Category Archives: Case writing

Case author relationships under the microscope


Times Higher Education (1-7 June) investigated persistent claims from PhD students of ill treatment at the hands of their supervisors.

The feature reports claims of sexism, institutionalised bullying through an imbalanced relationship between supervisor and those being supervised, and PhD students being seen widely as a cheap workforce.

Kathleen Barker, an experienced supervisor and clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, identifies authorship as one area in which good supervisors seek to establish clarity as early as possible: “Who writes the papers? How is authorship decided? Will you protect your people in authorship disputes with collaborating groups, or will you sacrifice a trainee to keep last authorship for yourself?”

woman writing her notebookI meet many PhD or Masters student authors in the course of presenting our annual awards for case writing. I have been impressed by the regard in which they are held and by how senior lead authors have been at pains to make sure that student authors and collaborators are acknowledged properly.

But I wonder how often PhD students contribute to researching or writing cases without being given proper recognition as a co-author?

In another Times Higher Education article – this time from the edition 18-24 May – by Mark Hayter and Roger Watson of the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Hull, explores the question of whether or not it is right for PhD supervisors to publish with their students.

While recognising that some academics, particularly in the social sciences, see supervisors publishing with students, as predatory, Hayter and Watson do not. They argue strongly in favour of publishing jointly authored works as a supervisor’s ‘moral responsibility’ to help their students publish.

Where do you stand?


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Filed under Business schools, Case method, Case writing, Research

Going digital: meeting the challenge


I always enjoy attending the annual conference of the Academy of Management.

With an attendance of around 10,000 academics and a large number of exhibitors it’s the perfect annual chance to connect with old friends, make new contacts and get a feel for what’s hot in management and business education and management publishing.

This year’s meeting in Anaheim, California, was no exception.

The events in the conference programme get a lot of attention and many of the presentations will already be available as journal publications, via social media or through the AOM’s own website. So I thought it would be interesting to share my personal take on conversations and presentations from inside the exhibition hall.

Digital threats and opportunities

The talk for quite a few years now has been of the possibilities and threats of digital media to existing publishing models. This year, I sensed a first consolidation of talk into sustainable action.

Textbook publishers were at the conference in smaller numbers this year – some evidence, perhaps, of the impact of digital as they respond to tougher sales conditions in the face of increased and disruptive competition from born-digital competitors and open source distribution models.

Pile of colorful magazines

Biggest challenge

The disaggregation of digital content is the biggest challenge to traditional publishers. Why buy the complete textbook if chapter one is the one that you want your students to read? Or the complete album – witness Spotify and other music services based on individual tracks and personal playlists rather than albums.

The challenge is different for case publishers. The case is already at the roughly equivalent level of granularity as a learning object, and therefore below the level at which disaggregation takes place.

A different challenge

For case authors and publishers, and case teachers come to that, the challenge is how to express a case, or a case discussion, to take best advantage of the defining attributes of a digital medium. That’s what’s been missing from many early digital cases. Too many tried to mimic real-world experience rather than expressing the unique attributes on offer from digital.

searchingIMG_1914This year, for the first time, I had a sense at the Academy of Management conference that, rather quietly, something may be stirring in the digital forest. Several exhibitors had digital products or approaches to case teaching on display that attracted my interest. See what you think.

Video series

Ivey Publishing has launched a new series of videos called Choosing and Using Cases – Insights from Leading Case Practitioners. Ivey also presented an interesting variant on case teaching with the launch of its guide for faculty requiring students to write cases as an assessed course element.

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Real progress

Over at Real Time Cases, you’ll find cases composed of video interviews with case protagonists in situ and in the midst of real-time dilemmas so students can work through the scenarios in real time concurrent with the resolution of the problem within the company. And in another exciting development, Recurrence  takes original paper cases and turns them into animated business games using gamification techniques to engage students.

There’s lots going on out there. Watch this space!

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Filed under Business education, Case method, Case teaching, Case writing