Case Study

Read case study part A & B and then write a 5-7 paper case analysis following the guide. Use only case readings sources. 

Case papers are 5-7 page analyses that put the student in the role of the decision maker. In general, a case analysis identifies the challenges and opportunities in the case, presents alternatives for dealing with these challenges and proposes an approach to addressing the challenge or opportunity. The following case is eligible for the case paper: Acumen Fund (A/B). Guidelines for case analysis are presented at the end of this syllabus. GUIDE TO CASE ANALYSIS Many students find case analysis to be difficult due to the relative lack of structure of most entrepreneurship challenges. No correctly answered list of questions or mechanical process will lead to the “right” answer. In fact, there is no single “right” solution to most entrepreneurship challenges. When analyzing a case, remember that there are many possible approaches and solutions. The goal is not to figure out “the answer” but to sharpen your analytic, problem solving, and decision-making skills. The following steps outline the basic approach that you should follow when analyzing a case, whether for class discussion or in preparation for a written analysis. First, read the assigned reading for the week of the case. The reading material should play an important role in your analysis of the case. Remember that case analysis in this course is cumulative. Thus material from earlier chapters or readings may be relevant and should be applied where relevant. Second, read the case. Take notes about the important issues that the case raises and the material from the reading that seems to apply. Ask yourself, what are the major questions that this case poses for the decision maker? Third, analyze what is occurring in the case and why. You should be able to identify outcomes in the case and/or issues that the organization faces. These outcomes may be bad (e.g., cash flow issues, in ability to expand, conflict among the business partners, inability to control operations), or they may be good. There may be numerous problems and issues. The goal of analysis is to explain the underlying mechanisms that are producing the outcomes or problems that you see in the situation. This process will require you to distinguish between symptoms and casual mechanisms. Consider the following example: You go to the doctor with the “problem” of a cough or a fever. It may be easy for the physician to treat the cough or fever with a number of medicines much like we could treat worker dissatisfaction by paying higher wages. However, it is important for the physician to determine the causes of the problem. If the cause of the cough is tuberculosis then only treating the cough is apt to lead to serious long-term consequences because the underlying disease process will still be at work. Clearly the cough is just a symptom of a deeper underlying problem, the disease of tuberculosis. Good analysis cleverly weaves symptoms into a causal map that gets to the underlying root of the situation. What I will look for in your case analyses is the cogency of your explanation of the process leading to the symptoms. At the outset you are likely to struggle with this. It is a difficult and time consuming process to develop clinical skills. Remember that specific cases are assigned because they present good opportunities to practice using different theories and frameworks. Therefore, you know in every instance that some material from the assigned reading, and often other material from earlier readings, must be

applicable to the case. You will find theories and course frameworks essential for supporting your analyses. You should view the theories and frameworks as a way to explain the underlying causal mechanisms contributing to the outcomes in the case, and as a way to organize and justify your arguments. Be explicit and thorough in your use of course concepts and theories, but avoid the tendency to throw in course terminology merely as “buzzwords.” Recognize that some cases do not have problems as such. The organization may be doing quite well. Cases are real-world situations, not necessarily examples of bad management. Don’t make up problems when none exist. Take the situation for what it is rather than approaching it with a point of view. Be alert for the danger that some information in some cases is coming from biased participants and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt. A characteristic of cases is that you never have all the information that you want and there is often considerable information that is irrelevant, trivial or even obfuscating. The absence of essential information may force you to make one or more assumptions. Assumptions should always be clearly labeled as such, they must be necessary and they must be realistic. In general, you should try to avoid assumptions. There is no need to describe events in your written analyses. This is merely a waste of space, as I have read the case and am aware of all the facts. Rather, you should use material from the case to support your analysis or to provide examples to back up your arguments. Remember, your objective is to explain, not describe or report. At the conclusion of each written case analysis, you will need to offer recommendations for change, or recommendations for how the situation could have been better handled. Keep in mind that recommendations typically have both positive and negative consequences. For example, a solution may eventually work but be very costly, difficult to implement and take a long time to have a significant impact. You should develop the recommendation that has maximum positive impact and minimum negative consequences. Recommendations should logically follow from the analysis and they should be feasible. For example, firing the boss and replacing them with a better manager may be a good “theoretic” solution but it may not be feasible in a given set of circumstances. Recommendations must be effective and efficient. Killing a fly with a bomb is effective but not efficient. Few, if any, recommendations are completely without costs or negative consequences. A good analysis presents a thoughtful, balanced presentation of recommendations instead of just a one-sided argument. Finally, make sure that your case analyses are well-written, clearly organized, and have a logical flow. Poor writing will affect your grade. It usually helps to provide a brief summary statement and “roadmap” at the beginning of the analysis to orient and guide the reader. Also make sure that any recommendations you provide follow directly from your analysis of the problem, and that your overall conclusions are consistent with your analysis.

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