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NABU 330

Case Studies

Case studies can be real or fictitious, short or lengthy, illustrate a theory or prove a company's real-world strategy. Two major producers of case studies, Harvard Businesss School and Ivey Business School, sell their cases individually; however, there are other ways to find free cases online.

The three boxes below list three places to find cases:

  1. Sage Business Cases
  2. Library Discovery Search
  3. Business Source Ultimate
  4. Open sources 

1: SAGE Business Cases

It is easiest to browse this database by discipline or region if you have an area of business studies or geographic area in mind. You can also use the Search and Advanced Search features to include topics like company or industry names. Note that you do not need to include the search term "case study" to limit your results as this is a database of only case study resources.

2: Library Discovery Search

Often case studies have "case study" in their titles. We can make use of that when we search for them.

In the Library Discovery search, type in “case study” OR “case studies” OR case* and on the results page, use the drop-down menu beside the top search line to select TI Title. On the second line, add the topic you're looking for, e.g. change management. Hit search.

This search will help you find books with case studies in them, as well as standalone case studies. 

3: Business Source Ultimate

Business Source Ultimate contains case studies published by the Harvard Business Review. To find them, search for "Harvard Business Review" and use the drop-down menu beside the top search line to select SO Publication Name. On the second line, type “case study” OR “case studies” OR case* and leave the default "Select a field (optional)." You can also enter a topic, e.g. change management, in the third line. Keep in mind that if you enter too many criteria, your search may not come up with any results.

This search is telling the database that you want any articles published in the Harvard Business Review that contains case study, case studies, case, or cases (and other variations on the root "case").

Other search options:

You can also repeat the search that you did in the Library Discovery Search: “case study” OR “case studies” OR case* in TI Title and your topic in the second line.

In the Subject limiters on the left hand column, "Case Studies" sometimes appears as an option - you can use this to filter out the results that aren't case studies.

4: Open Case Studies

Reading and using case studies

There are a number of ways to read and analyze a case study. Here is one method (adapted from Otago Polytechnic's Case study analysis skills, and How to analyze a case study)

1. Read the entire case. Do not take notes. Just read and get a sense of the whole picture that the case is presenting.

2. Read again. This time, take notes and organize them in a chart like this one

Level Main Issues Related problems Relevant theories Possible solutions

You can also answer questions in a check list if that is easier for you, e.g. UNSW Australia Business School: Writing a case analysis, under "What do you need to do to understand the situation?"

3. Specify possible solutions. What is realistic and achievable?

4. Evaluate possible solutions. Consider the costs, benefits, risks and rewards.

5. Recommend the best solution.