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What is a Case Study? Definition and Method

Case Studies

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Micro Case Studies

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Examples & Samples of Case Study
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Exploratory case studies are preliminary projects to help guide a future, larger-scale project. They aim to identify research questions and possible research approaches. For example, a case study of three school tutoring programs would describe the pros and cons of each approach, and give tentative recommendations on how a new tutoring program could be organized. Critical instance case studies focus on a unique cases, without a generalized purpose.

Examples include a descriptive study of a patient with a rare condition, or a study of a specific case to determine whether a broadly applied "universal" theory is actually applicable or useful in all cases. Apply for ethical approval.

Almost all case studies are required by law to obtain ethical approval before they can begin. Contact your institution or department and propose your case study to the people in charge of ethics oversight. You may be asked to prove that the case study does no harm to its participants.

Follow this step even if you are conducting a retrospective case study. In some cases, publishing a new interpretation can cause harm to the participants in the original study. Plan for a long-term study.

Most academic case studies last at least 3—6 months, and many of them continue for years. You may be limited by your research funding or the length of your degree program, but you should allow a few weeks to conduct the study at the very least.

Design your research strategy in detail. Create an outline describing how you will gather data and answer your research questions. The exact approach is up to you, but these tips may help: Create four or five bullet points that you intend to answer, if possible, in the study. Consider perspectives on approaching the question and the related bullet points.

Choose at least two, and preferably more, of these data sources: Design interview questions that will lead to in-depth answers and continued conversations related to your research goals. Recruit participants if necessary. You may have a specific individual in mind, or you may need to recruit people from a broader pool who satisfy your research criteria.

Make your research methods and time frame extremely clear to the potential participants. Unclear communication could be a breach of ethics, or could cause a participant to walk out partway through the study, wasting a great deal of time.

Since you aren't conducting a statistical analysis, you do not need to recruit a diverse cross-section of society. You should be aware of any biases in your small sample, and make them clear in your report, but they do not invalidate your research.

If studying people, research information in their past that may be relevant, possibly including medical history, family history, or history of an organization. A good background knowledge of the research topic and similar case studies could help guide your own research as well, especially if you are writing a critical interest case study.

Any case study, but especially case studies with a retrospective component, will benefit from basic academic research strategies. Learn how to conduct obtrusive observation. In a case study involving human participants, ethics guidelines do not typically allow you to "spy" on the participants.

You must practice obtrusive observation, where the participants are aware of your presence. Unlike a quantitative study, you may talk with the participants, make them feel comfortable, and include yourself in activities. Some researchers do attempt to maintain a distance, but be aware that your presence will affect the behavior of the participants regardless of the relationship you form with them.

Establishing trust with participants can result in less inhibited behavior. Observing people in their home, workplaces, or other "natural" environments may be more effective than bringing them to a laboratory or office. Having subjects fill out a questionnaire is a common example of obtrusive research. Subjects know they are being studied, so their behavior will change, but this is a quick and sometimes the only way to gain certain information.

Extensive notes during observation will be vital when you are compiling your final report. In some case studies, it may be appropriate to ask the participant to record experiences in a diary. Depending on the total length of your case study, you might hold an interview weekly, once every month or two, or just once or twice a year.

Begin with the interview questions you prepared in the planning phase, then iterate to dig deeper into the topic: Describe meaning — ask the participant what the experience means to them, or what "life lessons" they take from it. Ask what mental and emotional associations they have with the subject of your study, whether it's a medical condition, an event, or another topic.

A case study may feel less data-driven than a medical trial or a scientific experiment, but attention to rigor and valid methodology remains vital. If you find yourself drawn to studying a participant on one extreme end of the spectrum, set aside time to observe a more "typical" participant as well. Any sources you cite should be thoroughly checked for reliability. Collect all of your data and analyze it.

After reading and referring back to your original bullet points, you may find that the data reacts in a surprising manner. You need to pull your information together and focus it before writing case studies, especially if your research was performed in intervals across months or years.

If you are working with more than one person you will want to assign sections for completion together to make sure your case study will flow. For example, one person may be in charge of making charts of the data you gathered, while other people will each write an analysis of one of your bullet points you are trying to answer.

Write your final case study report. Based on the research questions you designed and the type of case study you conducted, this may be a descriptive report, an analytic argument grounded in a specific case, or a suggested direction for further research or projects. Include your most relevant observations and interviews in the case study itself, and consider attaching additional data such as full interviews as an appendix for readers to refer to.

If writing a case study for a non-academic audience, consider using a narrative form, describing the events that occurred during your case study in chronological order. Minimize your use of jargon. Ask permission from a client. A marketing case study describes a "success story" between a business and a client. Ideally, the client has recently interacted with your business, and is enthusiastic about contributing a positive message. Choose a client close to your target audience, if possible.

A typical marketing case study begins by describing the client's problems and background. It then rapidly moves on to describe how your company strategically approached these problems, and succeeded in fixing them to a high standard. Finish by describing how you can apply similar solutions across the industry. The entire case study should divide into about three to five sections. If your target audience wouldn't immediately identify with your client's problem, start with a more general intro describing that type of problem in the industry.

Keep the study readable and powerful. Use bold text and headers to divide the case study into easy-to-read sections.

Start each section with short, action sentences and strong verbs. Use numeric examples that demonstrate how effective your solutions were. Make this as clear as possible, using actual numbers instead of or in addition to percentages. For example, an HR department could show impressive retention numbers following a process change, while a marketing team could demonstrate past sales boosts from its service.

Charts and graphs can be great visual tools, but label these with large letters that make the positive meaning obvious to people who aren't used to reading raw data.

It does not hurt, however, to be familiar with them. Therefore, we include these example frameworks for your reference and encourage you to at least familiarize yourself with the basics of them:.

There are additional, relatively simple analytical techniques that you should be prepared for in Consulting Case Study interviews. Variable Expenses Fixed Expenses or Fixed Costs are expenses that do typically fluctuate regardless of the production or sales levels. Variable Expenses or Variable Costs are impacted by changes in production or sales levels — typical examples include are Raw Materials, Direct Labor Expenses wages and benefits , and delivery costs.

Variable Cost structure is important in a variety of cases such as in Break-Even Analysis, discussed above. When analyzing a Case, always keep in mind that total Fixed Expenses remain constant as volume rises or falls , but Fixed Expenses per unit decline as volume rises rise as volume falls.

Variable Expenses, meanwhile, rise proportionately as volume increases, so Variable Expenses per unit remain constant. Profit Margin or Net Income Margin , he or she will usually be referring to the total Net Income of a company or business line as a percentage of its Revenue: The interviewer could also refer to Gross Profit Margin , which is simply Gross Profit as a percentage of revenue: In both cases, thus is simply the figure in question Operating Profit, a.

ROI is used in consulting interviews as a way to evaluate the return of a particular investment or to assess the feasibility of a potential investment or acquisition. Many companies have an internal ROI metric for capital investments.

Standard ROI is calculated as follows: Note that this is not the only growth path to grow from a beginning number to an ending number, but it is the only growth path that is the same growth rate every year. The formula to calculate CAGR is: CAGR is very similar in concept to Internal Rate of Return IRR , which is the annual rate of return on an investment if its value grows by a specific multiple over a specific amount of time.

The rule of 72 simply states that a quantity will roughly double in value whenever the number of years times the annual growth rate equals The idea behind this microeconomic analysis is to determine the reasonable cost to win or acquire a customer or to maintain an existing customer, i. It can also be used to determine level and type of customer service to provide, and as another way to estimate the value of a business. The steps to calculate the LCV are as follows: Estimate the remaining customer years; in other words, how long is a typical customer expected to last with the company?

It is often used by companies to project their own anticipated Revenue figures. It is also worth knowing the four steps in the Product Life Cycle Curve , as the concept could come up in a hypothetical product case.

A new product or technology that is in initial adoption phases and therefore has very rapid growth rates for example: Product adoption is becoming widespread but still growing at an above-average rate for example: Product adoption is widespread, or at least stabilized; growth typically comes only from price increases and growth in GDP for example: Technological obsolescence, shifting consumption patterns, or increased market competition has resulted in total growth rates that are below-average or negative for example: This is an important concept throughout business and consumer decision making, as there are only finite resources available in most cases time, money, etc.

Elasticity Supply or Demand Elasticity is a concept from microeconomics that describes the tradeoff between Quantity and Price. The concept comes up in multiple types of cases, such as pricing optimization. Clients often ask what the impact would be on volume if they adjust the price. Usually the correct answer is to increase prices in Inelastic markets price increases lead to a relatively small decrease in products sold and decrease them in Highly Elastic markets price increases lead to a large decrease in product sold.

That being said, a basic-to-moderate understanding of the Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows, and how they work together, is very relevant to many interviews. You might even be provided with a basic Income Statement or Balance Sheet of a company as part of a Case Study interview question. Rather than reinventing the wheel and writing content on Finance and Accounting in this guide, we recommend you review any standard, basic Financial Accounting textbook to familiarize yourself with the components of basic Financial Statements:.

Although these concepts will not be tested and do not form a major part of general Consulting Case Study interviews, these topics can appear in a general discussion about a particular business situation and you should be able to discuss them at least on a basic level. If you are applying for a job in Business Development, or for a Consulting position in a Corporate Finance group or at a firm that does a lot of Corporate Finance Consulting work, then you should definitely study up and be prepared for these core Finance and Accounting concepts, because they will likely be tested on in detail in your interviews.

In addition to introductory Finance and Accounting textbooks, we highly recommend that these candidates read the Street of Walls Investment Banking Technical Training guide, which addresses complex details around Financial Statements, Accounting and Valuation at a very detailed level. We also recommend this training guide in general to anyone who is interested in advancing their Finance and Accounting skills—particularly when it comes to Corporate Valuation.

Here are the Five Forces in detail: Customer mix Demographics age, gender, etc.

How to Write a Case Study

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A business case study research is a complex training based on the conditions of real-life economic, social and business situations. A supervisor offers a task to a team, which implies finding solutions for the optimization of the enterprise on the concrete terms of a real-life financial and industrial situation.

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Examples & Samples of Case Study. There are multiple ways of making the process of completing the assignment easier, including ordering a task at a writing service or asking other students for help. The Case Study / Case Studies Method is intended to provide students and Facultys with some basic information. This Case Study Method discuss what the student needs to do to prepare for a class / classroom, and what she can expect during the case discussion. We also explain how student performance is evaluated in a case study based course.

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Dec 27,  · Reader Approved How to Do a Case Study. Three Methods: Planning an Academic Case Study Conducting Academic Case Study Research Writing a Marketing Case Study Community Q&A Many fields require their own form of case study, but they are most widely used in academic and business contexts. Cut the fat Don’t “use three words when one would do,” says Blackburn. Read your writing through critical eyes, and make sure that each word works toward your larger point.