Best Mentored Case Award | Spotlight

The Case for
Case Studies

Steve McGuire teaches students how to make a solid case study for an organization. In recent years, his students’ efforts have garnered numerous awards.

He is an advisor, a management professor, an expert in entrepreneurship and team creation, and the editor and co-author of Managing Organizational Change (Boston: Pearson, 2001). He offers these perspectives:

What’s a case study?

An excellent case study is above all else a compelling story about an interesting problem, dilemma or decision that needs to be made by real managers or entrepreneurs. An applied research project, a case study examines the background and prospects to help organizations, and the individuals in them, to address pivotal decisions: Should we start a franchise or not?  How do we stop our best employees from leaving? What strategy should we pursue to beat our rivals? How we do deal with sexual harassment or discrimination in the organization? And so on.

What are the benefits?

Because solving these managerial (and sometimes ethical) problems is relevant and real, it provides a great source of learning:

  • Students who prepare these case studies tend to learn more than they would just from lectures because the experience is so real.
  • Faculty learn by being exposed to recent examples of “theory in practice.” Faculty around the world use case studies to teach business management.
  • The organizations being examined benefit from gaining a fresh perspective on their situation from the eyes of students and faculty.

‘Smoothie’ business study makes a splash

CSULA graduate student garners Best Mentored Case Award

CSULA students who presented at the 2009 WCA Conference.

CSULA Management Case Study Team includes (front, l-r) Patty Robbins, Michelle Tse, Antonio Flores, Gina Dayao, (back, l-r) Professor McGuire, Hui-Hsin Chen, Alisa Aunskul, and Motaz Abutarboosh.

“To Smoothie or Not to Smoothie?” That was the case study that recently earned Michelle Tse the Best Mentored Case Award at the 2009 annual Western Casewriters Association Conference in Midway, UT.

A CSULA public administration student, Tse examined the prospects and decisions of a family venturing to open a fruit smoothie business. Her study is one in a series of case studies, focusing on Los Angeles entrepreneurs. All papers accepted at the conference were double-blind peer-reviewed.

According to her case synopsis, “As consumers became increasingly health conscious, the smoothie industry was the perfect business opportunity within the U.S. fast-service industry.”

Management Professor Steve McGuire said, “CSULA business students have been working on case studies of L.A. entrepreneurs and other case studies. Case studies are not only publishable research papers; they are also one of the primary ways we teach graduate business management by bringing ‘real’ examples into the classroom. Six case studies were presented at the WCA conference and once again CSULA students brought home an award. Michelle Tse’s case study of a decision to launch a Smoothie franchise is exactly the type of applied research at which our students excel.”

The following papers were also presented by CSULA graduate business students at the WCA Conference:

  • Asian Youth Center: Adapting to Cultural Evolution” (authors: Motaz Abutarboosh [presenter], Vera Danho, Wanida Jaiaree and Ezgi Kumkumaglu)
  • Development of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Free Clinic, Los Angeles” (author/presenter: Hui-Hsin Chen)
  • The Heart Touch Project” (author/presenter: Gina O. Dayao)
  • Kaiser Permanente-Fresno: Patient Security and Safety” (authors: Alisa Aunskul [presenter], Oshin Babaian, Gina O. Dayao, Fernando Iniguez and Patricia Robbins [presenter])
  • Venice Family Clinic Homeless Healthcare” (author/presenter: Antonio Flores)

Michelle Tse smiles for the camera.“The Western Casewriters Conference was a great learning experience. I had the opportunity to network and have my work reviewed by peers, most of whom were professors. They provided a lot of useful input on ways to strengthen my case. As a result, I am currently revising my write-up to incorporate the suggestions I received in hopes of getting my work published. I am a graduate student in the Public Administration program, but took Professor McGuire’s management course because I wanted to gain a better understanding of management in the real world. Professor McGuire’s class showed me just that—a taste of the real world. I did not expect I would be conducting an actual case study nor was I anticipating on presenting my work at a conference. My experience at CSULA provides both the practical and theoretical elements I need to one day be an effective community leader.” -- Michelle Tse

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