Case Study Method: Why & how the best business schools use it

Case Study Method: Why & how the best business schools use it

case study mba

The case study method, popularised by Harvard Business School has been adopted by almost all the top MBA programs in the world. For your bachelors degree (engineering, commerce, science, etc), the teaching was almost fully dependent on the lecture method. In contrast, management colleges spend less than half of the time on lectures.

Case studies are a miniature version of a business situation used in MBA programs to facilitate learning.


The percentage of case study dependency ranges from 20% to 80% in the top business schools in the world. It gets varying degrees of support from the other methods of teaching – lectures, group assignments, experiential learning (internships, real-world assignments would fall in this category).

Case Study format

Typically a case study presents a vague sounding management problem for a specific business. Often it may be an issue that the top brass of the company (CEO, CFO level) is facing.

This is followed by a whole lot of objective and subjective data. This could include a brief history of the company on which the case study example is based, the financial data (balance sheet, profit, and loss account). There could also be a whole lot of supporting data about the size of the company (for example, the number of employees, locations, products).

Often, at the first glance, the sheer volume of data might be overwhelming. The challenge for you is to cut through the data and filter out the information that’s relevant to the case.

Examples of Case Studies

A case study on marketing could focus on entering a new market, or tackle the influx of cheaper competing services, or work on the optimal pricing for the existing products of a consumer goods company.

Finance case study examples could talk about evaluating the cash flow status for a company and defining a strategy to improve the accounts receivable (AR) policies, or you might be thinking about the best mix of debt and equity for the company.

Case studies on operations may include improving the efficiency of a manufacturing unit, working on the right mix of inventory and finished goods, or the decision to re-engineer the supply chain management system and reduce the dependency of global raw materials.

The fun starts when you move to strategy case studies, where the problems and the potential solutions can span across domains from finance to marketing and everything in between.

Active participation during case studies is highly encouraged and most students do. Why so? This is because class participation in case studies counts towards grading. The flipside is that this may seem like torture for introverts and folks who don’t like their voices echoing in the class with a few hundred pair of eyes dissecting their every move, waiting to pounce in with a counter-argument.

Love it or hate it, if you are preparing to join a business school, get mentally and intellectually ready to grill and be grilled. And this is the easy part. Doing business in the real world gets tougher.

Over to you now. What is the one top reason why you’d like or dislike it?

Mantissa College is offering an International Executive Master of Business Administration programme in collaboration with the Paris Graduate School of Management, France with syllabus focuses on Real Case Study.

Still pondering? Why not join us for the Master Trial Class on the 26th Aug 2017. Admission is Free 

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