Effective Case Analysis
Techniques for Success in Case-based Learning and Examinations

Alan J. Richardson     

Captus Press, ISBN 978-1-55322-280-4 (2013)
154 pages, 300 g, 7 X 10, $23.95 (US$23.95)

Effective Case Analysis: Techniques for Success in Case-based Learning and Examinations provides a structured approach to case analysis and guides students and practitioners through the techniques that ensure high-quality analysis and recommendations. Individuals dealing with complex and ambiguous problems prefer to make rational decisions, but are often hampered by unconscious cognitive biases and procedural blinders that restrict their identification of issues and alternatives. As a result, their evaluation of those alternatives may be biased. This text seeks to integrate systematic case analysis with techniques that reduce and make visible potential biases in decision-making.

The emphasis in the book is on “appropriate technologies” for decision-making - technologies that acknowledge the data limitations and complexity of real decisions and provide tools that are simple to implement, but powerful in their ability to overcome bias. These techniques also provide a systematic way of implementing the logic of case analysis. The techniques act as checklists and guidelines to ensure that all aspects of case analysis are considered and done well. The book is richly illustrated to provide memorable images and examples to reinforce learning.

The book is intended for any case-intensive course or learning environment. Perfect as a primary or secondary text in undergraduate, graduate, MBA or professional programs. It is also useful to those in practice who routinely make decisions in complex and ambiguous contexts.

Table of Contents   top

List of Figures and Tables

Preface and Acknowledgements


1: Introduction

What is a Case?

The Case for Cases

•  The Pedagogic Case for Cases

•  The Professional Case for Cases

•  Case Analysis as Critical Thinking

Overview of the Book

Chapter Summary




2: Learning Styles and Case Learning

The Kolb Learning Cycle

Learning Styles

Learning Styles and Case Analysis

Chapter Summary




3: A Model of Case Analysis

Case Analysis as a Rational Decision Process

•  Approaches to Case Analysis: Example 1

•  Approaches to Case Analysis: Example 2

•  Approaches to Case Analysis: Example 3

A Model of Case Analysis

•  Information Gathering

•  Understand your Assignment

•  Understand the Context

•  Identify Important Case Facts

•  Issue Identification

•  Issue Prioritization

•  Alternative Generation

•  Evaluate Consequences

•  Recommendation

•  Implementation Issues

Chapter Summary




4: Identifying Issues

Gap Analysis

Root Cause Analysis

•  Fishbone Diagrams

•  The Five Why Method

Technical Analysis and Identifying Issues

Prioritizing Issues

•  Risk Matrix

•  Affinity Diagrams

Chapter Summary




5: Identifying Alternatives

Types of Alternatives

•  Alternatives as Hypotheses about the Future

•  Alternatives as Decision Packages

Chapter Summary




6: Evaluating Alternatives

The Logic of Evaluating Alternatives

Screening Alternatives

•  Feasibility

•  Dominance

Identifying Objectives

•  Objectives, Attributes, Criteria.

•  Causal Mapping

Multi-attribute Decision-making

•  Force Field Analysis

•  Decision Matrix

•  Analytic Hierarchy Process

Chapter Summary



7: Making Recommendations

Blind Spot Analysis

•  Ladder of Inference

Sensitivity Analysis


Recommendations and Implementation Plans

Writing a Case Analysis

•  Memo

•  Letter

•  Report

What to Look For in a Good Case Analysis

Chapter Summary




8: Working with Others on Case Analyses

Norms for Group Work

Cases in the Classroom

•  Case Discussions in the Classroom

•  Creating a Safe Environment for Case Discussions

•  Directing the Case Discussion

•  Strategies for Participating in Case Discussions

Case Presentations

•  Straw Polls

•  Challenge/Management Teams

Chapter Summary




9: Case-Based Examinations

Grading Case-Based Examinations

Writing Case-Based Exams

Chapter Summary




10: Epilogue

Appendix A: Decision-Making Biases

Appendix B: JetBlue Airways’ Customer Service Fiasco

Appendix C: Michael Eisner at Disney

Appendix D: Fairy Falls (Hypothetical Case: With Annotated Solution)

The Case

Case Analysis and Recommendation



About the Author

Instructor Resources   top

An instructors manual is available with solutions to the end-of-chapter exercises and PowerPoint slides to support key teaching points.

Related Resources   top

About the Author   top

Alan J. Richardson is Odette Research Chair and Professor of Accounting

at the Odette School of Business, University of Windsor, Canada. He has

also held positions at the Schulich School of Business, York University,

University of Alberta, Queen's University and the Helsinki School of Economics.

He holds a PhD from Queen's University and is a Certified General

Accountant. He was awarded Life Membership in the Certified

General Accountants of Ontario and Fellowship in the Certified General

Accountants of Canada in recognition of his contributions to the accounting

profession. In 2010 he received the L.S. Rosen Outstanding Accounting

Educator Award:


given by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association for Contributions

to Canadian accounting education over a sustained period of time

through: excellence in teaching, publications (books, educational material,

case studies, articles in magazines, etc.), educational innovation, research

guidance for graduate students, involvement in professional and academic

societies and activities.


He has published two edited collections of teaching cases (in financial accounting

and management accounting). He serves on the editorial boards

of ten academic journals and was the founding editor of Canadian Accounting

Perspectives (now Accounting Perspectives). His research focuses on

the institutional structure of accounting practice. His work has been published

in journals such as Accounting Organizations and Society, Contemporary

Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting Research and Accounting

History as well as in journals in cognate disciplines such as the Journal of

Applied Psychology, Work and Occupations, the Journal of Canadian Studies

and the Canadian Journal of Sociology.