School of Business and Law

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MBA Marketing Masterclass: the benefits of using the case study method

Dr Véronique Boulocher-PassetSenior Lecturer in Marketing

In teaching marketing to the MBA students, my choice naturally heads towards using the case method, which has endured as an effective teaching tool in business education for more than a century.

A case study, or case, describes an actual situation and involves a decision, a challenge, an opportunity, or an issue faced by a person in an organisation. Cases require the reader to “step into the shoes” of the key person in the case and to confront their situation. Traditional case teaching is unquestionably valuable to our teaching for bridging class and company.

Reaffirming theory

In marketing, conceptual material has to be made practical, and practical situations have to generate new conceptual insights. One major benefit I find of case analysis is its capacity to heighten the relevance of theoretical material. This very often enhances students’ involvement and enlivens teaching.

Selecting the right case study

When selecting case studies for a module, I choose the ones that will more specifically illustrate a new concept or theory, paying attention to cover different industry sectors, different sizes of organisations, public or private, in different countries. We also use those case studies to compare and contrast with the organisations students are currently working for.

Developing relevant and current case studies

One of main challenges to incorporate case studies in the classroom is the fast changing marketing environment that makes it hard sometimes to find relevant and interesting enough cases. That is why I also keep developing links with organisations to develop more recent cases. MBA students are a great help with this. I encourage them to capture stories from practitioners or situations they know, and become case writers by looking at a particular marketing issue one organisation is/was facing. They can even publish their own cases.

The learning benefits for students are numerous. Among others, they mention how writing a teaching case study eases and strengthens understanding of marketing concepts and deepens the learning experience.

Ready to give it a try yourself and take up the challenge?

How to create your own case studies:

  • Identify from your workplace a real situation worth sharing with other students.
  • Dig into the situation and decision faced. Relate it in writing.
  • Do not forget to include all the elements/information needed to make the decision.
  • Put other students in the shoes of the decision-maker by asking relevant questions that will guide them in the analysis of the situation.
  • Identify learning objectives this situation will cover.
  • Make an analysis of the situation. Relate it to marketing theories and concepts.
  • Reflect upon potential recommendations to the manager.
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Veronique Boulocher-Passet • February 6, 2017

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