This post is part of GBSN's Case Method Month efforts to bring you expertise and perspectives from around the globe.
The case method allows understanding
the complexity of an organization starting from real situations. Students
sharpen their judgment skills, develop their analyzing and synthesizing
abilities and react to recommend solutions to the presented issues. The
knowledge thus acquired arises from "the lived experience”. But, to reach
this goal, case teaching must rely on suitable method and technique. Here are
some basic rules for a
successful case teaching practice:
1. Set the learning outcomes: case teaching gets all its meaning when
the learning outcomes are clearly defined and announced to the students at the
beginning of the session and reminded at its end. Indeed, during several case
study sessions, because of a lack of clear outcomes, the participants try to
solve the case according to their personal interest fields, current events or wrong
concepts. Besides, some case teachers can sometimes be overtaken by the debate
they are supposed to organize and frame.
2. Select the case carefully: The best choice that could be made is that
of a case which has been well-studied and well-prepared for a good use with the
right group in the right context. Would it be an analysis case or an
application case? A case with a decision to make, or one with a made decision
that needs to be discussed? A centered case (one set of problems) or a
transverse case? Mind not to choose a transverse case if you don’t master the
different notions highlighted by the situation. The case teacher would then be
trapped and compelled to deal with the case from
a partial angle! Selecting the case of an organization with unknown data and
context is another bad idea.
3. Remain open to new ideas and don’t lead
students to predetermined solutions: The case teacher must avoid pushing
participants to a predefined conclusion, the one supposed to be the only
and best solution, the famous "Best Way”! The first rule in the case method is
to have various possible solutions. The case teacher must give free rein to suggestions,
so as the plenary debate could lead to an optimum and agreed-upon solution.
4. Shed light on concepts: Before concluding, the case teacher must
bring to perspective the methodological and theoretical teachings of the
debate. The point, for the students, is to memorize given concepts and how
these concepts become operational, instead of memorizing factual items or data
related to the case.
5. Manage time effectively: A case study needs time. In order to meet
the educational objectives with efficiency, the case teacher must take this
feature seriously. Manage the reading time, the debate time and, above all, the
conceptual and methodological explanations time. The Case teacher also bears
the responsibility of scheduling the necessary time for a good use of the case.
Sometimes, for a lack of time, some basic aspects happen to be worked
superficially, or even omitted! At this level, it’s obvious that the importance
allowed to a given aspect depends on the predefined learning outcomes.
Professor Rihab Abba is Professor of Communication and Imane Elghazali (pictured above) is Professor of Economics at ESCA
School of Management.