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What is a business case? qA business case imitates or simulates a real situation qCases can range from one (1) page…

What is a business case?

qA business case imitates or simulates a real situation qCases can range from one (1) page to sixty (60) or more


üA common purpose: to represent reality and to convey a situation consisting of some clarity

·       qTo stimulate reality, a case should have 3 characteristics:

1. Asignificantbusinessissueorissues

2. Sufficient information on which to make possible reasonable conclusions

3. No stated conclusions

·       qBe design, a case does not tell you what it means. You have to read a case actively and construct your own meaning

How to analyze a business case?

qStart by recognizing some contextual factors that help limit and narrow the analysis

§A management or international business (IB) case requires you to think as a leader or strategist, not simply as a marketer or manufacturing manger

qPast case/reading discussions provide a foundation for thinking about a new case, and study questions can call attention to important issues

qThinking is key
§As you start reading a case, you ask questions about the

content and seek answers in the case itself

§As you find partial or full answers, think about how they relate to each other and to the big picture of the case

qTo analyze a case, you need ways of identifying and understanding important aspects of a case situation and what they mean in relation to the overall situation

qOn the basis of clearly recognizing case situations, apply appropriate tools to solve problems, make decisions, or develop evaluations

qThere are three types of case situations: Problems, decisions, and evaluations; consequently, there are three (3) types of cases: problem, decision, and evaluative cases

problem case

Analysis of a problem case has five elements:

  1. A problem definition
  2. Diagnosis – a summary statement of the important causes
  3. Cause-effect analysis
  4. Conceptsandframework–cause-effectanalysis relies on causal framework appropriate to the problem
  5. Actions – problem analysis yields actionable content

decision case

Regardless of the dimensions of a decision, analysis of a decision case should focus on:

  1. Decision options – a decision requires concrete options; need to seek the decision alternatives
  2. Decisioncriteria–trytoavoidtoomanyandtoo few criteria; create the best fit between the available relevant evidence and the criteria
  3. Analysisofoptions
  4. Recommendation–aspecificrecommendation

sharpens your focus

  1. Actions–implementthedecisionaseffectivelyas possible

Evaluative case

An evaluative case expresses a judgment about the value or effectiveness of an act or outcome:

  1. Like the decision analysis, an overall evaluation expresses the best fit between the evidence and criteria
  2. Evaluation includes both positive and negative sides; the analysis must conclude factors that support the overall evaluation and those do not
  3. Numbersdonotexplainwhattheymean,andthey do not make the decision for you
  4. Tobeactionable,anevaluationneedsaconcisely expressed bottom-line conclusions

How to discuss a business case?

  1.  The purpose of a case discussion is to construct meanings for a case based on evidence and to recognize the uncertainties inherent in all of the meanings
  2. Take responsibility for your own view of a case, develop an argument for it, be prepared to explain the argument, and listen to others who disagree with you

§Careful preparation (thorough yet flexible) – foundation for effective class participation

§Listening is participation – listen to keep up with the discussion and find opportunities to contribute

§Reflect on what you learn – greater clarity about the issues that link one case to another and lends coherence to a course

How to write a case-based paper?

qWriting about a case paper should build on the process of analyzing a case. There are characteristics that case-based papers have in common – answer three questions: What? Why? and How?

§What? – Makes a position statement
§Why? – Uses evidence (i.e., argument) to persuade the

§How? – Provides an action plan

üHow should the recommended decision be implemented?

üHow can the problem be fixed?

How to write a case-based paper?

qPosition statement (What?) expresses a conclusion

§A sharply focused position statement organizes the entire case paper

üWithout one, the paper has no purpose or direction and complicates the reader’s task as far as the reader is concerned

§The most common failing of a case-based paper is that the writers try to look at a situation from all angles, suggesting many meanings but committing to none

How to write a case-based paper?

qArgument (Why?): Using evidence well is probably the most crucial skill for a writer of case paper

§Evidence can be qualitative, quantitative or both; they can be used to reinforce each other

§Case papers can also use the results or outputs of specialized methods as evidence to prove conclusions

üFor example, without financial ratios or tools (e.g., significant calculations), the writer would have nothing meaningful to say about liquidity

§The argument precedes the action plan because it creates both the necessity for action and the actionable content

qAction plan (How?) complements and makes the argument of a case-based paper actionable by answering the question: How?

§How do you solve a problem?
§How do you implement a decision?
§How do you improve a performance?

qThe general purpose of action plans is to improve or advance the situation as it is presented in the paper through a coherent series of actions

qAn effective action plan has five characteristics:

  1. Sets goals based on the argument
  2. Addresses the actionable content of the argument – every major actionable issue in the argument should be represented in the action plan
  3. Consists of specific steps
  4. Hasrealisticshort-andlong-termsteps
  5. Identifies and responds to the major risk to the plan: Ask the question: What is the worst thing that could go wrong with the plan? Then ask: How can the risk be contained or eliminated?

qWhat Argument and Action Plans Do

Case situation


Action plan


Prove cause-effect relationships that account for problem

Solve problem: fix weaknesses and reinforces or increase strengths


Recommend best decision

Implement decision: show the best pathway to achieve desired outcome


Provide detailed evaluation of act, performance or outcome

Improve performance or outcome; implement or change decision



qThelecturepresentssomefundamental issues regarding case study and learning in MBA/EMBA education. In particular, I focus on three key questions which are critically important to our course objectives:

§How to analyze a case?
§How to discuss a case?
§How to write a case-based paper?

  • qThe lecture also outlines the structure of a case-based paper appropriate to solve problems, make decisions, and conduct evaluations
  • qHopefully, these PPT slides furnish the purpose for your successfully accomplishing the course specifically by analyzing business cases and writing a persuasive case-based paper

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