Decision making in case studies
entails coordinating seemingly unrelated facts so that they provide support for
a particular course of action. The
cases assigned are intended to give you practice in assembling information and
data to support a decision. As is
often the situation in actual practice, cases may not have all the data you
would like. Nevertheless, it is
critical that you develop a reasoned plan of attack on the basis of the data
In preparing a case analysis, read through the case looking for the main problem that you will address. Develop a rationale for your belief that the major problem identified is actually in fact the problem! In addition, assemble the factual information in the case that addresses any other related problems/issues.
Once you have assembled all the information provided, use the following framework for analysis. This framework is the format to use for all the cases:
Case Analysis Framework
I. Problem Definition: Define the problem by providing a concise, well-written statement that defines and describes the case's marketing problem.
II. Critical Issues: State critical issues, or "sub-problems," that need to be resolved in order to solve the overall marketing stated in the Problem Definition section.
III. Alternatives: Formulate viable alternatives, or possible courses action, to solve the problem.
IV. Analysis: This is the heart of your case report. Here you should provide logic, reasoning, facts, etc. as to why each alternative listed does or does not make sense. Provide logic for why your recommendation will not select the "other alternatives." This section is the linkup between the problem and the recommendation.
V. Recommended Solution: First state your recommendation; then state your overall marketing strategy; and then state your plan of action (marketing mix) for your strategy. Your plan of action should be very specific decisions to implement your marketing strategy.
VI. Appendices (If appropriate).
Common Errors in Case Writing
1. Format outlined above is not followed. Subheadings are not used in the analysis section.
2. Problem and
Alternatives sections are too long. No
more than half a page is generally needed for each of these sections.
3. Failure to use outline or bullet points throughout the written report. Bullet points can be used effectively in the Critical Issues and the Alternatives sections. There is no need for complete prose throughout the entire report. However, do not use shorthand that is unintelligible to a reader.
4. Rehashing of case data.
Assume the reader is familiar with the case. Present case data only when
it is needed to support a line of reasoning you are developing.
Do not summarize the case situation as a preamble to your analysis, and
do not present case facts unless you are going to drive home a point with them.
5. Non-critical evaluation of case data. Before you use evidence presented in the case, ask yourself if the data was collected in a sound manner and whether it is relevant to the issue you are addressing. This does not give you a license to eliminate all data. Rather, you want to qualify the conclusions you reach by evaluating the quality of the data on which a conclusion is based.
6. Failure to present a rationale for eliminating unchosen alternatives. It is important to show that the recommended course of action is likely to deal effectively with the problem and issues identified. It is equally important to provide a rationale for dismissing unchosen alternative courses of action.
7. Failure to present work in an understandable manner. For example, if computations are used, be sure your presentation (usually in an appendix) is sufficiently detailed so the reader can replicate the analysis. This requires you to indicate where the data came from and how it is analyzed.
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