Developing impactful case studies

Developing impactful case studies

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) in collaboration with the Faculty of Accountancy and Management organised a public webinar titled “Tips to Develop Effective and Impactful Case Studies” on 30 August 2021 via Zoom. The webinar, which saw about 100 participants, was presented by Gopal Narayan Singh University, India Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Dileep Kumar. In the webinar, Prof Dileep spoke about the importance of case study; requirements before writing; things to do when writing; eliminating errors during publication; case study in education and challenges and constraints. He also shared some case studies.

Prof Dileep during the Q&A session

Prof Dileep said, “Case studies introduce a measure of realism into management education as it focuses on the application of concepts and sound logic to real-world business problems. It bridges the gap between abstraction and application, and appreciate the value of both. Case study is a common type of project in medical, business, education, technology, law and many more. It proves to be an effective way of learning for students. Some case studies are extremely basic and simple while others require detailed analysis and research. This type of writing usually requires students to work in groups and to answer open-ended questions in order to find a solution for the issue at hand.”

“Case study investigates a particular phenomenon to draw a conclusion. It gathers background information about an event, place, personality or issue in order to identify the root causes and propose a valid solution. It is both an exploratory and descriptive analysis of a problem. When boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident, multiple sources of evidence are used. Case studies are bounded by time and activity, and researchers collect detailed information using a variety of data collection procedures over a sustained period of time. Context is very important,” added Prof Dileep.

“Case study is a discussion, an educational tool to facilitate learning, and an analysis of a real-world situation. It provides a well-researched and compelling narrative about an individual or group of people that need to make a decision in an organisational setting. The narrative includes relevant information about the situation, and gives multiple perspectives on the problem or decision but does not provide analysis, conclusions or solutions. A good case study stimulates an educated conversation and the building of knowledge. Good cases create an interactive, discovery-learning process where students learn to face business situations. Information critical to solving the case should never be contained exclusively in the case’s teaching note because doing so makes for frustrated students,” explained Prof Dileep.

He added, “The three skills needed are critical thinking, analytical ability and problem-solving aside from other necessary skills. In order to write, one must plan and design beforehand. The author needs to figure out methods for collecting information through research. Then, conduct analysis, research the case history and finally present the findings. It may seem like a straightforward process but is it more complicated than it first appears.”

As Prof Dileep explained about the case study protagonist, he said, “A protagonist is needed to make a decision. It is important to identify the protagonist’s roles and responsibilities. This forces the case reader to assume the role of the protagonist and make choices from a particular perspective. Readers should be able to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and use the case study details to make a decision based on the protagonist’s perspective. In some circumstances, the writer may need to disguise the featured company, the protagonist’s role or the context of the case study. The role of the case writer is to ask questions, collect data and write the descriptive account of the case study. The primary responsibility is to accurately present facts and data that fulfil a specific teaching objective. A case writer ensures the case is original, timely and based on carefully research data. A case writer also participates in any type of consultative role.”

Prof Dileep advised, “Make sure your language and sentence structure is simple and to the point. Keep an eye out for mistakes. A perfectly spelt but poorly chosen word can sometimes create more confusion than a misspelt one. Choose the right tone as it influences audience perception and it will increase your chances of success. Avoid hedging and hesitant language, keep it simple and focus on your strengths. Tailor your information and how you will present it to the specific audience.”

Some of Prof Dileep’s teaching slides

CENTS Chairperson Dr Mohammad Falahat Nejadmahani (top row, second from right) and Prof Dileep (top row, middle) with the participants

Prof Dileep obtained his PhD in Organisational Behaviour and Organisational Culture from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India in 2006. He has written 80 short case studies in the area of OB/HR and Management, 152 international and national peer reviewed journal publications (including 51 ISI and Scopus Publications), and 56 online publications. He has presented 55 papers in international and national conferences and the papers are published in the conference proceedings. Prof Dileep is a voracious case writer. He has written 4 case study books titled 50 Short Case Studies in Business Management, Case Studies in OB, HRM and Management, Short Case Studies from Executives, and Say No To Precarious Working Conditions. He has published several case studies in international journals including Emerald Emerging Marketing Case Studies. The case studies included in those books provide better perspective of various issues in the business field. The cases are written from the field of Organisational Behaviour, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Business Ethics, International Business, Strategic Management, Business Laws, Sociology, Psychology and General Management.

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