Part I – Analyzing a Case What is this document? You will be asked throughout your Graduate experience to analyze cases. Because there are many ways to approach cases, the CM faculty has agreed upon a framework for case analysis that you will be asked to learn in MGT 650. This framework will help you throughout your Graduate experience in thinking about cases as well as in preparing written reports.
What is a case? A case is a story---usually a true story, but not always---that illustrates business and management theories and concepts you are studying in a course and/or presents a problem or series of problems for you to solve. A case usually ends with a dilemma faced by a particular character in the case. Sometimes a case will be accompanied by a set of questions, usually theory-based, that your instructor expects you to answer. Some questions will be devoted to figuring out the problems imbedded in the case and the causes of those problems; others will ask you to determine a course of action to take in the future. More complex cases usually contain a variety of types of information, e.g. industry and economic data, financial reports, policies and procedures, market share and pricing data, descriptions of personnel and other resources, job descriptions, individual perceptions, and dialogue. Due to their complex nature, these cases demand your careful, sustained attention; indeed, each case contains subtleties that are likely to be discerned only by several rereadings and discussions with other students.
Why do professors ask students in the Graduate Programs to analyze cases? Through the process of analyzing cases, professors believe that Graduate students can learn the value of: responding actively and constructively to the conflicts of organizational life.
suspending judgment about personalities as well as about courses of action. differentiating between facts and opinions. graciously giving up an opinion if it is shown to be inadequate integrating what one learns through discussions with others in order to progress in one’s own thinking examining the total situation rather than focusing on the most obvious or pressing elements of that situation. gaining multiple perspectives on a situation by using theory, concepts and research findings. understanding the continually evolving interrelationships among the factors in a situation. acknowledging what is not known or understood by the student analyst about a situation. explicitly assessing and acknowledging the degree of confidence the student analyst is able to have in what he/she has come to understand about the case. recognizing that a situation can involve many “problems” and that different stakeholders will probably experience different problems. setting priorities---deciding which problems deserve immediate attention. developing an action orientation---a willingness to take calculated risks under conditions of incomplete information, inadequate resources, and often imperfect solutions. appreciating the complexity of transforming proposed solutions into comprehensive, detailed plans for action. seeking to understand the consequences and limits of managerial actions.
Will all instructors in the Graduate Programs use cases in the same way? The life of an Graduate student would be easier if the answer to this question were “yes.” The truth, however, is that cases can be used in a variety of ways, even by a single instructor. One UMass/Boston faculty member has wisely observed that cases can be used as: the hook---a snappy introduction to a topic; the curtain raiser---a hook with conceptual implications; the example---an illustration of a concept, frequently predefined; the exercise---a test of the student’s mastery of the course’s conceptual material the rehearsal---an opportunity for the student to try out skills or behavior related to or in the context of the course material.
When instructors use cases for the first three…