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The Case Study Method

The case method forces students to grapple with exactly the kinds of decisions and dilemmas managers confront every day. In doing so, it redefines the traditional educational dynamic in which the professor dispenses knowledge and students passively receive it. The case method creates a classroom in which students succeed not by simply absorbing facts and theories, but also by exercising the skills of leadership and teamwork in the face of real problems. Under the skillful guidance of a faculty member, they work together to analyze and synthesize conflicting data and points of view, to define and prioritize goals, to persuade and inspire others who think differently, to make tough decisions with uncertain information, and to seize opportunity in the face of doubt.

Pioneered by Harvard Business School faculty in the 1920s, the case method began as a way of importing slices of business reality into the classroom in order to breathe life and instill greater meaning into the lessons of management education.