Case Methodology

What is the case method?

The case method was developed in 1870 as an educational strategy by the Dean of Harvard Law School, Christopher Langdell.

An active teaching technique, the method is based on research carried out by students on specific, real-life problems in order to help them acquire the foundations for an inductive form of study (Boehrer and Linsky, 1990). Such a learning style is based on active, cooperative participation and on generating democratic dialogue between the students on a real-life situation (Asopa and Beye, 2001).

In the field of business management, the case method represents a specific situation in a company, with real data to be examined by students in order to develop an analysis of the company's present situation that will affect all subsequent decisions made. Once the company's present situation has been described, a series of questions is posed in order to focus on one of the solutions proposed to help the management team make decisions.

Analysing the problem or situation at hand thus allows the students to put the knowledge acquired throughout their course into practice and make a series of decisions that would affect the running of the company.

Use

The main aim of the case method is for students to work on a real-life situation, allowing them to make reflections and then share their ideas. It is therefore a form of methodology that requires a greater degree of participation from the students, as well as from the teacher.

The first step is for the teacher to introduce the students to the case, asking them a series of questions to guide their analysis. The students then have a sufficient amount of time to examine the case in detail and propose a series of solutions to the challenges to have emerged in order to improve the company's prospects.

Once the case has been presented to the students and they have begun examining it in detail, the most important element of the method comes into play. This phase sees the students sharing their ideas and discussing alternatives to provide the company's managers with initiatives that should give them hope for the future. During this process, the teacher serves only as a moderator, highlighting key elements of the case or playing devil's advocate in order to generate debate.

It must be stressed that the case method does not involve correct and incorrect responses, with the most important aspect the debating of proposals for the company to use in its decision-making process.

References

Boehrer, J. y Linsky, M. (1990). Teaching with cases: Learning to question, New directions for teaching $ learning, Vol. 42, pág. 1-130. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.37219904206

Asopa, B i Beye, G. (2001). Appendix 2: The case method. http://www.fao.org/docrep/W7500E/w7500e0b.htm

Upcoming teaching initiatives

“How to transform a Master Thesis into a Case Study”.
Tuesday, 25th February 2020. From 15:00 to 17:30h. Classroom 512.

Latest events

"How to write a case study for use in class"
Wednesday, 10 July 2019, From 10:00 to 11:00 am. Classroom 207.

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