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Case Analysis**
Overview
Case study analysis is a technique designed to help students diagnose problems encountered in
organizational life, in teams and in interpersonal relationships and develop appropriate, reliable and
valid solutions based on theory. Cases give students a feeling of the hard realities of business
decision-making and allow students to experience the challenges and dilemmas of the decision-
maker. Cases are often based on real situations and as such represent the truths! or the incidents!
as they actually took place. "hey are an opportunity to link theory and practice.
#tudents will study the information provided in each case, attempt to diagnose the true nature of the
problem(s) involved, what caused the problems and to search for alternative ways in which the
problems can be resolved, then recommend and $ustify the most plausible courses of action.
#ometimes students look desperately for the correct answer! or the one best solution!. %n case
studies, the emphasis is not on the finding the right! or wrong! answer. %nstead, the priority is the
students! ability to take into account all the variables that might have a bearing on the situation and
then find a solution that is feasible.
&ost problems confronted by managers are multi-faceted, very complex, involving many different
variables. #tudents will want to comprehend all aspects of the problems and the causes of the
problems.
Objectives of a case study, as an educational tool, are'
1. to improve students! ability to think logically and imaginatively
(. to develop analytical ability and problem solving capability
). to critically evaluate and utilize learned theories
*. to bring about an awareness of the constraints in decision making
+. to integrate theory so valid and reliable solutions are advanced
(
Preparation teps of Case Analysis
1. ,ead the case a number of times in an undirected manner. -ndirected! means do not think
about the questions asked or the method of analysis. "he goal is to become familiar with the
situation that is described without coming to any firm conclusions. %f the assigned questions
are considered prematurely, the student may become solutions-oriented. "hese solutions are
likely to be both superficial and hard to change as the study of the case proceeds.
(. &ake notes regarding salient issues. "hese issues will not necessarily conform to those upon
which the assigned questions are based although there will most likely be a strong relationship
with will eventually become clear. .ist the facts to get a sense of the whole case.
). ,ead and study the assigned questions. ,ecord information from the case that appears
pertinent to their analysis. /o not yet, however, attempt to answer the questions. 0t this stage
the focus is on an organization of the previous impressions of the case in terms of the
assigned areas of inquiry. %t will usually be necessary to return to the case for further
information.
*. /ecide which principles, theories, or models can be applied to the case material in order to
generate solutions. "he key activity is to match the appropriate theories and models to the
information and areas of assignment. "he temptation that must be avoided is to generate
solutions based mainly upon intuition, and then try to force-fit some handy theoretical rationale
to the preconceived answers. "heories are to be used in the analysis and solution of
organizational problems, not as an afterthought.
+. 0pply the selected general principles, theories, or models and determine what solutions are
suggested by this application. 1ften, more than one answer is supportable for a particular
question. 0 search for additional theoretical rationale and an application of the informed
$udgement will eventually resolve this difficulty. 2art of the answer to the case study
assignment may require that the rationale for the alternatives and solutions presented also be
given. "he ma$or strength of any case report cannot reside chiefly in the specific solutions
offered, as these are always arguable. ,ather, it is the reasons for the solutions that will either
support or ultimately undermine the student!s efforts. "hey will be correct or incorrect
applications of management science and refined $udgement.
Case !ethodology
"he critical decisions3questions that must be made3answered in case analysis are the following'
1. 4hat are the problems facing the organization5
(. 4hat are the causes of these problems5
). 4hat is the evidence of these problems and causes 6that is, what are the symptoms75
*. 4hat theories theories help us to understand the problems and causes5
+. 4hat are the alternative solutions to the various causes5
8. 9ased on theory, what are the pros and cons of these various alternative solutions5
:. 9ased on theory, what are your final recommended solutions5
)
%n case methodology, we borrow from the &edical diagnosis model and from 2sychology!s causal
diagram model.
%n 1rganizational 9ehaviour 6197, the ;patient< is the organization 6not the owner of the
establishment, not the shareholders, not the employees, not the narrator of the case, etc.7. "he
patient is the organization. %n medicine, we want the patient to be well, healthy and free of illness or
in$ury. %n 19, we want the 1rganization to be well = to be Effective 6do the right thing7 and to be
Efficient 6do things the right way7. 4hen organizations are not being effective and not being efficient,
they are experiencing ;Problems<. 0n example of a problem when the organization is being
ineffective is >turnover of valued staff>. 0n example of an organization being inefficient is >loss of
productivity>.
%n psychology, the word ;problem< is not used. "he concept utilized in psychology is ;outcomes<.
"hink about synonyms for the word ;outcome<.
%n both medicine and psychology, knowing the ;cause(s)< of the problems3outcomes is critical in order
to establish solutions. ?ow can you know how to fix something if you do not know what caused it5 %n
psychology, the relationship between cause and outcome is depicted in this format' C1 6cause
leads to outcome3problem7. @ou can use this to diagram the causal relationships to the problems in
the case. Low morale is often a leading cause of turnover' low moraleturnover. Low motivation is
often a leading cause of drop in productivity' low motivationdrop in productivity.
0nother key element is case analysis is determining what are the ;symptoms< in the case. "hink of
synonyms for the word ;symptom<. #ymptoms are the evidence = evidence of the problem or
evidence of the cause. %f the case says that >12 good staff quit the organization in the last month> =
that is the evidence or symptom3evidence of the problem known as "urnover.
"ere is a medical case. 0 man has a fever, a cough, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue and severe
weakness. ?e calls to his workplace and takes a sick day. "hen he goes to the doctor who says, go
home, rest all day, drink fluids and take acetaminophen every * hours. "he patient does this and
hours later, fever is dropping and muscle aches are subsiding. #he ne$t day the man is %%&&&&
dead'
What happened???????
*
"here was a misdiagnosisAA "he doctor treated the symptoms 6fever, muscle aches7 and not the
cause 6a virus or bacteria7. %f you do not fix the cause, then you can kill the patientA
4hat are the problems, causes and symptoms in this mini case5 "he initial problem is the man
has lost a day of productivity, so the problem is the loss of work 6inefficient7. 4ell, the second
problem is the man is dead 6ineffectiveness7A "he symptoms are the fever, aches and so on. "he
cause may be a virus or bacterium.
#o letBs rewind and say that the physician determines the exact bacterium that is causing the
patientBs illness.
"he next step is the doctor explores what antibiotics 6alternative solutions7 should be prescribed.
?e3she looks at the pros and cons of all the different antibiotics 6e.g., the costs, how quickly they
work, the side effects and so on7 before prescribing the medicine for the patient. "he medication
chosen is the final recommended solution&
#imilarly, the 19 ;doctor< 6@1-7 weighs these positives and negatives of the various alternative
solutions before generating the final recommended solution.
0dding to the complexity of the 19 case analysis, is you can have more than one problem and each
problem can have more than one cause. ?ere is where your analytical skills and knowledge of the
theories helps you.
-sing goal setting theory, one might see the following causal chain. "heory helps youA
-nclear goals low motivation low productivity
1nce you have a clear idea of the causes, you know how to fix themAA
1nly by practising can you untangle these complex cases but imagine if proper diagnoses were made
regularly by our organizational managers, our politicians and so on = a lot of time and money would
be savedAA
Have fun as you do case analysis in our course! Don't worry you will be
able to do this!!
Elizabeth
** % would like to acknowledge the work of /r. Clizabeth #peers and 2rofessor #hannon ,eilly and 2rofessor Denevieve
Earrell, both of whom are from Deorge 9rown College and ,yerson -niversity, in designing this document&**