It’s all in the theory

Vicky_Todd_Richard

L-R: Vicky Lester, The Case Centre Deputy Director, Todd Bridgman and Richard McCracken

I’ve had the pleasure this week of being able to discuss the history and early development of the case method with Todd Bridgman.

Todd is currently on sabbatical in the UK and was visiting us in connection with his feature on thinking differently about case teaching and the future of business schools, which appears in the current issue of The Case Centre’s Connect newsletter. Todd is also participating in two of the MED professional development workshops, in which we are involved, at the AOM annual conference in Atlanta.

So you can see that we had lots to talk about.

Abstract network connection background.

The most interesting aspect of the discussion for me, however, was the opportunity to get a better sense of what Todd means when he advocates a greater role for theory within the case method(s) – something we agree upon is that the case method should be seen as being too broad and inclusive to be restricted to a single, prescriptive approach.

Todd’s view is that the early proponents of the case method had always intended for there to be a greater inclusion of theory but that this has atrophied somewhat over the years in favour of an almost exclusive concentration on developing student skills in solving problems. Todd explains more in this video below.

As a result, criticism of the case method is often triggered by a perception that its over-developed focus on the practical is at the cost of developing theory and value.

Richard_Rasmus_Navid

L-R: Richard McCracken, Rasmus Johnsen and Navid Baharlooie

Our discussion came only a few days after I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen Business School to present Rasmus Johnsen and Navid Baharlooie with this year’s Ethics and Social Responsibility award for their case CULT Girl: Responsible Management and Self-Management of Subjectivity at Work. The case illustrates some of the theoretical focus that Todd has been advocating and exploring

Rasmus and Navid work within the department of Management Politics and Philosophy at CBS and their case requires students to take a position on the dilemmas of self-managing subjectivity at work, the responsible management of self-managing employees, and the ethical limitations of marketing practices, using the theoretical work of philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Axel Honneth.

So, there we are, the case method(s) can and do encompass theory. What is your experience? Where do you stand? Please let me know.

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Filed under Business education, Business schools, Case method, Case teaching, Research

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