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Apr 27, 2023
  1. Introduction

    Cases assists in bridging the gap between classroom learning and the so-called real world of management. They provide us with an opportunity to develop, sharpen, and test our analytical skills at:

    - Assessing situations.

    - Sorting out and organizing key information.

    - Asking the right questions.

    - Defining opportunities and problems

    - Identifying and evaluating alternative courses of action.

    - Interpreting data.

    - Evaluating the results of past strategies.

    - Developing and defending new strategies.

    - Interacting with other managers.

    - Making decisions under conditions of uncertainty.

    - Critically evaluating the work of others.

    - Responding to criticism.

    The use of business cases was developed by faculty members of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in the 1920s. Case studies have been widely accepted as one effective way of exposing students to the decision-making process.

    Basically, cases represent detailed descriptions or reports of business problems. They are usually written by a trained observer who actually had been involved in the firm or organization and had some dealings with the problems under consideration. Cases generally entail both qualitative and quantitative data which the student must analyze and determine appropriate alternatives and solutions.

    The primary purpose of the case method is to introduce a measure of realism into management education. Rather than emphasizing the teaching of concepts, the case method focuses on application of concepts and sound logic to real-world business problems. In this way the student learns to bridge the gap between abstraction and application and to appreciate the value of both.

    The primary purpose of this paper is to offer a logical format for the analysis of case problems. Although there is no one format that can be successfully applied to all cases, the following framework is intended to be a logical sequence from which to develop sound analyses. This framework is presented for analysis of comprehensive management cases; however, the process should also be useful for shorter cases, incidents, and problems.


    Checklist for Analyzing the Current Situation

    Phase 1: The environment.

    1. Are there any trends in the environment that could have an effect on the industry, firm, or management program?
    2. What is the state of the economy? Inflation? Stagflation? Depression?
    3. What is the cultural, social, and political atmosphere?
    4. Are there trends or changes in the environment that could be advantageous or disadvantageous to the industry, firm, or management program? Can the management program be restructured to take advantage of these trends or changes?


    Phase 2: The industry.

    1. What industry is the firm in? What class of industry? Are there other industries the firm is competing with?
    2. What is the size of the firm relative to the industry? 3. How does the firm compare in terms of market share, sales, and profitability with the rest of the industry?
    3. How does the firm compare with other firms in the industry in terms of a financial ratio analysis?
    4. What is the firm’s major competition?
    5. Are there any trends in terms of government control, political, or public atmosphere that could affect the industry?


    Phase 3: The firm.

    1. What are the objectives of the firm? Are they clearly stated? Attainable?
    2. What are the strengths of the firm? Managerial expertise? Financial? Copyrights or patents?
    3. What are the constraints and weaknesses of the firm?
    4. Are there any real or potential sources of dysfunctional conflict in the structure of the firm?
    5. How are the functional departments (e.g. marketing, financial services, controlling, HR…) structured in the firm?
    6. What is the corporate culture of the firm? What kind of management style is preferred? How do employees communicate?


    Phase 4: The management program.

    1. What are the objectives of the management program? Are they clearly stated? Are they consistent with the objectives of the firm? Is the entire management toolbox structured to meet these objectives?
    2. What management concepts are at issue in the program? Is the management program well planned and laid out? Is the program consistent with sound management principles? If the program takes exception to management principles, is there a good reason for it?
    3. To what target market is the program directed? Is it well defined? Is the market large enough to be profitably served? Does the market have long-run potential?
    4. What competitive advantage does the management program offer? If none, what can be done to gain a competitive advantage in the market place?
    5. What products are being sold? What is the width, depth, and consistency of the firm’s product lines? Does the firm need new products to fill out its product line? Should any product be deleted? What is the profitability of the various products?
    6. What promotion mix is being used? Is promotion consistent with the products and product images? What could be done to improve the promotion mix?
    7. What channels of distribution are being used? Do they deliver the product at the right time and right place to meet consumer needs? Are the channels typical of those used in the industry? Could channels be made more efficient?
    8. What pricing strategies are being used? How do prices compare with similar products of other firms? How are prices determined?
    9. Are business research and information systematically integrated into the management program? Is the overall management program internally consistent?
    10. Are (senior/middle) managers capable to translate strategy into action? Are managers excellent in action or just in talking?


    Checklist for Analyzing Problems and Their Core Elements

    1. What is the primary problem in the case? What are the secondary problems?
    2. What proof exists that these are the central issues? How much of this proof is based on facts? On opinions? On assumptions?
    3. What symptoms are there that suggest these are the real problems in the case?
    4. How are the problems, as defined, related? Are they independent or are they the result of a deeper problem?
    5. What are the ramifications of these problems in the short run? In the long run?


    Checklist for Formulating and Evaluating Alternative Courses of Action

    1. What possible alternatives exist for solving the firm’s problems?
    2. What limits are there on the possible alternatives? Competence? Resources? Management preference? Social responsibility? Legal restrictions?
    3. What major alternatives are now available to the firm? What management concepts are involved that affect these alternatives?
    4. Are the listed alternatives reasonable given in the firm’s situation? Are they logical? Are the alternatives consistent with the goals of the management program? Are they consistent with the firm’s objectives?
    5. What are the costs of each alternative? What are the benefits? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative?
    6. Which alternative best solves the problem and minimizes the creation of new problems given the above constraints?


    Checklist for Selecting and Implementing the Chosen Alternative

    1. What must be done to implement the alternative?
    2. What personnel will be involved? What are the responsibilities of each?
    3. When and where will the alternative be implemented?
    4. What will be the probable outcome?
    5. How will the success or failure of the alternative be measured?


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