Guide to Case Analysis
I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When;
And How and Where and Who.
A Guide to Case Analysis
In most courses in strategic management, students use cases about actual companies to practice strategic analysis
and to gain some experience in the tasks of crafting and implementing strategy. A case sets forth, in a factual
manner, the events and organizational circumstances surrounding a particular managerial situation. It puts readers
at the scene of the action and familiarizes them with all the relevant circumstances. A case on strategic management
can concern a whole industry, a single organization, or some part of an organization; the organization involved can
be either profit seeking or not-for-profit. The essence of the student’s role in case analysis is to diagnose and size
up the situation described in the case and then to recommend appropriate action steps.
WHY USE CASES TO PRACTICE STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT?
A student of business with tact
Absorbed many answers he lacked.
But acquiring a job,
He said with a sob,
“How does one fit answer to fact?”
The foregoing limerick was used some years ago by Professor Charles Gragg to characterize the plight of
business students who had no exposure to cases.1 The facts are that the mere act of listening to lectures and sound
advice about managing does little for anyone’s management skills and that the accumulated managerial wisdom
cannot effectively be passed on by lectures and assigned readings alone. If anything had been learned about the
practice of management, it is that a storehouse of ready-made textbook answers does not exist. Each managerial
situation has unique aspects, requiring its own diagnosis, judgment, and tailor-made actions. Cases provide
would-be managers with a valuable way to practice wrestling with the actual problems of actual managers in
The case approach...