Chapter 9

Analyzing a Case

The Purpose of Analyzing a Case

Analyzing a case is not easy. It may look easy, but appearances can be deceptive. A good place to start is to understand why people use cases to teach in the first place. Ideally, everything that is taught about strategic management leads to a best practice. At the same time, best practices influence the way people develop the theory of strategic management. A simplified version of the relationship is shown in Figure 9.1.

FIGURE 9.1 The Link between Theory and Practice

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Practice without theory is simply personal experience. You have no way of knowing whether it is good or bad. A theory without practice is a series of assumptions that have never been tested. To bridge the gap between theory and practice, many business schools use cases. The writing of cases is given to professors who would therefore become familiar with the practice of strategic management. Cases allow students to constantly compare the theory with the practice, hopefully sharpening their analytical skills in the process. Harvard Business School put the case method in the limelight by making its teaching methodology revolve exclusively around case studies. Whether it is the best approach is still a debate that rages among experts, but most business schools incorporate case studies in their method of teaching strategic management. What students need to understand ...

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