Real-world situations that organizations often face.

Real-world situations that organizations often face.

In the textbook, you have read several examples of case studies or narratives about real-world situations that organizations often face.  Your task for this assignment is to compose your own case study using the theoretical concepts we have examined and weaving them into a narrative about a potential situation a person might face in an organizational setting.

Elements you are required to submit:

1.     The case study itself
2.    A teaching supplement with teaching objectives, case recap, theoretical grounding,and discussion questions.

Case Study: The case study should tell a story about a situation characters in an organization might face.  Your narrative should have a protagonist (good guy) as well as an antagonist (bad guy) and it should end at the decision point (i.e., there is no resolution to the case, and no clear cut “correct” answer on what the characters should do).  Before submitting your case study, make sure to provide a title which clearly indicates the type of situation the characters in your story face.

Formatting: Your case study should mirror those told in the textbook.  There are several excellent examples of case studies starting on page 412 in the text.  Your case study should be brief (1-2 single spaced pages in length) and should focus on a small number (only 1 or 2) of organizational problems that your characters need to solve.

Teaching Supplement:  To accompany your case study, you will also need to turn in a teaching supplement.  This supplement could be provided to teachers of any class using your case study to help guide them through a discussion of your case. The teaching guide should have the following sections:

(1)    Teaching Objectives: Identify and explain at least 3 objectives you had in mind when writing the case study.  In other words, what do you hope students know once they have read your case study?
(2)    Summary:  Provide a 1 – 2 paragraph recap of your case.  This overview should highlight the major problem(s) to be solved and the major obstacles the characters face.
(3)    Theoretical Grounding: Here you are going to talk about the major theoretical topic that grounds your case study.  This section should outline the basic ideas and assumptions that guide that theoretical lens. This section should be in your own words. You should cite the textbook and course material as necessary (when an idea came from either place), but you should not be using quotations to explain the material.  Put it in your own words and show your command of the material.
(4)    You should also explain any specific concepts (minimum of five) covered from the major theoretical concept by defining key terms and pointing to portions of your case study where the concept was introduced.
(5)    Questions for Discussion:  This section should have at least three questions that could generate discussion about your case study.  These questions should not ask about information found in the case (e.g., How many times did the phone ring?), but rather should ask students to think about the case in the context of the theoretical grounding you outlined above.  Ask probing and interesting questions that would solicit good discussions!

See below for some helpful tips on writing case studies! If you can’t think of a good organizational problem, try talking to your parents over break about the most difficult problem they have had to solve at work recently. That might give you some ideas about what to write.

Guidelines for Writing Effective Organizational Case Studies

(1)    Identify a basic outline for your case study.  Without going into specifics, what do you think could happen in your case?

(2)    Once you know what is going to happen, generally, identify the primary problem(s) that your characters have to solve. What is the issue that is causing conflict? All of the cases we have read this semester have had some form of conflict, so make sure you are clear on what this conflict is!

Also, make sure this conflict is not too complex. If you can’t clearly state the conflict in a few sentences it is going to be too difficult to convey to readers in a case. The conflict in the case shouldn’t be easily solved, but it should be easily explained.

(3)    After you know your basic story and your source(s) of conflict, write down the concepts you want to include in the case. The assignment requires that you include at least five concepts discussed in your assigned week.  (HINT: If you follow the guidelines provided for the teaching supplement, you will already have that done!).

(4)    Brainstorm specific things that can happen in the story that will exemplify those ideas. Outline your narrative to make sure you can include each of the five concepts in a coherent story.

(5)    Note, there will be some things that should be completed on the teaching guide before the case study is written (i.e., objectives, theoretical grounding, and parts of the concepts covered section) and some things that should be completed on the teaching guide after the case study is written (i.e., discussion sections).  Make sure to give yourself enough time to complete both effectively.

Case Study Writing Tips

1.   Keep your audience in mind: Remember that you are writing for students who may not be familiar with the background, details, and terminology of the situation. Keep jargon to a minimum.

2.   Use short story writing techniques: An effective case has flesh-and-blood characters who should be intriguing. Each story element should move the narrative forward.

3.   Openings: Grab the reader with a character facing his or her biggest problem. Set the scene for the confrontations, the frustrations, and the main conflicts.

4.   Present situations and scenes without any attempt at analysis: Scenes must follow a logical order and should illustrate a point, concept, or issue that relates to the problems that the writer wants to have analyzed. Do not give any signals that one solution might be preferred. Present both good and bad solutions too; these are excellent points for discussion!

5.   Provide relevant details: After an opening that sets up the situation, provide relevant details about goals, strategies, dilemmas, issues, conflicts, roadblocks, appropriate research, relevant financial information, people, and relationships. Be stingy with numbers; they must help solve the problems, not confuse readers or send them off on unproductive analytic tangents.

6.   Use as much dialogue as possible: Make the characters come alive with dialogue. Straight narrative is boring.

7.   You should follow the basics of general story telling:  You need to have a clear introduction, body, and start towards some conclusion. You should also have a clear protagonist and an antagonist. Endings: Leave the reader with a clear picture of the major problems– ask “what is to be done now?”

8.   Remember, these are communication cases, so make sure that your problem is clearly communication related.
Common Pitfalls of Case Development

1.   The case with no clear decision or focus.
2.   The case with too much in it (unmanageable detail).
3.   The case with no structure, or shifting structure.
4.   The case with no context (how does this case situation compare with comparable situations?)
5.   The case with no actors.
6.   The case with no controversy.
7.   The case with no drama (boring–selectivity is often the key here. Don’t swamp your story with too many sub-plots.)
8.   The inside-joke (assumed familiarity).
Common Causes of Casewriter’s Writing Block

1.   No structure or clear decision focus (try telling the case story to someone and asking them what is most compelling?)
2.   Not enough specifics/concrete details from which to build the story.
3.   No sense of urgency (try setting clear deadlines for yourself).
4.   No audience (line up several fair, intelligent readers).
Some othertips to produce a strong case study

1.   Always write cases in the present tense. We need to experience the situation along with the main character up to the point where he or she must make a decision.
2.   Use nonsexist, nonageist, nonheterosexist, nonracist, etc. language.
3.   Use standard case conventions (for example, refer to actors by last names consistently; don’t capitalize position titles; number exhibits and refer to them within the text at appropriate points; etc.).

Tips adapted from Jason Wrench’s “Case Study Writing Tips” – retrieved from:


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