case study outline

case study outline

The Importance of Case Study Analysis

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1. Introduction

While many of the most compelling case studies are based on true events that generate an interesting and pertinent issue for the writer, not all case studies are exciting stories. It is important that students understand its overarching goal, which is to provide an explicit detailed consideration of a defined issue, as a means for understanding decisions or recommendations, and prepared action. The issue can be anything from a “best practice” within a professional field, to a proposed mode of action for a given organization or an explanation of an event or decision that has had a significant impact. Changes to complex social issues are also candidates for case study. The emphasis on the word “understanding” is significant. In an era of quick fixes to complex problems, the old adage still holds true that well understanding a problem is half way to solving it, and the quality of the understanding is usually proportionate to the time and effort invested in considering it.

The purpose of this essay is to outline the importance of case study analysis, to encourage its use not only within the marketing strategy, but as a tool to solve business problems in its broadest sense. The term “business problem” has an expansive connotation and is applied to the full gamut of situations that organizations encounter – many of which are not traditionally viewed as business problems. In a society where an increasing number of fields and disciplines are becoming multidisciplinary, and where problems are never contained within neat boundaries, effective tools are needed to address the inherent complexity that is the root of many issues. This essay seeks to address the use of case study as a tool to accomplish this and to detail some best practices, with the ultimate aim of advancing its use across disciplines.

2. Case Study Background

In order to present an imperative and effective historical background, a case study is significant. A historical background comes to life when the reader knows why and how a certain event took place. The reader is able to associate with the situation and imagine the possible constraints and influences that may have resulted in the current scenario. A case study not only helps in understanding the past but also may help in predicting the future. Usually a case study is written after a lot of data has been obtained with relevance to a situation and the data needs to be further organized in a suitable manner. A historical background provides an applicable setting to organize this data. A strong historical background may be helpful in the comparison of various cases as the past is a pointer to the future and hence may provide some expert ideas to resolve certain issues. This may be an effective tool in teaching. A case study may be used to explain students various complex issues and they may be asked to solve the same by understanding it and applying the knowledge gained in the lecture.

3. Analysis Methodology

The next step in the methodology is to determine whether the case constitutes a decision making situation. This will be evident if there is an outcome or action caused by a problem that can be determined as good or bad for the company in doing what it is trying to do. If it is so, then a comprehensive underlying decision tree will be the most effective way to illustrate the situation. This will then lead on to the development of the alternative courses of action to solve the problem. An important part of this is to not take into consideration the actual decisions that were made in the case, but rather any viable options at the time, as to simulate the decision making process in the real situation. Given that a course of action is a solution to a problem or problem set, a plan will have an intended result, it is appropriate to again assess these through the use of goals or success criteria. At this point there should be a clear indication of what it is the analysis is trying to recommend.

3.2 Inference and decision making

An important step to achieving a pertinent case analysis is to identify the criterion that will make the analysis and the solution that follows of maximum benefit. There are many methods in which to do this but in our case we have used the long and short term goals framework. The long term goals are the ultimate things the company wishes to achieve usually in the area of profit or survival. The short term goals are the stepping stones to achieving the long term goals. By setting these goals, it should then be possible to attain a measure by which the company can be assessed as to the level of success in meeting the goals. Once the goals have been identified, a decision has to be made as to what the problem is and what the cause of the problem is. This involves stating the problem in the form of a question i.e. ‘why is the company x not achieving the long term goal of y’ and then constructing a tree diagram to ascertain the answer to the problem and the cause.

3.1 A framework for case analysis

4. Findings and Recommendations

Findings can be defined as the outcome of results or consequence of an act. A finding is a decision made after judicial inquiry. A finding may be announced in various ways; it is usually made in a more formal sense and leads to an order. Findings of a fact are based on supporting trial evidence. It may be implied or expressly stated in an order or judgment. It will also be based explicitly or otherwise on the judge’s evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and the relative weight of proofs, including the documentary proofs. Although it is said that findings are mainly made for facts, findings can also be made for legal rules and regulations in a given case. Where findings are as to the application of a particular rule and regulation, its effect – whether direct, immediate, or remote – its operative effect, and the construction of the rule or regulation are made in terms of specific findings on the facts at issue. It is essential that the effect of the rule of law be examined and findings on it will affect the rights of the parties. Desiccation of legal issues by findings of fact and law is essential in case either of the parties filed an appeal or review of judgment. Recommendations are acts of recommending. A recommendation is an oral or written statement that proposes policy guidance regarding a particular issue. It is intended for the persons and groups who have the power to make decisions that will affect the event to a current situation. In an administrative framework, a recommendation is the power to send a proposal for a change in a specific policy. A specific recommendation may be statute-based or implication-based in order to improve the matter of issuing change. Step-by-step recommendations are made in an effort to improve certain conditions by a series of acts. A recommendation implies a plan for the desirable future status of affairs based on what the writer believes would be the most probable successful way to affect change. In the case of making policy recommendations, a special finding as to the operational effect and construction of the law said policy is based on is required. An opinion on the law’s meaning and effect is necessary, especially if the law has never been enforced or is not relevant to the issue at present.

5. Conclusion

Case analysis is an effective tool for crisis management. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out that often times, businesses get themselves into trouble and the best course of action is to get out of the situation as quietly and efficiently as possible. In today’s media-savvy world, there are cameras and microphones everywhere. The last thing a company needs is litigation being the “trial” in a courtroom of public opinion. Courtroom litigation is both time-consuming and costly. Who wins? With lawyer fees what they are, even the victorious party will find the battle has cost more than it bargained for. With opportunity costs so high, reaching a settlement before an expensive trial is often very desirable. However, settlements are hard to negotiate without some idea of how much the opposition is or is not willing to compromise. This is another situation where the relatively smaller scale of case data can be quite useful. In simulating the opposition, companies can assess the likely results of their various strategies and make a well-informed decision on the best course of action.

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