The case method
Real problems faced by companies in different sectors
Cross-sectional view of general management
Practical learning applied to theory
The case method is the principal learning methodology that we use in IESE programs.
Unlike lectures in which students passively receive knowledge taught by their professors, at IESE, it’s mainly the students who contribute ideas in dynamic learning classes. We firmly believe that the best way to learn to make professional business decisions is by making them in a safe, academic environment.
Through the analysis of real cases, the case method connects theory to practice. It also favors the development of managerial capacities such as analyzing business problems, balancing different perspectives, presenting viable solutions and deriving power from conviction.
Furthermore, as there is often no single solution to a problem, this system allows you to enrich yourself with multiple ideas, experiences and points of view.
How the case method works
The case method is a learning methodology built on learning by doing and which aims to prepare students for strategic decision-making in companies through the practice of real situations.
Individual study and analysis of the case
Small group discussion of the case
Conclusions and lessons learned as distilled by professor
After students in groups study and prepare the case, and tackle the problem to be solved, the professor facilitates and guides the classroom debate. Addressing the prognosis prepared by the participants, the professor encourages participation from the entire class in order to deepen the discussion with different points of view stemming from diverse experiences and cultural backgrounds.
Benefits of the case method
This method was first used at Harvard in the early 20th century and has since become hugely popular thanks to its effectiveness in developing knowledge, skills and attitudes among experienced students. These are the benefits:
1. Shape new perspectives through active listening with classmates and teachers.
2 Improve critical judgment through discussion. Expand the capacity for diagnosis and reflection.
3. While making decisions within the case method, learn how to make decisions you can apply to your company.
4. Develop a cross-sectional view of general management to face any business decision.
5. Apply ethical management values and organizational purpose toward making decisions with people at the center.
How to prepare a business case
Real companies, practical dilemmas
In order for this active learning to be vigorously carried out, it’s essential that the cases analyzed be of top quality. At IESE, we work with real companies such as Apple, Amazon, Adidas and Unilever, to name a few, always bearing in mind that the data analyzed:
- Present serious dilemmas.
- Are of general interest and attractiveness. In other words, they can be used anywhere in the world and not in a single culture or country.
- Are aligned with the general management of the company.
- Allow to discuss certain ideas or business models in class.
These are some of the questions that professors tend to ask in class when they use the case method that encourage students to propose clear solutions to complex and real problems:
- How can sales improve in this case?
- How can a company increase its revenue stream taking into account its new competitive environment?
- What incentive policies can work in a sector with high turnover?
Examples of the case study
These are just a few examples used in IESE classes of real cases on leading companies: