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Lecturer's expectations

Loretta Inglis, Lecturer

In this section, one of your lecturers - Loretta Inglis - sets out what she expects from student assignments on this topic.

I expect that you will read all the information that has been given in the subject outline to help you to write the case study. There is a wealth of information there.

Ideally, I expect consistent quality throughout all the sections of the report. You need to leave enough time to plan and write each section carefully.

I expect that your Problem Identification section will succinctly identify problems (not just repeat case information), explain the problems using case evidence, and show how the theory relates to the problem.

Possible Solutions should have clear, concise headings and include advantages and disadvantages in bullet point form.

The Recommendations should be very specific - showing who has which responsibility - and should be justified using the theory.

The Implementation section should summarise the changes which need to be made as specifically as possible, with someone responsible for seeing that they happen.

To do your best, I also expect that you attend tutorials over the weeks before the assignment is due. There your tutor will work with you on practice case studies. Finally, a look at the information on this site will help you to understand how you might tackle the demanding task of integrating problem identification with case evidence and theoretical discussion - as well as the other challenging areas in the case study.


Notes on the case study method

The use of case studies is a widely accepted means of bringing theoretical concepts and practical situations together. It is not possible to take a class into an organisation and observe the subject matter of management or organisational behaviour in real life - hence a written case study outlining a real, or realistic, situation is the best available alternative.

When reading and studying a case study it is possible to take two different approaches. The first of these is the 'analytical' approach where a case structure is examined to try to understand what has happened and why. In this approach you do not identify problems or attempt to develop solutions. The second approach is the problem-oriented method. In this approach a case is analysed to identify the major problems that exist, the causes of and possible solutions to the problems, and finally a recommendation as to the best solution to implement.

In this course we mainly utilise a 'problem solving' case study method. As with most things in the management area there is not 'one best way' to analyse or write up a case report. Everyone develops their own methods of sorting and sifting through the information and presenting their findings. However, in this subject we have a set format which we would like you to utilise when presenting your case reports. This format is outlined briefly below.

Presentation of written material

The following notes are to be used as a guide to students preparing the case studies for assessment in first-year Management.

Guidelines

A high standard of presentation is required. Typing, or word processing, of all is expected.

Work that is submitted in an illegible or untidy fashion may, at your tutor's discretion, be returned unmarked or with marks deducted for poor presentation.

In no circumstances should an assignment be written/typed on both sides of the paper.

Work should be double or 1-1/2 spaced.

A margin of 30mm should be left on both sides of the page. This provides adequate room for examiner's comments as well as creating an uncluttered presentation.

All quotations should be enclosed within inverted commas. The exception is quotations of two or more sentences which run to four or more lines. These should be single-spaced and indented from the main body of the text. In these cases inverted commas are unnecessary (see Q Manual).

Assignments should be bound firmly into a cover, such as a manilla folder, plastic folder, ring binder, etc. Please do not use envelope folders or submit loose sheets. It should be possible to read every page without undoing any fastenings.

Every assignment must be clearly identified. The following details must be on the front of all assignments:

Name:

Student Number:

Assignment Name:

Subject Code/Name:

Lecturer/Tutor:

Due Date:

Date Submitted:

It is recommended that students KEEP A COPY OF ALL WORK SUBMITTED. While it is extremely rare for student work to be misplaced, it does sometimes occur. The onus is on you to prove that a piece of work was submitted.

Grammar, spelling and punctuation are matters which should not be neglected. Failure to take care of these matters causes confusion and ambiguity. Ask someone to read and comment critically on your work prior to submitting it; can they understand what you are trying to say? If not, rewrite it!

Problem solving case format for presentation

1. Title Page

2. Table of Contents

3. Executive Summary

This section should comprise a brief overview of the case, giving a brief background and noting any important assumptions made. (You will not have all the information you would like - so you may need to make some assumptions). As well as this, you should give a synopsis of your case report, noting very briefly the major problems identified and the recommended solutions. One page is enough.

4. Problem Identification and Analysis

In this section you should identify all the major problems in the case in behavioural terms, i.e. in Management/OB related terms (it is not a marketing or an accounting case). Try to get to underlying causes of problems, not just symptoms. Seek advice from your tutor on the layout of this information.

You should link each problem identified to relevant theory and also to actual evidence from the case. Remember you MUST integrate theory and reference all non-original work.

5. Statement of Major Problems

In most case studies you will identify a number of problems - too many to actually 'solve' in the number of words allowed. Hence it is crucial to make it very clear which are the major two or three problems or key issues, that must be solved first. Therefore this section is just a short concise statement of what problems you are going to solve in the remainder of the case. Half a page is adequate.

Having once identified the key problems, you can continually check back to ensure that you are actually attempting to solve them and not some other minor problems you identified. This section is crucial to a good case report.

6. Generation and Evaluation of Alternative Solutions

While most problems will have a very large number of possible solutions, it is your task to identify and evaluate a number of the more appropriate (at least 2-3 for each major problem identified).

Each alternative solution should be briefly outlined and then evaluated in terms of its advantages and disadvantages (strong and weak points). Note: You must evaluate alternatives. It is not necessary to make a statement in this section as to which alternative is considered best - this is the next section. Do not integrate theory in this section and do not recommend theory. Practical solutions to the problems are required.

7. Recommendations

This section should state which of the alternative solutions (either singly or in combination) identified in section six is recommended for implementation. You should briefly justify your choice, explaining how it will solve the major problems identified in Section 6. Integration of relevant theory is appropriate here.

8. Implementation

In this section you should specifically explain how you will implement the recommended solutions. Theory cannot be implemented; you must translate it into actions.

What should be done, by whom, when, in what sequence, what will it cost (rough estimates only) and other such issues.

Remember if a recommended solution cannot be realistically implemented then it is no solution at all.

9. Appendices (if any)

10. Bibliography/References

This will contain an alphabetical list of all the references you have cited in the body of the report. Do not include details of any sources you have not cited. Ensure the style used is correct and consistent.


Some general issues:

  • In a case study it is crucial that you integrate relevant theory from the course and evidence from the case. Failure to attempt to integrate theory will lead to severe mark reduction or failure.
  • Referencing of all non-original material is essential. You will lose marks for poor referencing. The Faculty of Business and Economics Q Manual should be used as a guide. This is available in the library, for sale in the bookshop, and on the web. The Q Manual should also be used as a guide for correct presentation of written material.
  • Check your completed work for internal consistency. For example make sure that you attempt to solve the key issues you have identified. Don't say X is the major problem and then recommend a solution to Y.
  • Try not to be overly descriptive. Remember you are trying to identify, analyse, and solve the problems of the case using the relevant theories from the course - not just repeating what the text book, or case information, has said.
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