Case Writing for B-schools: Tips and Strategy

A number of B-schools incorporate case writing in their final selection process. Case based topics serve as a tool to assess the decision making and analytical skills of candidates. In addition to admission process, B-schools use this method in their MBA programs to facilitate better learning of real life business and management issues.  
What is Case Writing?
A case writing involves a case study related to a business/managerial/industry issue or any current, social, political or economic issue. You are expected to process the information, analyse the given data, identify the reasons/claims and suggest an appropriate course of action. Case studies can be applied to any field of study.  It is advised to have a good knowledge of the latest happenings and general management issues to perform well in a case writing.
Generally, you will be asked to complete your case writing in 15-45 minutes and limit it to 50-200 words.
Strategy for an Effective Case Writing
The purpose of Case Writing is to verify the assumptions, find remedies for the real world problems, generate potential and alterative solutions. It can be used in every sector of life from business to education. Let’s discuss the approach for an effective case writing with the help of an example:
Suppose, you are the marketing manager of a company whose sales have been constantly declining for the past couple of years. Even your sales team is getting demotivated and therefore, the key staff members are quitting and joining your rival firms. What will you do?
  1. Identify the problem
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The first step is to identify stakeholders and understand the problem. You may break the problem into parts, in case it has many dimensions. The introduction of your case writing should state the main problem in a brief manner. In the given example, the company is suffering losses due to decline of its sales. The key stakeholders are the marketing manager, the sales team, rival company, the company and its customers.
  1. Identify the causes
Once you have understood the problem, find out the reasons behind it. It may be given in the stated facts or you need to apply the knowledge of it. Be careful to separate the causes from the symptoms of the problem. This will help you to figure out the constraints that are to be faced to resolve the issue.
In the above case, the declining sales is the symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself. The cause could be that the company’s products have become obsolete or the marketing plans are ineffective.

  1. Find the alternative solutions
After you have known the required goal and objective, you need to come up with alternative possibilities to achieve the same. This is the main part of case writing and demands special attention. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of various alternative solutions.
In the present case, you can suggest alternatives like decreasing the price of product to increase its demand, a good advertising campaign, better packaging, appointing a brand ambassador, modifying the product itself, etc. Further, analyse the efficiency of each alternative - if you decrease the price, it may result in increased demand, but it may impact company’s brand image and so on.
  1. Make recommendations
This is the final step of case writing. After evaluating various alternatives, suggest some feasible solutions and the course of action that needs to be taken.
Final Tips for Case Writing
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  • Read the case thoroughly before analyzing it. You may take notes of the relevant facts and main points.
  • Provide good justification, examples or facts to support the solutions and recommendations.
  • Ensure that the solutions are realistic in nature.
  • Depending upon the short term or long term symptoms of the problem, your suggested solutions can vary.
  • Don't support your judgments on the basis of your personal opinions.
  • Since you are required to limit your case writing to 50-200 words, you are required to be analytical and not descriptive.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions on your first reading.
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