One of the ways that business schools and universities like to promote their contributions to society is to emphasize their external connections. These connections take many forms. There are formal relationships such as co-op placements for students, program advisory councils, and participation in external community and academic organizations. Less visibly, there are also connections such as researchers collecting data from or conducting research for organizations, and businesses providing opportunities for students to do class projects or case studies.
However, to paraphrase George Orwell, it appears that at some universities all external connections are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Case studies are a common feature of the curriculum in most post-secondary business programs. They’re valuable teaching tools, but they’re tricky to choose, because a case that’s too difficult or too easy, or too long or too short, can be a failure in the classroom. So I am probably not the only instructor who, when choosing a case, looks at things like how well the case fits with the subject for that class or course, whether the case can be done by an individual student or would work better with a team, or whether solving the case situation requires some serious thought and analysis. In other words, I usually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the implicit assumptions underlying the case.
So that’s why I was both excited and also somewhat embarrassed to see the results of a new study that (more…)