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The ‘Raw’ Case Approach

When Yale SOM developed the integrated curriculum, a case writing team was formed to create materials in support of this new approach to management education. In the subsequent years, the SOM Case Research and Development Team (CRDT) has contributed nearly two hundred pieces of material to the SOM curriculum on a wide variety of topics and from numerous global locales. CRDT has also pioneered a new type of case study, the “raw” case, that better reflects the new curriculum—and actual management practice. 

Raw cases

A screenshot of the SELCO case

In 2007, the SOM faculty and CRDT began experimenting with using multi-media on the web to deliver case materials. These experiments led to an entirely new paradigm, the raw case, that improved upon the traditional case method and afforded new pedagogical opportunities.

Raw cases replicate the way that individuals access and use information in the real world: management dilemmas do not manifest themselves in neat 10–15 page narratives, but rely on an individual’s ability to synthesize information from a variety of channels. The web-based platform also allows students to view, search, absorb, and analyze the material in a non-linear manner. Determining what information is relevant and how it relates to the questions at hand is part of the learning experience. It also allows students to tailor their experience of the case to their own interests, in that they may choose to skim some topics while going into greater depth on other issues.

Consider the SELCO raw case. SELCO is an Indian company that specialized in bringing solar electric products to the poor. In 2009, the company needed a new growth strategy. As students consider the company’s dilemma, the raw case allows them to view video interviews with company leaders and customers, inspect maps of SELCO’s service areas, see videos describing how SELCO’s products were being used, consider articles on India’s electricity grid and socio-economic conditions, read about the company’s founding, consult the company’s organization charts, income statements and balance sheets, inspect the company’s innovative products, review the company’s business models, read news articles about the company’s success, and so on.

Raw cases are also designed to enable faculty to break through the traditionally “siloed” approach to business problems. In the SELCO case, students have to analyze marketing, design, financial, organizational, government relations, and financing problems in the context of a growth strategy. At Yale SOM, raw cases are often co-taught by faculty from different disciplines.

Global Reach

Global Network Logo

From the first, SOM case writers and film crews have ventured to numerous locations in the United States, as well as international settings that include India, South Africa, Sweden, and China. Casting a wide geographic net allows CRDT to bring back management dilemmas from a number of contexts and cultures, as well as to spotlight trends in emerging and established markets, all for the benefit of preparing SOM students to lead across sectors and regions. Launched in 2012, the Global Network for Advanced Management consists of
28 business schools from around the world.

The creation of the Global Network for Advanced Management has increased the ability of the CRDT to offer global content through case-writing collaborations with other schools. For example, the Yale SOM team collaborated with EGADE Business School (Tecnológico de Monterrey) to focus on Walmart of Mexico’s sustainability efforts and relationship with the Mexican electricity grid. In another Global Network collaboration, Yale CRDT collaborated with faculty at the National University of Singapore to produce a case about the burgeoning palm oil industry and its relationship to environmental regulation and the Indonesian labor market.

Traditional cases and teaching notes

For those management challenges that do call for a more discipline-focused approach to a particular topic, the CRDT has produced more than 75 traditional-format cases for use in Yale classrooms. Many of these cases have been adopted at other business schools in the United States and elsewhere. In addition to cases, the team has produced technical notes and other pedagogical materials to support the school’s curriculum.


Though initially developed for use only at Yale SOM, the majority of CRDT cases are now available to other accredited business schools and management programs. Some cases are available under Creative Commons licensing. Others are available for purchase through one of our publishing partners or the Yale Management Media store