Importance of case studies

Importance of case studies

 

The most fundamental component of management education is to develop and foster the students' skills to analytically evaluate information. The prime objective of an MBA course is not only to train the students in management but also to prepare them to administer key positions with appropriate skills that can help them in their workplace. Hence, it is essential that MBA students be trained on live 
organisational settings with the help of case studies.

 

Using a case from the present industrial scenario would be of immense relevance and importance in the context of functioning as a standpoint for envisaging different situations and learning by practicing. While the recommended course material assist the student in gaining more knowledge, case studies facilitate in developing business wit and wisdom. Cases provide an ample of scope for application of information. Business cases direct the minds of the students in a particular situation and enable them to nurture the art of making astute decisions.

Learning from real-life scenarios

Case studies present realistic, complex, and contextually rich situations and often involve a dilemma, conflict, or problem that one or more of the characters in the case must negotiate. Discussing cases in classrooms facilitate exchange of views among students and relate theory to practice. Case discussions facilitate a vehicle for reconsidering the lessons learnt, sharing them with others and gaining valuable knowledge by doing so.

How can you learn from a case study? Here are a few ways that can help:

*As you read the case study, ask yourself, 'What is the case study about? What do I need to analyse?'

*Go through the case very carefully and highlight the case's crucial facts as you read.

*Empathise with the manager who is being discussed in the case and to develop a sense of involvement in his or her problem.

*Identify the relevant areas for analysing, noting each one on a separate sheet of paper.

*Focus on the case's facts you have highlighted and go over the qualitative and quantitative evidence carefully. Note down your conclusions.

*Review your conclusions, and then verbalise a set of recommendations directed at the issues you have identified.

During this process, the role of the instructor is valuable. In class, an instructor usually allows students to take the case where they wish. He or she then stimulates the students to make their own observations based on the ideas they have developed and leads the students to consider areas they may have missed. Once a case has been studied thoroughly, it is the instructor's accountability to encapsulate the discussion and draw out the useful learning and observations that have been drawn out.

The actual use of a case as a means of learning depends deeply on class participation. Through exchange and constructive discussion, students will be able to build analytical skills and gain conceptual understanding. It also encourages rigorous thinking and helps students improve their communication skills.   Contributing one's own views - expressing and defending - becomes one of the best learning outcomes.

The downsides

The case study method demands thoughtful participation both from the instructor as well as students. Unless this is taken intently, the purpose of a case study will never be served and instead, be counter-productive. While case studies can help students arrive at solutions, here are some things that need to be remembered while discussing them:

*While every case is unique, the solutions for it are even more so. Hence, it is impossible to generalise the outcomes and apply them universally.

*Solutions are always contingent on resources available at that point of time. Decisions may need to be altered at a future date because there might be some change that occurs in the availability of resources.

It is a known fact that it is always easier said than done. It is very easy to recommend on actions which do not disturb us directly. But is considerably difficult to conclude on even simple issues when we are jittery. Having more pressure on our mind may not work at times of actual crises.

So, it is of no wonder that case studies are often used in classrooms to show how employees work together to arrive at solution. However, it is important to use it effectively and help students make the best use of it.

(The authors are with Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumakuru)

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