ANALYSING MULTIMEDIA BUSINESS CASES
Conor Vibert PhD
Teaching cases are used for instructional purposes at business schools around the world and
have been used in this manner for decades. However, what is fairly new is the use of teaching
cases that are driven or supported by social media technologies, multimedia content and
videos. We have moved beyond text based cases and embraced these types of technologies.
The following paragraphs will help you understand a unique form of multimedia teaching case
and how it can be used to improve your learning experience. Responses to the following
questions guide this discussion:
|||What is a multimedia case? These are not your typical Harvard style teaching cases. We
offer a brief description of the format of a typical case.
Why cases? Professors have been using cases to help students learn about both simple
and complex issues for a long time. We realize this and provide a few reasons as to why
they should continue to be used.
|||What is unique about these multimedia cases? We have told you that the cases are
different but how so? We suggest a few points of differentiation.
What are the components of a good multimedia case analysis? While multimedia cases
are different, many of the aspects of a good cases analysis remain the same. We list a
few of these features in the following paragraphs.
How might a multimedia case be analyzed? There is no one catch-all answer. But we
offer some ideas as to how you might go about it.
What are some good references about teaching cases? There are a lot of good articles
available for students who want to learn more about teaching cases and their use in the
classroom and beyond. We suggest a few of these articles.
What is a multimedia case?
A case is designed to teach students how to analyze a specific business or management
problem faced in the real world by a specific company and decide on the best course of action
Our multimedia cases are decision based and created within the context of an individual
working for a specific company in a particular industry. Our case content is driven by video
responses of interviewees and is laid out in a consistent manner. Tagged and transcribed video
clip responses to video interview questions which are hosted and organized in the platform
become a case. Our cases are simple in terms of their make-up. Each case takes the form of
video clips of interviewees offering insight about a recent issue that they encountered and its
importance or cause along with information about the interviewee, company and industry.
Instructors have access to the interviewees suggested solutions which they can use in class
when discussing the case as well as the different options considered. The task of the students is
to put themselves in the position of the interviewee and create a response that addresses or
resolves the issue.
In business rare are situations where there is only one correct answer or path forward.
However, more often than not some answers are better than others. The challenge is to
identify viable answers and justify a choice or choices among them. Cases studies offer this
opportunity to students:
|||Case studies help students think through challenges where the decision makers have
incomplete information often in ambiguous and complex settings.
Case studies give students a great opportunity to learn about a specific country, industry
and organization by studying problems they may encounter in their careers.
Case studies can be used to teach students how to devise rules for decision making that
will allow them to tackle problems in a methodical and comprehensive fashion.
Case studies give students a chance to learn by making mistakes in an environment
where they can test ideas.
Case studies help students learn how to determine what the real problem is.
What is unique about these multimedia cases?
Well the obvious answer is these cases do not take the form of a PDF (pdf) file with lots of text
and a few charts or diagrams. But here are a few more points of differentiation.
|||Insight from business owners, executives or managers forms the content of the cases
not the words and ideas of professional case writers.
The content of the cases takes the form of transcribed short video clips of business
owners, executives or managers not pages of written text.
We do not create video interviews to fit pre-written teaching cases.
The cases are not self-contained. The answers will not be apparent from the insights
found in the video clips. The solutions are not evident in the video clips or transcriptions
offered to students. External search for solutions is needed using online information
sources, social media, discussion boards or other strategies.
|||By capturing insight about the interviewee, his or her company and the industry under
consideration in the form of short transcribed video clips, the cases remain flexible in
length or duration.
By using video clips of the interviewees, the cases offer an added personal dimension
that might not be evident form a simple text version of the case. Seeing and hearing an
individual speak can introduce a human dimension into analysis sometimes inspiring
students to sympathize with the interviewee and understand some of the emotions and
thoughts that might surround a case.
What are the components of a good multimedia case analysis?
As alluded to above, we did not invent the teaching case. As an analogy, what we are trying to
do is build a better mousetrap. At the end of the day we do not want to throw out the best
features of a traditional case. We simply want to alter its form and deliver it in a different
manner. Many of the features of a good case analysis remain the same. Simplified, a good case
analysis should include:
|||A brief introduction that summarizes the issue and its importance|
|||A set of realistic alternatives|
|||A set of criteria that can be used to choose among the alternatives|
|||A solution to the issue derived from the alternatives|
|||A justification for the chosen solution as well as a justification for each alternative not
chosen as a solution based on the selection criteria
A conclusion that highlights the favoured solution
Where needed, a series of logical steps to be followed to implement the chosen solution
along with a discussion
A discussion of the managerial and financial implications for the organization of
adopting the chosen solution and (if needed) implementing it.
Communication of these ideas using appropriate paper formatting, accurate spelling
and grammar as well as clear and concise writing style.
A list of references along with appropriate citing of references in the body of the report.
As an appendix, a description or discussion of the process used by the students to create
How might a multimedia case be analyzed?
When we consider how to analyze a multimedia teaching case, an important point to
remember is that the answers or solutions will not be found among the video clips of the
interviewee. Students will need to search out or think through solutions. A second important
point is that these cases are created from the perspective of the interviewee who is normally an
employee of an organization who was involved in resolving an important issue. He or she is the
main actor in the case. So here are some thoughts about how an analysis might proceed.
1) Gain an initial understanding of what the case is about. Do this by watching the interviewee
describe the issue that he or she is facing and its cause or why it is important.
2) Learn about the main actor in the case. Do this by perusing through the video clips where he
or she discusses his or her career path, typical workday, role in the organization and leadership
3) Acquire an understanding of the context of the case. Do this by viewing the video clips that
focus on the interviewee’s company and industry within which the company operates. From the
point of view of the interviewee, these clips should provide information about what the
organization does and how it is different, how it makes money, who its customers are and why
they buy its products, how the organization is structured and whether any key event played a
particularly important role in its success or struggles to date. The clips should also offer some
insight about the industry within which the organization competes, how they compete, future
challenges, and the role of government.
4) Learn more about the company and industry in a more formal manner. Do this visiting and
exploring the company website and perusing news stories about the company and industry
using a keyword driven news aggregator such as Google News http://news.google.com.au.
5) Revisit the video clips that describe the Issue and its Cause facing the interviewee. Formulate
in your own words, the challenge facing the interviewee and why it is important.
NOTE: In multimedia cases the interviewee determines the focus of this style of case and not
all the information needed to solve the case is provided. As a result the process of
‘search’ starts to become critical at this stage.
6) With this in mind, how would you know if a solution to the challenge presented is a good
one? Put yourself in his or her shoes. On what basis would you assess it if you were the
interviewee? You may want to consider identifying more than one criterion with each having
two extremes of outcomes such as dangerous and safe or hot and cold or wet and dry. For each
criterion which outcome would be least favourable and which would be most favourable?
Which outcome might simply be acceptable? Where would you look for an answer? Is it online
or in a library database? Is it part of an important theory or analytic framework? Who may
have made decisions similar to this before?
The real issue is how best to frame a new array of skills that students have
gained in an online environment independent of universities and bring those
skills to … the life of ideas. (Doty, 2002: 648).
7) Once you have figured how to determine or judge whether one solution is better than
another, it is time to look for different alternatives. Consider creating at least three and
consider the context. Is it a small company with limited financial resource or is a large
multinational corporation? Once again, where would you look for possible answers? Is an
answer ‘out there online’ or is it a matter of throwing ideas off one another? Can one or more
reasonable alternatives be created or discovered searching online or through a library? Can an
answer be found using Google or Wikipedia or You Tube or a news aggregator? Or does it
involve number crunching?
8) Once alternatives are created or discovered, the next important step is to choose a solution.
The basis of the choice should be the criteria noted above. Explain why these criteria point you
to one solution. Also explain why you did not choose the other alternatives.
9) Suggest a number of steps to help the company implement the solutions.
References and Suggested Readings
Doty P. (2002). Portal: Fish, Fire, Fallacies: Approaches to Information Technology and Higher
Education, Libraries and the Academy 2(4), 647–652.
Hammond, J.S. (2002). Learning by the Case Method, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business
Publishing, 9 – 376–241.
Leenders M.R., Mauffette-Launders, L.A., and J. Erskine (2004). Writing Cases 4th Ed. London:
Lundberg C.C and C. Enz (1993). A framework for student case preparation, Case Research
Journal. 13, Summer.
Shinn, S. (2004). Down to Cases, Biz Ed. January-February, 31–35.
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