Cases give practice in strategy formulation. A case may be fictional or real. When real, the case may be set or live.
When a case is fictional, all the facts for strategy formulation are contained within the write-up of the case. The student is expected to formulate the strategy that best addresses the facts as given. Generally, no research beyond what is supplied in the write-up is required. The only information outside of the case write-up that would be useful is information that is common knowledge among the students enrolled in the course.
A case that is real and set is about a firm at a set time, as given in the write-up of the case. The student is expected to formulate the strategy that best addresses the facts known at that time. Generally, searching for information going beyond what is contained in the write-up of the case and what is asked by the instructor is unnecessary. Moreover, information found about opinions or events that occurred after the time of the case can hinder good work, because a strategy based on the opinion of others is vacuous, and a strategy based on events occurring after the time of the case is illogical.
A case that is real and live is about an ongoing, generally local, firm. The student is expected to formulate a strategy that best accomplishes the goals of the assignment. While the case is being studied, important aspects of the case may change, including the goals sought and the limitations of the assignment. Adapting to the changes is part of the challenge of the live case.
Casework generally involves a writing assignment or a presentation-participation assignment, or both. The writing assignment may be an individual assignment or a group assignment. The presentation-participation assignment is generally structured such that a group of students present the case to the rest of the class or to a panel of judges.
- 5.1: Writing Assignment
- The purpose of a case writing assignment is to give practice in the kind of writing that is valued in the workplace. If after you have competed your assignment, you would not yourself pay money for what you have written, then what you have written is not good enough.
- 5.2: Presentation-Participation Assignment
- The presentation-participation assignment is a role-playing assignment where every participant benefits through practice. Generally, a group of presenters assumes the role of consultants, while the audience assume the role of firm executives, other consultants, or both.