Topics: Management, Qualitative research, Problem solving Pages: 14 (1149 words) Published: October 18, 2014
Case Analysis
ADMS 2500

Topics in this Module
1. What is a case?
2. Importance of cases in a business education
3. How to analyze a case
4. Case writing skills on exams

ADMS 2500

No cases in 2500
• This course is intro level
• What you see in 2500 is what we would call mini-cases or cassettes
• Even your term project is not a full blown case because the required is so highly directly and your required analysis is just number crunching. There is no qualitative analysis required on your part.

ADMS 2500

What is a case?
• Attempt to simulate reality and complexity of real world • Why do they call university the “ivory tower” world?

• Question types in a “problems” course
• Question vs exercise vs problem vs case

Importance of Case Skills to the Business
Graduate (and Accounting Major)
Some business schools teach entirely thru cases
•  Harvard, Western, Schulich
• Pros & cons of such an approach
ADMS 2500

Case Analysis a Learned Skill requiring both:
1.  Technique
2.  Practice

Accounting majors in BAS degree:
•  ADMS 4590 strictly case analysis
•  National certifying exams to be Professional Accountant = cases •  90% of students take case-writing courses after graduation before these professional exams
•  Self-study program needed….lots of resources on the Web •  Case analysis skills essential for all business majors ADMS 2500

Elements of a Case:
1.  Verbiage
2.  Irrelevant data
3.  Missing data
4.  Nebulous required
5.  Time pressure often exacerbated
6.  Often requires a recommendation rather than an

ADMS 2500

The Harvard Case Analysis Model
1.  Problem Statement

Role identification


Target audience


Problem prioritization

2.  Assumptions

Always missing data


Rule of parsimony

3.  Alternatives




4.  Analysis

Usually best 2 (quantitative and qualitative)


Economic/technological/legal/ecological etc

5.  Recommendations (Choose/rank/others choose)

ADMS 2500

Role Identification

ADMS 2500

• Makes a big difference
• Sometimes completely changes the orientation of the case •  Some common roles:
• Auditor
• Tax advisor
• Estate planner
• Acquisition consultant (business valuator)
• Each would focus on different issues and have different recommendations • In 2500 we do not focus on role because the cases are so directive in the required, but role identification becomes important in your senior courses Target Audience

•  This is an extension of role
• Who are you writing the report to? This influences how you write your report. Are you writing to the owner with accounting savvy or to some neophyte where you have to explain each term.

Problem Prioritization
•  Large case has many problems and you don’t have time to address them all (especially in an exam scenario)
• Should list as Major and Minor and attack major problems first •  Differentiate problems from symptoms of problems
• The definition of a case is that it attempts to simulate real world complexity and that always means there is missing data.
• This requires you to make one or more assumptions to do justice to the task
• Rule of parsimony means make as few as possible or you might be changing the problem too much
• Also make assumptions as realistic as possible ( what is normal practice?). This is one thing that differentiates accounting cases from finance or economic cases. Those disciplines relax the requirement for realistic assumptions and that is why finance/economic models have limited ability to predict real world outcomes.

ADMS 2500

• Most common weakness in students (and business managers) is seeing a problem and immediately jumping to a solution.
• In the real world there are always alternative courses of action available • For instance if you were thinking of buying Demarco Sports or Jesse’s Farm there is always the option of leaving...
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