Preparing an Effective Case Analysis

Using The Case Method
Student Preparation For Case Discussion
Gaining Familiarity
Recognizing Symptoms
Identifying Goals
Conducting the Analysis
Making the Diagnosis
Doing the Action Planning
Appendix 1


In most entrepreneurship courses, cases are used extensively as a teaching tool. A key reason is that cases allow opportunities to identify and solve organizational problems through use of the strategic analysis process. Thus, by analyzing cases and presenting the results, students learn how to effectively use the tools, techniques, and concepts that are needed to resolve issues involved with new and emerging ventures.

The cases in the texts involve actual companies. Presented within them are problems and situations that owners must analyze and resolve. As you will see, an entrepreneurship case can focus on an entire industry, a single organization, or a business unit of a large, diversified firm. The entrepreneurial issues facing not-for-profit organizations also can be examined with the case analysis method.

Basically, the case analysis method calls for a careful diagnosis of an organization's current conditions (internal and external) so that appropriate strategic actions can be recommended. Appropriate actions not only allow a firm to survive in the long run, but also describe how it can develop and use core competencies to create sustainable competitive advantages and earn above-average returns. The case method has a rich heritage as a pedagogical approach to the study and understanding of managerial and entrepreneurial effectiveness.1

Critical to successful use of the case method is your preparation-that is, the preparation of the student or case analyst. Without careful study and analysis, you will lack the insights required to participate fully in the discussion of a firm's situation and the strategic actions that are appropriate.

Instructors adopt different approaches in their use of the case method. Some require their students to use a specific analytical procedure to examine an organization; others provide less structure, expecting students to learn by developing their own unique analytical method. Still other instructors believe that a moderately structured framework should be used to analyze a firm's situation and make appropriate recommendations. The specific approach you take will be determined by your professor. The approach we present to you here is a moderately structured framework.

Discussion of the case method is divided into four sections. First, it is important for you to understand why cases are used and what skills you can expect to learn through successful use of the case method. Second, a process-oriented framework is provided that can help you analyze cases and effectively discuss the results of your work. Using this framework in a classroom setting yields valuable experiences that can, in turn, help you successfully complete assignments eventually needed to own and operate a venture. Third, we describe briefly what you can expect to occur during in-class discussions of cases. As this description shows, the relationship and interactions between instructors and students during case discussions are different than they are during lectures. Finally, a moderately structured framework is offered for effective completion of in-depth oral and written presentations. Written and oral communication skills also are attributes valued highly in the new venture process, especially when developing and presenting a business plan. Hence, their development today can serve you well in the future.



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