This handout provides you with information about how to analyze a case study and write up your analysis in a professional report, letter, or memo format. Analyzing a Case Study
What is a Case Study? A case study is a narrative used to help students practice real-life analysis and communication skills. It is a learning tool. It provides readers with “enough detail…to understand the nature and scope of the problem, and…serve as a springboard for discussion and learning” (O’Rourke, 2007, p. 391). A case study differs from a case history in that a history summarizes events that already took place, and usually include the manager’s response to the situation (O’Rourke, 2007).
What exactly does it mean to analyze a case study? Analysis means you look at a situation from various angles paying attention to even the smallest details, as it is usually details that lead you to understanding a situation to its fullest and help you make effective decisions. To analyze a case study, follow these basic guidelines: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Read carefully Identify major issues Identify alternative courses of action Recommend a course of action Provide a rationale for your decision
Read Carefully Every case study you encounter will be different. Generally, there is no set format or formula for how these documents are written (except that, normally, they are written chronologically), so it is important that you pay attention to all of the details. Read slowly and carefully, taking notes or annotating the document. If appendices are included, read those carefully too, as the smallest detail can make a difference in what you determine is the best course of action. Read tables and figures carefully, and interpret them in relation to the information contained in the case study. Identify Major Issues Your main job when analyzing a case study is to learn to identify major issues of concern for you or your company. Do not focus on minor issues (issues that have no bearing on the case, such as personal biases or preferences), but stay focused on major issues, such as actions or decisions that affect other people, the company’s financial bottom line, or a company’s reputation. It is important to clarify here that details are not minor issues. Details are individual instances of action, but details can provide evidence for how a major issue is being affected. For instance, if someone is consistently sending out poorly written letters with misspellings and grammar errors to clients, that’s a detail; however, that detail is evidence that the company’s reputation is at stake. Once you identify major issues, look at how they are being presented or compromised in the case study so that you have a basis for how to effectively deal with the situation and solve the problem. Typically, case studies are written in chronological order, so it may take several readings to identify major issues correctly (O’Rourke, 2007) and from various perspectives.
Kaplan University Writing Center Resource Library Case Study Analysis September 2010
Identify Alternative Courses of Action This is where you put your course knowledge to work. What have you learned about how to solve certain issues through your course material and discussions? To identify an appropriate course of action, or identify several ways to deal with a situation, you will apply what you have learned to your understanding of the case study and the major issues you have already identified. This is also where you have to read your case study questions carefully and be sure to answer them according to your professor’s guidelines. The information you provide in this section of a case study analysis should all be based on professional knowledge and information gleaned from your courses. Recommend a Course of Action A recommendation is a plan for implementing a certain course of action that you deem to be the most advantageous. Choose from one course of action that you identified in the...