22 May 2005

A Case Study Guide

Why Case Studies?

Case Studies are a very useful learning tool in many different organisational management areas. They are used frequently because: -

1. They provide real life information about many types of organisations with different cultures, philosophies, structures and management methods. These organisations form industries or sectors with distinctive characteristics in patterns of ownership, structure, behaviour and ways of reacting to the external environment.

It is important for students to grasp early on the diversity, similarity and relationships between organisations that inhabit the world we live in. These form an interesting and fascinating web that governs much that we do. Case Studies add to your knowledge base bit by bit.

2. Case studies present the student with the best simulation of a management situation. What would you do if you were in that manager’s or C.E.O.’s shoes given the available facts? Case studies help you acquire important management skills of analysis, evaluation and decision making, exercising these skills verbally in groups as well as in writing.

3. Perhaps most importantly, however, case studies allow you to apply concepts introduced in class or during reading to ‘real’ situations. It is sometimes easier to grasp a concept in a context rather than in isolation; the theory seen in practice. It is certainly easier to begin to articulate and understand the strategic management processes (a string of concepts) within a context.

Case studies are to be found in all the management disciplines; Marketing, Accounting, Organisational Behaviour as well as general Business Policy / Strategic Management area where all aspects of the organisation can be up for scrutiny. Some cases focus only on a limited issue in one functional area. Other more sophisticated case studies, many pages in length, start to require analysis across all the management functions and the generation of integrated strategic solution appropriate to the whole organisation.

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