Case Analysis Guideline There are generally two kinds of cases in this casebook, decision cases and analysis (descriptive) cases. Some cases are both. Decision cases usually require that you identify the problem(s), evaluate solutions, and decide what you would do supported by rationale. Analysis cases do not really pose any problems and, therefore, require that you explain the behavior in the case.
Your instructor may use cases in class and not expect any preparation from you. At other times, your instructor may request prior preparation before coming to class, such as reading the case, and answering questions. If more extensive preparation is requested or a written assignment is given, these guidelines may be useful. In decision cases, you may follow a certain “formula” to get the most out of the case. The steps in the formula are a general guideline and may be altered by your instructor based on course objectives. In analysis cases, you seek to explain “why” certain behaviors happened, using appropriate theory, and supplemented with your common sense (developed from life/work experience). The following steps should guide you in analyzing a case.
1. List the facts. Sometimes it helps to list the facts chronologically, or in relationship with key characters, or in some systematic way, to check for areas that are unclear, such as case facts that are ambiguous or differences of opinion if you are working in a group. By listing the facts, you get a sense of the whole of the case. You usually do not turn this part in; it’s used to get you oriented.
2. Make inferences about the facts. From the facts, what kinds of assumptions do you make? For example, if someone worked eighteen hours a day, seven days a week for five weeks in a row, we could infer several very different reasons why that person worked so many hours. Some might say the person is a “kiss-up,” or “disorganized,” or “overworked,” or “dedicated.” It’s important to state your inferences so that other people may evaluate whether they agree with you, based on their own interpretation of the facts. Inferences are tentative probability statements that may be a basis for deciding on a course of action later on.
3. What is the problem (and why)? After identifying the problem(s), try to analyze why they exist. This may lead to an even more critical (or basic) problem. The obvious problem or the problem stated by the character in the case might not be the actual problem that needs solving. It ma
y be a symptom. For example, the direct problem of an employee quitting, when analyzed, might be due to poor communication with her boss, thus suggesting that poor employee relations is a more basic problem. Often there are multiple causes for a problem. Is there additional information that you need to analyze the case adequately? A thorough analysis recognizes what information would be gathered, even if you can’t actually do it for your analysis.
4. Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. Don’t settle for just one or two solutions. Take some time to brainstorm a large quantity of solutions. Following the rules of brainstorming, don’t evaluate them until you’ve generated a sizable amount.
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