Cases provide a context for application of analytic concepts, and illustrate the issues that arise in the complex decision-making situations that typically face top-management. As in real business problems, there are no “right’’ answer for case studies that we will examine in the course, although there are correct and incorrect ways to analyze or approach them. The challenge for the student is to (1) examine the facts and the data contained in the case, (2) employ the analytical frameworks learned in earlier classes (and concurrently), (3) reach conclusions, and (4) make specific recommendations that will resolve the issues presented by the case.
To prepare for a case discussion, you should read each case and analyze the data that it presents. Texts and readings from earlier courses should be used to the extent that they assist in your preparation. A thorough preparation for discussions includes systematically (1) outlining the major issues presented by the case, (2) identifying the analytical techniques or frameworks appropriate for resolving the problem, and (very important) (3) outlining steps to implement a specific course of action that is supported by the analysis. I would strongly recommend you to review the “Note to the Student: How to Study and Discuss Cases”.
Questions to think about while reading cases:
- What are the basic facts? What are the characteristics of the company and the market?
- Who are the key players? What are their objectives?
- Is there an organization in distress? Is there an undeveloped market opportunity?
- If so, what are the symptoms? What are the measures or evidence? Are they biased?
- Are there underlying problems or trends? What are they? How do we know?
- Is there one transcendent problem or opportunity? What is it? How do we know?
- What decisions need to be made? What are the alternatives for action?
- What are the pros and cons of each alternative? How do we evaluate them?
- Which alternative do you recommend? Why?
- What should we learn from this case?
- How does this case relate to the course topic? To other cases? To the reading?
Suggested Format for Case Reports:
Case reports are individual assignments. The purpose of the case report is to synthesize all the knowledge you gain in the class relevant to the case and channel it to solve an operational problem. Your case report should be less than 5 pages using 1.5 line spacing and include the following sections: Executive Summary (not more than ½ page), Background and Issues, Situation Analysis, Evaluation of Potential Solutions, and Recommendations.
The Executive Summary is a summary of the report that explains the problem and the proposed recommendations. In the Background and Issues section you describe the situation under study (do not rewrite the case) and identify the key issues addressed by the report. In the Analysis section provide the details of your analysis. You should first start with listing the assumptions made, if any. Then explain the approach taken to analyze the situation, and how you have arrived to the recommendations/findings listed in the following section (Detailed reasoning and analysis in support of your recommendations/findings should be given in an Appendix). If appropriate, you can also suggest further issues to be examined or further studies to be done. In the Evaluation section you will propose potential solutions and evaluate each of them. Finally, in the Recommendations section you should propose a set of specific actions along with the key reasons in support of your recommendations. This section will be the conclusion to your report. You may use bullets when appropriate.
The grades on the reports will be based on the logical consistency, precision and analytic structure of the paper. Specifically you should think about the extent to which the report
- Grounds the analysis on the analytical concepts discussed in class;
- Explicitly states the assumptions in the analysis;
- Isolates the fundamental problems for the situation, and remains focused on these;
- States criteria for choosing among alternative action plans;
- Integrates the action plans with the analysis;
- Ensures that the action plans are situation-contingent;
- Is persuasive that the action plans are reasonable, effective and efficient.