The Case Writing Workbook
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The Case Writing Workbook

A Guide for Faculty and Students

Gina Vega

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eBook - ePub

The Case Writing Workbook

A Guide for Faculty and Students

Gina Vega

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About This Book

This case writing workbook offers something unique in the world of case writing manuals. The third edition of The Case Writing Workbook: A Guide for Faculty and Students provides 11 standalone chapters that focus specifically on challenges related to the case writing process. The book is meant for day-to-day use as a model of the case writing process, with exercises, worksheets, and training activities that will guide you through the entire course of writing both a traditional case and Instructor's Manual or a concise/short case and its associated Teaching Note. Brief explanatory notes will lead you step-by-step through all the developmental exercises, including readying the case for publication and teaching it in the classroom or online.

Designed as an individualized workshop to assist case authors to structure their writing, this book combines the easy-to-understand, student-focused language with new material covering the latest developments and challenges in the world of case writing. These include:

• A fresh focus on writing and teaching concise cases, which are particularly suited to the world of blended learning.

• Emphasis on secondary research methodology, particularly using digital technologies and social media.

• A new case study running throughout the book, with restructured worksheets and notes to support it.

• Enhanced online case teaching information and discussion of the development of multi-media cases, particularly using video.

Complete instructor's materials to support the text are available online, including PowerPoint presentations, guidance on embedding cases within the curriculum, a sample syllabus that incorporates cases within it, and selected student assignments and handouts.

Finishing all the book's assignments will result in a complete case and Instructor's Manual that can be tested in the classroom and submitted to a conference or journal. The Case Writing Workbook is a must for the shelf of any academic or student conducting qualitative research and looking to enhance their skill set, and any instructor working with cases in their teaching.

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Chapter 1 Getting Started

DOI: 10.4324/9781003204879-2

What Is a Case?

Beginning with the very simplest definition, a case is a story. This story describes a factual series of actions that occurred in the past. When a case is written as a teaching or learning tool (the main focus of this workbook is the use of cases as teaching and learning tools), the reader is expected to do one of two things: (1) make a decision or recommendation to the protagonist for a course of action to pursue, or (2) perform an analysis/evaluative description of the action that has already taken place. Any decision or recommendation will be preceded by a thorough analysis, of course, but the main purpose of a decision case is the formulation of a recommendation. The primary purpose of an analysis or evaluative description case is the process of analysis and evaluation. How were prior decisions made? What methods were used? How else might these decisions have been made? Were the outcomes foreseeable from the actions? What about unintended consequences of the actions? How might they have been mitigated?
The keywords in the description of teaching cases are story, factual, past, decision, and analysis. Regardless of which type of case you write, each of these terms will apply.
  • Story. A case is always a story. That means it must include a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It must involve narrative description and often benefits from dialogue and human interaction. A case needs to be interesting enough to engage the reader on an emotional level as well as an intellectual one.
  • Factual. A case is based on facts. It is true to reality. It is not a fictionalized tale created by the author. It must be supported by documentation, whether published in a credible source or derived from interviews. The author’s opinion has no place in a teaching case—save that for the Teaching Note.
  • Past. A case takes place in the past—not in the present and not in the future. If the case were to take place in the future, it would be fiction. If the case were to take place in the present, students would not be able to analyze it based on outcomes. The analysis would be guesswork, and education is not based on guesswork. It is based on the application of theories and analytical perspectives to completed situations.
  • Decision. A case often requires a decision to be made by the reader. The reader is in the protagonist’s shoes and must either make a recommendation of action to be taken, or consider the actions already taken and establish a perspective as to their validity based on theory. Opinions play an important role in decision making; however, we are exclusively interested in informed decision making; that is, decision making that has the benefit of educated analysis supporting it.
  • Analysis. The ultimate goal of teaching with cases is to encourage critical thinking in students—a crucial step toward wise decision making. Cases require students to analyze situations and evaluate actions that have been taken, as well as to consider alternatives to the actions that were taken by the protagonist.

Two Main Kinds of Cases: Teaching Cases and Research Cases

We will be devoting our efforts exclusively to teaching cases in this workbook. A teaching case is a factual description of a real situation. It is intended to serve as the basis for discussion in a particular course or discipline and contains sufficient information for students to be able to carry out the desired discussion. Teaching cases often have a decision focus (a particular decision to be made by the student on behalf of the case protagonist), but many course topics do not lend themselves to decision making; instead, some cases are written specifically for students to develop their analytical and evaluative skills. This is especially true in ethics and organizational behavior courses. (See Chapter 4 for complete information about writing a teaching case.)
A teaching case encourages discussion and investigation and is always accompanied by an Instructor’s Manual (IM) or Teaching Note (TN) to guide the presenter in leading the case in the classroom. The IM orTN contains a full case analysis, a teaching plan, a series of case questions and answers, and an epilogue that describes the realtime outcome of the case decision that has been made. The terms IM and TN are often used interchangeably, but generally an IM supports a traditional-length case and a TN supports a more concise or short case. The two documents differ in ways that will be discussed in Chapter 5.
Despite any potential similarity to situations in other organizations, each teaching case is unique and presents a set of circumstances that reflect the distinctiveness of an individual organizational challenge. Therefore, it is important to avoid the temptation to generalize the decisions in one case to a broad recommendation for action in seemingly similar cases.
Although we will not be focusing on research cases in this workbook, it is valuable to understand the role of these cases. A research case is a descriptive analysis of a real situation that reflects a particular theoretical perspective, either by supporting a new hypothesis or by offering an alternative perspective to an existing hypothesis. A research case may be an N = 1 study of a specific phenomenon, or research cases may be aggregated to identify patterns of behavior that help explain greater social, economic, or fiscal trends.
See WS 1:1 for a chart to help you differentiate between teaching and research cases.

Frequently Used Case Models

There are many different models of teaching cases. Here are the ones you will see most frequently:
  • Classical or Traditional. This is what we mean most often when we talk about cases. It is generally 10 to 20 pages in length and includes multiple exhibits, with the level of complexity determined by the potential audience for the cas...

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