Creating Cases One Collaboration at a Time

Although writing a case study can be intimidating, the GJCS is here to help you through the process. The GJCS enables you to collaborate with fellow scholars, professionals, students, and researchers on a global scale. Included below are a few guidelines and characteristics which will aid you as you begin creating and cultivating your case.  

Each case should be written in a way that facilitates substantive conversations about topics, and decisions, that matter. In general this means that there are problems (or opportunities) that must be defined, and decisions that must be made, which have viable (often mutually exclusive) options that are worthy of principled discussion and communal discernment. Below are listed some comparisons between GJCS "Stories" and "Cases," (adapted from Dan Orne).  

Primary PurposeCharacteristics of GJCS "Stories"Characteristics of GJCS "Cases"
Secondary PurposeTo document an informal narrative about life eventsTo create a set of documents fostering moral leadership
Evaluation ContextTo develop partnerships between authorsTo create perspective of an organization's actions
Author's EpistemologyCharacterized by direct, detailed, personal experiences and inductive reasoningCharacterized by systematic analysis, indirect observation, deductive and inductive reasoning, and "Peer Review"
Writing FormalityInformal writing styleFormal (Well-edited) writing style
Writing StyleNarrative as a non-fiction short storyNarrative is broken into segments with strategic pauses to prompt reflection and discussion
Foci (Centers of Attention)Identifying the problem, framing, and problem solutionIdentifying the problem, framing, and problem solution 
Teaching NoteNot requiredIs required
AbstractNot requiredRequired part of the teaching note.
GJCS Review ProcessWill receive editorial review. Will receive editorial review in addition to (if requested) a Peer Review
Key Principles

Includes multiple perspectives, maintains suspense, chronological order, compelling narrative that exhibits Gravitas

Fosters conversations, discerns conflict and resolution, includes leadership lessons, fosters moral leadership and Gravitas with a suspenseful outcome
Common PitfallsAuthors are too objective about characters and eventsAuthors are too clinically objective about real case characters


Further References for Case Study Writers:


Five Keys to Writing an Excellent Case Study by Josep Franch, Ph.D.

“We must do that!” When I hear a student or someone on an Executive Education course say this, I know the case discussion is going in the right direction and is likely to be a great learning experience for everyone.

For those of us who use case studies as our main learning methodology, what we try to do is bring a chunk of reality into the classroom as a way of developing our students’ analytical and decision-making skills. This requires students to: (1) crack and analyse a case; (2) identify a problem, a challenge or an opportunity; (3) develop alternatives to address the problem, challenge or opportunity; (4) evaluate the alternatives and make a decision, based on some criteria they need to draw up; (5) try to convince their classmates theirs is the right course of action (that “We must do that!” moment); (6) assess the implications and the consequences of their decisions; (7) identify the KPIs so that one can assess at some point in the future whether the right decision was taken and even whether it was the best one.

For this process to be successful, we need students to put themselves in the shoes of the case protagonists, hence the importance of “we” in the opening statement. What else is needed to turn a case study into an excellent learning tool? Based on my own experience I would highlight five main points [...]

Fifth, a case should not have a clear, obvious answer. Who is interested in a thriller where you know who the murderer is after the first few pages? A good case has to surprise the learner, spark conflict and controversy in the classroom and make people defend their positions and try to convince others that they are right. After all, this is what happens in real life. Different people may have different views on the decision to be made. Good cases do not provide answers but rather help learners ask the right questions. This is a skill of inestimable value, as those who have read James Thurber’s fable, ‘The Scotty Who Knew Too Much’ will know.

For the other four keys to writing an excellent case study, please view here: Download


Josep Franch is Associate Professor in Marketing and Dean at ESADE Business School (Barcelona, Catalonia). He is considered one of the main experts in case writing and teaching. He has published over 60 cases and has won the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Case Writing Competition on three occasions and has also won two awards at the NACRA (North American Case Research Association) Annual Conferences.


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