Why raw cases?
The Yale School of Management has developed online, “raw” case studies to allow a multidimensional approach to the analysis of management challenges. In contrast to traditional management cases, a raw case provides information in a variety of ways – reports, articles, interviews, videos, photographs, original documents, and links to other websites. In this way, raw cases mimic the real world, where information is scattered and sometimes contradictory. Part of the challenge of doing this kind of case comes from sorting through raw information to come to reasonable conclusions.
Raw cases live online, since the internet allows for easy display of information from a number of sources. While it is certainly possible to read only the text of a raw case off-line, you will lose much of the richness of the case.
How are raw cases organized?
Raw cases are organized into a number of sections. These sections are accessible via active links from within an expandable menu at the top of the page. Many of the sections have subsections, which are also active links, indicating that a section has been further broken down into a number of subcategories. You can see all of the sections and subsections when you expand the top menu. Alternatively, the entire site map, including sections and subsections, also appears in the footer of each page. Clicking on a particular section or subsection will bring you to the indicated page.
You may start anywhere on the case, though most cases are designed to be read from left to right across the top categories, beginning with an introduction.
On any given page you will see a block of text starting on the left top. This text gives an overview of the topics discussed on the page. In the upper right-hand corner of the page may be additional resources, affectionately termed the “bookshelf,” that link to articles, videos, spreadsheets, or other sources that will further your understanding of the topic.
In cases where there are video components, you will find that watching the videos is integral to understanding the case study. Videos introduce you to the protagonists of the case study and provide more information on the dilemmas under consideration. Some case studies have YouTube versions of the videos to allow for faster downloads of the material. Others will appear as embedded videos within the page that only appear as they are accessed.
Still more resources will bring you to key documents, give supporting data, and connect you to additional background and contextual information. Descriptions suggest which links are crucial for understanding and which are available for those who want to follow the topic on a deeper level. There may also be links to slideshows, collections of photographs, drawings, or other images, that provide the context for the issues in a case.
What is the best way to start?
Your instructor will give you the URL where the case is located, or alternatively, you can locate the case study in the Yale SOM Case Directory. Type or follow the URL using your browser (Firefox is our preferred browser, though other browsers should work as well).
Most cases require authentication using your Yale NetID, and occasionally some cases will require you to be behind the Yale firewall (i.e., logged in via the Yale VPN). Your instructor will communicate to you if the latter is true. For non-Yale students and faculty, access will require a username and password which will be provided to you prior to the course. Alternatively, faculty may assign Yale SOM cases via a third party distributor, such as SAGE or Study.Net, in which case you should use the external distributor’s platform to access the Yale case directly (you will not be prompted for a username or password if coming from a distributor’s site).
Other cases are free on the web and going to the URL will immediately link you to the title page of the case.
The first section, the introduction, will have an “Overview” or “Introduction” submenu. The text on the overview page will outline all of the major topics under discussion. The Introduction tab may also have a page (subsection) labeled “Discussion Questions” to guide your inquiry as you proceed through the case study. Your instructor may also give you a set of questions and even highlight which sections of the case are particularly relevant to class discussion.
There is a lot of information in a raw case and if you are working alone you will have to prioritize what you look at and read. If you are working in a group, the group may want to divide responsibilities for what each person will examine and then report back to the group to synthesize everyone’s responses.
What does a raw case look like?
Below, we provide an annotated screenshot of a page from the freely available raw case, “SELCO.”