Comicification of Management Case Studies(B)
Dr.Debapratim Purkayastha
Each of the three cases - Firing a Hero, It’s Bank Policy and Turbulence on the Tarmac - can be read and the information digested within 5 minutes. Firing a Hero and It’s Bank Policy have been taken together by me on multiple occasions in professional development workshops with practicing managers. The cases worked extremely well in the workshops and the feedback was also really encouraging. The participants said that the topics covered were very relevant to their organization and also appreciated the format of the cases and their utility as a training tool.

The two cases can also be used alone. They can be put to other uses as well. It is possible to discuss all the issues covered in the teaching note with any one of the two cases in an 80-90 minute session. When used in a Human Resource Management curriculum, the ‘Firing a Hero’ case can go into more detail covering all aspects of the ‘Disciplinary action’ topic. Similarly, in an Ethics curriculum, each of the two cases can be used to have a discussion on the ethics theories. Students may be asked to discuss the ethical complexities involved and alternative actions possible after they have discussed the roles (ethical positions) of each of the people involved.

The case Turbulence on the Tarmac is suitable for a Services Marketing curriculum. It can also be used in a Marketing Management/ Crisis Management curriculum. When the case was tested in a classroom, it did not take more than seven minutes for the students to read the case and digest the information provided in it. There was a high level of engagement and participation of the students in the case discussion in class. The novelty of having a case in a comic book format seems to have enthused the students. After the session, the students went back with the impression that they had learnt a lot about key concepts in Services Marketing. There were many positive comments about both the case content as well as the format in which it was presented. Some comments were: “It was such a small case. I did not anticipate that it will leave us with so much learning.” “Can’t we have more of such case studies?”

So, is Comicification really going to rock the case studies market? Not really. The text-heavy paper case study is not going to disappear anytime soon. Comic book cases will form a tiny, but refreshing, fraction of the total number of cases adopted for classroom use. This is probably due to the fact that some professors might be concerned that a comic book case is childish stuff in the context of management education and using such cases will be akin to dumbing down the MBA.  Business education is serious business, after all! Interestingly, critics of Gamification too have similar concerns about this technique being adopted in the business context, but this has not stopped businesses from adopting Gamification.

However, we feel there is a place for Comicification of cases for management education. Of course, not all cases will fit this format, but we can always develop a few cases (with clear teaching objectives and strong theoretical underpinnings) whenever we have an opportunity to do so. Adopting a few comic book cases for classroom use cannot hurt at all. We should see experiments with other formats as an opportunity rather than a threat. As long as the rigor of the case method is not compromised, we have nothing to worry about.

I feel that comic book cases work very well for executive training, as the executives are already aware of the context and are able to quickly relate to the situation presented in the case. I am sure it will be great fun to take this type of case to an undergraduate or a postgraduate class once in a while. One look at the students’ faces when they see a comic book case will convince you that you have made the right decision.
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Read Also:
Firing a Hero
It’s Bank Policy
Turbulence on the Tarmac
Comicification of Management Case Studies