ICMR Case Studies and Management Resources
Learning with Cases
The case study method of teaching used in management education is quite
different from most of the methods of teaching used at the school and
undergraduate course levels. Unlike traditional lecture-based teaching where
student participation in the classroom is minimal, the case method is an active
learning method, which requires participation and involvement from the student
in the classroom. For students who have been exposed only to the traditional
teaching methods, this calls for a major change in their approach to learning.
This introduction is intended to provide students with some basic information about the case method, and guidelines about what they must do to gain the maximum benefit from the method. We begin by taking a brief look at what case studies are, and how they are used in the classroom. Then we discuss what the student needs to do to prepare for a class, and what she can expect during the case discussion. We also explain how student performance is evaluated in a case study based course. Finally, we describe the benefits a student of management can expect to gain through the use of the case method.
There is no universally accepted definition for a case study, and the case
method means different things to different people. Consequently, all case
studies are not structured similarly, and variations abound in terms of style,
structure and approach. Case material ranges from small caselets (a few
paragraphs to one-two pages) to short cases (four to six pages) and from 10 to
18 page case studies to the longer versions (25 pages and above).
A case is usually a "description of an actual situation, commonly involving a decision, a challenge, an opportunity, a problem or an issue faced by a person or persons in an organization." In learning with case studies, the student must deal with the situation described in the case, in the role of the manager or decision maker facing the situation.
An important point to be emphasized here is that a case is not a problem. A problem usually has a unique, correct solution. On the other hand, a decision-maker faced with the situation described in a case can choose between several alternative courses of action, and each of these alternatives may plausibly be supported by logical argument. To put it simply, there is no unique, correct answer in the case study method.
The case study method usually involves three stages: individual preparation, small group discussion, and large group or class discussion. While both the instructor and the student start with the same information, their roles are clearly different in each of these stages, as shown in Table 1.
 Michiel R. Leeenders, Louise A. Mauffette-Launders and James Erskine, Writing Cases, (Ivey Publishing, 4th edition) .