Business school case study method

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Case Study Method: Why & how the best business schools use it

We will update this page with news about partnerships like these that may offer a free or discounted membership. Most MBA booklets will boast, among other things, about their usage of the case study method to turn business students into business leaders. So, how does it work and what is its goal? It all begins with a few pages of information about a company that faces a specific challenge.

To be able to track your development of thought during a case and reach a final solution is ultimately an exhilarating feeling.

The majority of business case studies presented have a narrative arc which students can relate to and appreciate as a real thing — to solve a real human problem brings a feeling of achievement and therefore the method motivates students to involve themselves on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level in each case. Each case is designed to build on the knowledge of previous cases leading to students who are capable of applying their learning in any situation. Preparation is crucial for business case studies to work; if an individual has not prepared fully then the benefits of the method are lost.

Downloadable Study Guides

This requirement for prior research forces each student to take responsibility for their own learning, but simultaneously it begs the question; what exactly are they paying for? This is great news for those who can talk the talk and who love to compete for airtime, but for those who are slightly less gregarious — yes, business schools enroll types like this too — the method is flawed.

Not all those in business leadership are brilliant public speakers — it helps, but it is not as essential as, say, empathy or rationality. And this may lead to a skewed hierarchy of classmates who believe that the most loquacious will go the furthest. This evidently does not give much time for an in-depth analysis and so relies on the seminar leader to make sure the important aspects of each case are reached promptly.

How They Teach The Case Method At Harvard Business School | Poets&Quants

And although this is efficient, it prohibits students from working out these aspects for themselves as they will have to become accustomed to in the real business world. Cases are also a rather inefficient way of teaching basic business skills which are quantifiable and have a certifiable answer. To teach technical subjects in a case would be a waste of valuable time. In order to be able to contribute valuably to case study hearings, students must have considerable pre-MBA work experience.


  1. HBP - The Case Study Handbook: A Student's Guide.
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  3. Case Study Method: Why & how the best business schools use it | MBA Crystal Ball!
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  5. This can be challenging for those from non-traditional backgrounds, who need to learn these skills from scratch. The emphasis on development of what is already known rather than creation of new knowledge gives MBA programs a sense of exclusivity which is hard to shift.

    Case Study Method: Transforming Executives
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