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MBA Case Study

MBA Case Study

What is an MBA case study?

The idea of the use of case studies is to bring real-life business problems to the classroom. Harvard Business School pioneered the case method, where case studies are used to provide an "immersion" experience for students. Students are brought as close as possible to business situations that occur in the real world.

The greatest challenges confronting the world's leading companies are presented, including the incomplete information and other constraints that would be found in real business situations. The student is placed in the role of the person or people who need to make the decisions.


At the moment, most of the cases that are used in MBA courses are written by Harvard Business School faculty. This has given the students the opportunity to be taught about the case by the person who wrote it. At the moment the figure for that is around 80%, but that proportion should be lessened as more cases are written around the world.

Obviously, an advantage can be gained if the school can get the protagonists of the case to come to the classroom when the case is being taught, so that they can share their thoughts on the actual experience that they had gone through during the case.

Case studies and the case method aim to promote a highly interactive, yet intellectually and emotionally engaging experience. Students are encouraged to share their opinions and their perspectives so that they can learn from each other in a challenging learning environment.

Students place themselves as a decision-maker, reading through the situation and identifying what the problem they are facing is. Once that is done, the necessary analysis should be performed, with causes examined, and alternative courses of actions considered. Then, students are expected to arrive at a set of recommendations.

Students should have the time to read the case and reflect on it. They should be encouraged to meet in small groups to study together, warm up for the main class and discuss their findings in a forum in which they will all feel comfortable putting their thoughts out. The professor will guide and question the students in the classroom, helping them to probe the underlying issue, compare the different alternatives and finally suggest some courses of action in relation to the company's objectives.

Ultimately, the end result of MBA case study work is for the real lesson to come from the exchange of ideas between students - not from the words spoken in a lecture by the professor or written in a textbook. Students tend to be surprised at the variety of points of view emerging from their classmates. In fact, many business schools mark subjects with cases partly based upon the quality of each student's participation.