The Art and Craft of Storytelling as Applied to Case Writing

Cara Peters, Winthrop University , Leigh W. Cellucci, East Carolina University
May 24, 2024
North America
Strategy & General Management, Ethics & Social Justice, Information Systems, Accounting & Finance, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior, Marketing & Sales, Operations
12 pages
storytelling, Pedagogy, teaching methods, Case Studies, learning engagement, concept retention, decision making, educational literature, structure, plot, character
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$4.00 (€3.74)
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The ability to tell stories has been identified as a “universal human trait” that exists in various forms within all cultures in the world (Yong, 2017, p. 2). Within the education literature, researchers have advocated for storytelling as an effective method for teaching and learning. The pedagogical use of storytelling engages the listener, reinforces important concepts, and causes the listener to retain concepts in memory (Denning, 2011; Rossiter, 2002; Walsh, 2014). We put forth that case studies for research and teaching are also an important pedagogical tool that relies heavily on storytelling. However, this article will focus on storytelling in teaching cases. Cases written for teaching purposes often present a story for the student to glean insights and then step into the role of the decision maker for analysis, either in the form of class discussion or as a written assignment. Anthropologist Michael Jackson notes, “To reconstitute events in a story is no longer to live those events in passivity but to actively rework them, both in dialogue with others and within one’s own imagination” (Jackson, 2002, p. 15). Humans tell stories about the world in which they live. Writers of case studies tell reallife, true stories about the world in which people work. Students may put themselves in the role of the protagonist and decide what should happen or what should have happened in the safety of the classroom environment. The use of storytelling is an approach to integrate corporate work experiences in executive education that allows students to create a social presence with each other (Kendall & Kendall, 2017). Students in these executive education programs told each other about their personal work experiences (Kendall & Kendall, 2017). While case studies are not focused on the exchange of personal work stories, they may adopt aspects of storytelling to more fully engage readers as they envision themselves as executives.