It is common to be asked to write a case study analysis in university, especially if you are a business student. Many students feel anxious when they have a case analysis to write. It often seems like a big task to be told to analyze a case study and provide a solution. This is especially so when working with real-life scenarios. If you have been given an assignment that requires you to write a case analysis paper, rest assured it is easier that you think.
The key is:
You need to be organized from the beginning. If you know how to approach writing a case analysis, you will be able to write your analysis and still maintain your sanity and your good grade. You have to read your case study and do some research before you can write your analysis (view this link, if you’re searching for professional help with case study or argumentative essay). However, first, you must understand what an analysis of a case study involves.
The case study analysis
A case study analysis is a typical assignment in business management courses. The aim of the task is to show students how to analyze a situation, determine what problems exist, and come up with the best possible strategy to achieve the desired outcome. During a case study analysis, you will:
- Analyze a real-life situation, which is generally a situation that has been faced by a real company
- Decide what you want the outcome of the situation to be
- Identify problems that will affect the outcome
- Determine possible solutions to the problems you have identified
- Make a plan of action to carry out the best solutions
We will go over these steps in more detail, starting with reading the case study and preparing to write the analysis!
How to prepare for your analysis
Your professor might give you a variety of case study examples from which to choose or he or she will just assign you a particular case study. Regardless of how you are assigned the case study, to conduct a thorough case study data analysis, you must first read the case study. This might appear to be obvious, but it is amazing the number of students that don’t take adequate time to complete this part of the process.
When you read the case study, you need to be very thorough. Read it and reread it. Highlight, underline, and flag key information in the case study and make notes to which you can refer later when you are writing your analysis report.
The bottom line is:
If you don’t have a complete knowledge of the case study your professor has assigned, you won’t be able to conduct a proper analysis of it. Even if you make use of a business case study template or refer to a sample of an analysis, it won’t help if you aren’t intimately familiar with your own case study.
You will also have to conduct research. When it comes to research, you will need to do the following:
- Gather hard, quantitative data (e.g. 67% of the staff participated in the meeting)
- Design research tools, such as questionnaires and surveys (this will aid in gathering data)
- Determine and suggest the best specific, workable solutions
You also need to learn how to analyze a case study. Once you have read through the case study, you need to determine the focus of your analysis. You can do this by doing the following:
- Identify the main research problem. (For example, the loss of brand identity as a problem faced by Starbucks.)
- Analyze the main underlying causes of the existing problem. (When and why did Starbucks lose its brand identity? Were there certain changes in the company’s strategy before the problem occurred?)
- Establish the cause-and-effect relations between the various aspects. (Ask yourself what can influence Starbucks’ brand image. Perhaps the inner vision of the company? Advertising? The design of the store?)
- Formulate the best solutions to address the problem. (For Starbucks, this might include paying more attention to advertising campaigns, reconsider the vision and mission statements, and improve the design of stores.)
- Write a report or express your position during class discussion
Compare your chosen solutions to the solutions offered by the experts who have analyzed the case study you were given. Chances are the expert solutions are more advanced than yours simply because these people are more experienced. However, you should not be discouraged if you did not arrive at similar conclusions. The whole point of doing this analysis is to learn. Use the opportunity to learn from the valuable experience of others and your results will be better next time.
Analysis of content
Writing a case study can be a very challenging task because you have to make sure every relevant fact is included. This is why you have been encouraged to read the case study thoroughly before diving into the analysis.
Let’s face it:
If you were already a part of the business world and you were presenting an analysis of a real-life case study, you would not be able to miss a single detail of the facts. If anything is overlooked, it could spell financial and legal disaster for an organization in the real world. Now is the time to surf that learning curve and get it right, when you are still a student, and a mistake means losing a few marks, rather than losing your job. When it comes to details that are usually present in a case study, the following apply:
- Background information about a certain organization, company, agency, person, and any other relevant person or entity.
- An accurate and concise description of the problem. Remember that your case study must help the reader identify and appreciate the trials that must be overcome.
- Visual aids, such as charts, diagrams, and tables, which will help the reader better understand the quantitative data.
- Questions and prompts that help the reader analyze the situation.
- The list of sources that were referred to during the research of the analysis.
The question remains:
How do you write the case study analysis paper? You have all of your information, you know what problems you face and how they can be solved, and you know what information needs to be included. The only thing left is to gain a solid understanding of the format of a case study analysis.
Case study analysis format
When you are learning how to write a case study analysis, it is important to get the format of your case study analysis right. Understanding the case study format is vital for the professor and the student. The person planning and handing out such an assignment should make sure that the student doesn’t have to use many external sources. In turn, students have to remember that a well-written case analysis provides all necessary information, making it unnecessary for the reader to go elsewhere for information.
When in doubt:
Turn to a solid case study analysis template, like the one offered by the Birmingham Grid for Learning or the documents supplied by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Regardless of whether you use a case study paper template, you will need to follow a clear and concise format when writing your case study analysis. There are some possible case study frameworks available, but according to the sample case analysis format provided by Monash University, a case study should contain eight sections laid out in the following format:
- Executive Summary: Also known as a synopsis, this acts as the introduction to the case study analysis. The University of Wollongong provides examples of good and poor executive summaries. In the executive summary, you will:
- Describe the purpose of the case study you are analyzing
- Provide a summary of the company
- Give a brief introduction of the problems and issues found in the case study
- Discuss the theory you will be using in the analysis
- Present the key points of the study and present any assumptions made during the analysis
- Findings: This is where you present in more detail the specific problems you discovered in the case study. In this section, you will:
- Present each problem you have singled out
- Prove each issue you have chosen is genuinely a concern by providing supporting evidence you have discovered in the case study and by discussing theory and what you have learned from your course content
- Divide the section (and following sections) into subsections
- Discussion: This is the section in which you summarize each issue or problem and present your argument for each chosen solution. Here you will:
- Present a summary of each problem you have identified
- Present plausible solutions for each of the problems, keeping in mind that each problem will likely have more than one possible solution
- Provide the pros and cons of each solution in a way that is practical
- Conclusion: This is a summary of your findings and discussion.
- Recommendations: This is the section of your analysis where you make your recommendations based on your research and conclusions. Here you will:
- Decide which of the solutions best fit each of the issues you identified
- Provide an explanation for why you chose the solution you have presented and how it will effectively solve the problem
- Be persuasive when you write this section so that you can drive your point home
- Be sure to bring together theory and what you have learned throughout your course to support your recommendations
- Implementation: In this section, you will provide information on how to implement the solutions you have recommended. You will:
- Provide an explanation of what must be done, who should take action, and when the solution should be carried out
- In any situation in which it is relevant, you should provide an estimate of the cost in implementing the solution, including the financial investment and the cost of terms of time
- References: While you generally do not need to refer to many external sources when writing a case study analysis, you might use a few. When you do, you will need to properly reference these sources, which is most often done in one of the main citation styles, including APA, MLA, or Harvard. There is plenty of help when citing references and you can follow these APA guidelines, these MLA guidelines, or these Harvard guidelines.
- Appendices: This is the section you include at the completion of your case study analysis if you have original data that you use throughout the analysis. These data will be presented in as charts, graphs, and tables and are included here because to present them in the main body of the analysis would be disruptive to the reader. The University of Southern California and the University of Wollongong provide a great description of appendices and when to make use of them.
It is evident that there are some significant sections that are included in a case study analysis. You must understand and include each of these. When you are finished your first draft, be sure to proofread it, not only for potential grammar and spelling errors but also to be sure there are no discrepancies or holes in your argument.
And remember that there is more to writing a case study analysis than knowing what you should include. You should also know what you need to avoid when writing your analysis.
Things to avoid when writing your analysis
Whenever you deal with a case study, remember that there are some pitfalls to avoid! Beware of the following mistakes:
- Excessive use of colloquial language (even though it is a study of an actual case, it should sound formal)
- Lack of statistical data (give all important data, both in percentages and in numbers)
- Abuse of detail (state only the most significant facts, rather than drowning the reader in every fact you find)
- Inconsistency in the methods you have used (in a case study, theory plays a relatively small part, so you must develop a specific case study research methodology)
- Trivial means of research (It is critical that you design your own case study research method in whatever form best suits your analysis, such as questionnaires and surveys)
It is useful to see a few examples of case analysis papers. After all, a sample case study report can provide you with some context so you can see how to approach each aspect of your paper.
Case study analysis example
It might be easier to understand how a case study analysis works if you have an example of a business case, as well as an example of a case study analysis. Consider the following:
The case in point:
- In the AAA Corp, major changes concerning the staff have been implemented. Some of the staff have been fired under the pretext of “not passing the newly approved tests.”
- Analyze the course of action chosen to decide if it was reasonable, taking into consideration the psychological peculiarities of each employee.
- Assessing the discharges from a legal and social point of view
- Evaluating the potential and professionalism of each employee
- Creating feasible strategies for each of the people involved
- Designing specific questionnaires
- Obtaining the information on the employees from the human resources department
- Conducting tests to assess the extent of each employee’s temper
- Calculating the number of the people who managed to find another job
- Taking note of the ways the latter managed to succeed
- Offering conclusions and comments on the case
Fortunately, examples of written case studies are easy to come by. Take a look at this video for a sample case study analysis for the Coca-Cola Company.
If you want other examples of a case study analysis, the University of Minnesota provides a number of case study writing samples written by students of the university. Harvard University also provides an excellent example of a case analysis.
Writing a case study analysis can seem incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have never done it before. Just remember, you can do it provided you follow a plan, keep to the format described here, and refer to at least one example of an analysis.
If you still need help writing an analysis of a case study, your professor is always available to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. You can also get help with any aspect of the project from a custom writing company. Just tackle the research and hand over the writing, write a rough draft and have it checked by a professional, or completely hand the project off to an expert writer.
Regardless of the path you choose, you will turn in something of which you can be proud!