By Keleher, Jean
Information Outlook , Vol. 2, No. 12
Business case studies, commonly studied in graduate school courses, can be helpful preliminary research tools to understand competitors' past strategies and situations, to learn about market entries or product launches, and to gain cross-industry knowledge based on concrete, concise scenarios. However, case studies are not neatly aggregated into a handful of easily accessible sources, They reside within textbook chapters, as brief references in journal articles, or disguised as company profiles in the business and trade press. Only a handful of sources on the web provide access to case studies: certain business school sites and the sites of some providers of online services to business are best bets.
Start at Harvard
Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP) (http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu) is the most comprehensive source of case studies, providing access to over 7,500 sources. In addition to Harvard's cases, their catalog includes a selection of cases from Business Enterprise Trust, Design Management Institute, Stanford University, and the University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of Business. Although U.S. companies seem most heavily represented, the catalog also includes cases of non-U.S. companies, and those covering international issues and strategy. For example, I recently began culling secondary research on a company's proposed global expansion strategy by ordering a handful of case studies on top European competitors' forays into specific international markets.
Harvard case studies can be searched by title, subject, and author, and a query can be set to include a search of Harvard Business Review (HBR) articles also. Cases typically cost less than $6.00 per copy. One drawback of HBSP case studies is that, unlike the HBR articles, they are not available to be downloaded electronically from the web site. In fact, they are not available electronically at all, but they may be ordered online through the web site.
Top Business Schools Offer More Sources
Another top business school providing access to some of its case studies on the web is Stanford (http://www-gsb.stanford.edu/research/paper/cases/caselist.htm). Cases listed here, some but not all of which are abstracted, are either available from the Stanford Graduate School of Business by phone or e-mail order, or from Harvard Business School Publishing. In addition to cases, Stanford's Graduate School of Business web site (http://www-gsb.stanford.edu/research/research.htm) includes a searchable catalog of research paper abstracts.
The web site of The University of Michigan's Center for International Business Education (CIBE) (http://www.bus.umich.edu/research/cibe/ABSTRACT.HTM) hosts some international case studies, as well as a list of CIBE publications that may be of secondary research interest. Other potentially useful resources available through The University of Michigan Business School's site include the research publications and working papers of the National Quality Research Center (http://www.bus.umich.edu/research/nqrc/research.html) and digitized faculty working papers (http://lib.bus.umich.edu).
The Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia provides its Darden Case Bibliography on the Web (http://www. …