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This listing contains abstracts and ordering information for case studies written and published by faculty at Stanford GSB.

Publicly available cases in this collection are distributed by Harvard Business Publishing and The Case Centre .

Stanford case studies with diverse protagonists, along with case studies that build “equity fluency” by focusing on DEI-related issues and opportunities are listed in the Case Compendium developed by the Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership at the Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Kiah Williams started SIRUM as a Stanford undergraduate alongside her classmates Adam Kircher and George Wang. Nearly two decades later, the medication donation nonprofit was now operating in five states across the country and had helped facilitate…

Monifa Porter was in the process of building a product that could work her and her team out of a job. As head of 2401, a subdivision of the corporate innovation and growth company Mach49, Porter was building a technology product that would assist…

This case describes the founding and evolution of Oak Street Health, a primary care provider operating in the “value-based” health care space, focused on Medicare patients in the United States. This case introduces students to value-based health care in…

In April 2019, just two months shy of his graduation from Stanford Graduate School of Business (“Stanford”), Cody Evans was looking forward to converting his professional and academic experiences to real-world impact. Having worked at both the largest…

In 2022, Hyundai Motor Group had become the world’s third-largest automaker by sales volume. Under Executive Chair Eui-sun Chung’s leadership, HMG was shaping its vision as a “game changer” in the global automotive industry. The company no longer viewed…

On November 2, 2021, Enrique Lores, CEO of HP, Inc., ended the first online huddle of the week with his executive leadership team. The day was an historic one for the Palo Alto-based global company: six years earlier, HP Inc. came into being after the…

Tesh Mbaabu started MarketForce to help bring technology to the thousands of Kenyan merchants who ran corner shops that were often a centerpiece of their communities. MarketForce began as an inventory ordering platform for merchants, but has quickly…

Building on Nobel Prize-winning research, nearly a decade of experience investing in impact funds, and a lifetime of social and economic justice advocacy, Daryn Dodson’s Illumen Capital, an impact investment fund-of-funds, was at a critical juncture…

By 2022, Meta was the world’s largest social media company, with around 3 billion users sharing 140 billion messages and a billion stories a day. Over 200 million businesses used Meta apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Meta’s primary source of…

After completing a successful two-year pilot, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) was ready to launch its inaugural Debt Fund. The goal was to capitalize companies solving the greatest challenges related to climate change across three priority…

In 2016, Stephen M. Liberatore, CFA, lead portfolio manager for and head of Nuveen’s impact fixed income strategies, received a phone call from the World Bank. The call was not unusual; in fact, Nuveen had collaborated with the World Bank in the past as…

While India had made significant progress against diseases like polio and tetanus, the pandemic revealed marked differences in COVID-related illness and death among the country’s most vulnerable. Urban-rural and other societal divides added to long-time…

Montage of images from the Top 40 cases of 2018

Top 40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2018

Cases about food and agriculture took center stage in 2018. A case on the coffee supply chain remained the top case and cases on burgers, chocolate, and palm oil all made the top ten.

Cases about food and agriculture took center stage in 2018. A case on the coffee supply chain remained the top case and cases on burgers, chocolate, and palm oil all made the top ten, according to data compiled by Yale School of Management Case Research and Development Team (SOM CRDT).

Other topics in the top ten included corporate social responsibility, healthcare, solar energy, and financial inclusion.

The annual ranking of the 40 most popular Yale School of Management case studies combines data from publishers, Google analytics, SOM class syllabi, and other measures of interest and adoption. This is the second year that SOM CRDT has published its Top 40 list.

Cases published in 2018 on the top 40 list included Marina Bay Sands Hotel (#13), AgBiome (#18), Canary Wharf (#20), Mastercard (#21), and Peabody Museum (#35). Both the Marina Bay Sands and Peabody cases were featured in major student competitions in 2018.

The cases on the Top 40 list represent a variety of different business disciplines, as Yale SOM cases tend to combine a variety of perspectives. For example, the top coffee case can be taught in marketing, operations, and strategy classes. The number two case on Shake Shack covers finance, strategy, and even innovation and design. The list features a number of cases related to the interplay of state and commerce and social enterprise, traditional strengths of the Yale SOM curriculum.

While there are many US-based cases among the top 40, a range of locales are highlighted among the top 40 entries. Cases set in France (AXA), Great Britain (Cadbury, Canary Wharf, George Hudson), Indonesia (Palm Oil, Golden Agri), China (Ant Financial, Alibaba), India (SELCO, Project Sammaan), Singapore (Marina Bay Sands), Canada (Air Canada, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan), and South Africa (Project Masiluleke) made the top 40 list.

SOM CRDT has been working to increase the number of women featured as case protagonists. The 2018 list boasts 13 cases where women play prominent roles in the narrative.

The top 40 list also demonstrates a wide range of SOM faculty involvement. Thirty different faculty members worked as case supervisors on the top 40 cases.

Read on to learn more about the top 10 most popular cases followed by a complete list of the top 40 cases of 2018. A selection of the top 40 cases are available for purchase through our online store . 

#1 - Coffee 2016

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort

Coffee 2016 asks students to consider the coffee supply chain and generate ideas for what can be done to equalize returns across various stakeholders. The case draws a parallel between coffee and wine. Both beverages encourage connoisseurship, but only wine growers reap a premium for their efforts to ensure quality.  The case describes the history of coffee production across the world, the rise of the “third wave” of coffee consumption in the developed world, the efforts of the Illy Company to help coffee growers, and the differences between “fair” trade and direct trade. Faculty have found the case provides a wide canvas to discuss supply chain issues, examine marketing practices, and encourage creative solutions to business problems. 

#2 - Shake Shack IPO

Faculty Supervision: Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst

From an art project in a New York City park, Shake Shack developed a devoted fan base that greeted new Shake Shack locations with cheers and long lines. When Shake Shack went public on January 30, 2015, investors displayed a similar enthusiasm. Opening day investors bid up the $21 per share offering price by 118% to reach $45.90 at closing bell. By the end of May, investors were paying $92.86 per share. Students are asked if this price represented a realistic valuation of the enterprise and if not, what was Shake Shack truly worth? The case provides extensive information on Shake Shack’s marketing, competitors, operations and financials, allowing instructors to weave a wide variety of factors into a valuation of the company.

#3 - IBM Corporate Service Corps

Faculty Supervision: David Bach in cooperation with University of Ghana Business School and EGADE

The case considers IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC), a program that had become the largest pro bono consulting program in the world. The case describes the program’s triple-benefit: leadership training to the brightest young IBMers, brand recognition for IBM in emerging markets, and community improvement in the areas served by IBM’s host organizations. As the program entered its second decade in 2016, students are asked to consider how the program can be improved. The case allows faculty to lead a discussion about training, marketing in emerging economies, and various ways of providing social benefit. The case highlights the synergies as well as trade-offs between pursuing these triple benefits.

#4 - Children’s Premier

Faculty Supervision: Edieal Pinker

The case describes Children’s Premier, a popular group practice in Greenwich, Connecticut which, due to a change in the state’s vaccination law, decides to dramatically change its business model. Did the group make the right adjustments in order to stay competitive and cover their increasing costs? Should the new practices cause a newcomer to the practice to look elsewhere for his children?

#5 - Design at Mayo

Faculty Supervision: Rodrigo Canales and William Drentell

The case describes how the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prominent hospitals in the world, engaged designers and built a research institute, the Center for Innovation (CFI), to study the processes of healthcare provision. The case documents the many incremental innovations the designers were able to implement and the way designers learned to interact with physicians and vice-versa.

In 2010 there were questions about how the CFI would achieve its stated aspiration of “transformational change” in the healthcare field. Students are asked what would a major change in health care delivery look like? How should the CFI's impact be measured? Were the center's structure and processes appropriate for transformational change? Faculty have found this a great case to discuss institutional obstacles to innovation, the importance of culture in organizational change efforts, and the differences in types of innovation.

This case is freely available to the public.

#6 - AXA: Creating New Corporate Responsibility Metrics

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort and David Bach

The case describes AXA’s corporate responsibility (CR) function. The company, a global leader in insurance and asset management, had distinguished itself in CR since formally establishing a CR unit in 2008. As the case opens, AXA’s CR unit is being moved from the marketing function to the strategy group occasioning a thorough review as to how CR should fit into AXA’s operations and strategy. Students are asked to identify CR issues of particular concern to the company, examine how addressing these issues would add value to the company, and then create metrics that would capture a business unit’s success or failure in addressing the concerns.

#7 - Cadbury: An Ethical Company Struggles to Insure the Integrity of Its Supply Chain

Faculty Supervision: Ira Millstein

The case describes revelations that the production of cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire involved child slave labor. These stories hit Cadbury especially hard. Cadbury's culture had been deeply rooted in the religious traditions of the company's founders, and the organization had paid close attention to the welfare of its workers and its sourcing practices. The US Congress was considering legislation that would allow chocolate grown on certified plantations to be labeled “slave labor free,” painting the rest of the industry in a bad light. Chocolate producers had asked for time to rectify the situation, but the extension they negotiated was running out. Students are asked whether Cadbury should join with the industry to lobby for more time?  What else could Cadbury do to ensure its supply chain was ethically managed?

#8 - Palm Oil 2016

Faculty Supervision: Kenneth Richards in cooperation with National University of Singapore Business School and David Bach

The case looks at the palm oil industry in Indonesia and how the industry effects deforestation and native rights. The case focuses on a proposal forwarded by leading palm oil traders and environmental NGOs that would ban the sale of palm oil from deforested land. The proposal is opposed by elements of the government, and smaller palm oil companies. Some voices in the Indonesian government are suggesting an agreement to end deforestation needs to be scrapped. What should companies and NGOs do?

#9 - Ant Financial

Faculty Supervision: K. Sudhir in cooperation with Renmin University of China School of Business

In 2015, Ant Financial’s MYbank (an offshoot of Jack Ma’s Alibaba company) was looking to extend services to rural areas in China by providing small loans to farmers. Microloans have always been costly for financial institutions to offer to the unbanked (though important in development) but MYbank believed that fintech innovations such as using the internet to communicate with loan applicants and judge their credit worthiness would make the program sustainable. Students are asked whether MYbank could operate the program at scale? Would its big data and technical analysis provide an accurate measure of credit risk for loans to small customers? Could MYbank rely on its new credit-scoring system to reduce operating costs to make the program sustainable?

#10 - SELCO

Faculty Supervision: Tony Sheldon

The case looks at SELCO, an Indian company that specialized in bringing solar electric products to the poor. In 2009, the company needed a new growth strategy. As students consider the company’s dilemma, the raw case allows them to view video interviews with company leaders and customers, inspect maps of SELCO’s service areas, see videos describing how SELCO’s products were being used, consider articles on India’s electricity grid and socio-economic conditions, read about the company’s founding, consult the company’s organization charts, income statements and balance sheets, inspect the company’s innovative products, review the company’s business models, read news articles about the company’s success, etc.

SELCO, India's innovative solar electric company, was at a strategic crossroads. Should it go “deeper” and serve even poorer people or go “wider” and expand beyond its current geographical areas?

40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2018

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A century of MBA case studies: exacting examples from business life

Andrew Jack

We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest MBA news every morning.

In 1921, Harvard Business School produced its first, single-page mimeographed case study for students (view here and bottom) , about the practical dilemmas faced by managers at the General Shoe Company. Intended to prompt class discussions, the case method has since been adopted by schools around the world as a core part of teaching.

Today, Harvard , Ivey Business School in Canada and The Case Centre are leaders among 50 producers and distributors of thousands of cases, of which millions of copies are sold annually. They are written by a growing number of institutions, in formats including video, describing challenges on an ever broader range of issues, geographies and protagonists.

Below is an abstract of one of Harvard’s most recent cases, on the African media company EbonyLife.

Decision maker: Mosunmola Abudu of EbonyLife Media

One unusually quiet morning in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and chief executive of EbonyLife Media and one of Africa’s biggest names in the business, brought her laptop to work on the rooftop patio of EbonyLife Place, the company’s flagship lifestyle and entertainment resort.

Founded by Abudu in 2012 with a mission to bring high-quality African stories to the world, EbonyLife was the company behind many of Nigeria’s biggest movies and television shows. It began with a linear TV channel on the Africa-wide direct broadcast satellite service DStv. By 2020, it had produced more than 5,000 hours of TV content and Nigeria’s top-three highest grossing movies.

With a desire for greater control over production and following the end of its relationship with DStv, EbonyLife launched EbonyLife ON (EL ON), an on-demand streaming service. However, it struggled to grow the number of EL ON subscribers.

Global MBA Ranking 2022

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Find out which schools are in our ranking of MBA degrees . Learn how the table was compiled and read the rest of our coverage at  www.ft.com/mba .

Abudu started to think about whether she should continue fighting to grow EL ON. Should EbonyLife focus instead on co-production deals with international media distributors such as Netflix, Sony and AMC? Abudu, who had been in the media business for nearly 20 years, needed to make this significant decision for EbonyLife.

Her interest in the media and entertainment industry emerged from a desire to correct harmful stereotypes about Africa. Born in London to Nigerian parents, she grew up in the UK and Nigeria. Drawn to African stories, she wanted to address the fact that there was so much the world did not know about Africa. “I think somewhere deeply buried in my subconscious was a need to tell Africa’s story,” she says.

Growing up in the UK, she routinely encountered misconceptions about Africa and was surprised by how they persisted when she was an adult. “The same questions I was being asked in England [40 years ago],” she says, “are the same questions my children were being asked when they went to school in England.” Questions like, “Do you guys live in trees?”

In July 2020, following its exit from DStv, EbonyLife publicly announced EL ON, with plans to make the platform its main distribution channel. While EbonyLife had already created extensive programming, “a lot of that content was consumed on a daily basis and had a very minimal shelf life”, Abudu explains.

She began to explore the new opportunity of co-productions with global partners that would eventually be distributed through Nigerian TV channels. She signed a multi-title co-production deal with Netflix to make several movies and TV series. Partnering with such companies reduced the upfront financial risks of production. But it was difficult to assess the size of the global audience “ Nollywood ” (Nigeria’s Hollywood) films gained because of the reluctance of the international platforms to share viewership data. Also, Nollywood producers could not interact directly with these viewers. As a result, it was difficult for them to learn who had viewed the content and what aspects of the stories the audience had enjoyed, and then use this insight to plan their future productions.

Beyond producing content, EbonyLife sought to build its own media and entertainment ecosystem. It helped grow the pipeline of local talent through a creative academy that enabled students to attend classes free of charge, funded by the Lagos state government. Abudu also believed EbonyLife could grow further by investing more in its audience’s experiences. In December 2019 in Lagos, she opened the multi-purpose resort EbonyLife Place, which included two restaurants, a boutique hotel, five movie theatres, meeting rooms and a larger multipurpose function hall.

A year later, Abudu was at EbonyLife Place to plan for its relaunch after the lifting of pandemic restrictions. However, she faced other pressing concerns. She reflected on her options around how EbonyLife would distribute its content. Was it too early to make judgments about EL ON? What changes should EbonyLife make to EL ON? Equally, she considered the alternative: could she realistically build a sustainable media business just on international partnerships with streaming services? Was there a scenario in which she could keep EL ON operational while pursuing these international partnerships? After two decades in the industry, pivots were no longer quick or painless. Abudu wondered which option she should pursue. 

The above is an adapted abstract of Harvard Business School’s teaching case study EbonyLife Media, written by Andy Wu, Feng Zhu, Wale Lawal and Pippa Tubman Armerding

The original 1921 Harvard Business School case study

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8 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Case Method

Ninad Kulkarni just wrapped up the fall semester at HBS and wanted to share what he learned about the case method after his first few months in the classroom. 

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Is an MBA Degree Really Worth It?

case studies mba

The right and wrong reasons to pursue one.

Getting an MBA (Master of Business Administration) takes a lot of time, money, and effort. So it’s important to really think about whether or not it is worth your while to pursue one. Here are some things to consider.

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To MBA, or not to MBA? For many young professionals, that is the question.

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a graduate degree focused on building leadership skills and learning business principles. But for the majority of students, MBAs offer much more than that: a stronger professional network, access to job opportunities, and a bigger paycheck.

Some of these benefits manifest sooner than others. Those accepted into highly ranked programs gain almost immediate access to seasoned staff who can help them make connections, and they can expect a significant pay bump upon graduation. The average salary for graduates from top schools is typically in the six figures .

But sometimes, the full impact of an MBA can take a few years to come to fruition, and if you’re in it for the wrong reasons, you might not achieve the outcomes you want.

Given the amount of time, money, and effort that an MBA really requires, it’s important to think about where you fit into this equation before deciding whether or not it is worth your while to pursue one.

For the past decade, a part of my job as the managing director of the Career Management Center at the Kellogg School of Management has been to advise students on their careers and help potential candidates weigh this decision. Based on my experience, here some things to consider as you debate it yourself.

The Right Reasons

To future-ready your career. In my daily conversations with MBA alumni and executives, I hear about the importance of “future-ready skills.” But what does this really mean? It means that more and more companies are looking to come out of the pandemic stronger than they were before by pivoting and adjusting their business models. Hiring the right talent with the right skills is an important piece of that. You should have the same mindset. Ask yourself: “How can I expand my skillset and capabilities to be the best candidate for these roles?”

The skills many organizations are looking for range from empathy and team management to understanding how to look ahead, set strategic goals, and influence stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. Students looking to develop skills around influence often have unique opportunities to do so during the MBA experience.

Many enter case study competitions that emulate the challenges businesses face today and require the students to pitch solutions to a panel of judges. Importantly, everyone in these programs also learns how to improve their communication and collaboration skills by participating in group projects with people from all walks of life. Soft skills like this are key to MBA classes in addition to rigorous analytical work.

An MBA could be key in acquiring the experience you need to have a competitive advantage in the job market — and this is not a bad reason to pursue one.

To explore new industries or functions. If you’re looking to make a career pivot, an MBA may help you face that challenge with open eyes. Business school is a great time to gain exposure to peers, faculty, and a network of alumni from many professional backgrounds — as well as class projects and case studies that dive deeply into different industries and sectors.

Take the example of one student I recently spoke with. She has two career ambitions: to pivot into biopharmaceuticals and to lead an organization one day. She decided an MBA degree would allow her to accomplish both goals because she will be introduced to resources that will help her learn about and more easily transition into a new industry, and attain the leadership skills she will need 10, or even 20, years down the road.

Some students even come to business school to explore an entrepreneurial path. They typically go on to launch their own startups, or join early-stage firms, including those founded by alums.

Something to note about the MBA is that you can apply it to most industries. For people who don’t know what industry is right for them yet, there are a series of specializations and concentrations you can explore in these programs, like strategy, corporate finance, and operations.

That said, even if your heart is in the right place, I’d recommend doing your research, and maybe even getting a couple years of hands-on work experience, to help you figure out what areas you want to focus on before pursuing this degree. Once you’re in it, you want to choose the classes, opportunities, and events that satisfy your ambitions and makes the best use of your time.

To accelerate your career path. Not everyone who pursues an MBA wants to make a dramatic change. Many are looking to pick up the pace of their professional development within a certain industry or at their current company. A part of that involves gaining access to more senior roles with higher salaries.

The average starting salary for MBA grads (class of 2020) is $20,000 a year more than those with an undergraduate business degree, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers . But that’s not all. Graduates from top MBA programs often land positions that put them on an accelerated path into leadership. The reason is simple: Employers expect graduates of these programs to have the academic, interpersonal, and leadership skills to solve complex business problems.

Accelerated MBA programs are also an option for people looking to earn the degree in a shorter period of time. Kellogg launched the first one-year MBA program more than 50 years ago for candidates with the focus and discipline to earn their degree in 12 months, and other schools like Cornell and Duke have added similar offerings. The accelerated option is not for everyone, but if you have a business background and the need for speed, it may be the answer.

To expand and diversify your network. A part of enrolling in business school is becoming part of a community of future leaders and well-connected alumni. At Kellogg, our global alumni network spans 65,000 people across more than 15 industries. Those connections add up, and the case is similar at many programs. I was recently talking with a graduate who was in the running for a job at a large e-commerce tech company, but suddenly became stuck in the hiring process. An alum with connections at that company made an inquiry, discovered the issue was a delay in HR, and provided a recommendation that moved her application forward.

Most MBA programs offer access to networking events hosted by clubs and employers, as well as affinity networks and student-led conferences — all opportunities that could expand your reach, and therefore, your chances of success in the business world.

The Wrong Reasons

You’re looking for a magic pill. An MBA isn’t a “golden ticket” that will automatically admit you to higher-paying jobs with bigger responsibilities. It takes passion, proactivity, and hard work to expand your knowledge and skills. And MBA programs are just that: very hard work. Most students who enroll have a track record of professional success and are seeking further development. I wouldn’t recommend applying if your goal is only to gain money or power.

If you are feeling doubts about your current role, or struggling to advance at the pace you want, there are other steps you can take first. For example, you can step up at work by asking your manager for a stretch project in your area of interest and seeking out their critical feedback. You can also try cultivating relationships with people whose careers you admire to find out what they did to get where they are. With this level of engagement, you might learn more about what you really want, set new goals, and be positioned to take full advantage of an MBA program when, and if, you choose to pursue one later on.

Your parents offer to pay for it. While having the financial support of your parents is tempting, don’t let that be the only reason you apply to business school. You really do need to be “all in”— for yourself and your career. Students who get the most out of business school and reap the benefits in the future are those who want to stretch themselves academically, professionally, and personally.

If you’re not “all in,” there are many other ways you can learn about new concepts and industries without spending that large sum of money . You can take advantage of online platforms, go to conferences, or even participate in volunteer programs to build your skills and your network.

While we’re on the subject of money, it’s worth noting that   cost is something you will want to consider when thinking about business school. Around 51% of MBA students end up taking out student loans to finance their education. At the same time, cost alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor. There are plenty of other ways to pay for an MBA, like through fellowships and employer sponsorship.

You’re bored. Your current job bores you, and you don’t have any other options right now. So, the default is to go to business school. Right? Wrong. This is probably not the right step, at least not until you’ve done some more reflection. Boredom can take the form of frustration — with not being recognized, not getting better projects, watching others get promoted. This is an invitation to pause and reflect: Why are these opportunities going to other people and not you? What skills do you need? Will it change how others perceive you? By reflecting on these questions, you can gain insight into your current situation. If you don’t, you could end up asking yourself, “Why did I even go to business school?”

That’s the real question: Why? Continue to think about where you are, where you want to go, and what it will take to get you there. Only then will you be able to make the right decision.

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The Case of the Case Study Method


By Laura Tucker

The Case of the Case Study Method  main image

The case study method is a style of learning used on many MBA courses which focuses on the student as decision maker. Instead of faculty-led lectures, the case study method encourages interaction and class discussion in order to develop solutions to a set case study, which are written by faculty experts at top business schools, often working with businesses to ensure that they reflect the problems that occur in business.

The Case Study Method at Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School is perhaps the most well-known school to use the case study method; students read over 500 cases during the two-year MBA program. These cases are given to the students in advance of the seminar and it is up to the individuals to work out and clearly propose their solution. In the seminar they are required to explain their thinking to their peers in a healthy debating environment overseen by a Harvard Business School faculty member. The cases are designed to present typical yet specific problems that are likely to arise in the world of business, developing as well as testing each student’s ability to utilize their analytical and communication skills, two qualities crucial in business leadership , in order to produce viable solutions.

The school claims that HBS faculty produces 350 new cases annually, making up over 80% of cases sold around the world.

The Perks of Using Business Case Studies.

Real life business leadership skills.

The value of the case study method is that it simulates a real environment and helps to prepare the student for real-life business situations in their future careers; the ability to make quick decisions that are sound and good for the company is what employers are looking for.

This confidence is vital within business as colleagues and business partners do not always have the same beliefs and it will be necessary to defend your thinking – this is developed through the debating process in which students defend their solutions to each case and try and persuade each other to back their ideas.

Better than lectures.

One on the most underrated things about the case study method is that it’s fun . To be able to track your development of thought during a case and reach a final solution is ultimately an exhilarating feeling. The majority of business case studies presented have a narrative arc which students can relate to and appreciate as a real thing – to solve a real human problem brings a feeling of achievement and therefore the method motivates students to involve themselves on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level in each case.

An all-encompassing business outlook.

Out of the 500 Harvard Business School case studies given over the two-year MBA, 33% of them are international, meaning candidates gain a global perspective which opens a greater number of career paths after graduation. Each case is designed to build on the knowledge of previous cases leading to students who are capable of applying their learning in any situation.

The Problems of Using Business Case Studies.

Students run the entire operation.

Preparation is crucial for business case studies to work; if an individual has not prepared fully then the benefits of the method are lost. This requirement for prior research forces each student to take responsibility for their own learning, but simultaneously it begs the question; what exactly are they paying for? According to Harvard Business School faculty, students on their MBA course do approximately 85% of the talking. This is great news for those who can talk the talk and who love to compete for airtime, but for those who are slightly less gregarious – yes, business schools enroll types like this too – the method is flawed. Not all those in business leadership are brilliant public speakers – it helps, but it is not as essential as, say, empathy or rationality. And this may lead to a skewed hierarchy of classmates who believe that the most loquacious will go the furthest.

Too many cases not enough time.

To do 500 cases in the two year course, which is about 60 weeks’ worth of classes, equates to approximately eight case studies a week. This evidently does not give much time for an in-depth analysis and so relies on the seminar leader to make sure the important aspects of each case are reached promptly. And although this is efficient, it prohibits students from working out these aspects for themselves as they will have to become accustomed to in the real business world.

Cases are also a rather inefficient way of teaching basic business skills which are quantifiable and have a certifiable answer. To teach technical subjects in a case would be a waste of valuable time.

Business newbies: not so welcome?

In order to be able to contribute valuably to case study hearings, students must have considerable pre-MBA work experience. This can be challenging for those from non-traditional backgrounds, who need to learn these skills from scratch. The emphasis on development of what is already known rather than creation of new knowledge gives MBA programs a sense of exclusivity which is hard to shift.

Times change, cases must follow suit.

Another challenge is staying up-to-date. Unless the cases are constantly updated, they become irrelevant in the current business climate. Emergence of new technologies and ways of doing business means that business case studies must constantly be evolving and updated. And because of the fluidity of the business world, by the time the graduates begin their careers, things will have changed yet again. The more important thing then is that MBAs learn the foundations.

An alternative to traditional case methods

Although most business schools offer the case study method, some are more wary of allowing the case method to take over. Columbia Business School is one such institution. Vice Dean Amir Ziv asserts in an interview with Forbes that sometimes cases are not the best way to present a simple problem because they are time consuming and often artificial. “Another issue,” Ziv states, “is that most cases are, in a sense, too complete. You get a 30-page analysis – everything you need to know is there and is already presented in a structured way.”

Because of this, Columbia offers their case studies in varied formats:

A case in point…

This mixture of learning methods helps students gain a rounded understanding of how problems come about and are solved in business – while the traditional case method dangles all the right information and waits for the student to take the bait, real business leadership solutions often must be made without all of the information required. Case studies are often designed with this in mind, but obviously, the extent to which they can mirror reality is limited.

In today’s top business schools the case study method takes up approximately a third of all learning, meaning that traditional lectures still take precedence. The effectiveness of the method is common knowledge within business education but it is also realized that the method has its flaws if not done correctly. Harvard Business School can be seen as an obvious leader in the field, in that the cases presented are written and presented by top academics and business leaders and so allow for a more rounded learning experience. However, with the exception of real-life projects, the case study is where business education is most down to what an individual makes of it.

This article was originally published in November 2013 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Interesting MBA case studies you should know


Case studies are an integral part of business school education. Real-world experience is used to develop a study method that helps students understand business scenarios. Harvard Business School was the pioneer in using the case study method, and it is now a common feature in all business schools around the world. You could use hundreds of case studies to learn how managers tackle different situations, from mergers and acquisitions to the launch and success of a new product line to branding strategy. 

This article will cover some of the most important aspects of MBA business case studies, such as why they’re important and some case study examples.

What is an MBA case study?

Case studies are real-life business situations or hypothetical business scenarios used in MBA course to facilitate some elements of experiential learning. A  business case study will present you with a business issue, a conflict to be resolved, or an impending decision that needs to be made. In most cases, a case study focuses on a specific company and a seemingly difficult management issue. In many cases, this is a problem that the company’s upper management (CEO, CFO) is dealing with.

Following that, a slew of objective and subjective facts are presented. There may be information about the company’s history and financial data relevant to the case study example (balance sheet, profit, and loss account). Additionally, there could be information demonstrating the company’s size (for example, the number of employees, locations, and products).

Also read: MBA Course Details

As a management student, you are expected to read the case, analyse the issues presented, evaluate the underlying issues, and present solutions to the case’s problem. When writing an analysis, you should provide a realistic solution and explain why this solution will help your organisation achieve its objectives. Finally, your analysis should include detailed plans for implementing your proposed solution.

Why are MBA case studies important?

When combined with in-class discussions, case studies help students develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills, which aid in formulating better approaches to problems. From eliciting student-led debates to deciphering complex business concepts, cases are powerful pedagogical vehicles for fostering students’ confidence, problem-solving, and reasoning abilities.

A case study is an important part of an aspiring manager’s curriculum because it requires the use of critical thinking while solving a problem. Each situation requires a different approach to reading and interpreting information and, ultimately, a different way of thinking.

When you tackle a case study, it will test your analytical, reasoning, leadership, and decision-making abilities. The case study method helps you apply your theoretical knowledge and practical application in a dynamic and VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity ) world. 

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List of Top 25 MBA case studies everyone should know

25 case studies every management student must know

Followings are some of the interesting case studies for MBA students:

Many business schools in India and abroad, including Harvard, use this well-known case study in operations and supply chain management. Dabbawala model was applauded by the likes of Prince Charles and Richard Branson because of its Six Sigma level of accuracy. What makes this case so special and appealing? Let’s take a look at this:

They collect hot meals from customers’ homes across the city and deliver them to schools and workplaces throughout the day. Known for its smooth, dependable, and long-lasting delivery system, they have a long track record of success.

Their operation is intertwined with the rail network in Mumbai, which sets the pace and helps with the delivery schedule. The dabbawalas use a simple coding system that is easy and convenient for everyone. In addition to having a specific code for the neighbourhood where the Dabba will be delivered, they also have characters indicating the delivery address and who will be making the delivery.

They work in self-organised teams of 25 people each. While delivering their dabbas, the most experienced ones serve as supervisors. Every dabbawala negotiates with his customers on an individual basis.

It may seem surprising, but one of the reasons for their success is their reliance on human capital rather than technology. They are highly motivated because they understand how important their work is. If they don’t deliver, someone somewhere will miss his lunch. For them, delivering food is akin to serving God!

In a first, Flipkart has teamed up with the Mumbai Dabbawalas to deliver goods to customers in the city.

From sole proprietors to multinational conglomerates, businesses of all sizes have used Canada-based Shopify’s SaaS (Software as a Service) e-commerce platform to launch online shops. Web builders, safe payment methods, templates, search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, and a slew of other tools were all available through the company. Shopify’s web builder was easy to use, even for people with no coding or e-commerce experience.

Despite offering a feature-rich solution, Shopify has received criticism for the high costs that merchants must bear to set up a website of their choosing. However, Shopify by 2020 was hosting close to 377,000 online stores and boasted customers like Budweiser, World Wildlife Fund, GE, Amnesty International, Tesla, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

The case is set up to accomplish the following teaching goals:

Flipkart, the first Indian e-commerce company valued at a billion dollars, was founded in 2007 with a small investment of Rs 4 lakhs. Flipkart exploited a large group of consumers eager to experience the convenience of online shopping. 

Flipkart’s success is largely due to the following factors:

This business case study discusses how Samsung’s manufacturing and R&D strategies formulated for India can help it succeed internationally. When Samsung launched its “Make in India” initiative in the mid-2010s, it took advantage of government SOPs to encourage multinationals to establish manufacturing facilities in India. In addition, its Indian R&D centres came up with innovative products after studying Indian customer needs and taking into account customer feedback. 

The case discusses some of the products launched under the “Make for India” initiative and describes their impact on the company’s market position in great detail. As a result of these and other government incentives, Samsung ramped up its domestic production over time. With its “Make for the World” initiative, Samsung announced that it would relocate its manufacturing operations from other countries to India, where it would ship its products worldwide. Is it likely that Samsung will make India its sole Asian manufacturing hub in the future? Is it possible that its customer-oriented products will help it outperform the rest?

Vijay Mallya’s dream bird, “Kingfisher”, was devastated by some reckless and risky decision-making on Mallya’s part. Due to bankruptcy and non-payment of loans, Kingfisher, operating since 2005, was forced to shut down at the end of 2012. The airline owed a debt of $1 billion to a consortium of 17 banks. 

How did the glitzy airline go out of business despite its increased brand recognition and loyal customer base?

The airline continued to lose money year after year due to external and internal issues. It wasn’t just a lack of a clear vision and a firm positioning strategy that kept the airline from resuming operations; a lack of understanding of consumer behaviour led to Mallya’s various decisions, such as suspending international operations and raising fuel surcharges.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), conceived in 2007, is a perfect example of controversial marketing. BCCI’s Indian Premier League (IPL) generated excitement usually seen in basketball, soccer, and baseball franchises. In addition to attracting cricket-crazy Indians, what else did the Indian Premier League do to become a global brand?

The IPL has expanded by leaps and bounds, but the IPL has also been embroiled in several controversies involving corruption, match-fixing, and mismanagement. The BCCI can sustain IPL success with improved administrative efficiency, strict oversight, and increased player awareness.

According to this case study, Procter and Gamble used the strategy of “Double Down” during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its brand visibility. When the US government implemented a lockdown after the coronavirus outbreak, people began stockpiling essential supplies in anticipation of a lockdown. As a result, retailers could not keep enough of the most popular products in stock. Businesses reduced their media spending in anticipation of the economic downturn. However, despite the uncertainty, P&G decided to increase its marketing investment to increase its brand visibility. Though the market and economy were slowing, did P&G’s advertising strategy succeed?

HUL, India’s largest Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company, has implemented several programmes to help its employees achieve a healthy work-life balance. HUL’s HR policies are examined in depth in this case study, which shows how they aided employees in carrying out their professional and personal responsibilities more effectively. HUL’s efforts to meet the diverse needs of its female employees are explained in great depth. There are references to the company’s efforts to stay on top of new-age employees’ evolving needs. Will HUL continue to be an ‘Employer of Choice’ in India?’

The case concerns the rapid expansion of the Bengaluru-based Indian e-learning platform Byju’s (Think and Learn Private Ltd). Founder and CEO of the EdTech start-up, Byju Raveendran previously worked for Pan Ocean Shipping, a UK-based shipping company. For 12 long years, Raveendran helped his friends get through the Common Admission Test for Management Courses in India and then built Byju’s learning app. BYJU – The company’s main product was the Learning App, which users could download on Android devices from Google Play and iOS devices from the Apple App Store. The app provides comprehensive learning programmes and special programmes for students preparing for competitive exams and for students in grades 6 to 12 in India. 

Since its inception in 2015, the startup has received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Chinese internet giant Tencent. Byju’s turned profitable in 2019 after three years of annual growth of 100% (2016-18). In July 2019, its valuation increased to US$5.5 billion, making it the world’s most valuable EdTech company. It remains to be seen if Byju’s strategies that worked in India would be successful in other markets as the company enters international markets.

The focus of this case study is the success of Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus in India. In December 2014, OnePlus launched its first smartphone in India, and within four years, it had become the country’s most popular premium smartphone brand. 

According to the case study, OnePlus’s strategy in India was to launch high-end smartphones at affordable prices, build a strong community, focus on customer service, and use clever marketing techniques. Obsession with product design and quality, branding, and customer engagement was OnePlus’s core strength. An emphasis on viral marketing and community interaction, including social media, to spread the company’s message. 

OnePlus faced several challenges, despite its phenomenal success in India. Competition, scaling offline, price-sensitive Indian consumers, low smartphone penetration, and an economic slowdown were all factors that contributed to the decline. Furthermore, OnePlus risked losing price-conscious customers as its phones became more expensive. Vikas Agarwal , OnePlus India’s General Manager, faced several challenges as India remained a critical market for the company. These included increasing the adoption of OnePlus devices in India, expanding offline, crushing competition, and maintaining OnePlus’ dominance in India’s premium smartphone segment.

This business case study looks at how Tesla, Inc., a company with a credit rating below investment grade, has successfully issued convertible bonds and funded its electric car business at a low-interest rate since 2013. However, things changed over time. Tesla’s stock price soared, and some speculated that this could spell the end of the company’s use of convertible bonds. A new low-cost, long-term source of financing for Tesla’s business is now on the CEO’s radar.

In some situations, making the right decision can be compared to financial benefits, as Malden Mills has firsthand knowledge of. The industrial facility was set on fire two weeks before Christmas in 1995, and the management told employees that they would be out of work until they rebuilt the processing plant. On the other hand, CEO Aaron Feuerstein of Malden Mills increased the number of representatives by 90 days at full pay and 180 days with benefits for $25 million.

Collaboration and profitability reached a new high, with 40% more business and 95% client and representative retention. After they modified the processing plant, the majority of the uprooted specialists were rehired. Each week, the amount of yardage created increased from 130,000 to 200,000. As a result, Malden Mills has gone through three rounds of the bankruptcy court, with a significant portion of the debt being tied to a reimagining of the industrial complex. Business students should consider this case to see if engaging in humanitarian activities will satisfy their needs in the long run.

In 2008, Starbucks announced that it would be closing 600 of its locations in the US. Starbucks stores had been gaining new features, such as wi-fi and music, but they had begun to lose their warm “neighborhood store” feel for a chain store persona. According to the Harvard Business Review, Starbucks is a mass brand attempting to charge an exceptional price for an event that is not any more extraordinary. As a result, to compete with its price-conscious customers, Starbucks would have to either cut costs or reduce the number of stores to regain its image selectiveness.

Starbucks’ growth has been hampered by three issues, according to the HBR study: alienating early adopters, attracting an excessive amount of attention, and moving too slowly forward with new locations and products. According to Harvard Business Review, Starbucks should have remained a privately held company and grown at a moderate pace to maintain its status as a top brand.

With the retirement of senior employees comes the loss of knowledge and experience in the organisations. Retiring workers leave the workplace with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their wake. American Express came up with a pilot programme to retain this. American Express created a group of workers who would gradually take over some of the day-to-day responsibilities of retiring employees. In return, the individual would devote some of their free time to mentoring and teaching future generations. This resulted in phased retirement, allowing employees to leave gradually and enjoy the extra time while still receiving a portion of their previous salary and regular benefits. This also meant that some employees stayed a year or more past the traditional retirement age.

With this programme, AMEX believes senior employees can enjoy their final years of work in an unrestricted capacity while educating the current workforce for future success.

There are times when an organisation’s financial situation does not allow it to spend large sums of money on advertising. However, forgoing advertising in favour of higher profits can be costly. Experts recommend expanding your marketing strategy to reach a wider audience when you’re in a slump. During a recession, this is especially true, as many organisations cut back on their ad spending.

Firehouse Subs’ boom petered out after seven years of expansion from 30 to 300 locations. The company’s leadership realised they needed to find a solution. As a result, they gave back the fees franchisees had paid for local advertising to take control of their local marketing. Since sales continued to decline, it became clear that this was an ineffective strategy. Firehouse reclaimed its local marketing fee and allowed franchisees to participate in a new marketing campaign. This required them to pay double for local marketing but included them in an $8 million advertising campaign poised for success. Experts applaud Firehouse for having the fortitude to ask franchisees for more money where it was needed, even during difficult times. 

Seven people died in Chicago in 1982 after taking Tylenol after an unknown suspect laced the capsules with cyanide after it hit the shelves. Even though the problem was limited to the Chicago area, Tylenol’s domestic market share dropped immediately from 37% to 7%. Tylenol was not responsible for the product’s tampering. Still, to maintain the product’s reputation, Johnson & Johnson removed all Tylenol from the shelves, incurring a loss of more than 100 million dollars.

Tylenol was successfully reintroduced to the medical community with tamper-resistant packaging, sales presentations, and discounts. Johnson & Johnson’s quick action and effective public relations saved the brand.

Expanding beyond a company’s initial customer base is usually a daunting task for small businesses to support new growth. On the other hand, businesses greatly benefit from collaborating with a well-established market leader. 

Diagnostic Hybrids, a company specialising in medical nosology, collaborated with Quidel, a leader in rapid diagnostic tests, to achieve this goal. As a result of this partnership, Diagnostic Hybrids gained a larger market presence and a wider range of resources for research and development. As a separate subsidiary, the same company’s president and operations were allowed to remain as part of the acquisition strategy.

You may enjoy reading top 10 blogs on marketing .

Tesco’s Korean venture is an excellent example of establishing a market share on a global scale. The company made some well-thought-out moves in its Korean expansion, notably partnering with Samsung, the largest Korean conglomerate. It embraced the Korean way of life by operating stores as nearby agencies and neighbourhood centres. 

Tesco also made a wise decision by employing nearly entirely Koreans, with only four British employees out of a total workforce of 23,000. According to reports, Tesco’s well-planned strategy has gained customers in Seoul, with 25% of Koreans signing up for loyalty cards and earnings in the billions, finding success in “cracking[ing] the Asian tiger” where competitors such as Carrefour and WalMart have failed.

Uber’s forecasting process is examined in-depth in this case study. For forecasting, the company relied on its own Time Series data. Time Series is a type of dataset that includes data collected over a set amount of time. You can measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, and even millennia. Analysis of time series data and regression analysis were used to forecast demand for Uber cabs. Additionally, the use of different variables from different sources lends credibility. This analysis relies heavily on the selection of variables. It is important to combine data from various sources for the analysis to be useful.

This business case study examines JPMorgan Chase’s digital initiatives to create a next-generation banking experience powered by technology (JPMC). JPMC employed 50,000 technologists worldwide and spent $11.5 billion on technology in 2019 to stay relevant in the face of shifting customer expectations and the growing popularity of digital banking. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMC, took on the challenge of increasing the reliance of banking operations on digital technology in 2006.

JPMC’s digital initiatives included the “mobile-first, digital everything” strategy, which was an important part of the company’s evolution over time. Big Data, Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, Mobile and Electronic Payments, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, and Cybersecurity are discussed in detail by JPMC. With the help of several FinTech companies, JPMC has been working on various new technologies for its banking operations and preparing for future competition from both banking and non-banking entities. Amidst all of its technological innovation, JPMC faced an ever-increasing threat from banking organisations aligned with technology companies. As a result, it made a concerted effort to use digital technology to combat the competition.

Marketing is essential for any business, irrespective of the size and turnover. Marketing can cost a lot of money, but it won’t yield much return unless done correctly. Curtis Kimball, the man behind the Creme Brulee Cart, used Twitter to his advantage. He amassed many followers and expanded his commercial enterprise by allowing people to follow the cart online. 

Curtis developed personal relationships with his followers by soliciting their feedback on everything from flavour combinations to cart locations. Perhaps the most incredible aspect of this story is that Kimball has no advertising budget (Twitter is a free service) but enjoys a distinctly popular following and high Yelp ratings.

Hickory Farms began with holiday gift baskets containing sausage, ham, and cheese and eventually had a presentation of 2,500 special products. This stretched the employer and resulted in a loss of flavour with customers. 

Recognising this problem, Hickory Farms reduced its product line from 2,500 to 300, with more modern visuals, descriptions, and other features such as less packaging and more recycled content. In addition, the organisation revamped its website, making it easier to save online. This streamlining resulted in a 13 per cent cost reduction that Hickory Farms could pass on to their customers. Jennifer Woodbery, a brand strategist, believes that this was a wise decision, making the most of Hickory Farms’ trusted name and image through an effective rebranding of offerings.

It is common for your best employee to change after promotion. Such was the case at the cat shelter Paws Need Families, where Della, a cleaner, rose through the ranks to become an assistant manager and, eventually, manager. She began arriving late, allowing applications to sit, skipping inoculations, which were all serious offences. Meetings were held instead of confronting Della directly, and they hired an assistant manager to compensate for Della’s shortcomings. Della was eventually fired for failing to clean up her act. 

According to Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, short meetings and a review system could have avoided this situation. With an effective employee system in place, we can identify problems before they become major issues.

When a fire at Philips’ microchip plant occurred in 2000, the Nokia and Ericsson phone companies were affected. They responded in different ways, and ultimately Ericsson did not fare so well in the mobile smartphone market. Instead, the European customer market was taken over by Nokia. 

Nokia devised a new business model for snatching up spare chips from various suppliers and re-engineered some of their telephones to adapt to one-of-a-kind chips from new suppliers. At the same time, Ericsson decided to wait until the hassle was over. While Ericsson slashed its production and sales, Nokia was able to dominate the market. This incident and its aftermath are textbook examples of managing supply chain risk.

A British motorcycle manufacturer, Triumph began to fade from prominence three decades ago. It did, however, find a new life on a global scale. Triumph sold 7,562 bikes in the UK in 2010 but 50,000 worldwide, indicating that the company’s international expansion paid off. Triumph’s famous manufacturing plant in Warwickshire closed in 1983, but the Indian factory remained, and it is now very popular. With a six-month ready list and a new factory under construction, the company is struggling to meet demand in India, as the country has embraced the brand.

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How to get started with MBA case studies?

You cannot solve a case study with minimal effort. When you begin working on an MBA case study, you will develop your perspective. So, it is critical to do the following at the start:

The most difficult aspect of solving the case study is comprehending the case in which most students fail. To overcome this, the four stages listed above can be useful.

Begin by comprehending how this case relates to the rest of the course. The first case is typically used to introduce you to the course and the material you’ll be covering, and the final case study summarises what you’ve learned and covered in the course.

Steps to solve MBA case studies

To solve an MBA business case study, you should follow the following general guidelines:

Advantages of learning from business case study

Management case studies are the best tools to understand the rapidly changing market realities and managerial challenges, shifting consumer expectations and the race to meet them. Some of the perks of using case studies are:

How to start your own case studies?

Practice by putting yourself in the shoes of a business owner or manager, as it will help you become familiar with the various components of a case study. You should practice identifying relevant facts and critical issues while reading through cases. After reading the case, take notes to have a list of items and possible solutions to research. As you come up with solutions, make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each one, and make certain that the solutions you come up with are attainable.

Through these real-world business scenarios, you learn various skills such as asset management, acquisition strategy, business administration, and so on, without having to bear any actual risks or potential losses as in real life. This promotes quick thinking and provides students with a good understanding of a challenging experience.

Different ways of looking at the same business situation can yield very different results from the same data. Participating in case discussions with your peers will allow you to gain new perspectives on the company’s challenges, which you can then apply to your work. As a result, business school students significantly benefit from using case studies.

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How To Write Case Study In MBA

Be it any time of the year, an MBA degree has been most popular among students. This two years degree holds excellent value in the e-commerce world. Trending and out there, millions of students opt for this particular subject. Of course, if students have chosen this subject to be their major, time and again, they will be surrounded by several MBA assignments, thesis, or case studies.

Though assignment writing is an easy task to accomplish, writing a case study in MBA is something all the students dread to the next level. The in-depth analysis and research can surely take the sweet night’s sleep away. Hence, students search for an ultimate ready-made savior to help them. To write any kind of MBA case study paper is not every student’s work. Case study writing involves a lot of attention and energy. Moreover, if the course is MBA, then a student can easily double all the attributes of research writing like more energy and more attention.

The helpful 12 tips to get your case study done in MBA

With every hardship comes ease. Just like your worries related to MBA case study , our top tutors have collected some valuable points that can ease down your tension related to case study writing.

The list goes down as follows:

Proper Knowledge OF The Subject

The foremost thing while writing a case study in MBA includes knowing your subject well. The subject should be clear in your mind, like clean water. All your views and knowledge about your subject should be on point with nowhere close to any type of confusion, whatsoever.

Extensive Research

No case study can turn out to be an excellent piece without an extensive research process. Carrying out a lot of research for your case study in MBA is the crucial part of writing a flawless case paper. With proper research done, your case study can easily stand out among your peers.

Requires Too Much Study 

To create an error-free case study, the most important factor is to master the art of studying. A lot of studying is essential to write an ideal MBA case study paper . The common domains for studying include books, blogs, journals, magazines, online, websites, newspapers, etc.

On-Point Writing

It’s equally crucial to make your case study in MBA on point. No unnecessary or confusing points should be added to your case study. Avoid as many fluffs as possible. The related information will always hook the reader while making it more and more engaging.

Conform To Your Subject

MBA holds a lot of sub fields in it. So, it is important to strictly stick to one sub field at a time. Like, if the discussion is about the finance subject, the writing should only focus on that. This aspect is one of the most useful tips to write an MBA case study that restricts jumping from one subject to another.

Say No To Plagiarism

It is one of the Vital aspects of case study writing. No plagiarized content should be there in your paper. Try to use an authentic and unique style of writing.

Add Up Diagrams And Examples

Always fancy your case study with diagrams and examples. Like swot analysis, Boston matrix, BCG matrix and supply chain management, etc.


It is the primary duty of the students to make their case studies classic by making them error-free. When the paper is finalized, proper proofreading is a must. Check for all the frequent grammar or spelling mistakes. Double-check the facts and figures stated.

Unique Ideas

The students mostly ignore this particular aspect. The common mistake is to repeat the ideas that instantly lose the grip of the case study. Always make sure to use authentic and unique ideas for every paper. Remember, repetition creates boredom.

Clear Formatting

When you are stuck with your case studies, the only thing that comes to your mind is to buy a case study assignment online . But, if you wish to write it on your own, one vital aspect of it is to format it as clearly as possible. It will later help the reader to get impressed with your work.

Proper Indexing And Numbering

It is also important to correctly index and number your case studies. Try to mention the page number at the bottom of the page. Hence, it will greatly help the reader to locate every topic properly.

Meet The Deadline

There is always a proper time frame for writing an MBA case study. Thus, the students should adhere to it. The whole case study should end within due time.

These workable tips will lend great support in gaining good grades in your class. Keenly follow these and make a remarkable case study.

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Our platform thecasestudysolutions.com  has been serving thousands of students worldwide with their impeccable writing assistance. These tips are specially crafted by our top tutors. As they believe in excellence, they leave no stone upturned in formulating the workable step-to-step guide for the students.

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case studies mba

How To Review MBA Case Studies Like An Executive

case studies mba

Harvard Business School

The case method has been the dominant way of learning in business school since it was pioneered at Harvard Business School in the early 20th century. The case method, in Harvard’s description , is simply a discussion of real-life situations that business executives have faced.

If you’re headed to business school, you need to know all about it. Here are some tips on how to review MBA case studies like an executive.

First things first: If you don’t have time to read an entire case study, at least read the abstract — the first few paragraphs — so you have a general idea of what’s being discussed. The abstract is a summary of the study that has a logical flow, and lets you know what the main issues are.

You should probably know more about what a case study is talking about, though. If you want to make the most of your time, then you’ll want to know a method I learned from the past winner of a global case study competition. It’s not as speedy as just reading the abstract, but it’s a quick, structured, and thorough way to understand the main ideas.

case studies mba

1. Create an outline based on the abstract

2. Read the case study, take notes. Make a key problems and issues document.

Each time you read the case study, have a different goal in mind, a different way of looking at what’s been written. This is more efficient than reading the case study many times and trying to remember everything in it.

case studies mba

3. Review all 3 documents — your revised outline, key problems and issues, the case study

4. Analysis

case studies mba

This is important. Rely on the case study’s evidence, avoid personal judgment, and other influences like politics or ideology. Speculation isn’t evidence, unless it’s in the case study.

5. What would you do about it?

case studies mba

Philip Chang is a researcher and past Student Council president at National Taiwan University.

Comments or questions about this article? Email us.

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What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on January 30, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

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case studies mba

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

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Here are the top 13 case studies every MBA student should know

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If you attend business school , you can expect to read a lot of case studies. Professors love them because they offer real-world examples of why businesses succeed and fail. 

The case method teaching practice was originally pioneered at Harvard Business School (HBS), where the MBA curriculum requires that students read up to 500 cases during their two-year program. The Harvard case method soon spread across business schools as professors sought to prepare their students with leadership and decision-making challenges in the workplace.

There are some classic cases that every business student should know — like why Apple changed its name.

Business Insider has compiled the most influential cases here, with recommendations from business school professors across the nation and abroad.

Max Nisen contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

Why Apple changed its name

case studies mba

Case: Apple Inc., 2008

Key takeaway: Sometimes you can't take a rival head on.

What happened? Three decades after its founding, Apple Computers changed its name and became Apple Inc. in 2007. That reflected the company's shifted focus from its iconic Mac computers toward other digital products like the iPod, iPhone, Apple Watch, and media streaming services. Apple's widened niche led to skyrocketing sales and spiked share prices, putting the Cupertino company on a trajectory to become the first US publicly traded company with a $1 trillion market capitalization in 2018, Business Insider reported . Now, the Macintosh computer only accounts for a tenth of the company's business. Rather than beating rival Windows for more shares in the computer market, Apple reinvented itself and redefined the realm of digital devices. 

Thanks to Dr. Aaron Chatterji , Professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, for his suggestions.  

How Lululemon kept its cult

case studies mba

Case: Leadership, Culture, and Transition at lululemon

Key takeaway: Figure out how to bring the founders into a strategy rather than alienating them. 

What happened?  On December 11, Lululemon announced its third-quarter fiscal results . Between August to November, the retail company generated $33 million, increasing its net revenue to $916 million in 2019. Much of the 21-year-old brand's transformation is credited to former CEO Christine Day , who leveraged her experience in expanding the Starbucks brand worldwide to align with Lululemon's model. 

Day replaced founder Dennis "Chip" Wilson in 2008, and she stepped into her role facing many problems: Outperforming stores, hefty investments in low-demand locations, and poor workflow between teams. 

She convinced the founders to attend management programs at Harvard and Stanford so they could better understand how the company must change. Day nearly tripled her team from having 2,683 employees in 2008 to 6,383 in 2013, all while she redesigned the company's structure, according to Pitchbook data . In five years time, she turned Lululemon into an athleisure powerhouse. 

Day stepped down as CEO in 2013 after a series of quality control issues with the clothing, Business Insider reported . She is now the chief executive at Luvo , a frozen food company. 

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Chatman , the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management  at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, for her suggestions.

How Cisco bounced back

case studies mba

Case: Cisco Systems: Developing A Human Capital Strategy

Key takeaway: Invest in developing leaders in your team

What happened? Cisco is one of the most acquisitive companies in tech. It buys about 10 companies a year, including a $2.6 billion acquisition of Acacia and $380 million purchase of chip company Leaba in 2019, Business Insider reported . 

During the Dot Com Bubble in the 1990s, Cisco's first priority was to scale, bringing in up to 1,000 new employees each month by buying smaller firms. Between 1991 and 2011, Cisco bought more than 140 companies, Business Insider reported . 

But scaling a startup is much more than just increasing headcount. When the Dot Com Bubble burst, then-CEO John T. Chambers realized he had to redirect his focus by developing leaders within the team and build on his company rather than buying more teams through acquisitions.

The company introduced "Cisco University," a training program to promote a versatile workforce. Within three years, the company was listed as one of the top companies where employees are most likely to become leaders. Today, Cisco has a learning network that offers various kinds of classes, certifications, and webinar programs around the world. 

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Chatman , the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, for her suggestions.

How USA Today reinvented itself

case studies mba

Case: USA Today: Pursuing The Network Strategy

Key takeaway: Sometimes the old guard can't handle a new reality.

What happened? Like many print publications in the early 2000s, USA Today was facing falling circulation of its business amid the rise of digital news. Tom Curley, the company's CEO at the time, saw the need to better integrate his company with internet and broadcasting platforms. His management team and staff were resistant, claiming insurmountable divides in culture and work style. Curley made the case that it was essential for the future of the business, and eventually replaced five of seven senior managers as part of the change. Nevertheless, this case emphasizes that what the company needed at the time wasn't a complete staff change: It needed a new business strategy and more integration as the company was transitioning into its electronic version. 

As of 2018, USA Today sites have nearly 97.4 million unique visitors and 1.2 billion page views, according to the company's website . It has become an award-winning digital news platform. 

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Chatman , the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, for her suggestions. 

How Dreyer's survived a disaster

case studies mba

Case: Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream

Key takeaway: Don't try to spin bad news or mislead workers.

What happened? Before rising to become one of the most popular ice cream brands in the US, Dreyer's had to overcome a company restructure.

In the late 1990s, Ben & Jerry's signed a distribution agreement with Häagen-Dazs and ended its partnership with Dreyer's, The Wall Street Journal reported . Despite still having contracts with Healthy Choice and Nestlé, Dreyer's was dealing with a variety of problems including high input prices and collapsing sales of a low-fat product line.

The company's executives flew all over the country and met with every employee to discuss the restructuring plan. They wanted to preserve the company's culture of openness and accountability. Dreyer's continued to invest in leadership programs, and the company was able to bounce back within a couple of years through consistency and effective communication with its workers. 

Dreyer's continued to experience fluctuating sales in the 2000s, which led the company to merge with Nestlé through a $2.4 billion deal in 2002, The New York Times reported .  

How ethical decisions are different abroad

case studies mba

Case: Merck Sharp & Dohme Argentina, Inc.

Key takeaway: Staying committed to the ethical precepts

What happened? 2019 was a good year for US drug giant Merck & Co. Since it debuted the cancer drug Keytruda, the company's stocks has jumped almost 40% in the past year, giving it a market value of nearly $220 billion, Business Insider reported. 

One way to ensure Merck's increasing sales is if it was on the government's healthcare roster, and when managing director Antonio Mosquera joined the company's Argentine subsidiary, he was faced with an ethical dilemma.

Mosquera was tasked with transforming Merck into a more modern and professional business organization. During the selection process of a highly competitive internship, he had to choose between two candidates, one of whom was the son of a high ranking official in the Argentine healthcare system. 

It was implied that hiring the student would ensure that Merck's drugs would be included on the government's list, which would increase sales. It was a conflict between Mosquera's desire to reform, and the realities of doing business in a changing country.

Mosquera ended up picking the student who wasn't of high government prestige. 

Thanks to Dr. Timothy Vogus , Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Professor of Management at Vanderbilt's Owen School of Management, for his suggestions. 

Why Cirque du Soleil moved outside its comfort zone

case studies mba

Case: Cirque du Soleil - The High-Wire Act Of Building Sustainable Partnerships  

Key takeaway: Sometimes you have to move past an old partnership in order to grow.

What happened? Cirque du Soleil had a mutually beneficial and very profitable partnership with the MGM Mirage casinos. The casino made capital investments in theaters for the company's unique shows, and the shows brought in high-spending clients. Faced with opportunities in Asia and the Middle East, CEO Daniel Lamarre had to figure out how to create different partnerships.  

Thanks to Dr. Aaron Chatterji , Professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business for his suggestions. 

Why Airborne Express lost the delivery race

case studies mba

Case: Airborne Express

Key takeaway: Specialization can compete with economies of scale, but only up to a certain point. 

What happened? Airborne Express, a smaller mailing competitor to giants like FedEx and UPS, managed to significantly grow revenues despite its size. Part of that came on the heels of a strike at UPS, and the company took advantage of that. Airborne found a way to specialize in order to stay in the market along with big corporations like FedEx and UPS. 

They targeted high volume business customers, shipped primarily to large metropolitan areas, aggressively cut costs, and adopted new technology after FedEx and UPS. Ultimately, that strategy wasn't sustainable, and the company was acquired by DHL in 2003. 

Thanks to Dr. Gautam Ahuja , Professor of Management and Organizations at Cornell University's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, for his suggestions.

Why Nucor Steel took a company-sized gamble

case studies mba

Case: Nucor at a Crossroads  

Key takeaway: Operations expertise has limits; new investment determines its scale. 

What happened? In 1986, Nucor's CEO Kenneth Iverson had to make a critical decision on whether or not to adopt a new steel casting technology that would allow the company to gain significant first-mover advantage and reduce costs in the long run. However, the company would have to make a huge investment, and technology back then was unproven.

In 1989, Nucor followed through with its ambition to build the world's first steel-making mill in Indiana. The company remains an industry giant, announcing a $250 million micromill set to be the first steel plant to run on wind energy in the US, CNBC reported . 

Thanks to Dr. Aaron Chatterji , Professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business for his suggestions.

How bad communication nearly ruined a manager

case studies mba

Case: Erik Peterson (A)

Key takeaway: The importance of being proactive in defining one's role and engaging in managing up to get the support you need

What happened? The case follows a recent MBA graduate who became the general manager at a subsidiary of a large cell phone company in the late '80s. Erik Peterson's group was in the process of building up to offer cell phone service in parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. The project was behind schedule, and Peterson had offered a plan to meet a revised target reviewed by headquarters.

Peterson had trouble with his immediate superior. He did not know who he had to report to, which created problems on both ends while he was attempting to complete a significant reorganization and had problems with his chief engineer. Because of the lack of support, Peterson had to go it alone in many ways.

Eventually, the company was restructured and Peterson's role became more clear.

Thanks to Dr. Timothy Vogus , Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Professor of Management at Vanderbilt's Owen School of Management for his suggestions. 

When a West Point coach learned how to build a team

case studies mba

Case: Army Crew Team

Key takeaway: There are many different factors to consider when putting together a team. 

What happened?: Colonel Stas Preczewski, the coach of the Army Crew Team for the US Military Academy at West Point, was managing two teams of junior and varsity rowers. He previously picked teams solely based on physical endurance and individual performance. Though the strongest players were all in varsity, the junior team was consistently beating varsity in races throughout an entire season. 

Preczewski eventually realized that the varsity team wasn't winning races because the players didn't know how to work well together. Despite being the strongest rowers, the team neglected a key element of the sport — rowing takes teamwork and a great amount of collaboration.  

Thanks to Dr. Emily Michelle David , assistant professor of management at China Europe International Business School for her suggestions for Harvard Business Publishing Education. 

When a Warren Buffet made his biggest deal

case studies mba

Case: Warren E Buffett, 2015

Key takeaway: The art of investing 

What happened?: In 2015, Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and CEO Warren Buffett made a $37 billion acquisition of Precision Castparts Corporation (PCP), an aerospace-parts supplier company. This case is often viewed as an introductory course for business students to understand finance and capital markets. It also examines Buffett's approach to successful investing, as well as his strategy behind building sustainable growth for the company. 

Thanks to Dr. Robert F. Bruner , professor of business administration at Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, for his suggestions for Harvard Business Publishing Education. 

When a major manufacturing company kept costs low – and took care of its employees

case studies mba

Case: Lincoln Electric Co., 1975

Key takeaway:  Businesses can offer value to customers while treating workers and shareholders generously.  

What happened?:  This case study covers the unique business strategy of Lincoln Electric, one of the biggest manufacturing and welding companies in the world. The company built its products at a lower cost than its competitors, but also rewarded employees well with high bonuses and job security. 

Though the case study is from several decades ago, it offers a glimpse into how a company's organizational strategy can lead to strategic success. 

Thanks to Karen Schnarr, assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, for her suggestion for Harvard Business Publishing Education.

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