WHEN to Use the Case Method? Conditions and Circumstances

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Case Method > Best Practices > WHEN to Use the Case Method? Conditions and Circumstances

WHEN to Use the Case Method? Conditions and Circumstances
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Over the last few decades, the use of the Case Method (CM) as a learning approach has been growing. We now added a comprehensive summary of the Case Method to 12manage, explaining what case studies are, what are the (changed) roles of the professor/discussion leader and of the students in case learning, as well as its structure, process, history, pros and cons, forum and SIG, plus a library of expert tips for case discussion leaders.

Because of the combined effects of active participation, storytelling and teamwork, the case method is fun for students, makes them learn more and deeper, and allows them to practice several personal and group skills while they're learning.
But there are also quite a few disadvantages. Among them is the fact that the CM is demanding and time-consuming.
Above considerations leave teachers and discussion leaders with a tough question:

WHEN should we apply Case Learning, and when NOT?

In other words, what kind of circumstances and objectives do you believe to be conducive to the case study method? Why? And when would traditional lecturing be better after all?

The Case Method is a Much Required Step in Higher Business Education
nilima thakur
Higher education is still largely restricted to Class Room Teaching with lecture delivery and theoretical course completion...
It's indeed time now to move on to Application Based Learning (ABL) in the Learning Management System (LMS) and employ more practical approach towards business issues while making decisions. ABL is the only technique to increase the analytical skills and thinking process of our budding managers of tomorrow. ABL uses different methodologies to learn different perspectives of professional ethics in the working environment and the Case Method is one of them.

Case Method is a method of problem solving by getting in the depth of situation analyse interpret and work out the same with observation and inferences which will be put in LMS further to make students aware of the critical situations or problematic areas in working environment
Case methods should be implemented in the LMS.


A KSA approach will only be justified when knowledge is transformed into skills and implemented in the strategic planning by attitude of our students...this will put them into the market competently with full enthusiasm and come up with flying colors.

Case Study Method Well Suited Fit for Current Strategic Uncertainty
Zeb O. WATURUOCHA, Management Consultant, India, Member
I agree with Dr. Nilima that there is no better time to use the Cast Study Method (CSM) than now to equip emerging managers and leaders.
So many uncertainties about the national and world economy have become certain - the speed of change, revolution in communication, the web-like connection of international economy, virtual management, migration of human resources and flight of human capital, work from home, - all have become the reality of the day.
Documenting the impact of these deveopments and new entrants in markets has been slow and to deal with them, real-time cases would be most ideal.
The CSM should be introduced as a credit subject in business studies as this would expose the students to several different situations where they can try several different approaches and solutions.

The Case Method is Appropriate for Young Executives
vincenzo de vera, Manager, Italy, Member
Little to add to our Indian friends, it is surely important to use the method, especially with young executives, to make learning more real and less theoretical.
The point is to choose the right cases for each target, objective and situation.

When do we Use Case Method
Onyangore Peter Ogendi, Teacher, Kenya, Member
An advantage of Case Studies is that students, lecturers and leaders learn more from the touchable. When one sees, touches, tastes something one understands it better.
For example take a situation in which one solution is working and others are not working. If you have never had that experience yourself, you will make errors. As a manager and certainly as a leader, the consequences of errors can be big or even huge. But when we use case method we can practice and learn such things in a safe, fictive exercise.

Case Study Method Appropriate for Introducing New Policies
Bannister, Accountant, Sierra Leone, Member
Case study method may also be appropriate for organisation in introducing new systems, policies, procedures and stratagies to ensure that people understand it in the way that management expect it to be discerned by all.

The Role of Cultural Norms and Values in Selecting Cases
moq14, Student (MBA), Pakistan, Member
As per above cited discussion I think the most important task is the selection of case study for the students which can be generalized instead of them being cultural or organizational specific.
In Asia the cultural norms and values of organizations are totally different from European countries, therefore the leaders and professors must design such a studies which matches with their own culture.

Case Method - Pay Attention to Methodological Fatigue
Elvio Valchi, Teacher, Argentina, Member
I agree with all the concepts above, I'd just like to add that some attention should be paid to the "methodological fatigue". Depending on the audience and on the length of the courses, in my experience (Case Method Professor for the last 8 years), I found some students may fall in a "routine" that diminishes the efficacy of the CM.
Also some traditional classes may be required to compensate the lack of content the CM intrinsically has.

Case Studies and their Uses
Carlos Barquero Zuniga, Director, Costa Rica, Member
- Case Study Discussions are an excellent tool to put concepts and analytical models to work, giving students or young managers a laboratory to apply their capacities, both individually and collectively.
- They also teach them that there is no single correct answer to a situation or a problem.
- Decision making courses are ideal for the CM method.

Case Study Method for Training and Development
kvssiyer, Consultant, India, Member
We use CSM for developing fresh engineers from the colleges into inspection engineers. We also use CSM for developing practicing managers.
CSM is participative learning and throws up new ways of tackling an situation and also helps to get to the roots of the cases as each manager has a background of their own and may look at the issue in different perspective.
So it helps giving an opportunity for overall development of the managers and helps to develop consequences and causes of the issues in multiple directions.

When to Use Case Studies in Research
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
In my field (psychometry), the case study is a research method for gathering information and data. It is used when the subject of our case study is rare and studying it is impossible by other methods or specific information is desired. In my opinion, case method should be used based on learner situation, time, topic and our aims.

When to Use Case Method Teaching
S Shyam Prasad, Professor, India, Member
Besides the above points, the case method should only be used by a competent leader or professor who is well trained to handle cases. When the professor or leader is not confident of handling a case, it is better to avoid the case method.

Case Method - Its Relevance and Utility
Madan Gopal Agarwal, Business Consultant, India, Member
Case Method is relevant both when you're starting a new endeavor ad for solving concerns of an existing endeavor.
Case Learning can take place on 2 levels:
1. It can be used as an elaborate system to gather data, distill information and facts and test them for their effectiveness.Once proven, a case can be a source for future use.
2. Past Case Methods aid in enhancing knowledge and understanding and visualizing things in a different perspective.
The point of it being demanding and time consuming is not its disadvantage. Rather this is its biggest advantage, for it prompts for deeper analysis, wider understanding and in-depth research. Therefore, it can be used more effectively in bringing out best outcomes.
Editor: Indeed Madan Gopal, the deeper learning is an advantage as you say, but it's also a disadvantage to the extent that a heavy focus on a number of cases means that there is less time remaining to spend on learning other things.
That's why we mention both aspects in our summary.

Case Study Method Combines Theory and Practice, but...
Ruwan Bandara, Manager, Sri Lanka, Member
Yes of cause this method is so relevant for new executives.
But one thing we must remember, that the practical, real world is more complex than a case and more uncertain.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there can be a huge difference between theory and practice!
For example a new flying officer may learn new experience with simulation (like in a case study) but real valuable lessons must be learned by him in real time exposure.
Editor: But isn't it so that we can witness an increased use of simulation and the case method, because it is cheaper than the real thing and has no negative consequences if people make mistakes?
Ruwan Bandara: Yes, the Case Method and Simulation are cheap. And you can achieve a better understanding, but not a real understanding or the REALIZATION. In management we need practice like in the medicine profession, where intensive additional training under guidance of an experienced practitioner is the most effective way.
Real world experience can't be learnt in a simulated world.

Case Method and When it is Appropriate
Elias M. Sampa, Professor, Philippines, Member
Case methods are appropriate where other traditional and experiential methods may not be effective. The purpose of the case is to show a real life situation as to what really happened and examining the situation in terms of what if.
You look into what should or shouldn't have been done, using some specific principles of a course or program, say, marketing.
In that light new insights are bound to be developed. The objective is not to generalize but working within a case context and thinking possibilities.
It's not really about pros and cons of MC, rather than about appropriateness.

Case Methodology Appropriateness
David Miller, Teacher, United States, Member
Great question! I teach Problem Solving using the Case Methodology to junior executive level students. I believe the CM will work only if:
- The cases are chosen to achieve a specific goal (e.g. problem solving)
- The cases are structured to support students push to that goal
- Students can relate to the case (relevant)
- The case contains enough information to stimulate debate
- Students share at least a moderate level of professional respect between them
- A common framework to guide the discussion is shared (for us a model for problem solving).
This method is not for knowledge learning but instead application of knowledge in a complex, ever changing world.

Take the Example of the Training of Doctors
A Y SIRDIC, Manager, Ghana, Member
In some countries, new and aspiring medical students (would be doctors) are sent straight to hospitals to learn from practicing doctors. It is therefore a direct learning process.
Consultants (senior doctors) visit periodically to supervise and give directions with further detailed explanations. Students like these come out as full-fledged professionals.
This method is modern and also advantageous and could be replicated in the training of future business managers.

Case Methods Applications
Francisco ISIDRO FIP Pereira, Professor, Brazil, Member
Case method is excellent to relate theory and practise in the classroom and in the research field. It's like a proof of evidences in the real world.

Nassir Mozdic Jamal Dr., Management Consultant, Kenya, Member
@Moq14: Good idea to design cases within cultural norms but one should remember that the world is a Global Village. Diversity is critical otherwise the graduate managers will be unable to function with and under different culture and specifically under legal framework different from theirs.

Case Method of Learning
kvssiyer, Consultant, India, Member
In training and development we use CSM and in turn the trainees managers and engineers are asked to demonstrate their functions and assignments taking one item of their choice and demonstrate the functions they do how effectively and efficiently they are doing. This gives an opportunity to asses the managers and engineers and propose and implement the corrective measures leading to continuous improvements.

Case Method Involves People
JORGE GALLARDO, Professor, Ecuador, Member
CM is a great tool. It gives the teacher the chance to get people involved in the analysis and discussion of the main items or aspects that he wants to point out. We agree it's time consuming, but it is worth trying.
There are so many sources of information today that building a case is a challenging task: We have to gather the information we consider relevant and raise questions. But, of course, we cannot forget the goals we want to obtain.
The main problem, however, is getting the students to read ;-)
But it is fun to try, at least.

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