There is a little difference between the classroom discussion and written analysis of case problem. The following steps can guide the students to analyse the case problem and arrive at best possible solution.
1. Summary of the case: The important facts in the case are pointed out in brief. It is the indication that the student has grasped the contents of the case precisely.
2. Identify the problem involved in the case: After giving a careful reading to the case, see certain apparent problems in the situation. Some are very prominent and most immediate. Whereas some may be partially indicated. The student has to mention the basic problem interwoven in the case, e.g. a case may indicate failure in delegation due to too much interference of the boss; another case may indicate the need for taking appropriate disciplinary action to set things right with regard to labour management relations or Stale policy in respect of minimum wages etc. Such basic problem should be set out in clear terms. The problem is usually related with some basic principles of management or industrial relations. The student may indicate such principle basic to the main issue.
Recommended reading: Analysis of Problems in Management Case Studies
3. Analysis of the case: The case should be read carefully because each sentence may present an important fact. Some details in the case are directly or indirectly responsible for the problem situation presented in the case. The facts may concern resources, plans, people, actions, inter-relationships, industrial disputes, efficiency of workers, collective bargaining etc.
There are certain crucial issues related with the main problem. They must be identified from the facts of the case e.g., in a case of communication; finding out an appropriate communication medium to inform about a major policy decision may be the major problem. But the case may have several other facts like language barriers between the boss and the subordinates, past experience of the subordinates and their tendency to interpret communication in a particular manner, problem in communication due to too many levels, effect of non-participative techniques of decision making on communication etc. When all the problems and their relationship with the main issue is established, all the facts of the case will be clear. While making such analyses, students may show what kind of relationship exists between different arsons and activities and what factors are likely to be responsible for the problem. Usually an organization chart is drawn to indicate exact formal relationship between different characters in die case. Positions on the organization chart also indicate the likely consequences of an action taken by a particular individual.
In the case of wage problem, the student may try to get answers to the following questions in order to assemble facts of the case:
- What are the types of wages? (living wages, minimum wages, need based minimum wage, fair wage etc.)
- Which facts determine the wages? (nature of work – skilled, unskilled, technical and table work – use of machines, extent of automation, elasticity of labour supply, wage policy)
- What recent changes have taken place in national wage policy? The facts like wage structure in different industries, different locations and the requirement of type of skill should also be taken into consideration while analysing the case.
4. Alternative solutions available: When the student has identified the problem, he should go on listing the various alternatives that come to his mind one after another. The students need not give a deep thought to each alternative at this stage. Student should look at the problem from various points of view and different interest groups. Each facet of the problem may suggest a number of alternatives to the student. He has only lo enumerate them, e.g.. if the main problem is decreasing morale of the work group due to unfair altitude of an employee in group, several alternatives are : ignoring the issue, reprimanding the employee concerned, discussing the issue with him in confidence, asking him to go on leave for few days, taking disciplinary action, transferring him lo another department, asking him to resign on his own etc. The alternative solutions range from very simple measures to very harsh action. The alternatives need not be listed according to desirability of action. The alternatives will come to the mid of a student like a spontaneous flash of lightning, once the process gets started.
5. Analysis of the alternative solutions: After listing all the possible alternatives, the merits, demerits and consequences of every alternative are judged and evaluated against each other. Continuing the same example, if a manager chooses to ignore the unwarranted behaviour of, an employee, things may get smoothened automatically and no ill-will will remain in the mind of the concerned employee, but there is also possibility that employee develop a feeling that every thing is tolerated, of they may draw an inference that the boss favours the said employee or the boss does not have the boldness to reprimand him. Different alternatives can thus be evaluated in the light of their plus and minus points, their immediate and far reaching effects and then the students may point out which of them could be taken in to account, and which of them need not to be considered.
To maintain the status quo or to continue the situation as it is, should always be the first alternative solution. Not to take any decision on issue is the best solution to the problem. Time takes its own course and the normal situation is rectified / restored automatically, or let the situation deteriorate further. But while analysing this alternative solution, the student should state how it is advantageous if the situation is continued as it is. Give the merits of the alternative solution.
The student should also give the disadvantages / demerits or limitations of the alternative solution. If the situation given in the case is allowed to continue, how it will further deteriorate and damage the interests of concerned parties, e.g. if the employees are on strike and the status quo is maintained, the strike will be continued resulting into loss of production and ultimately loss of market.
In another example, in the given case if, the morale of employees is depressed and the status quo is maintained, it will result in employee frustration, affecting their productivity resulting into increased labour turn over rate and / or absenteeism. After taking into consideration the adverse effects of the alternative solution, the student should not advice it as a final solution.
6. Choosing the right alternative: Out of several possible alternatives, the student has to pin point, which in his opinion, is the best possible alternative. When he mentions that a manager should have taken a specific decision at a certain stage, he may also say whether the manager could have avoided the situation by acting in a particular manner at an earlier stage of the event He has to suggest an answer, or a way out from the problem in which the executive has ultimately landed. The student will have to justify why he is pleading for a particular solution and not another one by explaining all its aspects. The alternative that he is suggesting may have certain limitations, e.g., if he suggests written instructions as a solution, illiteracy of some of the workers may be a limiting factor. To make the solution workable, he will have to suggest a certain educational standard (o be introduced in recruitment policy.
The final solution the student suggests should be in accordance with legal and other statutory provisions. It should be objective, impartial and fair to all concerned. It should be economical as well as practical. It should be in harmony with other decisions and with the accepted ethical standards.
At the end of the case, some points, issues or questions are given to ensure a focus and predetermine the direction in which the discussion will go. While solving a case problem the student should not simply answer these questions. In the examination, these points, issues or questions help the student to focus on a particular angle. These points, issues or questions should be used for analysing the case problem. The case problem must be solved through the steps given above and after giving the final solution; the student should answer these questions, if (necessary) specifically asked for.