The Case Study Method in Teaching Business.


  1.  Define the main problem and challenge facing the firm.
  2.  Key issues — List and elaborate in order of importance.
  3.  Environmental analysis — Economic, Political & legal, Demographic, Competitive,       Technological, Ecological, Social and Cultural. (Focus only on relevant ones)
  4.  S.W.O.T. Analysis — Based on company’s micro and macro environment.
  5.  Marketing mix analysis–Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Again focusing mainly on the elements of the marketing mix that are more relevant to the main problem and challenge facing the firm.
  6.  Alternatives –Generate and list available alternatives to address main problem and   issues.
  7.  Analyze and evaluate selected alternatives.
  8.  Recommendation and decision — Based on preferred alternatives.
  9.  Implementation schedule with specific timelines.

The above is a suggested case analysis structure or format to be used in a comprehensive business case study and can be adjusted for mini cases whose objective might be the application of a few concepts in business from a particular chapter. The format may also be done away with when the case study has specific questions at the end to answer the various issues involved in the case. The above format is highly recommended for a case study course in a BBA or MBA program at the 2nd year and above level, and is being used at Kwantlen University for the Marketing Management course MRKT2333.

A good approach for students to start preparing for  a case assignment due for discussion in class is to:

  1.  Give the case a quick reading to get a general overview, also advisable to read the opening and last paragraph or two with care to get an idea of the decisions and issues at stake.
  2.  Next you could give the case a slower thoughtful reading highlighting key facts that you think might be important in later analysis. It is important to distinguish between opinions that can be challenged and  relevant facts that are set in stone and can be readily used in the analysis.
  3.  When trying to identify the problem and issues in the case it is important to distinguish between problems and symptoms, as symptoms may mistakenly be taken by students to be the problem. A common symptom could be declining  company sales which may be stated by the student as a problem, whereas the problem may lie in identifying the sequence of events relating to the decline and then possibly identifying the problem.
  4.  There will always be “Red Herrings” in a case, these are simply facts or information that have no relevance to the analysis or are meant to mislead the analyst. For example sales data for a competitor way outside the company’s geographical target market.
  5.  There are normally no right or wrong answers in a case study analysis, unless it is a tightly structured case with the protagonist provided with concrete numbers and specific boundaries within which to operate in reaching a decision. In the majority of case studies a good answer depends on a logical and sensible approach by the student based on the theory taught in class, data provided in the case and it’s application to the problems and issues at hand facing the protagonist.
  6.  The above “Case Report Format” is a great structure in analyzing a case study in-depth. Please do remember that each case is unique and case analysis is not an exact science, the goal should be to learn to reason effectively with the available information and data.
  7.  Also keep in mind, there would be multiple issues in a business case, the key is for students to identify the main problem and prioritize the issues keeping within the resources that are available to the company.

Hope you enjoy this case course as an active participant in our class discussions and do feel free to comment or ask me any questions on the above post that I would be recommending you use for your case analysis and reports. Have a great semester!



About imranraza

Marketing Professor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Areas of interest, International marketing, Advertising, Consumer Behavior and Small business.
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