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Why and How to Use Case Studies

What is a case study? 

“A detailed account of a company, industry, person, or project over a given amount of time”. 

A case study is an exercise that brings to life real business scenarios by addressing an organisation dilemma.

Most cases have these common features:

  • A decision-maker who is grappling with a question or problem that needs solving 
  • A description of the problem’s context
  • Supporting data
  • Question and answer sections

Why use case studies?

Use topical case studies to bring theory to life in the classroom

Case studies are a proven and well-established technique. They enable students to apply theoretical concepts in real world situations.

Cases come in numerous formats - from a simple “What would you do in this situation?” question to a detailed description of a situation with accompanying data to analyse.

Most case assignments require students to answer an open-ended question or develop a solution to an open-ended problem with multiple potential solutions.

Use case studies to enhance student skills for professional advancement

By studying case study examples students are actively engaged in figuring out the solutions; consequently developing their skills in:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Using analytical tools, both quantitative and qualitative
  3. Decision making in complex situations
  4. Coping with ambiguities
  5. Learning how to apply optimal solutions in similar situations

Use case studies to make better informed business decisions

Professionals can use cases to:

  • Understand how other companies have coped when faced with a challenging dilemma 
  • Apply lessons learned from other organisations to your own company 
  • Master and implement new ways of working 
  • Obtain digestible information through brief but focussed content 
  • Access a breadth of quantitative worked examples with practical application 
  • Understand how to put research into practice
  • Learn from best practice examples as well as business and project failures

How can case studies be used?
Case assignments can be used:

  • Individually or in teams
  • In lectures, seminars, and team meetings

Shape case studies to meet your objectives:

  • Select case studies to suit specific course or project objectives
  • Mould case assignments to meet your objectives – from a one-paragraph answer to a fully developed group action plan, proposal or decision
  • Use contrasting case studies to attain a holistic understanding of an issue

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