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How to write simple business case studies

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Case studies are important part of training students to analyse a situation and to come out with possible solutions

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How to write simple business case studies

  1. 1. How to Write Business Case Studies By Maxwell Ranasinghe Presentation made to lecturers at Department of Marketing at University of Kelaniya 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  2. 2. Outline of the presentation  Types of Case studies  Importance of case studies  Undergraduate/ MBA level case studies  Guideline for case study writing  Developing a plot  Where to get information  How to get commitment from a company to write a real case study  Structure of a case study  Q & A  Comments of Harvard’s “Nike” case study – Practical Session  Discussion 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  3. 3.  We write assignments/case studies for testing of knowledge and skills of students  We usually write two types of scenarios as follows: ◦ 1. Find the answer through given facts ◦ ( analysis based assignments) ◦ 2. Request students to answer by collecting further information from the market place ◦ ( tasks based assignments)10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  4. 4.  The first option where you provide information in the case study itself and let student answer it without referring to any other material (but with logical assumptions) These case studies can be given in an exam, where student write the answer on his own  The second option is a kind of exploratory, observational or research type of tasks. These case studies can be given as individual or group assignments. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  5. 5.  A business case study puts the student in to real life scenario.  It challenges student to apply theory he or she has learnt in the class to a practical situation.  The case study should be a story that changes the student’s view point to a business manager’s 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  6. 6.  Student should feel that he is the principal character( protagonist- ප්‍රෝටැ) who is given the responsibility of solving the problem in the case.  He should also feel that the body of knowledge that he had acquired through academic work and experience can be used to handle the case. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  7. 7. Therefore, a good case study should be written to create a real life kind of situation with a well crafted story to intrigue the student. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  8. 8. Undergraduate level case studies Case study writers who write cases for undergraduate level or diploma Level students should bear in mind that the answer expected could be provided well with the level of knowledge and experience that those students posses. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  9. 9. Case study should not be complicated and it should have one central decision point or dilemma ( bear in mind that this is not an MBA case) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  10. 10. MBA Level case studies  These case studies may have one or more core issues and could be complicated.  Therefore the case writer should be in a position to describe a scenario that has many facets to the problem  Case writer has to mix different areas of the problem to form a challenging situation  Individual related areas could be thought separately and it has to be mixed together by superimposing each other to have a one single story. It is a challenge ! 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  11. 11. Layers to be thought separately and superimposed  Internal layer( staff relations, resource constraints and corporate culture etc.)  Operational layer(Suppliers, Intermediaries, Competitors- Direct and Indirect ,Customers of a business/marketer, Publics)  External layer ( PESTEEL factors)  It is important to note that they are not written in sequence but throughout the story 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  12. 12. Lets start with undergraduate case study to illustrate  Case should have a proper problem within the facts of the case  Student should not feel that he can answer the case study without going through the facts of the case but referring to the class notes or any other material outside of the case 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  13. 13.  The nature of the situation should be clearly apparent once the case is read.  Most importantly the case writer should not write too much of background details which may not have much bearing on the problem. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  14. 14. In marketing case studies Case writers should be careful when making the plot of the story not to end up in asking the student to write a marketing plan as it has become a common feature of many marketing case studies 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  15. 15.  There is no proper format for case studies but it is always better to have a logical format so that the case writer will be directed to include the main ingredients of a case study 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  16. 16. Have you got to follow Harvard, Princeton or Yale University styles ? No  Have your own Sri Lankan style. Then only you will get creative and objective. Can we have a simple guideline in writing case studies ? Yes10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  17. 17. Guideline 1. Decide what you need to test in students through the case study. 2. Develop a plot 3. Structure the case 4. Find information and data to fill the structure 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  18. 18.  5. Provide symptoms of the situation  6. Let student analyse the symptoms and find out the central problem.  ( Case writer should not write all information that student could write that back in his/her answer in the same form. In other words, do not ask a question that student can write the answer without analyzing the facts of the case)  7. Ask questions to provide answers to the central problem or10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  19. 19. Decide what you need to test in students through the case study.  Most importantly the case writer should know the level of knowledge and experience that the student posses  At least the course content and the syllabus should be known to the case writer 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  20. 20. Case writer should not write a problem that he has to face in his business which may not be suitable to check on students at this level or in the subject that the case is given 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  21. 21.  Case writer should know the areas of studies done by the student where the practical application is very important  Those are the areas that he should test through a case study.  Then the student will also appreciate about the importance of the case study10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  22. 22. Developing a plot  Here the case writers creativity comes to play ( copying from other exam papers or case books are not recommended….. be creative ??????)  He can have any kind of logical formats (where the facts that he is going to relate will have a bearing on finding the symptoms of the problem that would finally pave the way in finding the central problem)  The plot should provide a “fine idea” “ big idea” to be structured and developed 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  23. 23. Where to get information Published information: ( no permission from company is needed)  Newspaper articles  Magazines  Special brand related books, reports or periodicals such as “Super brands Sri Lanka” or Brand Finance, Millward Brown and Interbrand Reports.  Annual Reports and company websites  Students’ assignments  Your own experience  Many other secondary sources  ( please quote all the sources you have obtained data and information at the end of the case) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  24. 24. Unpublished information If you are indicating unpublished actual information of a company, please take proper authority to indicate them in your case study  If a business case employs insider information, written permission must be obtained from the company to use, publish, and market the case study.  Organizations can be notoriously frustrating to work with in this regard— especially large, complex organizations with sophisticated legal and marketing departments.  Once the case is complete, it can take months (or longer) to obtain permission and approvals. So many drafts may have to be written 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  25. 25.  It is best to let the organization know up front that you are writing a case study that will be used in teaching and published for use in institutions of higher learning.  Assembling the right team of advocates for the case study is a critical task, and the team should include representatives from the company. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  26. 26. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE FEATURED ORGANIZATION?  The role of the Featured Organization is to provide information and data, to check for accuracy/completeness, and to assist in final review and release of the case.  Most importantly, the Featured Organization must provide legal permission to use the case for educational purposes upon completion of the case. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  27. 27. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A FEATURED ORGANIZATION?  1. Being a Featured Organization is both a practical and altruistic role. The organization will play a significant role in helping tomorrow’s business leaders become better prepared to face complex decisions in the constantly- changing world of business. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  28. 28.  2. The organization will also gain broad exposure to thousands of future graduates who are likely to seek out the organization for employment.  ( Students with diverse experience may come out with fine answers. Sometimes the business managers of the featured company in the case study, attend class discussions and presentations to find out the ideas of the students) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  29. 29.  3. Many Featured Organizations use the completed case study in their internal training programs.  4. Employees within the Featured Organizations benefit from sharing the importance of their roles and tasks in the case study’s business situation. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  30. 30. Structuring the case studies  Title and introduction  Company  Industry  Competitors  Symptoms of the problem  Challenges  Problems to be answered 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  31. 31. Structuring the case studies….  Title and Introduction  It is always better to have a creative title so that the student will feel he is not reading another note  Even a journalistic title should create interest in student to read  In a case study written in English, can even have a title in your own mother tongue e.g. Sinhala 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  32. 32. Introduction  Within the first paragraph, identify the protagonist. ( main character)  Within the first few paragraphs, present— from the protagonist’s point of view—the decision point. (This will avoid posing case study questions such as “Assume you are appointed as Marketing Manager” at the end)  In a good case, you need to set the main character that the students has to play in the case, from the beginning.  Then student will read the case as it is his/her problem. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  33. 33. Context  Provide the context for the situation. Include the situation’s time frame, location, the purpose of the company or organization, relevant business factors, and the goal of the protagonist. ( write only the relevant facts, even famous case studies by renowned universities, make this mistake) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  34. 34. Structuring the case studies… Background  Case writers often add extraneous information in this section in a deliberate effort to lead students astray.  Case writer should bear in mind that he should provide the relevant information only to set up the foundation to build his story  Many cases have too much of background factors  Do not write a lot of historical matter just because you find them in the internet or other journals/magazines 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  35. 35. Structuring the case studies…  Company and products A brief historical setting of the company, its product lines, brands, status in the market place, market share etc. Consider depicting the structure, culture and resources of the of the company or organization, if it has any bearing on the story that you are going to present 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  36. 36.  - Industry Brief introduction of the industry, size, nature and the trends should be provided depending on the problem that you are going to write in the case study If any PESTEEL factor would be relevant to your case, you may write about it too . 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  37. 37. Competitive environment- Major competitors, market share, products, challenges posed and strategies adopted can be discussed depending on the case 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  38. 38. Structuring the case studies…  Symptoms and the problems  The important part of the story begins here  Bear in mind that you are writing a story. It should not be totally technical or colloquial. Use some dialogues of company managers  A fine blend will make the case interesting for the reader  It is always better to bring the main character here into play so that students will read in his point of view. ( protagonist) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  39. 39. Structuring the case studies…  Bit of his background, character and the dilemma faced by him should be introduced  The writer should describe what has happened to create an emotional attachment by the reader to the central character( protagonist) of the story 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  40. 40. Structuring the case studies…  Readers who have both an emotional connection to the Central Character of the story will be more motivated to find actionable solutions to the problems depicted in the case.  Keep this section complex enough that students cannot come to an easy decision. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  41. 41. Structuring the case studies…  Write the symptoms supported by data, sales, profits, tables, graphs to show the status where the student can analyse and find out the trend .  ( Students should not be able to get the trend or problem by just reading the figures, but by analyzing it) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  42. 42. Structuring the case studies…  Connect the background in this section to the current situation, including underlying causes and current results. • Deal more deeply into the context and possible consequences of the decision point, dilemma faced.  Include the consequences for the central character as well as for company or organization. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  43. 43.  Tell what has the principal character done in order to remedy the situation and what is the status after such action  Clearly state the current status  What finally matters in your story is to provide information to the student to analyse and find out the underlying reason/reasons for the central problem. 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  44. 44. Structuring the case studies…  Challenge  Throw the challenge of finding the underlying problem to the student on behalf of the Central Character of the case study  Students should be looking at problems from a systemic perspective and trying to solve problems based on the complexities of the environment, resource constraints, availability of information, and a general understanding that the main characters situation is 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  45. 45. Structuring the case studies… Problem to be answered  At the conclusion of this section, include the degree of urgency involved in the decision-making or the timeline for the decision to be made  Offer him the chance of suggesting the proper course of action or task to be done in order to remedy the situation 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  46. 46. Tables and Exhibits  You could have tables such as market share, financial information etc. in the body of the case study or at the end  Exhibits such as advertisements, paper articles, reports etc. should come at the end of the case study.  Links to video clips, websites etc.  ( Let student analyze data to take decisions rather than citing what is stated) 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  47. 47.  Do not issue case studies  Without going through you draft several times to ensure it is in line with your plot.  Without checking spelling and grammar  Without developing your own model answer before it is issued to the students.  Without being moderated by a Senior10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe
  48. 48.  The only way to learn is to commence writing at least small case studies. Then you will develop the art of writing case studies Good Luck Email: maxran1@yahoo.com 10/2/2020 Presentation By Maxwell Ranasinghe

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