The Case Method at the Harvard Business School: Papers by Present and Past Members of the Faculty and Staff

By Malcolm P. McNair | Go to book overview

Cases have a usefulness that extends beyond the walls of the classroom; they can be addressed to business executives as well as to students. Thus, from a fairly early point in the development of case collecting at the Harvard Business School, cases were conceived to be a method of business research as well as a medium of instruction. In the paper that follows, Andrew R. Towl recounts some of the experiences with the use of cases in project research and shows how the concept has evolved.


The Use of Cases for Research

ANDREW R. TOWL

Cases are useful not only for instruction but also for research purposes. As a research tool, the case method is opening new ways to better understanding of administration. To illustrate what this research method is, its evolution at the Harvard Business School is briefly reviewed, with comments on some of the characteristics which make it widely applicable to the study of administrative situations.

The idea that cases might be useful for research as well as for instruction appeared early in the thinking of the Business School Faculty. Dean Donham in the first article in the first issue of the Harvard Business Review1 gave attention to the use of cases for both purposes:

Unless we admit that rules of thumb, the limited experience of the executives in each individual business, and the general sentiment of the street are the sole possible guides for executive decisions of major importance, it is pertinent to inquire how the representative practices of businessmen generally may be made available as a broader foundation for such decisions, and how a proper theory of business is to be obtained.

. . . [The] reasons which have led us to the present technique of presenting cases to the classroom, under which conclusions are generally omitted, limit the use of case books for businessmen. The executive finds that other people have faced problems like his own, but he gets no light from their experience.

While the cases in our present case books have a value as teaching material in advance of anything which we have been able to supply through lectures or texts of the ordinary sort, there is need of further developments in the technique of presenting business situations. . . . Isolated business cases have been published with their solutions in various places, but the number of such cases which have been worked out with the detail necessary, if they are to be useful for solving executive problems arising in the future, is lamentably small

____________________
1
"Essential Groundwork for a Broad Executive Theory," Harvard Business Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, October, 1922.

-223-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Case Method at the Harvard Business School: Papers by Present and Past Members of the Faculty and Staff
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 296

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.