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Human Behavior in Organizations
(45-792) Mini 1, 2000

Appendix A: Case Analysis Grading Criteria and Suggestions

For each case (including both those to be graded and those you prepare for class discussion), I have identified specific preparation questions listed in the Course Schedule. These specific questions should be the focus of your case preparation. The following questions, however, apply generally to case analyses and may be helpful as you approach your first few cases.

Problem identification (20%)

(1 )Identify the situation and symptoms facing the key individuals -- i.e., protagonists -- in the case. You may want to list, draw, or somehow represent the information about what is going on in the case.

(2) What are the key problems in the case? You can safely assume that many of the surface "problems" are really symptoms of underlying problems. Try to identify the key problems underlying the variety of symptoms present in the case.

Problem Analysis (35%)

    (3) What seems to be causing the key problems? Do some problems share a cause, or are they somehow otherwise related?

    (4) Regarding causes, what group and/or individual needs might be served by the current situation in the case?

    (5) Regarding causes, what rewards -- formal or informal, financial or non-financial -- support the existing situation?

    (6) Regarding causes, what environmental, organizational, or contextual factors underlie, contribute to, or perpetuate the existing situation?

    (7) Can you develop a framework or representation of the problem that might aid your analysis and inform your action plan?

    (8) What are the beneficial aspects of the situation which you may not want to disrupt or which you might use to your advantage in designing and/or implementing a plan of action to address the situation?

Developing and implementing an action plan (35%)

    (9) What are you objectives for the action plan? Specifically, what problem(s) do you plan to address? What is your time horizon?

    (10) What options or alternatives are available?

    (11) What are the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative? Which alternative do you recommend?

    (12) Describe your action plan. Be specific and concrete about your actions, rather than relying on broad prescriptions, such as "stronger leadership," "better communication," or "do more research."

    (13) What factors in the situation would be supportive or facilitate the success of your action plan, and what obstacles might there be? (Consider opportunities and constraints associated with individuals, the existing reward system, etc.)

    (14) Could your solution touch off other problems? What are the risks facing your solution? What contingency plans do you recommend?

    (15) Assess the realism of your proposed action plan. For example, is there adequate time, money, or other resources for your solution? Also, does your solution place too much reliance on other people being "reasonable" -- i.e., on what you think is reasonable?

Writing (10%)

    (1) Are your sections presented in a logical order and well integrated?

    (2) Is your writing clear and lucid?

    (3) Is your analysis creative, thoughtful, innovative?

    (4) Does your paper stay within the length restrictions?

    These questions are general in nature and may not be relevant to all cases; questions not mentioned here might also be relevant to the case at hand. In general, students have found it helpful to prepare notes on each case using the questions above prior to class discussion. Students have also found it useful to work with their study groups on case analyses and such collaboration is encouraged.

Copyright © 1996-2008 Denise Rousseau