BusEco: Writing case studies

What is a case study?

  • A case refers to a real or realistic situation in a specific context, e.g. in a workplace.
  • A case study is used to analyse this situation. It involves identifying what has happened and why it happened, identifying key stakeholders and applying relevant theory. In addition to this, some case studies require you to evaluate and recommend solutions.

What is the purpose of a case study?

The purpose of a case study is to consider a particular situation in detail in order to:

  • identify the problems, and
  • analyse these problems.

Some case studies will also:

  • develop and evaluate alternative solutions, or
  • make actionable recommendations.

Why might I be asked to undertake a case study?

A case study is a means by which your lecturer can assess your understanding and application of concepts, analytical skills, and problem-solving abilities in preparation for professional employment.

In a professional context, you could be asked by an organisation to undertake a case study when issues arise. For instance, an organisation might request an analysis of their work environment to alert management to the underlying causes of problems. You might also be called upon to go further, providing a way to resolve these problems.

The two types of case studies

There are two types of case studies you’ll likely be asked to do, both as a student, and later, in the workforce. These are:

1. Analytical case study

2. Problem-solving case study

This method requires you to analyse the case to:

  • determine exactly what has happened,
  • identify the problems which existed in the case, and
  • explain the reasons why events unfolded the way they did.

In a sense, you are determining the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the situation.

Using this method, you need to:

  • identify the major problems which existed in the case
  • identify what caused these problems
  • understand why the events occurred the way they did
  • suggest possible solutions to improve the situation
  • recommend the best solution for implementation.

In a sense, you are determining the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the situation.

The problem-solving case study approach builds upon and extends the analytical case study. In addition to identifying problems and explaining why they happened, you also need to develop solutions and make recommendations.


There are a variety of ways a case study assignment might be designed, so make sure you carefully read the instructions given in your unit and seek clarification before proceeding.

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