24 May 2005

The Case Study Process ( Part III)


Problem or Issue Identification

The first step after coming to grips with the internal and external realities (which will take anything from 5 minutes to a much longer period depending on your developing skills), is to identify the key issues or problems within the organisation being studied. What is cause and effect? What have you been asked to do relative to the case study? What aspects are symptoms rather than a problem?


Which are the most fundamental problems? It is important not to chase insignificant issues or problems at the expense of the key ones. It is essential, especially for Strategy considerations, to keep sight of the broader view. Everything is connected to everything else. It is here that use of specialised functional techniques might begin and is generally a seamless activity with generating potential options. Ratio analysis might give you the relative financial performance against similar companies or the management’s control of resources.

Marketing concepts, say of segmentation, targeting and positioning will help identify potential customer groups. Use whatever tools of analysis are to hand for the subject area. Generally speaking a case study is introduced at a particular point in time to illustrate the concepts and theories you have just covered. You therefore should not struggle to find the tools you are looking for. Presuming, of course, that you have attended the class and done some work!


The application of concepts and techniques will have given rise to a range of potential options, which the organisation might pursue. List your alternative options and then evaluate each one. What are the benefits and risks associated with each option? Advantages & disadvantages? Make notes of your reasoning and any assumptions you might make in the process.


From the options listed you will need to decide which to recommend or choose. Your reasons should be clearly stated referring to analysis carried out and your recommendation put clearly and unambiguously. Always bear in mind that operational implementation issues are just as germane as strategic ones when it comes to making a decision. If in coming to a decision you make some assumptions make sure these are stated.


This can be done in writing or verbally, individually, by a group or through class discussion on the instruction you have given. Sometimes you will verbally present and submit a report. Other times you will do work individually and then discuss in class.

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