What Are Case Studies?
Case studies are a broad research method on a specific subject, allowing to deepen the knowledge about it and, thus, offer subsidies for further investigations on the same theme.
In the book Case Study Design and Methods , social scientist Robert K. Yin defines the case study as a research strategy that answers the “how” and “why” questions and that focuses on the real-life contexts of current cases.
It also considers it as an empirical investigation that comprises a comprehensive method, with data collection and analysis.
But Yin is not the only author to give his definition of cases.
William Goode says that the case study is a way of organizing the data , preserving the object studied its unique character.
Further on, we will detail the different types of case studies, which can be applied in different areas.
Among them, administration , human resources and marketing .
In terms of marketing , it is worth mentioning that cases are a phenomenon on the rise, being used by brands and companies as social proof to promote their solutions.
The Concept Of Case Studies
Case studies are used as a benchmark , that is, as a starting point or inspiration for those who want to carry out work similar to what was reported.
By observing the steps taken by another person, group or organization, it becomes simpler to understand and make predictions to avoid route errors.
Therefore, it is useful for case studies to show not only the successes , but also the failures encountered in the search for a solution.
Both serve as a guideline for a company, team or professional to plan efficiently and achieve its goals.
It does not mean that the report should simply be copied in order to be successful.
After all, each situation and problem is unique , which will require, at least, adaptations to the moment of the business or career.
However, knowing that a methodology has already been tested and approved gives greater security about its application and results.
What Are Case Studies For?
Normally, all research or investigation starts from a model to follow, which serves as a reference for the new work .
At first, this is precisely what case studies are for: they are reference models.
We know that each case has its particularity, that is, it is unique.
But the experiences of those who have already walked a similar path, being transmitted to those who are starting now, greatly reduce the chances of error.
On the other hand, the objectives of a case study may vary depending on the area in which they are used.
When they focus on innovation, for example, it maintains the character of a reference, even serving as a benchmarking action , from which businesses seek to learn from the best practices in the market.
In the academic area, they can be requested as a prerequisite for undergraduate or graduate courses.
In these cases, they are intended to attest to the student ‘s ability to investigate a problem and propose solutions.
How Is A Case Study Defined?
The definition of the subject of the case study varies according to its purpose .
The focus can be directed to a person (individual or legal), a small group or an event.
So the starting point is always to determine who is the target to be studied .
In the academic area, it is possible to investigate the contributions of a particular author on a topic.
In the medical field, researching the effects of a drug or treatment on a patient or a small group of patients.
In marketing, studying the sales behavior of a product over a limited period of time.
These are just a few examples that help us understand how this definition is given.
As characteristics of cases, the research never focuses on a large group, since the proposal is always to produce in-depth knowledge about something specific .
The important thing is that, in addition to this characteristic, the objective of the case study is also relevant.
Why Is It Important To Do Case Studies?
Unlike more general research, case studies allow the observation of details of the trajectory taken by a professional or company, providing differentiated insights.
As Robert Yin points out in the book “ Case Study: Planning and Methods ”, this type of study is interesting when the idea is to investigate contemporary events , identifying relevant behaviors for them to occur.
In a reflection on the work, speech therapists Laïs de Toledo Krücken Pereira, Dalva Maria Alves Godoy and Denise Terçariol state that:
“The Case Study, considered within its characteristics, is particularly useful to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions, as it allows an in-depth study of the phenomenon.”
Advantages Of Case Studies
By knowing details about the case studies and their applications, some advantages are already clear.
But for the avoidance of doubt, we will list the main ones below.
- Use the same method in different areas : you can leverage the structure of one case to apply it to another
- Have rich knowledge from intensive exploration of a single case : you can use a ready-made case study to explore different contexts
- Improve services based on successful experiences : cases are references so you don’t start from scratch
- Detailed information based on real-life situations : research based on experiences and facts is more attractive and applicable to reality itself
- Grant authority on a given subject : with case study examples, your author builds authority and can become a reference on a subject, information or product.
Impact On Sales Growth
Have you ever bought something because of someone else’s recommendation, either online or in a physical store?
The report of positive experiences regarding a product or service is usually a factor that influences the decision to close, or not, business with a company.
That’s why big e-commerce players, like Amazon, bet on reviews – the famous reviews or comments from customers evaluating their products.
The better rated, the greater the chances of an item being purchased by other people, even if they don’t know the users who made the reviews.
A similar process occurs when a company presents cases showing the success of consumers when using its solutions.
By having contact with the case studies, potential customers feel more secure and informed to purchase a new product or service.
The tendency, then, is for consumers to evaluate a certain amount of materials to guide their choice – including case studies.
To give you an idea, the Eccolo Media 2014 survey showed that half of them consume 2 to 5 content resources before making their purchase decision.
Conducted with buyers of technology solutions, the research was detailed in this presentation by marketing consultant Angela Halat Portugal.
Of the total number of respondents, 36% cited case studies among the most used resources for this, behind only white papers (independent market analysis, consulted by 49%) and product data sheets (46%).
In other words, well-built cases have the potential to increase sales.
Impacts For Marketing
Before talking about the impacts, it is worth remembering that marketing goes far beyond sales, interfering with the consumer’s view of a brand , company, product or service.
Therefore, an effective marketing strategy works from capturing and converting (sales) to building loyalty and building a relationship with the customer, facilitating new interactions and conversions.
Hence the importance of betting on content that entertains, informs and delivers value to the target audience, which includes case studies.
To give you an idea, the Eccolo Media 2014 survey also revealed that these contents are in second place among the most influential resources for consumers, pointing out that:
“They help to establish credibility , educate prospects about your product, reduce the perception of risk associated with the purchase”.
Therefore, the cases were mentioned by 33% of the participants as materials that influence their perception of companies and brands.
Why Are Case Studies Important To The Learning Process And In College?
Case studies are particularly relevant for their practical approach .
When requested by the teacher at school or college, they require the student to take a proactive stance, gathering information, observing and questioning theses and common sense.
It is necessary to overcome conventional tasks such as reading and writing to make an assessment of how theories apply in real life .
That is, unlike the most common techniques in the traditional teaching-learning model , studying the cases requires a certain independence from the educator.
Students are challenged to consult materials outside the curriculum, make new contacts and even get to know the organization where the case was developed, in order to draw their own conclusions .
In this way, they are likely to learn more quickly and easily, in addition to strengthening their autonomy in studies – which helps them to become more aware and well-articulated professionals in the future.
Next, we comment on two methodologies that enrich learning through case studies.
It’s been more than a century since academics at one of the most prestigious universities in the world created a differentiated approach to optimizing teaching in courses and MBAs focused on the field of management.
Known as the Harvard Method, this dynamic employs the flipped classroom technique to proactively stimulate learning.
In this process, students have prior contact with the theoretical references of each class, and texts, images, videos and other materials are studied before the face-to-face meeting.
During the class, the teacher has the role of mediator , asking initial questions about the understanding of the class about the problem presented in a case study.
After asking a student’s opinion, the educator continues to encourage a debate and exchange of ideas, asking if anyone disagrees with the colleague’s point of view, for example.
An interesting factor is that there are no questions or topics defined in advance for the meetings, only the case study.
Thus, students need to dedicate themselves to understand, at first, which problem led the company to apply the solution mentioned in the case.
Inspired by real situations , the meetings are not intended to find a single or correct answer, but rather to encourage critical thinking, creativity and class participation.
Those who omit from discussions have a negative evaluation, while those who contribute and reason are well evaluated.
Case studies can also be combined with problem-based learning.
As the name suggests, this approach always starts from a problem to awaken creativity and the ability of students to propose different solutions – attributes that are very useful to leverage any business.
By presenting one or more cases, professor and students can discuss the effectiveness of the solutions found, what other formats could be applied and what consequences they could have.
In What Other Contexts Is It Efficient To Apply A Case Study?
Case studies can help in a number of different contexts.
In the topics above, we mentioned your contribution to increase sales , improve marketing strategy and enhance the learning process.
Actions to obtain market intelligence can also be leveraged through observation and elaboration of case studies.
It is enough to identify a need or desire of the organization or professional and then choose one or more models that will be analyzed.
If your company – an online subscription service – wants to improve service, you can evaluate the tactics employed by Netflix , for example.
A good option is to start with the Help Center, which provides the most common questions among customers:
If the need is to conquer a more demanding public through personalized products, repositioning the brand, it is worth getting to know and doing a case study of Havaianas .
In the beginning, the company bet on durability and simplicity, offering a single version of its flip-flops.
Today, its portfolio has been diversified to include people from different social classes and interests.
Now, if the idea is to become a leader in your field, it is worth electing one or a few executives that you are inspired by and studying their steps.
Keep in mind that the situations in question must be real , have the context recognized and you must carry out a study on the factors that could modify the result obtained.
Types Of Case Studies
Depending on their central purpose, case studies fall into three types: exploratory, descriptive or analytical.
The same case can be studied for different purposes , just as the same study can receive more than one classification.
Learn more about the modalities below.
Exploratory case studies are those that are premised on evidencing or adding information about situations where there is little clarity.
This model is particularly interesting when you want to start research on a newly discovered field, practices or groups about which little is known.
Faced with these scenarios, the researcher proposes to observe the case, in order to generate records that expand his view on the subject or problem presented.
Due to these characteristics, exploratory studies are often used as foundations for more in-depth research, which can only be developed when the author has greater knowledge about the object studied.
Descriptive case studies are usually guided by one or more well-defined objects, being the most popular for the presentation of cases.
Its purpose is to describe, in a detailed way, a solution applied in a given context, supporting the understanding of the events that moved an individual, group or company from one context to another.
Throughout its explanation, the study allows the “how” and “why” questions to be answered, highlighting the paths, variables and tools used throughout the transition process.
They propose reflections to assimilate or refute a thesis, starting from the elements of one or more chosen cases.
In general, analytical case studies use more than one object, as their mission is to present data that support their analysis and discussion points.
What Is A Case Study For CBT?
A case study may be requested for presentation in a course conclusion work (TCC), depending on the educational institution.
In this situation, the student needs to choose a topic to investigate and offer contributions to academic research in their area of study.
Umberto Eco , in the book Como se Faz a Tese , says that “a thesis consists of a work in which the student addresses a problem related to the branch of studies in which he intends to graduate.”
It is true that the concept of thesis is directly related to scientific production in doctoral courses, just as the dissertation appears in master’s courses .
Even so, the meaning of the term also applies to research developed in undergraduate courses, including a case study for TCC.
As an academic work , it has a theoretical basis and is a scientific method applicable to several areas.
To do so, it collects qualitative and current empirical data and, thus, allows the observation and explanation of a unique, but also representative, event.
What Is A Single Case Study?
As we have seen so far, a case study investigates phenomena through real experiences and focuses on an individual unit, such as a group, an organization or a community .
As Professor Robert E. Stake from the University of Illinois says , “The purpose of the case study is not to represent the world, but to represent the case.”
Thus, a single case study is a project that exclusively observes a unit , allowing a more accurate, but in-depth, understanding of the circumstances studied, which makes the results more reliable.
What Is A Field Study?
An important part of the research is the field study, which is directly related to data collection .
As the case study is based on facts, it is necessary to ensure that real events are observed and recorded.
It is precisely for this that a field study is applied.
This is what makes possible the qualitative approach that the case study offers to answer the questions posed by Yin: “how” and “why”.
Case Studies Collection
Because of the flexibility in objectives and applications, case studies benefit different sectors and departments within an organization.
After all, we all like and feel more confident having contact with a detailed success story, which reveals both assertive decisions and those that harmed the process.
They expand our repertoire, helping to enrich our ideas and form suggestions in the face of challenging scenarios.
With that in mind, we have gathered cases from different segments for you to be inspired and, who knows, have some insights that will help you solve day-to-day issues.
Follow, below, references in the areas of administration, marketing, business, innovation and human resources.
Case Study In Administration
In the administration area, Confiança Van Lines is the subject of an interesting case study that analyzes the company’s internationalization .
Originally from the Brazilian Northeast, today it also operates in the United States.
The company was founded to meet the infrastructure demands of people who leave the interior of Ceará for the capital, Fortaleza.
A few years later, he began to dedicate himself to cargo transportation to supply the logistics of the soft drink industry.
Soon, it became a reference in the region and increased its offer of services for transport of the footwear industry and personal removals.
In the 1960s, during the military regime in Brazil, the movement of Army officers from Rio de Janeiro to Ceará increased. Then, new demands emerged that were taken advantage of by Confiança.
In 1967, the carrier won a government tender to move from Fortaleza to Brasília. It was what made it possible to open the first branch in Piauí.
With the end of the military government, contrary to the administrative guidelines of the time, Confiança began to internationalize .
The destination chosen was Miami, in the United States, because the demand for relocation for Brazilians who arrived there was significant and growing.
Taking advantage of experiences with the military in Brazil, Confiança became the first company of foreign origin to provide transportation services for government officials and military materials in the United States, with certification from the Pentagon and the Administration of Government Services.
But the Brazilians continued to be the focus of the company, running advertisements in newspapers and magazines, which were consumers for them, in addition to sending institutional folders to diplomats.
Focusing on this niche made the company double its revenue.
Today’s Confiança Moving experience has become an important management case, giving rise to diverse academic productions.
You can find many of them from internet searches, especially on Google Scholar .
Case Studies In Marketing
As an example of a case study in marketing, a topic investigated in the academic area has been that of the company Groupon , whose market value has grown by 3 million dollars in less than two years.
This is a group buying site that offers daily offers with discounts of up to 90% to registered users, invoicing from the commission on sales .
Its operation also depends on mobilization on social networks, with the aim of reaching a minimum number of customers and only then releasing the offer.
Thus, there is organic marketing , since the users themselves mobilize to reach the stipulated goal and have access to the discount.
At the end of the process, users receive a generous discount, the site receives a good commission with the high sales volume and the establishment responsible for the offer gains customers and also in visibility.
In order to offer a variety of services and reach many consumers, Groupon had to convince companies that advertising on its website was good business .
The advantages presented were the following:
- Groupon has authority, pioneering group buying and a world leader in the industry
- Offers the possibility of advertising the brand in several countries in South America, Europe and the United States
- Total security in the execution of the operation.
And we can say that it worked.
In 2010, the company had approximately 12 million exclusive subscribers , was present in 30 cities in the country and had an average of 22 million visits per month.
Business Case Studies
This is an investigation into how Miolo Wine Group entered the Chinese market.
Keeping an eye on the forecasts of wine consumption in China and taking advantage of the fact that the local government signed agreements establishing a 0% rate for wine imports, Miolo decided to participate in fairs and events in the country to get to know the Chinese market better .
On the occasion, he established contacts and closed a partnership with the company Ningbo Ke Peng, which became the exclusive representative of the Miolo brand in China.
This made it possible to open a model store in Shanghai , with the aim of strengthening customer relationships.
Right off the bat, the company’s wine imports into China increased by 74% in just one year.
The case shows how the correct business management, combined with an entrepreneurial initiative , can provide significant results.
Case Studies In Innovation
As a case study of innovation, let’s talk about Mills , which operates in civil construction, more precisely in work at heights.
The company innovated in the way of communicating with employees.
For this, it took into account the lack of technical knowledge and even the lack of access or motivation to traditional means of business communication .
Even with so many possibilities, it was difficult to define the best way to send your message to workers on the so-called “ shop floor ”.
Printed material, newspaper, magazine, mural, none of this would represent an innovation and would solve the problem.
It was then that Mills created a comic book , involving its collaborators in an easy-to-understand narrative with strong colors that drew attention.
In addition, the magazine portrayed employees in their roles, conveying messages in a playful, clear and relaxed manner.
This increased employees’ interest in the information the company had to pass on to them.
That’s how the president of Mills and also the board became characters in the magazine to explain to the employees structural changes that were about to happen.
The company innovated by adopting a new form of communication, empathically putting itself in the place of its employee.
HR Case Studies
The HR case study example is from PAP trademarks and patents .
The company had a partner who was very committed to service demands, who was director of the technical organization and responsible for the administrative client portfolio.
But sadly, she passed away from cancer. As she was loved by everyone, the team’s emotional shock was great.
So, PAP hired a specialized company to assist in the process of replacing the partner in the technical organization board.
As a result, a person from outside the company started to fill the vacancy, which was not well received by the employees, who would like an internal recruitment.
At this point, there were two problems: the shock at the loss of an admired leader and dissatisfaction with her replacement.
It was then that the company started endomarketing actions applied to people management .
Motivational balloons were placed on employees’ desks and messages sent by e-mail.
The company even closed for a day for an outdoor paintball activity.
In the game, they set up teams, analyzed their strategies, focused on interpersonal relationships, pro-activity, communication and team spirit.
Afterwards, they discussed the result of the activity and, for a few months, the employees carried out activities with the theme of change and commitment .
At first glance, it seems like a grandiose effort, but the result shows that it was an investment well made.
Those who were discouraged resumed their activities with energy, commitment and dedication.
As a result, PAP formed a high-performance team that was fully engaged in pursuit of its goals.
How To Create A Case Study?
After the examples presented above, it’s time to make your own case study.
That’s why we’ve separated 13 steps that will help you carry out a research for CBT.
Keep an eye on the list:
- Define the case to be studied by choosing a research object in the area of interest. If it’s about innovation, for example, look for a company or group that has innovated and been successful.
- Present the advantages of the case study. Write to the board that will evaluate your TCC why you chose the research topic.
- Now that you’ve chosen the company, go to their website, get their email or phone contact and explain your intention to carry out a case study.
- It is necessary to present the bibliography studied for the chosen case. If you talk about international business management processes, for example, you should gather books that are reference in this area.
- After gathering the necessary theory, you need to do the field study to collect the data. These can be qualitative or quantitative interviews, for example.
- It is important to record how you collected data in the field study. It means saving the interview, describing what you observed , what the place was like, among other aspects.
- In the presentation , start by explaining the case to be studied, determining the object of study.
- The case study presents an example of success, right? Then, it is necessary to identify the problems that were faced and solved.
- Introduce the business environment in which the case is inserted, as this is the only way to make the study an example.
- Remember the “how” rule, which needs to be answered in the survey. The idea is to show how the difficulties encountered and related in a previous step were resolved.
- Knowing why the company has taken a certain action that is the focus of the study is important. To go back to an example, it would be to answer why Confiança Van Lines chose Miami to internationalize its brand.
- Present the result that the case offered, such as an increase in revenue, greater market share, employee motivation and productivity, etc.