Authoring a case can be a great way to get started as a published author in business literature. Cases are published by a variety of publishers and business schools and provide professors with an excellent teaching tool that allows students to develop critical thinking, reasoning and decision-making tools. They also encourage persuasive communication skills since they require students to take a postion and articulate justifications to support it.
Cases are also widely used as a marketing vehicle in business to business marketing, especially in pharmaceuticals and medical device sales. They allow prospects or potential customers to see how a practitioner might use a new tool, technology or device in order to benfit their bottom line, customer experience, patient outcomes and more. These useful narratives that drive home a compelling benefit message in a way that leaves things open ended enough so that application to a specialized business setting can be imagined. These are published in trade or industry magazines and are similar to product reviews. The authors are either customers or representatives from the company itself.
Parts of a Case
A traditional business school case is almost always based upon a real company, event, or circumstance. The most effective cases put students in the role of a manager faced with a real world problem that requires analysis, application of specific data to come at a set of recommendations. They typically have several parts including:
- Abstract or introduction of the case
- Questions for discussion
- Teaching notes
Most publishers will expect references for both the case itself (facts/background, conflict, conclusion) and the teaching notes. Like most academic publishing, if you want to establish something as defnitive it should be cited.
It is common for a case to be written with inside information based upon interviews with representatives of the company itself. Sometimes, the most difficult part of writing a case is getting someone from the company to speak with you. If the case is about recent events it can be difficult to get someone to go on record and discuss them. The best place to begin, if you don't have an inside track or know someone at the company, is corporate communications. You can usually find a contact on the company's website for this purpose. I found that emailing and following up via phone is the best option. Be persistent. Sometimes it take a few tries.
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