LBS Blog: Extolling the Virtues of Case Method Approach

A post earlier this week on the London Business School Student Views blog takes a look at the “case method” approach to learning and offers several ways it bests the traditional book-based method of teaching business.

With the case method, originated at Harvard Business School more than a century ago, students are presented with a case and must place themselves in the role of the decision maker as they read through the situation and identify the problem they are faced with. The next step is to perform the necessary analysis””examining the causes and considering alternative courses of actions to come to a set of recommendations.

Here are the top four reasons blogger Allen believes strongly in the superiority of the case method approach:

1) It’s more fun! Even as an accountant I find some of the more detailed parts of finance a little dull. But framing the topic as a case brings the subject to life. No longer are you learning what the optimal capital structure is for the sake of it, you’re trying to find the best way of funding the growth strategy for a new low-cost airline. You’re not trying to define what exactly a ”˜competitive advantage’ is, you’re trying to find out how best Honda could secure an enduring position in the US motorcycle market.

2) It brings business back to reality. Having read more than my fair share of management books prior to London Business School ”˜business’ had started to seem like quite an abstract, academic subject. The case method rapidly brings you back down to earth, reminding you that business involves real people being forced to make enormously important decisions often based on incomplete and/or poor quality information.

3) Cases allow you to benefit from the experience of others. How exactly would you have reacted to IBM’s entry to the personal computer market if you were Steve Jobs running Apple? What would have been your priorities if faced with turning around American Express in the early 90s? How do your answers compare to what decisions were actually made? Through this process you gain an insight into why business leaders of old decided on the choices they made. And, more than this, you get to benefit from listening and reacting to the views of your fellow classmates.

4) You practice articulating arguments clearly and concisely. No matter how brilliant or insightful , unless you’re able to clearly convey your ideas they’re likely to go nowhere. This is particularly important in business where the correct decision often needs to be made and executed quickly. The Case Method forces you to practice structuring your argument and conveying it clearly”¦

For more insight into the student experience at London Business School, follow this link to the student blogs.

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