Miami University Farmer School of Business
Practical Guide to Case Study – 2008
Cases are simply histories.
They are written to reflect the actual situation faced by a
decision-maker as completely and accurately as possible.
The purpose is to enable the
readers of a case to understand the complex conditions and circumstances that had to be
considered at the time of the case, and to debate the potential decisions and their likely
As business educators, we cannot easily put students into the business world and offer
them the opportunity to make actual decisions.
There is too much at stake in terms of
money, liability, and consequences to stakeholders.
Instead, we use cases to enable
students to practice their analytical skills, to apply tools and models, and to engage in the
practice of logical thinking, discussion, debate, presentation, critique, teamwork, and
We learn to listen, to sort data, to separate fact from opinion.
judgment, and we calibrate our understanding to reflect the complete spectrum of issues
and their interactions.
We learn to deal with uncertainty and take risks given incomplete
and inaccurate information.
We also use cases to provide exposure to a variety of
settings; international and domestic, new versus established, small and large, consumer
and industrial, service and product, micro and macro.
We connect all of the functions of
business, because in the business world all the functions connect.
In short, we use cases to bring the complexity of the business world to the classroom to
allow our students to practice their craft.
We confront and debate in order to understand
We critique each other to tease out the best thinking, and to weed out the
shallow and the illogical.
Ultimately the goal is to develop a process