How To Analyze a Case
A Student Guide
What is a case study?
A case study is best described as a well-orchestrated short story that presents essential information and data on corporate operations. As opposed to, say, a finance or production or marketing case which presents material primarily on one functional area only, a strategic management case takes a wholistic view of corporate operations from the perspective of the firm's board of directors and/or its senior executives. Are there different types of case studies?
The answer here is "yes"! In general, there are three types of strategy-oriented case studies. The first type is the problem-oriented case study. In these cases, senior management is faced with a set of circumstances that require it to make a series of strategy-oriented decisions. Sometimes the problem to be solved, or the strategy issue to be resolved is obvious. In other cases, one needs to determine what the problem is before looking for a solution. In both instances, the student-analyst is required to make a number of judgements about the actions to be taken, along with a justification for these actions. The second type of case study is one which presents overall information on a corporation without, however, presenting a problem or issue that needs to be resolved. As opposed to the problem solving case, these cases are usually designed to give the student a top down view of corporate operations: the businesses that it is in; the markets that it serves; the technologies that it uses; its financial condition; its organizational structure, etcetera, as a way of providing the student with a senior-level perspective on corporate operations. In these cases, the students-analyst is required to show an understanding of how the corporation is organized, how it operates, and provide some rationale explaining why the corporation operates in the manner set out in the case study. The third type of case study is one which presents information...
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