A case study is a description of an actual administrative situation

Operations ManagementAn Approach to Case AnalysisWhat is a Case Study?A case study is a description of an actual administrative situation involving a decision to be made
or a problem to be solved. It can be a real situation that actually happened just as described, or
portions have been disguised for reasons of privacy. Most case studies are written in such a way
that the reader takes the place of the manager whose responsibility is to make decisions to help
solve the problem. In almost all case studies, a decision must be made, although that decision
might be to leave the situation as it is and do nothing.The Case Method as a Learning ToolThe case method of analysis is a learning tool in which students and Instructors participate in
direct discussion of case studies, as opposed to the lecture method, where the Instructor speaks
and students listen and take notes. In the case method, students teach themselves, with the
Instructor being an active guide, rather than just a talking head delivering content. The focus is
on students learning through their joint, co-operative effort.
Assigned cases are first prepared by students, and this preparation forms the basis for class
discussion under the direction of the Instructor. Students learn, often unconsciously, how to
evaluate a problem, how to make decisions, and how to orally argue a point of view. Using this
method, they also learn how to think in terms of the problems faced by an administrator. In
courses that use the case method extensively, a significant part of the student’s evaluation may
rest with classroom participation in case discussions, with another substantial portion resting on
written case analyses. For these reasons, using the case method tends to be very intensive for
both students and Instructor.
Case studies are used extensively throughout most business programs at the university level. As
you will be using case studies in many of the courses over the next few years, it is important that
you get off to a good start by learning the proper way to approach and complete them.How to do a Case StudyWhile there is no one definitive “Case Method” or approach, there are common steps that most
approaches recommend be followed in tackling a case study. It is inevitable that different
Instructors will tell you to do things differently; this is part of life and will also be part of
working for others. This variety is beneficial since it will show you different ways of
approaching decision making. What follows is intended to be a rather general approach, portions
of which have been taken from an excellent book entitled, Learning with Cases, by Erskine,
Leenders, & Mauffette-Leenders, published by the Richard Ivey School of Business, The
University of Western Ontario, 1997.
Beforehand (usually a week before), you will get:
1. the case study,
2. (often) some guiding questions that will need to be answered, and
3. (Sometimes) some reading assignments that have some relevance to the case subject.
Your work in completing the case can be divided up into three components:
1. what you do to prepare before the class discussion,
2. what takes place in the class discussion of the case, and
3. anything required after the class discussion has taken place.
For maximum effectiveness, it is essential that you do all three components. Here are the
subcomponents, in order. We will discuss them in more detail shortly.
1. Before the class discussion:1. Read the reading assignments (if any)
2. Use the Short Cycle Process to familiarize yourself with the case.
3. Use the Long Cycle Process to analyze the case
4. Usually there will be group meetings to discuss your ideas.
5. Write up the case (if required)
2. In the class discussion:1. Someone will start the discussion, usually at the prompting of the Instructor.
2. Listen carefully and take notes. Pay close attention to assumptions. Insist that they
are clearly stated.
3. Take part in the discussion. Your contribution is important, and is likely a part of
your evaluation for the course.
3. After the class discussion:<span class="fontstyle2"…

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