Introduction to the Case-Study Method
the case studies require an approach that is different from normal homework assignments. Each case can have more than one right answer depending on how the problem is defined and which assumptions are made. In fact, your teacher may be more interested in the analysis and process you used to arrive at the decision than in its absolute correctness.
In some cases, the case writer(s) have provided questions to guide your analysis; in other cases it is up to you, the case analyst, to decide which questions are relevant in defining the problem. This too is by design. In an actual situation you will have to decide which questions to ask, and certainly no one will give you a list of multiple-choice answers. This is why it is suggested that you not limit your analysis to the questions at the end of a case.
The Seven Steps of Problem Analysis
Using an organized seven-steps approach in analyzing a case will make the entire process easier and can increase your learning benefits.
1. Read the case thoroughly. To understand fully what is happening in a case, it is necessary to read the case carefully and thoroughly. You may want to read the case rather quickly the first time to get an overview of the industry, the company, the people, and the situation. Read the case again more slowly, making notes as you go.
2. Define the central issue. Many cases will involve several issues or problems. Identify the most important problems and separate them from the more trivial issues. After identifying what appears to be a major underlying issue, examine related problems in the functional areas (for example, marketing, finance, personnel, and so on). Functional area problems may help you identify deep-rooted problems that are the responsibility of top management.
3. Define the firm's goals. Inconsistencies between a firm's goals and its performance may further highlight the problems discovered in step 2. At the very least, identifying the firm's goals will provide a guide for the remaining analysis.
4. Identify the constraints to the problem. The constraints may limit the solutions available to the firm. Typical constraints include limited finances, lack of additional production capacity, personnel limitations, strong competitors, relationships with suppliers and customers, and so on. Constraints have to be considered when suggesting a solution.#p#分頁標題#e#
5. Identify all the relevant alternatives. The list should all the relevant alternatives that could solve the problem(s) that were identified in step 2. Use your creativity in coming up with alternative solutions. Even when solutions are suggested in the case, you may be able to suggest better solutions.
6. Select the best alternative. Evaluate each alternative in light of the available information. If you have carefully taken the proceeding five steps, a good solution to the case should be apparent. Resist the temptation to jump to this step early in the case analysis. You will probably miss important facts, misunderstand the problem, or skip what may be the best alternative solution. You will also need to explain the logic you used to choose one alternative and reject the others.
7. Develop an implementation plan. The final step in the analysis is to develop a plan for effective implementation of your decision. Lack of an implementation plan even for a very good decision can lead to disaster for a firm and for you. Don't overlook this step. Your teacher will surely ask you or someone in the class to explain how to implement the decision.
Case Study Framework
The following guidelines will help you write an effective case analysis. In business communications a short report is usually considered better than a long report. This does not mean that in your report you can skip key points, but rather that you state relevant points clearly and concisely. Do not include trivial matters.The high quality of your analysis or the brilliance of your insights will do you little good if your solution is not expressed clearly. The teacher is more likely to accept your solution even if he or she does not agree with it, if you are able to identify the issues, explain the analysis and logic that led you to choose a particular alternative, and lay out a good plan for implementing the decision.