services in terms of location and relationship to the R&D organization. Then. The following is a general set of instructions. i. and a detailed analysis and preparation might take an additional one to three hours. information. or if participants are inexperienced in handling cases - as they normally will be in research and development (R&D) management workshops - analyses and instructions are both appropriate and desirable. relative time available for its discussion. Some major points for analysis. commonly encountered in analyzing R&D management cases are: • The nature of competitive R&D organizations.on case analysis. research. .

they must maximize their own efforts. the case method assigns primary responsibility to the participant. or rejected as the analysis proceeds. however. • The project initiation and approval processes in the organization and their implications. Utility of small group discussions In an attempt to lighten the workload. and they should be encouraged. situations are totally correct or incorrect. ideas and perspectives are often brought out in such discussions. It should be remembered. if any. that possible solutions. it should be feasible to arrive at one or more decisions. retained. Few. Case development and writing Case development and writing should be an ongoing process for any institution using the case method.• The nature of the extension activities that connect the laboratory to the ultimate user or benefactor of R&D results. • The degree or urgency of the project. • The impact of end-user attitudes and interests on the R&D organization's outputs. In using this technique. Additional insights. of course. what assumptions should be made. Participants who are reluctant to speak out in plenary sessions will usually open out in group discussions. In order to maximize the benefits. several possible courses of action will become apparent. if they are not available. Its importance arises from the fact that recent cases not only provide an . (iii) As the analysis proceeds. • The willingness to delegate authority in the organization. small group discussions allow participants to discuss the case among themselves in their own language before having to discuss in the official language of the plenary session. Each of these should be examined. care should be taken to ensure that some participants do not use group discussions as a means of avoiding the effort associated with an analysis of their own. Both may be equally correct if the participant has thought through the analysis clearly and logically. • The amount of uncertainty involved in the project. (iv) The participant should try to realize when there is a need for more data and what information is needed. Such group discussions have proven to be highly valuable. (v) Once all this has been done. The resource person should move from one group to another during case discussions so as to be aware of the emerging analysis. participants can be divided into groups to analyse and prepare positions on a case. Also. for most workshops. or. Take note of both the strengths and weaknesses of each point. provided each participant has made his or her own prior analysis. unlike the lecture approach. and others may develop an entirely different solution or approach. It should be made clear that. are many. or approaches to them.

element of interest among programme participants. having defined the case writing requirements and prioritized them. First. preferably from top executives of the organization. senior or top). some of the existing cases in current courses may need replacement by new ones as the old ones are too old to generate much interest among participants. or they do not adequately depict the current decision making scenario in real life. Such specifications would provide a somewhat sharper focus when searching for leads on appropriate cases.). alumni. Identifying case development needs Case development and writing needs arise in two different ways. contact persons in organizations where consulting may be in progress or may have been provided earlier. . and still others may require additional effort. others at a later date. and visiting executives could all be sources of case leads. If this step is not followed. Developing case leads A case writer.all these could generate possible case leads. Several ways are open in locating such situations. The programme coordinator or resource person should review the objectives of the training programmes. Initial clearance Getting initial clearance. the level of decision making (middle. and other relevant publications . and then should specify the contents to be covered. particular industry and trade papers and journals. has to look for real-life situations. participants in current executive development programmes. the major issues to be tackled. These need to be followed up by correspondence or personal visits to ascertain the possibility of developing the leads into cases from the point of view of availability of required information as well as willingness of the organization to allow their use. but also bring to the class the latest situations being faced by decision-makers. and the type and size of organization desired. such as inviting the relevant executives for an oral presentation. departments. Some might suitable for immediate application. Systematic recording and follow-up procedures need to be established in pursuing possible case leads. Second. Pursuing possible case leads The case writer needs to prepare a list of contacts and associated files. etc. with names and addresses of contact persons and organizations. Secondary sources Scanning relevant reports (including reports of government commissions. Primary sources Colleagues. is necessary for efficient time utilization in case writing. and prioritize them on the basis of a priori assessment of converting these into actual case leads. an opportunity may arise to write an additional case which would be useful. modules or sessions in which new cases could be used. the time spent on developing cases is wasted.

It demands all the capabilities of a good researcher. • Essential aspects to be included in the text. the company and the phenomenon under study. and other knowledgeable persons about the industry. records or personal knowledge of colleagues about previous attempts at case writing on the organization. many in-company documents are obtained whilst or as a result of interviewing executives. The second phase would begin with preliminary interviews with key decision-makers in the organization in order to understand the situation and acquire an understanding of what went into decision making. In the first phase of data collection. • A background of the organization. its situation and executives should be included in the case as it is relevant and useful in providing a perspective for the case analyst. In any case. initial clearance for writing the case should be obtained fairly early. Preparing the case outline The case writer may have prepared a preliminary case outline even before embarking on data collection. . versus explanatory and supportive information to be put in exhibits or appendixes. care must be exercised in making assurances which cannot be fulfilled. Data collection The real work of case writing starts by planning and implementing the data collection phase through secondary sources. Usually this description follows the opening paragraphs on the major issues in the case. having collected the data. the case writer familiarizes him.or herself with the situation. This could include scanning of published materials for understanding the industry and the organization. Some of the elements to be dealt with in this phase are listed below. and primary sources (interviews with executives and other knowledgeable persons). both published and in-company. but. • Identify the major issues in the situation and those which need to be highlighted in the case. This phase is like conducting research based on secondary sources of data as well as in-depth interviews of executives. Following this. It may be useful to plan out the nature of data that the case writer is seeking since many documents may not be allowed to leave the organization's premises and so will have to be studied in the limited time available during the visit. • The nature of information from secondary and primary sources and their sequencing in the text. While there could be benefits to the organization through discussion of the situation. While secondary data from outside the organization could be collected independently. detailed data from both primary and secondary sources will have to be collected according to a work schedule. a firm outline of the case should be elaborated.It may be helpful to brief the contact executive as well as the top executive about the purposes for which cases are used. with assurances both of confidentiality while working on it and of its non-use until the case draft is cleared by the organization.

Alternatively. and more useful. It would be useful if another colleague is involved in this process to learn about how the case was discussed. Disguise helps participants in concentrating on and discussing the case per se. This is particularly helpful when case writing activity is new. of the case writer must be avoided. (iv) The final draft should be written with as much care as a professional journal article. Additional considerations and suggestions are given below. This could be in two stages. disguise should not distort the situation to the extent where the purpose of the case is defeated. how were they . cases are written in the past tense. Preparing a case draft The efforts put into preparing the case outline should help in writing the case draft. Having written the final draft. formal clearance must be sought and obtained. However. Details could be increased or reduced according to participant's anticipated knowledge and ability. etc. without possible introduction of extraneous information from other sources. Having made such changes. reactions. and many faculty members are willing to participate in such an activity not only to help a colleague but probably also to learn from each other's experiences. it could be discussed among other faculty members. Therefore personal comments. For the same reason. (i) The case writer must keep the focus on the decision-maker. and be faithful and objective in describing the situation. the case needs to be tested. Generally. unless the purpose of the case suggests otherwise.• A sequencing of items to provide for easy reading and comprehension. formal clearance must be requested from the organization. explanations should be given in a glossary. The organization may suggest disguising the name of the organization. etc. names of executives. The language and terminology used by executives or generally used in the trade or profession must be retained. If such terminology is not likely to be understood by participants. The second. registration and testing Clearance of interview transcripts needs to be sought from executives before finalizing the case draft. (ii) A case should be written using a structure which promotes an easy flow of thought for better understanding and comprehension by the participant. test should be on the kinds of participants for whom the case is prepared. (iii) A catchy title and dramatic opening will attract reader attention immediately. interest and experience. what issues emerged.. The length should be kept as short as possible so that no unnecessary time has to spent on reading to attain comprehension. financial data. The case writer must maintain complete confidentiality. First. Clearance. the case writer could request experienced faculty colleagues to comment on or personally discuss the draft. the language of the case should be understood by the participant. After obtaining formal clearance. more so if they are quoted.

etc. and • what happened in real life (if the organization featured in the study allows the information to be shared). and in outlining strategy of its use. • position of the case in the programme and module for which it is intended. was some available information irrelevant. in describing its use. Teaching notes Writing a teaching note is an extremely important activity in the case writing process. It helps in checking the adequacy of the case for the purposes it was written. Depending on the reactions. . the case could be revised. • strategies to be used by the resource persons to get the best out of the case. • possible assignments for facilitating preparation and learning. • preparation required by the resource person and the participants. in ensuring that proper analysis can be done. • major issues and their analysis. • past experience in using the case. The case should be formally registered so that issues of copyright.analysed. A teaching note should cover: • programmes in which the case could be used. • background information and reading which would facilitate learning from and use of the case. both qualitative and quantitative. was some critical information missing. which could be achieved by using the case. • learning objectives. major or minor. use and distribution are in proper form.