Development of Knowledge and Skills with Case Method

Development of Knowledge and Skills with Case Method

Kaja Prystupa (Kozminski University, Poland) and Omar Luethi (HSO, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3153-1.ch022


The aim of this chapter is to analyze the application of two different variations of the case study method at different levels of education programs in reference to the development of knowledge and skills. Based on theoretical foundations the authors share good practices of their own experience as educators at HSO Business School in Switzerland and Kozminski University in Poland. Both institutions face different challenges created by different institutional settings. These reach from pre-experienced undergraduate and graduate student group in a traditional University setting in Poland to part-time students with several years of work experience in higher vocational education in Switzerland.
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Nature of the Case Study Method

A case typically is a record of a business issue which actually has been faced by business executives, together with surrounding facts, opinions and prejudices upon which executive decisions have to depend (Gragg, 1953, p. 6 as referenced in Barnes et al., 1994b). The focus of the tutor is not on searching for the right answer, but rather on the manner in which the solution is arrived at, deliberations involved and its practicality (Shivakumar, 2012). Thus, the case study method allows development of both knowledge and skills necessary to act in a business environment (Barnes et al., 1994b). Using Polanyi’s (2009) typology, case studies develop both tacit and explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge (later referred as knowledge) is formal, systemized, easy to transmit to others and its possessor is aware of the state of its disposition. It is easily stored in books and other written materials (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Tacit knowledge (later referred as skills) remains beyond the consciousness of its possessor and he or she has problems with its articulation (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2002; De Long & Fahey, 2000; Nonaka, Toyama, & Konno, 2000). It manifests itself in actions, procedures, routines, ideas, values and emotions, and is accumulated with experience and intuition (Lubit, 2001). Researchers indicate that tacit and explicit knowledge complement each other and cannot exist independently of each other. Only when those two types of knowledge cooperate, can the value can be generated (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Choi & Lee, 2003; De Long & Fahey, 2000; Spender, 1996). The reason for the effectiveness of the case study method as a teaching tool lies in its ability to link those two types of knowledge, which is close to the natural ways of the human learning processes. In the next section, the authors will discuss in detail the character of skills and knowledge that can be acquired through case study methods.

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