Typically written in narrative form, a case sets forth, in a factual manner, the events and organizational circumstances surrounding a particular managerial situation. Placing the reader at the scene of the action, the real events presented provide an opportunity to help evaluate alternative courses of action. Case analysis is used in academics to help you demonstrate your ability to evaluate situations critically, to apply concepts you have learned in a class, to solve problems, and to communicate your findings and conclusions. The purpose of this exercise is to introduce you to case studies and the analysis process, and to a proper format for writing the case study analysis report. Try not to worry about trying to find the "right answer" to a case. Usually, there is no single right answer.
Most cases are intentionally ambiguous and can be viewed from many different perspectives. Several feasible solutions are usually available to any give case. The best solution is the one you can best support with thoughtful analysis, logical arguments, and substantiating evidence from your research or your own experience. Your goal in analyzing a case is to provide an effective solution to the situation outlined and to support that solution with solid and persuasive evidence. Overview Analyzing a case study can take several forms, and you should check with your instructor on the specific approach or point of view that he or she recommends.
For example, you might analyze the case from the perspective that you are the central character of the narrative and must provide a report of what you would do in the situation. On the other hand, you might play the role of an outside consultant hired to evaluate the situation for which you provide a report. Make sure you allow enough time for the various tasks you must perform. These tasks are listed below and explained in more detail in the following sections. (Note: When writing a case analysis as an exercise in a writing class, there will be no content-related course concepts (e. g. management or health care theories) that apply directly to the case. The objective of the assignment will be to produce a well-written analysis. You should check with your instructor to determine the expectations of content and the amount of research required.
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Analyzing the Case
Read and study the case thoroughly. Define the problem(s). Select a focus for your analysis by identifying key issues and their causes. Identify and apply course concepts in order to identify possible solutions.Evaluate alternative solutions and choose the solution you believe is best. Determine how you want to present your views and structure your paper. Produce a first draft of your case analysis. Revise and edit the draft. 8. Format and proofread the final report.
Identify the most important issues that relate to the concepts you have been studying in the course (if applicable). Once you have focused on one or two key issues, try to gain a fuller understanding of their causes. Why do these problem(s) exist? What caused them? What is the effect of the problem(s) on the organization or the relationships among individuals in the organization? Who is responsible for or affected by the problem(s)? 11. Identify and apply course concepts in order to identify possible solutions. (See previous note regarding writing a case analysis as an exercise in a writing class. This section is included so that you become familiar with the application of case studies in context of applying content-related course concepts. ) a. Identify and apply one or more concepts discussed in class, covered in your readings, or learned from your own experience that would apply to the case and provide some insight or guidance in solving the problem(s). b. Review your notes from class discussions and your texts and other readings in the course, conduct outside research, and use your own knowledge and experience to decide what concepts, theories, or ideas could be relevant. 2. Evaluate alternative solutions and choose the solution you believe best reflects the findings from your analysis. Make certain you can support the solution you choose with solid evidence from your case analysis. Weigh the pros and cons of each alternative. Which solution is the most feasible? Make certain you can defend that solution. Now you are ready to proceed to the next step—determining how to present your ideas and structure your paper. Writing the Case Analysis Written case analyses are short, structured reports.
Usually, the instructor will ask for between two and ten typed pages, depending upon the complexity of the case. Some case studies are assigned as individual efforts; others are group projects. Still others may be a partial group effort, with the group collaborating in the analysis and each individual student being asked to prepare a separate written analysis. Your task, in writing your case analysis, is to combine aspects of the case and key issues with your perceptions and supported opinions. You must then examine alternatives, choose the most viable solution, and provide evidence to support your views.
You obtain this evidence from class discussions, your text readings, outside research, and your personal experiences. Determine how you want to present your views and structure your paper. Most case studies follow a prescribed format and structure and can vary depending upon the course in which it is used, such as those discussed next. Check with your instructor regarding his or her preference as to the sections of the case study analysis report. Case study analyses are written as reports with headings, not as essays. The report should clearly identify the relevant sections for the reader. .Title page Use standard APA format to develop a title page. b. Introduction Determine a thesis. Summarize, in one sentence, the principal outcome of your analysis. This is the thesis for your report and should be clearly stated in the first few paragraphs. The introduction identifies the central problem. c. Background Take the central problem, and place it in a context for the reader providing background information about the case. Do not reiterate or rehash the facts stated in the case. Rather, place the case in a research context.
The background section demonstrates to the reader that you have conducted research, either academically or in the field, regarding the types of problems that the case study describes. Be sure that your written presentation focuses your diagnosis of the problems on the most important issues. Key Problems This is where you identify your thoughts about the problems that exist. It is considered a very important part of the report. Start with the “who-when-where-what-why-how” typical questions (Gerson & Gerson, 2002). Ask yourself here as you ponder the situation: “What are the problems at this company? There certainly is usually more than one problem. Identify the ones you see as being instrumental to the success of the company or its project. e. Alternatives Now that you have conducted research and placed the problem(s) into a context, you will have informed choices about the alternative solutions to the problem(s). You are not expected to analyze all possible alternatives. However, you should have considered several alternatives when you formed your opinion about the case. Discuss these alternatives and why you rejected them in determining your solution to the case.
Why are these viable alternatives? What are the constraints (e. g. money, time, personnel, resources) imposed and the reason that you do not recommend the alternative at this time? f. Proposed Solution Discuss your proposed solution providing support with solid evidence. Generally, you should only provide one proposed solution. Keep in mind that in the context of the case study, the characters or company can only start on one solution at a time. Which one do you propose and why? Justify why this solution is the best option through a logical argument supported by research.
The proposed solution should be specific and realistic. g. Recommendations If appropriate, you may conclude your written analysis with a discussion of the implications of the problems you identified on the functioning of the organization or on the relationship among individuals in the case. You may also want to make recommendations for further action that might be taken to resolve some of these issues. Be specific about what should be done and who should do it. This section discusses specific strategies that the individuals in the case can do to accomplish the proposed solution.
Check with your instructor as to whether this section should be included in your case analysis report. Produce a first draft of your case analysis. Revise and edit the draft. Format and proofread the final report. Case study reports are written in a structured format, not as essays. Case study reports usually contain an Executive Summary that contains brief summaries of the Introduction, Background, and Proposed Solution sections of your report. The Executive Summary provides a quick, easy-to-read summary of these three main parts of the case study. Check with your instructor to see if he or she requires an Executive Summary to be included with your report. ) Tips for formatting the final report: a. If an Executive Summary is to be included, it should be single-spaced with relevant headings identifying the sections. The Executive Summary should summarize those sections of the report, and not contain any information not discussed by the report. b. The case study analysis should be written as a structured report, with relevant headings. The case study analysis is not an essay. 16. Include any relevant appendices and references in a proper APA format.
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