In my courses, I rely mainly on the case method of instruction to teach the main topics. For some students, it will be the first time you are exposed to this approach. Note that the case method differs from the lecture format in that it emphasizes spoken communications and active participation. To maximize learning for the entire class, this approach requires students to engage in a highly interactive and ongoing in-class discussion.
What is a “Case”?
According to historians at the Harvard Business School, the “case” was first used for business instruction in 1912.
As described in the excerpt below, the purpose of the “case” method is to teach managers problem-solving skills.
The "problem" method of instruction (as the case method was then called) was patterned after the case method of teaching law and the clinical method of teaching medicine. Since business records were not nearly as available or accurate as legal or medical records, the Business School focused on conducting field studies and developing the first case studies. In 1924, the case method was established as the primary method of instruction. (Source: Harvard Business School)
Why is the Case Method is Still Relevant and Used Today?
The primary value of the case method is that it simulates situations that managers face on a regular basis. A case brings together all of the relevant facts and poses a question that students must resolve by applying business theory to business practice. There are often no right or wrong answers, simply more attractive or less attractive alternatives that students must choose among. Students must place themselves in the position of the managers in the case and think through the causes and consequences of the decisions they make. In my courses, we will examine the a number of different cases, reflecting a variety of strategic business problems in a broad range of industries.
If you are a part of or know of an organization that might be an interesting case study which effectively illustrates a strategic business problem, please feel free to Contact Me.
Amol M. Joshi, Ph.D.