Monthly Archives: November 2016

Post-fact culture, storytelling and the case method

In two very recent political campaigns in the UK and US proponents declared proudly that they didn’t listen to experts.

Wherever we look in the world the principles of inquiry and research that underpin our understanding of the world, and the valuing of knowledge and expertise, seem under attack.

Anti-intellectualism

Some commentators argue that these are only the most recent examples of a much longer trend of anti-intellectualism. People want simple. They don’t want to hear complex solutions for a complex world.

businessintelligenceAnd into the void comes a wilful avoidance of clarity and knowledge, and beliefs based on someone’s ability to tell a good story. No inconvenient fact or truth, it seems, should come between a desire and an outcome. We are living, we are told, in a post-factual world. Fertile ground for those who tell a good story.

Storytellers

Whatever else we may be, we in the case world are storytellers. We believe in the power of a good story. But we also know that telling a good story is not enough.

socialmedia_000036648090That the moon is made of green cheese is a good story. So are Father Christmas and the tooth fairy. More concerning, the prejudices that breed fear of people who are unlike ourselves are often provoked and expressed through uncorroborated and unchallenged ‘good stories’. Uncorroborated and unchallenged because many people access their daily news and political commentary to social media sources whose algorithms promote stories that play to our preferences and biases

Academic rigour

handup_IMG_1910-3 (1)What makes we case-people different is that we also believe in the rigour of academic research and the testing of story against knowledge and well-researched experience.

The struggle to test and balance both theoretical and empirical understanding, and to challenge assumptions that students are forced to confront in classroom discussion, is the crucial difference between a story and a teaching case.

How are you going to approach working with cases, or materials that are case-like?

Simply telling a good story is never enough.

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Filed under Business education, Case method, Case teaching