New method to teach case studies dynamically
For decades universities have utilised the case method, with several renowned universities being involved in writing and disseminating comprehensive case studies suitable for MBA programmes e.g. Harvard Business School, Stanford, IMD and London Business School, as well as other organisations such as The Times 100. Management text books often include case studies although these generally tend to be shorter and have a narrower focus, reflecting the specific management function addressed by these books. The case study method has continued to be favoured within MBA programmes primarily because as a pedagogic tool it provides the bridge between theory and the real world. It exposes students to complex management situations, and as the MBA graduate moves up the career ladder the scenarios in the case might indeed be situations they will encounter, and with which they have to react. The case study experience provides the students with an analytical framework for real-life situations in future managerial positions. Recognising the value of the case study method, the University of London MBA programme taught at HKU SPACE includes case studies in all their courses and requires students to attend a plenary weekend where the focus is on the analysis and reporting of recommendations for a comprehensive case. The case is carefully chosen to highlight issues that impact on various functions of the organisation. Students are provided with the case several weeks prior to the weekend to enable sufficient time to digest the provided data and collect any further information that might assist in the analysis and solution development. The preparation undertaken prior to the weekend results in a higher level of discussion during class time. A guest speaker from the organisation is invited to deliver a session at the plenary, to add current information and elaborate on problems which they are confronting. The plenary session is undertaken after students have completed all core modules of the degree. This is vital as the case chosen for the plenary draws on theories and concepts that have been covered in all the various business functions of the degree such as marketing, accounting, economics and human resource management. For the students it becomes evident that strategic decisions can impact all business functions and thus they learn the importance of integrating and synthesising all available information to ensure they understand the repercussions of alternative strategic decisions.
Dr. Isabella Chaney
Students find that analysing and providing solutions to a problem in a group environment facilitates learning from each other. All students undertaking the University of London MBA have considerable work experience, often in very diverse roles and sectors. For example, a typical class will include accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, wholesale distributors, marketers from B2B and B2C companies, professionals in the health sector and exporters. Thus, each student has unique organisational experience to draw on and share in the discussion of the case, augmenting the theoretical knowledge gained from the MBA course. The case study method focuses on student participation, with the instructor acting as a moderator and facilitator. Within the classroom setting it is vital a supportive atmosphere is created in which students feel confident of contributing and where the instructor is encouraging in their interactions with students. This technique enables and enhances student learning as it engenders maximum student engagement. Over the years feedback from the plenary weekend at HKU SPACE suggests students appreciate and value this form of experiential, collaborative learning.