Writing about a case builds on the process of analyzing a case.The case situations described in previous chapters can be used to organize essays. An essay arguing a decision is organized in a different way from one offering a problem diagnosis.The structure of problem, decision, and evaluation essays is described in chapters 10 through 12, respectively. The chapters also include cases and sample essays about them. The essays are based on the writing of MBA students. To convince a reader that a conclusion about a case is valid, the writer must offer credible evidence linked directly to the conclusion. This fact helps explain the characteristics case-based essays have in ...view middle of the document...
If needed, provides an action plan (How?)
E X H I B I T 9-1
A sharply focused position statement organizes the entire essay. Without one, the essay has no purpose or direction as far as the reader is concerned. The most common failing of the case exams I have seen over the years is that the writers try to look at a situation from all angles, suggesting many meanings but committing to none. I use only one negative example in this book, but it’s instructive to look at an essay that complicates the reader’s task from the beginning. It was written as a response to the decision situation described in “General Electric: Major Appliance Business Group (Abridged),” a case used in chapter 11.1
Case-based essay Q&A
What? Why? How?
Argument Action plan
Contrary to what many MBA students think, most professors don’t want essays ﬁlled with lengthy case summaries and lists of insights and observations. They don’t want you to prove to them that you have read the case carefully by telling them everything you know about it. They want you to answer whatever questions you have been asked about a case—and to answer them as efﬁciently as you can. The parts of a case essay can be organized around three simple questions: What? Why? How? The position statement responds to What? and the argument answers Why? How? refers to action: How should the recommended decision be implemented? How can the problem be ﬁxed? Exhibit 9-1 sums up the organizing questions for a case-based essay.
Position statement (expresses a conclusion)
HOW TO WRITE A CASE-BASED ESSAY
I recommend that the Project C (PJC hereinafter) management team go to the board of directors and ask for an additional capital authorization structured as follows:
+10% = $2.8 million for the management information and support systems, which don’t require formal approval. +5% = $1.5 million for the skills training in technical problem solving, which would require formal approval.
The Project C management team should persuade senior management and the board of directors to increase the budget by 15 percent, or $4.2 million, and extend the time for completion by four months. Four of the ﬁve changes should be added to the project, leaving improvements in GE’s management information
The case is about the development of a new GE dishwasher. The two previous machines have missed their sales targets. Jack Welch has challenged the managers of the product development process (Project C) to set a benchmark for a world-class operation and introduce a product that beats the competition. The managers have to decide which, if any, of ﬁve additions should be made to the project and how much more investment and time they will require. The opening you have just read renders a decision on each of the ﬁve proposed additions, but the decisions don’t seem to have anything to do with...