5 Business Case Studies Every Management Student Must Know

by Bella Williams September 26, 2020

Analysing business case studies is an essential part of every B-school management curriculum. These cases present hypothetical or real scenarios for students to ponder over and analyse. Business case studies bridge the gap between theoretical training and real-world application.

The most well-known case studies help students hone their decision-making abilities. The more case studies you solve, the better you understand how the market works. Business case studies spark discussion and critical thinking in students. They give you deeper insights into the internal workings of an organisation.

Management students are always on the lookout for detailed case studies for practice. Here is a list of the top business case studies that every management student must know about.

Workplace Misconduct Case Study

Workplace conduct varies from company to company. However, there are a few standard practices that every organisation must follow. The law of the state decides these regulations. Every enterprise must adhere to these rules

Drug abuse and misconduct fall under this category. In this case study, students read about a particular employee who conducts defied the regulations of the workspace. This specific study discusses an instance where Amber, an administrative assistant, is accused of drug abuse within the office premises.

Amber is a top-performing employee who slowly but surely shows signs of decline in the workspace. Her performance falls drastically as she shows signs of irritation when dealing with clients. Later, one of her colleagues catches her injecting drugs.

The crux of the study is to highlight ways in which the management can deal with this misconduct. It also discusses how the administration could prevent this incident.  


Five business case studies every management student must know


Army Crew Team Study

The Army Crew Team study is an excellent example of how a team functions within an organisation. The crux of the case study is to prove how a team is a sum of its parts. The scenario is set when a rowing coach decided to check the efficiency of two groups.

A group of rowers, all trained and qualified, were divided into two teams. Competition between these two teams revealed some excellent results. The case study highlights the individual contribution of each member

Teamwork is more about integrating everyone’s efforts than unique talents. However, at the same time, a single member’s efforts cannot be discredited. What you need is a balance between these two opposing factions.

Other than that, the case study also provides insights into the conflicts and ego-clashes within the team. This paints a layered and realistic picture, giving you a fair idea of how people work in groups.

Malden Mills Case Study

Malden Mills case study is another great case study that professors love to discuss in their business studies lectures. Here the study outlines how a prudent business decision directly affects the productivity and profit of the company.

The 1995 fire at Malden Mills led to significant risk on the workforce. The company had only recently recovered from bankruptcy, and the fire incident further set things back. However, instead of sacking the employees, the CEO at Malden decided to reward them in full for the upcoming month

This business decision, though unwise for most, was the right thing to do. However, contrary to popular belief, this act of goodness did not end up with a happily-ever-after. Instead, the company faced further lawsuits as it was unable to clear its debts.

The case study highlights a great problem for business students- the decision between morality and practicality in any venture.

Starbucks Expansion Strategy Study

This is a classic case study to discuss the perils of unplanned and sudden expansion strategies. It focuses on the importance of market research and how it can change the face of a brand. Starbucks, a popular name in the beverage industry, reported a loss in revenue post-global expansion.

Starbucks, back in the day, was a niche that offered customers an exclusive blend and ambience. The cosy café spaces, free internet connection and unique flavours were an instant hit among customers. However, with time, the brand started to expand in the market

This led to a decline in the quality of services and the niche they offered. The case study tries to decode the reasons why the brand failed in modern-day business management.

Tylenol’s 1982 Scandal Study

Tylenol faced a considerable scandal back in 1982 where several customers in Chicago died after consuming the tablet. As per the investigation, there were traces of cyanide found in the medicine. This caused a drastic fall in the market share from 37% to 7%. Also, the brand faced an overall loss of $100 million

The company, Johnson & Johnson immediately launched a campaign to rectify the brand image. It pulled the brand off the market, releasing a public apology and relaunched it later. Over time, the brand covered its losses.

The case study focuses on the damage control methods used by the company to save its public image effectively.


Teamwork is more about integrating everyone’s efforts than unique talents


How to crack a business case study

Case studies are a staple for management students. It is an essential aspect of their curriculum, connecting their theoretical learning with practical examples. Most case studies pick from real-life business ventures and conundrums.

Business case studies allow you to review specific marketing cases rationally. The more case studies you read, the better you can follow the basic format to solving them. Here is a stepwise guide to cracking business case studies. Read on to know more.

Structuring a case study

Let’s clarify a few things before we begin to talk about case studies. Every case study follows a standard structure. It starts with an introduction where you read about the background of the brand.

The main body is where the conflict or issue is discussed. The reader finds most of the facts about the company and the core problems here. Business management case studies usually cover HR problems, internal issues, and marketing decisions.

The conclusion usually ties the loose ends together for a proper resolution. I suggest students put forth their arguments and hypothesis in the main body. The concluding paragraphs are where you discuss your understanding of the topic.

Building a hypothesis

The hypothesis is a logical construct wherein you put forth your theory to prove or disprove the argument. It is a statement used to predict the outcome of the discussion, based on the variable information given in the case study.

A hypothesis is always structured around the points mentioned in the case study. Note that the theory is different from a question or interrogative statement. Building a hypothesis from scratch is quite simple, provided you have problem statement to back it up with.

Cause, effect, and rationale are the three distinct elements of any given hypothesis. The cause is the primary reason for directing the actions of the brand. The effect refers to the consequences that follow. And the rationale is the justification you provide to explain these events.

Pick your approach

There are different ways to approach a business case study. Read the case study two to three times to absorb the core meaning and issues mentioned in it. With multiple readings, you understand how the case study eventually unfolds.

Collect all the information you find as and when you read them. This makes data analysis and sorting easier. It also helps you paint a more holistic picture of the case- giving you more insights into the business environment.  

Recording and analysing facts

The first thing you do is set the case in an appropriate context. The socio-political context, economic stability and other factors determine how well/wrong the brand does. In the case study analysis, you need to mention these details.

Setting the background gives the reader more context into why the company took the said decisions. No business can exist in isolation. Every venture contributes to and is affected by its business environment.

Try to find set patterns and tendencies in the case study. Most case studies require a personal approach where the student is free to have a subjective take on the issue. However, note that all your solutions need logical explanations. All you have to do is justify your arguments using data present in the case study.

Wrapping up

The concluding paras of the case study analysis are where you reinstate your arguments. It gives you the space to remind the reader of your argument. Here you can even discuss the future or potential of the company in question.

Most case studies come with a set of questions. Ensure that you address all these questions in detail before putting in your interpretation. The conclusion doesn’t necessarily have to be definitive. You can keep it open-ended, giving the reader the freedom to interpret it any way they want.

Citations and annotations

A case study analysis always includes references to other studies and papers. Students need to refer to other scholarly works and research to justify their arguments. Ensure that all these sources are correctly cited.

Now, there are four main ways to cite a source– MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago. I recommend APA and Harvard in-text referencing style for stat-based works. Consult your peers and professors about the referencing form to avoid any last-minute hassles.  

Quick links and references

Citation generator- Citethisforme

Harvard referencing style

APA in-text referencing

Case study guidelines

Hypothesis structuring guide

Top business case studies featured in Harvard.

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