The Peril of Case Method

Business Schools world-over talk too much about the use of cases for pedagogy. It used to sound a sophisticated tool, before coming to B-School indeed. And if you are exposed to it once in a while, like I was, it appears interesting to use to…

But come the second year in the B-School. Bombarded with case studies and discussions you are… And what the hell – I am supposed to enjoy those discussions and take part in them! I do not know how I used to do so whenever I used to do so. I mean, no matter how well written a case is, there is no way it can recreate a real situation. Even after all those hints of reading between lines and all, you essentially remain detached with it. You are not in the situation whatever you do! And then you can talk just anything, meaningless or meaningful, it essentially involves no stakes from your side.

And what is the fault of the case as such? None, I can not get my best friend to be in my shoes for most trivial of the personal problems, how can one be expected to get into the shoes of a corporate manager dealing with organizational pressures, career pressures, personal problems and God knows what else, through a case.

Oh okay – may be something is still better than nothing…

But I am bored, bored and bored. That’s it.

3 thoughts on “The Peril of Case Method

  1. Here, I suppose there is something to be said about the level of work experience that students in reputed US B-schools have. With that kind of extensive and varied experience, a case discussion can become interesting, as:
    1. someone might have been in the particular industry, and seen such a situation (perhaps even been in one), so the perspective becomes realistic, and a learning experience for others
    2. the preparation for cases often happens in study groups, instead of individually. So before the class, you are (hopefully) much better acquainted with the situation, and appreciate the issues better

    And of course, the performance incentive is based on the quality of your inputs, not like in Indian B-schools, where you speak to catch the attention of the prof, and don’t really listen to others because they have similar motives.
    But then again, this is not to say that everybody enjoys every case.

  2. Two questions to consider –

    1. Can you do anything about it?
    2. Is it closing your mind to different views / outlooks?

    If the answers are no and yes then do explain as to why you are wasting your time mulling about such an issue?

  3. Dear Jaya

    I can identify with your feeling about the cases. It also seems so superficial to me. No matter how detailed a case may be it cannot lead you to thinking about a comrehensive solution since you are sure to miss out some vital points. You constantly look for solutions in a 90 minute class for a problem which the Top managers would have taken atleast 90 days to solve.People may say that it stimulates your thought process . I strongly differ. It just inculcates in you a habit to speak something just for the sake for speaking. Porter 5 forces, value chain etc etc cannot build clarity in your thought process. It actually leads you into thinking in an extremely structured way which takes way all creativity and freshness from you.

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