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Case study Method v/s Experiential learning in MBA: 5 Key Differences

Case StudyDuring the global economic crisis of 2008, MBAs were everyone’s favorite punching bags. The financial meltdown was blamed on their arrogance, excessive competitiveness, and obsession with profits. Although profits should be the prime focus for a Business, other factors like impact on society and environment should also be considered. We disagree with branding everyone as dishonest because of a few black sheep, but an in-depth look at management education shows that something is missing. This led us to research into the most practiced teaching methodology - the case study, and another popular alternative learning tool – Experiential learning. Here is what we have found:

The Case study method

Pioneered by Harvard Law School in 1870, and taken up by Harvard Business School in 1920, Case Study Method is the most popular means of teaching at Business Schools across the world.  Case studies present complex real life business scenarios to the class with data such as market share, product differentiation, purchasing trends and overall market growth. Students have to analyze the scenario, and come to class with a detailed solution taking into consideration Business and market variables. The entire class would then debate their ideas and would eventually conclude with a feasible solution.

The experiential learning method

“..alumni such as local business leaders, who with suitable oversight and training by core faculty could help with team projects and experiential learning.”
Professor David Garvin, HBS, on how MBA schools could cover the gaps in MBA education.

In experiential learning, students handle real-life business decisions. It could be a ‘live’ project, being on the board of a company or even a business simulation. They provide students with ‘practical knowledge’ and focus on group dynamics as well as decision making in real-time. Most top Business schools deliver learning experiences with a wide range of electives across verticals and work experience across continents with International partner programs.

Here are the six factors that differentiate Experiential Learning from Case Studies

1) Time and cost

This is the biggest advantage of case studies. Students could debate two case studies a day. Over a two-year MBA course, it could mean covering thousands of cases. Once a case study is created, classes can reuse it over many years, at no extra cost. On the other hand, experiential learning is an expensive endeavor. It requires extensive planning, coordination between faculty members and partners across the globe and negotiation with company executives on projects that should be included for the learning experience. The execution of each project deliverables will take at least one week.

2) Decision based on Incomplete Data

Case Studies usually have well-defined problem statements, created by experienced professors and Entrepreneurs. The MBAs have to focus just on finding feasible solutions. But in real life, problems are not well defined and the information associated with each problem might not be complete. Businesses would also not have a team of highly talented MBAs to solve the problem. Most solutions in real life are usually based on the best possible compromise, a technique that can only be learnt by experience. What’s more, case studies determine the solutions based on measurable factors.  Factors like emotions, intuition, sustainability and happiness are never taken into consideration.

3) Responsibility

For a case study, a student can come up with solutions without worrying about the consequence. But in real life, business decisions influence not just the profitability but also employees, customers, and in some cases, society at large. Experiential learning helps MBA graduates to make responsible decisions after weighing in both the short-term and long-term impact of each solution. In Business community, reputation is as important as profit. The brand that you create is influenced by the aggregate decisions that you make. A solution cannot be considered in isolation. Entrepreneurs and CEOs have to adopt the solution after considering how it affects other aspects of the Business and the brand at large.

4) Emotional Quotient (EQ)

Emotional Quotient is a measure of your awareness about your customers, partners, employees and yourself. It enables managers to handle change and conflicts. The role of a Manager is not restricted to efficiently utilizing resources but also to improve the efficiency of the resources. It requires looking at team members from a different point of view. He should empathize, motivate and guide the team member in achieving the project objectives. When interacting with customers, the focus should be on defining the problem from a customer’s perspective and providing solutions that can bring true value to the customer. Although schools like NYU Stern has a specific focus on developing Emotional Quotient, case studies play very little role in developing this skill. Experiential learning forces students to develop EQ, which is required for the smooth interaction between all the stakeholders – customers, partners and employees.

5) Execution of Solutions

The fear of failure is the biggest roadblock to success. Through experiential learning, students have no other choice but to overcome it. The solutions that you provide in experiential learning are implemented, and the results monitored. With Case study, students have the luxury to brainstorm with peers and professors, and find the best solution. But the solutions are never tested. With experiential learning, the solutions are executed, and the results monitored. MBAs have to change the implementation or adopt a different strategy based on the results. This process enables MBAs to be agile and provide solutions in a more holistic way.

Case study v/s experiential learning is like comparing driving a car in a video game and driving one on the road. Both are effective, but only one prepares you for real life.

Learn more about the best mba programs for case studies and experiential learning.

Why Canada: A Complete Career Guide for MBA Applicants

Why Canada

1. To make it easier for you to choose the top Business Schools in Canada, we have ranked 8 schools based on post-MBA Salary.
 
2. The Book Analyzes all the ten provinces:
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan on Post-MBA Job Opportunities in Oil & Gas, Media, Technology, Finance, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Life Science, Energy, Agriculture, Mining, Forestry, Construction, and Healthcare.


3. We have covered all the funding details (scholarships, loans, and other financial assistance) for the top 8 Business Schools in Canada

4. You don't have to read through hundreds of forum posts or spend hours Googling through scholarship and loan pages. We have summarized the funding with 
Name, Amount, Number of Awards and most importantly the criteria for selection.

5.
Our analysis summarizes the curriculum for the Full-time MBA program, dives into the class composition, and evaluates the post-MBA opportunities available at each school including the list of top Employers. 

Download Why Canada: A Complete Career Guide for MBA Applicants

Top 31 MBA Programs + Analysis of 24 Industries (United States)


We analyze the MBA Curriculum, Class Profile, Total Cost and Post-MBA Salary of Top 31 MBA programs in the US.

+ Industry Trends

+ Future of Aerospace, Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automobile, Clean Tech, Education, Energy, Fashion, Financial Services, Insurance, FinTech, Government, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Military, Manufacturing, Maritime, Media/Advertising, Technology, Tourism, Trade, Transportation and Logistics, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR).


Pages: 327

Reviews

"I have not reviewed many books for MBA Admission consulting companies but doing it now to give all applicants a brief idea on what the book covers. The book includes 31 top MBA programs - almost all the top schools you have heard or considering for your MBA application. Each chapter is categorized by US States where there is at least one top MBA program. So you have California and Massachusetts with the most number of MBA programs and several states with one top program (Washington, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland) and other states with two to three MBA programs. The book focuses on four aspects of an MBA program - curriculum, cost, class profile and post-MBA salary. For me, the breakdown of the cost and post-MBA industry was useful to make my decision on selecting the top 5 programs for 2017-18. It is a fascinating read in an industry where consultants overprice for their expertise. I recently bought a 30-page guide for $49. Compared to the obvious observation in that book, the 300+ page, MBA in US - the Ultimate guide is a goldmine of information and analysis." - Verified Purchase (21st June 2017)

"I bought the ultimate guide after a friend recommended it for me. The guide covers a lot of ground on the history of each prominent US states and goes into the reasons why a certain industry emerged from each state. In addition to the analysis of the economy, trends and expected changes in the next 5 years, the book features top MBA programs in each state with an extensive study of its curriculum. Ultimate guide is an essential reference book for MBA Applicants if they want to shortlist MBA programs based on value and cost, and not just ranking. " - Verified Purchase (14th June 2017)

"Should be a required reading before applying for an MBA. School events and MBA Tours are PR events disguised as a Q&A. On the contrary, the book is an unbiased analysis of each Top MBA program in the US supported by a large dataset and historical context on each industry. The guide builds a case for indstries that are likely to emerge as favourite for MBA graduates. Thorough and a valuable book." - Verified Purchase (15th June 2017)

"What I liked: The breadth of the information. Some of my favorite nonfiction books have taken the same approach as the ultimate guide have - cover background information in-depth. In the book, the author uses parallel threads to demonstrate the history of the state and the rise of industries. Will make you think how schools thrive based on the policy set by the state. California's obsession with Technology has revolutionized how we do Business and changed post-MBA trends. Many MBA applicants will be consulting or doing marketing for a Technology company. That is one key finding from the book. The latest development in AI, FinTech, and Automation is an additional context that I found valuable in the book.

Very informative. I would recommend that you read the book at least once in chronological order before using Table of Contents." - Verified Purchase (2nd July 2017)

Download How to Choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide
(2018 Entering Class)

Top 31 MBA Programs + Analysis of 24 Industries (United States)


We analyze the MBA Curriculum, Class Profile, Total Cost and Post-MBA Salary of Top 31 MBA programs in the US.

+ Industry Trends

+ Future of Aerospace, Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automobile, Clean Tech, Education, Energy, Fashion, Financial Services, Insurance, FinTech, Government, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Military, Manufacturing, Maritime, Media/Advertising, Technology, Tourism, Trade, Transportation and Logistics, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR).


Pages: 327

Reviews

"I have not reviewed many books for MBA Admission consulting companies but doing it now to give all applicants a brief idea on what the book covers. The book includes 31 top MBA programs - almost all the top schools you have heard or considering for your MBA application. Each chapter is categorized by US States where there is at least one top MBA program. So you have California and Massachusetts with the most number of MBA programs and several states with one top program (Washington, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland) and other states with two to three MBA programs. The book focuses on four aspects of an MBA program - curriculum, cost, class profile and post-MBA salary. For me, the breakdown of the cost and post-MBA industry was useful to make my decision on selecting the top 5 programs for 2017-18. It is a fascinating read in an industry where consultants overprice for their expertise. I recently bought a 30-page guide for $49. Compared to the obvious observation in that book, the 300+ page, MBA in US - the Ultimate guide is a goldmine of information and analysis." - Verified Purchase (21st June 2017)

"I bought the ultimate guide after a friend recommended it for me. The guide covers a lot of ground on the history of each prominent US states and goes into the reasons why a certain industry emerged from each state. In addition to the analysis of the economy, trends and expected changes in the next 5 years, the book features top MBA programs in each state with an extensive study of its curriculum. Ultimate guide is an essential reference book for MBA Applicants if they want to shortlist MBA programs based on value and cost, and not just ranking. " - Verified Purchase (14th June 2017)

"Should be a required reading before applying for an MBA. School events and MBA Tours are PR events disguised as a Q&A. On the contrary, the book is an unbiased analysis of each Top MBA program in the US supported by a large dataset and historical context on each industry. The guide builds a case for indstries that are likely to emerge as favourite for MBA graduates. Thorough and a valuable book." - Verified Purchase (15th June 2017)

"What I liked: The breadth of the information. Some of my favorite nonfiction books have taken the same approach as the ultimate guide have - cover background information in-depth. In the book, the author uses parallel threads to demonstrate the history of the state and the rise of industries. Will make you think how schools thrive based on the policy set by the state. California's obsession with Technology has revolutionized how we do Business and changed post-MBA trends. Many MBA applicants will be consulting or doing marketing for a Technology company. That is one key finding from the book. The latest development in AI, FinTech, and Automation is an additional context that I found valuable in the book.

Very informative. I would recommend that you read the book at least once in chronological order before using Table of Contents." - Verified Purchase (2nd July 2017)

Download How to Choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide
(2018 Entering Class)

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