Sally Firmin 112/02/21 tips on case study analysis.docxTips on Case Study AnalysisThe aim of this short handout is to provide some basic information to help students understandcase analysis.What is it?There are many definitions of what a case study is. The one offered below by Mort, Cross andDowney (2002) is a good summary:A case study is an account of an activity, event or problem that contains a realor hypothetical situation and includes the complexities you would encounter inthe workplace. Case studies are used to help you see how the complexities ofreal-life influence decisions.In the eyes of many students there is often some mystique surrounding case studies. They canfind them daunting and difficult. This may be because case studies often attempt to capture thecomplexities of real-life situations – they appear complex and difficult only to the extent that reallife working situations are.Why?Case studies are analysed for a number of reasons:• creating an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge about management in a practicalsituation;• developing skills in diagnosing problems, evaluating alternatives and preparing workableplans of action;• developing skills in working out solutions to organisational problems; and• increased exposure to a range of different firms, managerial situations and organisationalissues (Neupert & Fry, 1996).Case study analysis provides the mechanism by which the skill of applying theoretical models towork based situations can be developed. Analysing cases will serve to expand your experiencebeyond a work or life situation and may expose you to new ways of looking at old problems. Afterworking through a problem in a totally different and unrelated context you may be able to look atyour own situation with “new eyes”.How?It is important to look on case study analysis as an applied learning experience – it is not aboutlearning new theory or management models – it is about applying existing knowledge to a newsituation.When analysing a case study consider applying the following process:1. Read the case study carefully.2. Read it again (and again if need be).3. Work back through the case study and identify the key facts:o who is involved?Sally Firmin 212/02/21 tips on case study analysis.docxo what are the problems identified?o is there a key theme or central issue?o what are the timeframes involved? – is this a new problem?4. Read the questions set for the case study – understand what is being asked in each one.5. Think about any management concepts or theoretical models covered in the learningmaterial that may be applied to the questions being asked6. Now it is time to start answering the questions. This is best done by linking the key factsfrom the case study (identified at Step 4) and the relevant theoretical material (identifiedat Step 5) to provide a well thought out response to the question. Make sure yourreasoning is clear and supported by the work you have done in analysing the case.7. Remember that case study work is an application of your learning. It is important todemonstrate that you understand the case well and have been able to apply a theoreticalunderstanding to a real-life situation.Note: It is likely that the questions will require identification of organisational gaps,recommendations on how to proceed or utilization of particular theoretical models to analyse orunderstand problems within the organisation. They are not designed to trick students – theyprovide a structured way of understanding and analysing the case.Do’s and Don’tsDo’s• Develop case analysis as an important skill.• Apply case study techniques to real life work situations.• Always make sure the question has been answered fully – don’t just answer the easyparts or what the question should have been.• Read the case study as many times as needed to fully understand the issues.• Apply management concepts and theoretical models to the case – don’t be scared to usethem!Don’ts• Just retell the “story” of case study – it is about analysis. Students often answer thequestions by retelling the facts of the case.• Focus on the questions first – focus on understanding the case first.ReferencesMort, P., Cross, J., & Downey, T.L. (2002). Writing a case study report in engineering. Retrieved12 April 2008 from The Learning Centre, The University of New South Wales.http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/case_study/index.htmNeupert, K.E., & Fry, J.N. (1996). Cases for contemporary strategy analysis.Oxford: Blackwell.
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