P R E PA R I N G A N E F F E C T I V E C A S E A N A L Y S I S : THE FULL STORY
In most strategic management courses, cases are used extensively as a teaching tool.1 A key reason is that cases provide active learners with opportunities to use the strategic management process to identify and solve organisational problems.Thus, by analysing situations that are described in cases and presenting the results, active learners (that is, students) become skilled at effectively using the tools, techniques and concepts that combine to form the strategic management process. The cases that follow are concerned with actual companies. Presented within the cases are problems and situations that managers and those with whom they work must analyse and resolve. As you will see, a strategic management case can focus on an entire industry, a single organisation, or a business unit of a large, diversiﬁed ﬁrm. The strategic management issues facing not-for-proﬁt organisations also can be examined using the case analysis method. Basically, the case analysis method calls for a careful diagnosis of an organisation’s current conditions (as manifested by its external and internal environments) so that appropriate strategic actions can be recommended in view of the ﬁrm’s strategic intent and strategic mission. Strategic actions are taken to develop and then use a ﬁrm’s core competencies to select and implement different strategies, including business-level, corporatelevel, acquisition and restructuring, international and cooperative strategies. Thus, appropriate strategic actions help the ﬁrm to survive in the long run as it creates and uses competitive advantages as the foundation for achieving strategic competitiveness and earning above-average returns. The case method that we are recommending to you has a rich heritage as a pedagogical approach to the study and understanding of managerial effectiveness.2 As an active learner, your preparation is critical to successful use of the case analysis method. Without careful study and analysis, active learners lack the insights required to participate fully in the discussion of a ﬁrm’s situation and the strategic actions that are appropriate. Instructors adopt different approaches in their application of the case analysis method. Some require active
learners/students to use a speciﬁc analytical procedure to examine an organisation; others provide less structure, expecting students to learn by developing their own unique analytical method. Still other instructors believe that a moderately structured framework should be used to analyse a ﬁrm’s situation and make appropriate recommendations. Your lecturer or tutor will determine the speciﬁc approach you take. The approach we are presenting to you is a moderately structured framework. We divide our discussion of a moderately structured case analysis method framework into four sections. First, we describe the importance of understanding the skills active learners can acquire through effective use of the case analysis method. In the second section, we provide you with a process-oriented framework. This framework can be of value in your efforts to analyse cases and then present the results of your work. Using this framework in a classroom setting yields valuable experiences that can, in turn, help you to successfully complete assignments that you will receive from your employer. The third section is where we describe brieﬂy what you can expect to occur during in-class case discussions. As this description shows, the relationship and interactions between instructors and active learners/students during case discussions are different than they are during lectures. In the ﬁnal section, we present a moderately structured framework that we believe can help you to prepare effective written and oral presentations. Written and oral communication skills also are valued highly in many organisational settings; hence, their development today can serve you well in...
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