Dr. Jerry Schoenfeld
A Model For Analyzing Cases In Human Resource Management
Purpose of Cases
A case is a written description of events and activities that have taken place in an organization. Cases allow you to experience a different kind of learning – learning by doing. They are intended to give you an opportunity to actively experience the reality and complexity of the issues facing practicing mangers and human resource executives. While other disciplines like physical science allow you to test theories in a laboratory, performing a case analysis allows you to apply human resource management theories to specific organizational problems. Completing a case analysis will help you develop your analytical and problem-solving skills. Cases enable you to analyze organization problems and to generate solutions based on your understanding of theories and models of effective human resource management (HRM).
Both a “decision-maker” and an “evaluator” approach are used in cases. In the decision-maker approach, the primary goal is to sort out information given and to propose a viable solution to the problems(s) identified. In the evaluator approach, the human resource management decisions have already been implemented, and the primary goal is to evaluate outcomes and consequences and to propose alternative solutions. For this case assignment you will be in the decision-maker role.
Student Preparation of Written Cases
There are any number of possible approaches to analyzing a case. The most important point to remember is that case analysis involves decision making. There is no absolutely right or wrong solution to a case problem. Your major task as a decision maker is to present a coherent and defensible analysis of the situation based on human resource management concepts and theories. Just as managers in the “real world” must persuade their colleagues and superiors that their proposals are sound, so must you persuade your fellow students and your instructor that your analysis of the case and proposed solution are the best.
You should follow a few preliminary steps before preparing your written analysis. First, give the case a general reading to get an overall sense of the situation. Put it aside for a while, then read it a second time and make notes on the critical facts. Case facts provide information and data on attitudes and values, relative power and influence, the nature and quality of relationships, the organization’s objectives and human resource management policies/functions, and other pertinent aspects of the organization. Keep two key questions in mind as you review the facts of the case: First, are there discernible patterns in the facts? Second, what can be inferred about human resource management practices in this organization from the facts presented? You should attempt to classify, sort, and evaluate the information you have identified in this preliminary step. Once you have a clear understanding of the critical facts in the case, you can prepare your written analysis using the five-step model that follows.
Written Case Analysis Model
Please follow these five steps in your written case analysis. Please have a separate section heading for each of these five steps along with a brief introduction and conclusion. Your completed case should be no longer then 10 double-spaced pages using 12-point font. It should be well written and free of grammatical errors.
Step 1. Problem Identification. The first step in your written analysis is to explicitly identify the major problem(s) in the case in one or two clear and precise sentences. For example, “The major problem in this case is a 15 percent increase in employee turnover compared to last year’s rate.” Herbert Simon, who received a Nobel Prize for his work on management decision-making, has defined a problem as “a deviation from a standard.” In other words, one way to identify a problem...