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Harvard Case Study Analysis Format


Writing the Case Analysis in College or an MBA ProgramWritten case analyses are short, structured reports. Usually, the instructor will askfor between two and ten typed pages, depending upon the complexity of the case.Somebusiness case studiesare assigned as individual efforts; others are groupprojects. Still others may be a partial group effort, with the group collaborating inthe analysis and each individual student being asked to prepare a separate writtenanalysis. Your task, in writing your case analysis, is to combine aspects of the case and keyissues with your perceptions and supported opinions. You must then examinealternatives, choose the most viable solution, and provide evidence to support yourviews. You obtain this evidence from class discussions, your text readings, outsideresearch, and your personal experiences.1.Determine how you want to present your views and structure your paper.Most case studies follow a prescribed format and structure and can vary dependingupon the course in which it is used, such as those discussed next. Check with yourinstructor regarding his or her preference as to the sections of the case studyanalysis report. Case study analyses are written as reports with headings, not asessays. The report should clearly identify the relevant sections for the reader.a.Title pageUse standard APA format to develop a title page.b.IntroductionDetermine a thesis. Summarize, in one sentence, the principal outcome of youranalysis. This is the thesis for your report and should be clearly stated in the firstfew paragraphs. The introduction identifies the central problem.c.Background Take the central problem, and place it in a context for the reader providingbackground information about the case. Do not reiterate or rehash the facts statedin the case. Rather, place the case in a research context. The background sectiondemonstrates to the reader that you have conducted research, either academicallyor in the field, regarding the types of problems that the case study describes. Besure that your written presentation focuses your diagnosis of the problems on themost important issues.d.Key Problems This is where you identify your thoughts about the problems that exist. It isconsidered a very important part of the report. Start with the “who-when-where-what-why-how” typical questions. Ask yourself here as you ponder the situation:“What are the problems at this company?” There certainly is usually more than one

Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis

A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence. To see an annotated sample of a Case Study Analysis, click here.

Preparing the Case

Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study:

  1. Read and examine the case thoroughly
    • Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
  2. Focus your analysis
    • Identify two to five key problems
    • Why do they exist?
    • How do they impact the organization?
    • Who is responsible for them?
  3. Uncover possible solutions
    • Review course readings, discussions, outside research, your experience.
  4. Select the best solution
    • Consider strong supporting evidence, pros, and cons: is this solution realistic?

Drafting the Case

Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections:

  1. Introduction
    • Identify the key problems and issues in the case study.
    • Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1–2 sentences.
  2. Background
    • Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues.
    • Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study.
  3. Alternatives
    • Outline possible alternatives (not necessarily all of them)
    • Explain why alternatives were rejected
    • Constraints/reasons
    • Why are alternatives not possible at this time?
  4. Proposed Solution
    • Provide one specific and realistic solution
    • Explain why this solution was chosen
    • Support this solution with solid evidence
    • Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures)
    • Outside research
    • Personal experience (anecdotes)
  5. Recommendations
    • Determine and discuss specific strategies for accomplishing the proposed solution.
    • If applicable, recommend further action to resolve some of the issues
    • What should be done and who should do it?

Finalizing the Case

After you have composed the first draft of your case study analysis, read through it to check for any gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure: Is your thesis statement clear and direct? Have you provided solid evidence? Is any component from the analysis missing?

When you make the necessary revisions, proofread and edit your analysis before submitting the final draft. (Refer to Proofreading and Editing Strategies to guide you at this stage).