Academic Resources

What Is a Business Case

What Is a Business Case

  • Based on real experience/problem
  • Written in narrative form (as a story)
  • Intended to teach a skill or lesson
  • Usually lacks an ending (students left to resolve the problem/issue through their own involvement in decision-making process)
  • Can be short or long – – shorter is better
  • Can be simple or complex

Click to reveal the different types of cases

  • A very short case that describes a single incident
  • Used during a lecture to illustrate a concept or to raise an issue for discussion
  • Usually read in class
  • No pre-class preparation
    • A useful way to introduce students to the case method
    • Easy to write
  • Imparts information in a way that has more interest than a conventional reading or textbook chapter
  • Reads like a story, but the point is just to introduce information about an industry, company, theory, etc.
    • Can be written entirely from research (public sources)
    • No business contacts needed
    • Don’t need to do interviews, or get permission to publish the case
  • Data source is the case writer’s personal experience (i.e. with an airline, bank, telecom supplier, etc…)
  • A case where the writer may be particularly knowledgeable and passionate
  • The type of case likely to teach students and professors the most.
  • Focus is on the problem/issue actually facing the company

Case length varies widely…

Reasons for a Long Case

  • Students aren’t familiar with the industry and/or company, and background on the industry is important to understanding the problem in the case.
  • The case spans several years, & important to cover time span.
  • The case contains several key actors, and all of their actions are important to understanding the problem in the case
  • The decision in case requires assimilation of extensive data.

Reasons for a Shorter Case

  • Most students prefer shorter cases
  • Some students (particularly EMBAs) may not have as much time available
  • Easier to have a productive case discussion if students have actually read and prepared the case