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The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases Paperback – 1 Apr 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422101584
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422101582
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 18.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

If you’re enrolled in an executive education or MBA program, you’ve probably encountered a powerful learning tool: the business case. But if you’re like many people, you may find analyzing cases and writing about them challenging or frustrating. That’s not surprising—cases are not simple narratives, and good ones are typically nonlinear and can even be purposefully misleading. Apply the conventional approach to understanding business cases, and you may waste time (at best) and arrive at weak or meager conclusions (at worst).

The Case Study Handbook presents a powerful new approach for analyzing, discussing, and writing about cases. By using sample Harvard Business School cases, you’ll master a number of useful topics, including:

  • How to recognize case situations and apply appropriate tools to solve problems, make decisions, or develop evaluations

  • How to quickly establish a base of knowledge about a case

  • How to write persuasive case-based essays

  • How to talk about cases effectively in class

    This book also includes strategies and templates to help apply this new framework. Extensive examples of effective writing further reinforce your learning.

    A vital resources, The Case Study Handbook is a must read for anyone about to tackle the business case.

    About the Author

    William Ellet is principal and editor of Training Media Review, a review of business training content and technology, for both live and online training. He has taught students for years about how to read, analyze, and write about business cases in the pre MBA and MBA programs at Harvard Business School.


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    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    A very useful guide for anyone undertaking any academic writing, Easy for any level of student. Excellent tips. A very worthwhile purchase
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

    Amazon.com: HASH(0x94660cc0) out of 5 stars 37 reviews
    38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
    HASH(0x93bab720) out of 5 stars Not an easy book to work through... 11 Nov. 2007
    By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
    Format: Paperback
    As I tend to spend a fair amount of time writing, I thought it might be worth reading The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases by William Ellet. My rationale was that I might gain some insights for business-related writing. What I found was a book that was hard to follow, and could have used a better layout to prepare the reader for the material...

    Contents:
    Introduction; Persuasion, Argument, and the Case Method, What Is a Case?
    Part 1 - Analysis: How to Analyze a Case; Case Analysis Demonstration; Problems; Decisions; Evaluations
    Part 2 - Discussion: How to Discuss a Case
    Part 3 - Writing: How to Write a Case-Based Essay; Problem Essays; Decision Essays; Evaluation Essays
    Part 4 - Cases For Analysis and Writing: Allentown Materials Corporation - The Electronic Products Division; General Electric - Major Appliance Business Group; General Motors - Packard Electric Division; Malaysia in the 1990s; Whistler Corporation
    Acknowledgments; Index; About the Author

    I'll be the first to admit that many books have a specific target audience they're going after. Even so, it's usually possible for a newbie to follow along somewhat. This book had a very defined target... students who have to work within the case study model for their classes. If you've had no exposure to case study writing and style to start with, you're probably going to flounder quite a bit. The author dives into detail very quickly, with little in the way of examples to get you acclimated. As such, everything seemed to be more theoretical than practical. On the positive side, he does confine his discussion to a limited number of case studies that are included in the back of the book. Had the material spanned a wide number of studies with no inclusion in the book, things would have been even more difficult to track.

    If this is your first exposure to the case study process as a student, you'll probably need to go through this book a number of times. I suggest that you start by reading Part 4 first. It doesn't even matter if you don't understand styles or goals yet. At least you'll be in the right mindset to start thinking about case studies. The second recommendation I'll make is to not look for definitive answers. There's often not a single "right" answer in the study, and your conclusion will be based on your particular slant or angle.

    Given some previous experience in case study methods, this book might work well for you in terms of refining or enhancing your skills. If this is your first exposure to the process, be prepared for some hard work here.
    16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
    HASH(0x93babb28) out of 5 stars I read this book carefully to prepare for HBS exams and did terribly 6 Sept. 2014
    By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
    Format: Paperback
    I am a second year MBA student at Harvard Business School (HBS). I followed the approach recommended in this book to write two of my final exam essays in my first year and got the worst writing grades (i.e., the bottom quartile) for them. I wrote essays in my own style for all the other six of the non-finance first year classes and did fine (i.e., either first or second quartile). As a result, I have good reasons to believe that this book (as far as your exam preparation is concerned) will not help you.

    Here is my analysis. First, the book's categorization of exams in three categories—problem essays, decision essays, and evaluation essays—is not helpful at all. I would opened my exam, and read the questions on the front page, wasted so much time thinking which of the three categories the questions belonged to without a clue. In my second semester, I actually discussed this issue with one of the writing coaches at HBS and he was not able to help me either. As a former consultant, I am used to categories, and I can tell for a number of reasons that the book’s approach is not the right way to categorize exam essays.

    Second, even if you somehow successfully identify the category for your exam essay—say, this is somehow a decision essay according to the book—the book’s approach to writing is way too formulaic. What the book says is basically that there are some standard headings you can use for a particular type of essay, so you can fill in the blanks. Now, this approach could potentially be helpful if your writing is very disorganized, but if you are considering buying this book, you probably know the basics of writing. I met a few professors after the first semester and reviewed essays that they considered model essays, and in all cases I noticed that they are written in a much more fluid way. This makes sense because professors are usually trying to assess in exams whether the student has successfully mastered the frameworks and ways of thinking from class. As a result, your essay should be structured according to what you learned in class as opposed to the rigid standard formula introduced in this book.

    I cannot say that to what extent my experience is generally applicable to other business schools and contexts. Some professors at some schools may even like the essay style recommended in this book. However, after getting bad grades by rigorously studying and using this book for my own exams, I personally cannot recommend this book.
    Added note: I have learned after writing my initial review that one of my friends who unfortunately hit the screen (which is an HBS phrase for going to the academic committee for poor performance) had rigorously studied this book. It is very possible that this book will give you false security that you are well prepared for finals while actually you are worse off after reading it. Avoid this book.
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    HASH(0x93babba0) out of 5 stars Increases analytical ability 24 Mar. 2013
    By uhabbu - Published on Amazon.com
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    Increases analytical ability
    The book is an excellent resource to increase analytical ability even though it focuses on the Harvard's famous case methodology. It does so by taking the readers through three important methods of analyzing the cases: decision. problem and evaluation. In analyzing each method the author uses some of the actual case studies of Harvard. He then shows to how to analyze the cases in terms of identifying the causes and then formulating a hypothesis about the case. He goes to explain how to find criteria and to analyze the causes against the criteria and then rank them so as to find an excellent fit for the case in hand. The book does not stop at only analyzing. Author goes further to explain how to write the case analysis and provides a format for each one of the methods. I found these templates really helpful. But again these are specific to Harvard's case methods but can be easily adapted to any other formats if the reader wants to use some different way. One drawback I found is that some of the cases used are very old. As authors explains the reason and is also obvious that the cases currently under use at their institute cannot be used in a general forum to determine best possible answer. Over all it's a good tool to enhance your analytical, and as I think of it now, to increase your writing abilities as well.
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    HASH(0x93bab948) out of 5 stars Nice guide 25 Feb. 2009
    By MAD - Published on Amazon.com
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    This book will help you organize your ideas for Case Analysis. It's nice to have some Case examples included in it; they will put the theory in practice.

    I would suggest this book to any person who is studying an MBA or any other carrier that uses Cases for classes purpose.
    8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    HASH(0x93babc30) out of 5 stars A guide to writing the belongs next to any style or composition classic 31 May 2007
    By Clark Aldrich - Published on Amazon.com
    Format: Paperback
    If you write for a living, or just as part of your job, you owe it to yourself to get this great book. The techniques of writing case studies forces one to be more open, more inquisitive, and think more about the way the material will be used. Of course if you actually have to produce case studies, then I can only assume you already have this.
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