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The Case Writing Process: An Editor's Perspective

Posted By Dr. Thomas Leung, Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thomas LeungThis post is part of GBSN's Case Method Month efforts to bring you expertise and perspectives from around the globe.

Writing a case should start with a controversial issue identifying from reading some news concerning an important company event which you think it may be interested to a specific range of readers. This important issue should later on become your case title or heading. The information source may be obtained from newspapers, internet articles, company communications such as press releases, etc. For instance, I read from some sources in Sept 2008 that an Australian Chinese senior executive Mr. Stern Hu and three of his Chinese subordinates all working for the mega Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto were arrested in China because of a potential involvement of stealing State secret.

I found this case interesting because it actually pushed one of the world largest mining companies into an ethical dilemma. Indeed, I later on produced an article in an American international marketing textbook with the title: Rio Tinto: Can the Concept of "Strictly Business” Be Applied in the Chinese Market?

I started writing this case by searching the key word "Rio Tinto” on the internet and also obtained information regarding this case from Rio’s company website. I actually traced the information back to a strategic partnership between the largest Chinese state-owned aluminium corporation Chinalco with Rio. Then I asked my student helpers to list all the qualitative data on a chronological table starting from that strategic partnership. I then followed the development of the case like watching a movie on the internet. Meantime, I triangulated the information whenever I found some conflicting information regarding the date, the comments from industrial experts, etc.During the process of case compilation, I also added in related comments from the legal experts, Chinese and Australian ministerial exchanges, ethical and legal theories, Chinese cultural theories to enrich the case.

By the end of March 2009, which was also the time of the case conclusion in the Chinese court, I had already completed the whole scenario and developed three sub-issues that later on became the case questions at the end of the Rio Tinto case.

The end results were fruitful. The unabridged version of the case will appear in an American textbook Global Marketing written by Ilan Alon and Eugene Jaffe published by McGraw-Hill probably by the end of 2012. The abridged version of the case has appeared in one of my journal articles: Leung, T.K.P; Chan, Ricky Y.K; Lai, Kee-hung & Ngai, Eric W.T. (2011). "An examination of the influence of guanxi and xinyong (utilization of personal trust) on negotiation outcome in China: an old friend approach”, Industrial Marketing Management. 40(7): 1193-1205. The case information will also be used in my coming new book Essentials of Sino-foreign Business Management and Negotiation published by Routledge in 2013.

The process of producing a case in Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies is very similar. You will learn a lot of how a company handle a specific situation and also you can publish your knowledge in a reputable source that will reward your academic career. I hope you can start writing your own case and send to EEMCS by the time you finish it.

Dr. Leung, TKP- PhD is Associate Professor, Department of Management and Marketing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Regional Editor (China) of Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies.

Dr Thomas Leung jointed The Hong Kong Polytechnic University after working more than 10 years in renowned international organizations including Nestle (Aust) Ltd and Rheem (Aust) Ltd. He has been teaching Industrial Marketing, Marketing Management, International Marketing and Brand Management at undergraduate and postgraduate levels since 1990. He was the Programme Leader of the Higher Certificate in Marketing and Sales Management from 1992 to 1995 and was the Deputy Programme Leader of BA in Fashion and Textile (Marketing Specialism) from 1995 to 2002. Currently, he is the Programme Leader of BA in Marketing. He has published over 70 articles in international journals and conferences including European Journal of Marketing, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, Journal of Small Business Management. He also co-authored a book with Dr Y.H.Wong titled "Guanxi: Relationship Marketing in a Chinese Context", published by the Haworth Press in America.

Tags:  Case Method  case studies 

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