The Rotterdam International Case Academy considers writing a case a small research project. For both students and lecturers, it is interesting and informative to find out “how things are” and “how things work” in the corporate community.
First of all, one must learn to question sources and to verify the information gathered on the web. However, since our case academy always starts with “real problems of real people”, most information is gathered from primary sources (i.e., company annual reports and interviews with the case protagonist). This means that a lot of attention is paid to the right way of questioning and researching, i.e., debriefing the case protagonist, before the actual writing can begin. Subsequently, the decision-making process will be the central focus point of every case.
All student experiences so far show that case writing is an excellent preparation for writing the bachelor thesis. The development of research skills and graduate capabilities is strongly supported by writing cases.
A lot of research is being done worldwide into the learning effects of the case method. The evidence that this method works is overwhelming. Much less research has been done on the effects of participating in case competitions. That is why Prof. Jeff Johnson (St. Mary’s University, USA), Prof. Robin Ritchie (Carleton University, Canada) and the Rotterdam International Case Academy recently conducted a small-scale qualitative research project and paper where they collected data from prior NIBS Worldwide Case Competition participants and gauged the impact of their participation on factors such as their job placement following graduation (i.e., did their participation in the competition play a role in their attaining the position?) and their preparedness in their new job (e.g., skill enhancement in defining strategy, working in teams, making decisions etc.).
There are plans for a large-scale quantitative study collecting data from a large number of past NIBS Worldwide Case Competition participants using an online survey measuring the impact of their participation on a number of variables, all related to skills that are mainly acquired in case competitions.
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences has several Centres of Expertise. The Research Centre Business Innovation provides concrete solutions to the problems that Rotterdam small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) currently encounter at the interface between promoting and hampering factors around innovation in all the facets of their business. These factors and challenges are partly cast in cases.
For this reason, the centre is now part of the European Case Study Alliance (Ecasa), an initiative strongly supported by the EU. Our Case Academy helped the Rotterdam Research Centre in writing cases and also organised a competition in which the universities participating in ECASA took part (Dublin, Dortmund, Kaunas and Rotterdam).