Approach to Case Study

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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.

Answering A Case Study

It helps to have a system when sitting down to answer a case study as the amount of information and issues to be resolved can initially seem quite overwhelming. The following is a good way to start.

Step 1: The Short Cycle Process
1.Quickly read the case. If it is a long case, at this stage you may want to read only the first few and last paragraphs. You should then be able to 2.Answer the following questions:
1.Who is the decision maker in this case, and what is their position and responsibilities? 2.What appears to be the issue (of concern, problem, challenge, or opportunity) and its significance for the organization? 3.Why has the issue arisen and why is the decision maker involved now? 4.When does the decision maker have to decide, resolve, act or dispose of the issue? What is the urgency to the situation? 3.Take a look at the Exhibits to see what numbers have been provided. 4.Review the case subtitles to see what areas are covered in more depth. 5.Review the case questions if they have been provided. This may give you some clues are what the main issues are to be resolved. You should now be familiar with what the case study is about, and are ready to begin the process of analyzing it. You need to go further to prepare the case, using the next step. One of the primary reasons for doing the short cycle process is to give you an indication of how much work will need to be done to prepare the case study properly.

Step 2: The Long Cycle Process

At this point, the task consists of two parts:
1.A detailed reading of the case, and then
2.Analyzing the case.
When you are doing the detailed reading of the case study, look for the following sections: 1.Opening paragraph: introduces the situation.
2.Background information: industry, organization, products, history, competition, financial information, and anything else of significance. 3.Specific (functional) area of interest: marketing, finance, operations, human resources, or integrated. 4.The specific problem or decision(s) to be made.

5.Alternatives open to the decision maker, which may or may not be stated in the case. 6.Conclusion: sets up the task, any constraints or limitations, and the urgency of the situation. Most, but not all case studies will follow this format. The purpose here is to thoroughly understand the situation and the decisions that will need to be made.

Analyzing the case should take the following steps:
1.Defining the issue(s)
2.Analyzing the case data
3.Generating alternatives
4.Selecting decision criteria
5.Analyzing and evaluating alternatives
6.Selecting the preferred alternative
7.Developing an action/implementation plan

Defining the issue(s)/Problem Statement

The problem statement should be a clear, concise statement of exactly what needs to be addressed. Asking yourself the following questions may help: 1.What appears to be the problem(s) here?
2.How do I know that this is a problem? Note that by asking this question, you will be helping to differentiate the symptoms of the problem from the problem itself. Example: while declining sales or unhappy employees are a problem to most companies, they are in fact, symptoms of underlying problems which need to be addressed. 3.What are the immediate issues that need to be addressed? This helps to differentiate between issues that can be resolved...
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