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

III. The Values and Limitations of the Case Method

POWELL NILAND

My knowledge of the case method has come from my contact with it as a student and, more recently, as a research assistant; I do not have any considerable acquaintance with its use outside the field of business administration or in ways other than those employed at the Harvard Business School. My experience to date, however, has caused me to become an enthusiastic advocate of the case method for teaching business administration. At the same time, I believe that the lecture method can make a smaller but essential contribution.

The case method has unique characteristics which make it highly effective in training the student to cope with situations which confront an individual business. First of all, the case material is interesting to the student. It is real, it is lifelike, and it deals primarily with concrete and specific questions--Should the production manager recommend to the board that the Ajax Company erect a new factory building?-- rather than with generalities and abstractions--What are the general advantages and disadvantages of a single-storied versus a multistoried building for production purposes?

Realism is enhanced further by the student's being cast in the role of the administrator rather than in the role of an outsider studying the performance of an administrator. For example, in a case presenting the situation which confronts a production manager, the student takes the position of the production executive and decides what, if anything, should be done and how any recommendations are to be accomplished. Thus because the raw material of instruction is concrete, specific, and personal, it is more easily visualized by the student.

Not only can the student visualize the subject matter of the course, but cases have the appeal of a "story," a human interest appeal. Most people are interested in learning what other people do, how they do it, and whether they succeed or fail. This applies particularly with reference to business; witness the popular appeal of Horatio Alger's "from rags to riches" series and the wide reading of biographies of leading administrators.

A second characteristic which makes the case system effective in the teaching of business administration is that it provides experience in performing essential parts of the administrative task. The student studies by partaking of the administrative process. The importance of this fact lies in the nature of the administrative process. My analysis of

-87-

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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?

Help
Full screen
/ 296

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.