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What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on January 30, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

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While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

a case study approach

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

Alumni responses varied but tended to follow a pattern. Almost no one referred to a specific business concept they learned. Many mentioned close friendships or the classmate who became a business or life partner. Most often, though, alumni highlighted a personal quality or skill like “increased self-confidence” or “the ability to advocate for a point of view” or “knowing how to work closely with others to solve problems.” And when I asked how they developed these capabilities, they inevitably mentioned the magic of the case method.

Harvard Business School pioneered the use of case studies to teach management in 1921. As we commemorate 100 years of case teaching, much has been  written  about the effectiveness of this method. I agree with many of these observations. Cases expose students to real business dilemmas and decisions. Cases teach students to size up business problems quickly while considering the broader organizational, industry, and societal context. Students recall concepts better when they are set in a case, much as people remember words better when used in context. Cases teach students how to apply theory in practice and how to induce theory from practice. The case method cultivates the capacity for critical analysis, judgment, decision-making, and action.

There is a word that aptly captures the broader set of capabilities our alumni reported they learned from the case method. That word is meta-skills, and these meta-skills are a benefit of case study instruction that those who’ve never been exposed to the method may undervalue.

Educators define meta-skills as a group of long-lasting abilities that allow someone to learn new things more quickly. When parents encourage a child to learn to play a musical instrument, for instance, beyond the hope of instilling musical skills (which some children will master and others may not), they may also appreciate the benefit the child derives from deliberate, consistent practice. This meta-skill is valuable for learning many other things beyond music.

In the same vein, let me suggest seven vital meta-skills students gain from the case method:

1. Preparation

There is no place for students to hide in the moments before the famed “cold call”— when the teacher can ask any student at random to open the case discussion. Decades after they graduate, students will vividly remember cold calls when they, or someone else, froze with fear, or when they rose to nail the case even in the face of a fierce grilling by the professor.

The case method creates high-powered incentives for students to prepare. Students typically spend several hours reading, highlighting, and debating cases before class, sometimes alone and sometimes in groups. The number of cases to be prepared can be overwhelming by design.

Learning to be prepared — to read materials in advance, prioritize, identify the key issues, and have an initial point of view — is a meta-skill that helps people succeed in a broad range of professions and work situations. We have all seen how the prepared person, who knows what they are talking about, can gain the trust and confidence of others in a business meeting. The habits of preparing for a case discussion can transform a student into that person.

2. Discernment

Many cases are long. A typical case may include history, industry background, a cast of characters, dialogue, financial statements, source documents, or other exhibits. Some material may be digressive or inessential. Cases often have holes — critical pieces of information that are missing.

The case method forces students to identify and focus on what’s essential, ignore the noise, skim when possible, and concentrate on what matters, meta-skills required for every busy executive confronted with the paradox of simultaneous information overload and information paucity. As one alumnus pithily put it, “The case method helped me learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

3. Bias Recognition

Students often have an initial reaction to a case stemming from their background or earlier work and life experiences. For instance, people who have worked in finance may be biased to view cases through a financial lens. However, effective general managers must understand and empathize with various stakeholders, and if someone has a natural tendency to favor one viewpoint over another, discussing dozens of cases will help reveal that bias. Armed with this self-understanding, students can correct that bias or learn to listen more carefully to classmates whose different viewpoints may help them see beyond their own biases.

Recognizing and correcting personal bias can be an invaluable meta-skill in business settings when leaders inevitably have to work with people from different functions, backgrounds, and perspectives.

4. Judgment

Cases put students into the role of the case protagonist and force them to make and defend a decision. The format leaves room for nuanced discussion, but not for waffling: Teachers push students to choose an option, knowing full well that there is rarely one correct answer.

Indeed, most cases are meant to stimulate a discussion rather than highlight effective or ineffective management practice. Across the cases they study, students get feedback from their classmates and their teachers about when their decisions are more or less compelling. It enables them to develop the judgment of making decisions under uncertainty, communicating that decision to others, and gaining their buy-in — all essential leadership skills. Leaders earn respect for their judgment. It is something students in the case method get lots of practice honing.

5. Collaboration

It is better to make business decisions after extended give-and-take, debate, and deliberation. As in any team sport, people get better at working collaboratively with practice. Discussing cases in small study groups, and then in the classroom, helps students practice the meta-skill of collaborating with others. Our alumni often say they came away from the case method with better skills to participate in meetings and lead them.

Orchestrating a good collaborative discussion in which everyone contributes, every viewpoint is carefully considered, yet a thoughtful decision is made in the end is the arc of any good case discussion. Although teachers play the primary role in this collaborative process during their time at the school, it is an art that students of the case method internalize and get better at when they get to lead discussions.

6. Curiosity

Cases expose students to lots of different situations and roles. Across cases, they get to assume the role of entrepreneur, investor, functional leader, or CEO, in a range of different industries and sectors. Each case offers an opportunity for students to see what resonates with them, what excites them, what bores them, which role they could imagine inhabiting in their careers.

Cases stimulate curiosity about the range of opportunities in the world and the many ways that students can make a difference as leaders. This curiosity serves them well throughout their lives. It makes them more agile, more adaptive, and more open to doing a wider range of things in their careers.

7. Self-Confidence

Students must inhabit roles during a case study that far outstrip their prior experience or capability, often as leaders of teams or entire organizations in unfamiliar settings. “What would you do if you were the case protagonist?” is the most common question in a case discussion. Even though they are imaginary and temporary, these “stretch” assignments increase students’ self-confidence that they can rise to the challenge.

In our program, students can study 500 cases over two years, and the range of roles they are asked to assume increases the range of situations they believe they can tackle. Speaking up in front of 90 classmates feels risky at first, but students become more comfortable taking that risk over time. Knowing that they can hold their own in a highly curated group of competitive peers enhances student confidence. Often, alumni describe how discussing cases made them feel prepared for much bigger roles or challenges than they’d imagined they could handle before their MBA studies. Self-confidence is difficult to teach or coach, but the case study method seems to instill it in people.

There may well be other ways of learning these meta-skills, such as the repeated experience gained through practice or guidance from a gifted coach. However, under the direction of a masterful teacher, the case method can engage students and help them develop powerful meta-skills like no other form of teaching. This quickly became apparent when case teaching was introduced in 1921 — and it’s even truer today.

For educators and students, recognizing the value of these meta-skills can offer perspective on the broader goals of their work together. Returning to the example of piano lessons, it may be natural for a music teacher or their students to judge success by a simple measure: Does the student learn to play the instrument well? But when everyone involved recognizes the broader meta-skills that instrumental instruction can instill — and that even those who bumble their way through Bach may still derive lifelong benefits from their instruction — it may lead to a deeper appreciation of this work.

For recruiters and employers, recognizing the long-lasting set of benefits that accrue from studying via the case method can be a valuable perspective in assessing candidates and plotting their potential career trajectories.

And while we must certainly use the case method’s centennial to imagine yet more powerful ways of educating students in the future, let us be sure to assess these innovations for the meta-skills they might instill, as much as the subject matter mastery they might enable.

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What Is a Case Study?

An in-depth study of one person, group, or event

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

a case study approach

Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.

a case study approach

Verywell / Colleen Tighe

Benefits and Limitations

Types of case studies, how to write a case study.

A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

The purpose of a case study is to learn as much as possible about an individual or group so that the information can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

While case studies focus on a single individual or group, they follow a format similar to other types of psychology writing. If you are writing a case study, it is important to follow the rules of APA format .  

A case study can have both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers must consider these pros and cons before deciding if this type of study is appropriate for their needs.

One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:

On the negative side, a case study:

Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they are interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. The insights gained from such research can help the researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.

However, it is important to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause and effect relationships between variables. However, case studies may be used to develop hypotheses that can then be addressed in experimental research.

Case Study Examples

There have been a number of notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of  Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:

Such cases demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers could not replicate in experimental settings. In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development.

This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.

There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:

The three main case study types often used are intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. Intrinsic case studies are useful for learning about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at an individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collective case study can be useful for looking at several cases simultaneously.

The type of case study that psychology researchers utilize depends on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the case itself.

There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.

Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.

Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individual's life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.

Where to Find Data

There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. Six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:

Section 1: A Case History

This section will have the following structure and content:

Background information : The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.

Description of the presenting problem : In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.

Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.

Your diagnosis : Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client's symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.

Section 2: Treatment Plan

This portion of the paper will address the chosen treatment for the condition. This might also include the theoretical basis for the chosen treatment or any other evidence that might exist to support why this approach was chosen.

This section of a case study should also include information about the treatment goals, process, and outcomes.

When you are writing a case study, you should also include a section where you discuss the case study itself, including the strengths and limitiations of the study. You should note how the findings of your case study might support previous research. 

In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings might require further exploration? How might researchers go about exploring some of these questions in additional studies?

Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind when formatting your case study:

A Word From Verywell

Case studies can be a useful research tool, but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.

If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow. If you are writing your case study for professional publication, be sure to check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.

Simply Psychology. Case Study Method .

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011 Jun 27;11:100. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

Gagnon, Yves-Chantal.  The Case Study as Research Method: A Practical Handbook . Canada, Chicago Review Press Incorporated DBA Independent Pub Group, 2010.

Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.

By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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Approach A Case Study

Students must be wondering, Why do case studies have a certain approach towards themselves? Indeed, writing a case study is highly linked to your future academic success. But, on the contrary, the important thing is to make it approach worthy. Here, we have tried to discuss every possible aspect that can help you excellently approach a case study.

It is believable that a successful case study will have a lasting approach to converting the real life achievements to the problems faced by the people. However, criteria go around by formulating the structure of it.

How To Approach A Case Study Interview?

Students undergo the hassle of a case study interview by their interviewer only for the sake of data collection. Therefore, The students need to develop open communication with their interviewer. A checklist should be made because it will greatly help you jot down all the relevant points that you ought to ask the interviewer. The communication of your case solutions should be professional and as crystal clear as possible. The students should keep one thing in their minds, that’s their current hypothesis should display their thoughts.

How To Approach A Case Study From A Student’s Perspective?

Students are the integral beings who deal with the case studies every now and then in their academic years. Hence, it is interesting to know how a case study can be approached considering a student’s perspective. The following points will surely highlight students take on approaching a case study:

How To Approach A Technical Case Study?

Students can easily approach a technical case study by combining the analysis of the customer projects that are primarily used in the company’s services and products. An approach to a technical case study focuses on two things. How the case solutions will be worked upon? and how the improvements affect the overall results.

How To Approach A Pricing Case Study?

To approach a pricing case study, students need to analyze the following 7 steps in detail:

How To Approach A Case Study Question?

To approach a case study question, students must know the following rules;

How To Approach A Harvard Case Study?

If students want to approach the Harvard case study, they need to decide on a course of action first. As there is no right answer for your Harvard case study solutions , the right thing remains to make irrelevant choices out of it. In HBS there are different perspectives of people, different considerations, and opinions.

To approach it successfully, students need to master all of these aspects. Moreover, there are the following fine things that you should practice while dealing with the Harvard case studies:

How To Approach Response To A Case Study?

When students have to approach a case study response, they are advised to be more alert in doing so. It is not as simple as it appears. So, to approach response to the case study, there are the following vital things to work on:

How To Approach A Customer For A Case Study

To approach a customer for a case study involves simple steps to follow: here goes the list of all of them:

How To Approach A Case Study Exam?

Students can approach a case study exam if they pay attention to the following aspects. It includes simple formulations, and guess what? You will be ready to deal with your case study exam brilliantly.

Choose Our Efficient Help With Your Case Studies Right Away!

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The case study approach

BMC Medical Research Methodology volume  11 , Article number:  100 ( 2011 ) Cite this article

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The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

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The case study approach is particularly useful to employ when there is a need to obtain an in-depth appreciation of an issue, event or phenomenon of interest, in its natural real-life context. Our aim in writing this piece is to provide insights into when to consider employing this approach and an overview of key methodological considerations in relation to the design, planning, analysis, interpretation and reporting of case studies.

The illustrative 'grand round', 'case report' and 'case series' have a long tradition in clinical practice and research. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context' [ 1 ]. Based on our experiences of conducting a range of case studies, we reflect on when to consider using this approach, discuss the key steps involved and illustrate, with examples, some of the practical challenges of attaining an in-depth understanding of a 'case' as an integrated whole. In keeping with previously published work, we acknowledge the importance of theory to underpin the design, selection, conduct and interpretation of case studies[ 2 ]. In so doing, we make passing reference to the different epistemological approaches used in case study research by key theoreticians and methodologists in this field of enquiry.

This paper is structured around the following main questions: What is a case study? What are case studies used for? How are case studies conducted? What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided? We draw in particular on four of our own recently published examples of case studies (see Tables 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 ) and those of others to illustrate our discussion[ 3 – 7 ].

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that is used to generate an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of a complex issue in its real-life context. It is an established research design that is used extensively in a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. A case study can be defined in a variety of ways (Table 5 ), the central tenet being the need to explore an event or phenomenon in depth and in its natural context. It is for this reason sometimes referred to as a "naturalistic" design; this is in contrast to an "experimental" design (such as a randomised controlled trial) in which the investigator seeks to exert control over and manipulate the variable(s) of interest.

Stake's work has been particularly influential in defining the case study approach to scientific enquiry. He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic , instrumental and collective [ 8 ]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. The collective case study involves studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a still broader appreciation of a particular issue.

These are however not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. In the first of our examples (Table 1 ), we undertook an intrinsic case study to investigate the issue of recruitment of minority ethnic people into the specific context of asthma research studies, but it developed into a instrumental case study through seeking to understand the issue of recruitment of these marginalised populations more generally, generating a number of the findings that are potentially transferable to other disease contexts[ 3 ]. In contrast, the other three examples (see Tables 2 , 3 and 4 ) employed collective case study designs to study the introduction of workforce reconfiguration in primary care, the implementation of electronic health records into hospitals, and to understand the ways in which healthcare students learn about patient safety considerations[ 4 – 6 ]. Although our study focusing on the introduction of General Practitioners with Specialist Interests (Table 2 ) was explicitly collective in design (four contrasting primary care organisations were studied), is was also instrumental in that this particular professional group was studied as an exemplar of the more general phenomenon of workforce redesign[ 4 ].

What are case studies used for?

According to Yin, case studies can be used to explain, describe or explore events or phenomena in the everyday contexts in which they occur[ 1 ]. These can, for example, help to understand and explain causal links and pathways resulting from a new policy initiative or service development (see Tables 2 and 3 , for example)[ 1 ]. In contrast to experimental designs, which seek to test a specific hypothesis through deliberately manipulating the environment (like, for example, in a randomised controlled trial giving a new drug to randomly selected individuals and then comparing outcomes with controls),[ 9 ] the case study approach lends itself well to capturing information on more explanatory ' how ', 'what' and ' why ' questions, such as ' how is the intervention being implemented and received on the ground?'. The case study approach can offer additional insights into what gaps exist in its delivery or why one implementation strategy might be chosen over another. This in turn can help develop or refine theory, as shown in our study of the teaching of patient safety in undergraduate curricula (Table 4 )[ 6 , 10 ]. Key questions to consider when selecting the most appropriate study design are whether it is desirable or indeed possible to undertake a formal experimental investigation in which individuals and/or organisations are allocated to an intervention or control arm? Or whether the wish is to obtain a more naturalistic understanding of an issue? The former is ideally studied using a controlled experimental design, whereas the latter is more appropriately studied using a case study design.

Case studies may be approached in different ways depending on the epistemological standpoint of the researcher, that is, whether they take a critical (questioning one's own and others' assumptions), interpretivist (trying to understand individual and shared social meanings) or positivist approach (orientating towards the criteria of natural sciences, such as focusing on generalisability considerations) (Table 6 ). Whilst such a schema can be conceptually helpful, it may be appropriate to draw on more than one approach in any case study, particularly in the context of conducting health services research. Doolin has, for example, noted that in the context of undertaking interpretative case studies, researchers can usefully draw on a critical, reflective perspective which seeks to take into account the wider social and political environment that has shaped the case[ 11 ].

How are case studies conducted?

Here, we focus on the main stages of research activity when planning and undertaking a case study; the crucial stages are: defining the case; selecting the case(s); collecting and analysing the data; interpreting data; and reporting the findings.

Defining the case

Carefully formulated research question(s), informed by the existing literature and a prior appreciation of the theoretical issues and setting(s), are all important in appropriately and succinctly defining the case[ 8 , 12 ]. Crucially, each case should have a pre-defined boundary which clarifies the nature and time period covered by the case study (i.e. its scope, beginning and end), the relevant social group, organisation or geographical area of interest to the investigator, the types of evidence to be collected, and the priorities for data collection and analysis (see Table 7 )[ 1 ]. A theory driven approach to defining the case may help generate knowledge that is potentially transferable to a range of clinical contexts and behaviours; using theory is also likely to result in a more informed appreciation of, for example, how and why interventions have succeeded or failed[ 13 ].

For example, in our evaluation of the introduction of electronic health records in English hospitals (Table 3 ), we defined our cases as the NHS Trusts that were receiving the new technology[ 5 ]. Our focus was on how the technology was being implemented. However, if the primary research interest had been on the social and organisational dimensions of implementation, we might have defined our case differently as a grouping of healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and/or nurses). The precise beginning and end of the case may however prove difficult to define. Pursuing this same example, when does the process of implementation and adoption of an electronic health record system really begin or end? Such judgements will inevitably be influenced by a range of factors, including the research question, theory of interest, the scope and richness of the gathered data and the resources available to the research team.

Selecting the case(s)

The decision on how to select the case(s) to study is a very important one that merits some reflection. In an intrinsic case study, the case is selected on its own merits[ 8 ]. The case is selected not because it is representative of other cases, but because of its uniqueness, which is of genuine interest to the researchers. This was, for example, the case in our study of the recruitment of minority ethnic participants into asthma research (Table 1 ) as our earlier work had demonstrated the marginalisation of minority ethnic people with asthma, despite evidence of disproportionate asthma morbidity[ 14 , 15 ]. In another example of an intrinsic case study, Hellstrom et al.[ 16 ] studied an elderly married couple living with dementia to explore how dementia had impacted on their understanding of home, their everyday life and their relationships.

For an instrumental case study, selecting a "typical" case can work well[ 8 ]. In contrast to the intrinsic case study, the particular case which is chosen is of less importance than selecting a case that allows the researcher to investigate an issue or phenomenon. For example, in order to gain an understanding of doctors' responses to health policy initiatives, Som undertook an instrumental case study interviewing clinicians who had a range of responsibilities for clinical governance in one NHS acute hospital trust[ 17 ]. Sampling a "deviant" or "atypical" case may however prove even more informative, potentially enabling the researcher to identify causal processes, generate hypotheses and develop theory.

In collective or multiple case studies, a number of cases are carefully selected. This offers the advantage of allowing comparisons to be made across several cases and/or replication. Choosing a "typical" case may enable the findings to be generalised to theory (i.e. analytical generalisation) or to test theory by replicating the findings in a second or even a third case (i.e. replication logic)[ 1 ]. Yin suggests two or three literal replications (i.e. predicting similar results) if the theory is straightforward and five or more if the theory is more subtle. However, critics might argue that selecting 'cases' in this way is insufficiently reflexive and ill-suited to the complexities of contemporary healthcare organisations.

The selected case study site(s) should allow the research team access to the group of individuals, the organisation, the processes or whatever else constitutes the chosen unit of analysis for the study. Access is therefore a central consideration; the researcher needs to come to know the case study site(s) well and to work cooperatively with them. Selected cases need to be not only interesting but also hospitable to the inquiry [ 8 ] if they are to be informative and answer the research question(s). Case study sites may also be pre-selected for the researcher, with decisions being influenced by key stakeholders. For example, our selection of case study sites in the evaluation of the implementation and adoption of electronic health record systems (see Table 3 ) was heavily influenced by NHS Connecting for Health, the government agency that was responsible for overseeing the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)[ 5 ]. This prominent stakeholder had already selected the NHS sites (through a competitive bidding process) to be early adopters of the electronic health record systems and had negotiated contracts that detailed the deployment timelines.

It is also important to consider in advance the likely burden and risks associated with participation for those who (or the site(s) which) comprise the case study. Of particular importance is the obligation for the researcher to think through the ethical implications of the study (e.g. the risk of inadvertently breaching anonymity or confidentiality) and to ensure that potential participants/participating sites are provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about joining the study. The outcome of providing this information might be that the emotive burden associated with participation, or the organisational disruption associated with supporting the fieldwork, is considered so high that the individuals or sites decide against participation.

In our example of evaluating implementations of electronic health record systems, given the restricted number of early adopter sites available to us, we sought purposively to select a diverse range of implementation cases among those that were available[ 5 ]. We chose a mixture of teaching, non-teaching and Foundation Trust hospitals, and examples of each of the three electronic health record systems procured centrally by the NPfIT. At one recruited site, it quickly became apparent that access was problematic because of competing demands on that organisation. Recognising the importance of full access and co-operative working for generating rich data, the research team decided not to pursue work at that site and instead to focus on other recruited sites.

Collecting the data

In order to develop a thorough understanding of the case, the case study approach usually involves the collection of multiple sources of evidence, using a range of quantitative (e.g. questionnaires, audits and analysis of routinely collected healthcare data) and more commonly qualitative techniques (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations). The use of multiple sources of data (data triangulation) has been advocated as a way of increasing the internal validity of a study (i.e. the extent to which the method is appropriate to answer the research question)[ 8 , 18 – 21 ]. An underlying assumption is that data collected in different ways should lead to similar conclusions, and approaching the same issue from different angles can help develop a holistic picture of the phenomenon (Table 2 )[ 4 ].

Brazier and colleagues used a mixed-methods case study approach to investigate the impact of a cancer care programme[ 22 ]. Here, quantitative measures were collected with questionnaires before, and five months after, the start of the intervention which did not yield any statistically significant results. Qualitative interviews with patients however helped provide an insight into potentially beneficial process-related aspects of the programme, such as greater, perceived patient involvement in care. The authors reported how this case study approach provided a number of contextual factors likely to influence the effectiveness of the intervention and which were not likely to have been obtained from quantitative methods alone.

In collective or multiple case studies, data collection needs to be flexible enough to allow a detailed description of each individual case to be developed (e.g. the nature of different cancer care programmes), before considering the emerging similarities and differences in cross-case comparisons (e.g. to explore why one programme is more effective than another). It is important that data sources from different cases are, where possible, broadly comparable for this purpose even though they may vary in nature and depth.

Analysing, interpreting and reporting case studies

Making sense and offering a coherent interpretation of the typically disparate sources of data (whether qualitative alone or together with quantitative) is far from straightforward. Repeated reviewing and sorting of the voluminous and detail-rich data are integral to the process of analysis. In collective case studies, it is helpful to analyse data relating to the individual component cases first, before making comparisons across cases. Attention needs to be paid to variations within each case and, where relevant, the relationship between different causes, effects and outcomes[ 23 ]. Data will need to be organised and coded to allow the key issues, both derived from the literature and emerging from the dataset, to be easily retrieved at a later stage. An initial coding frame can help capture these issues and can be applied systematically to the whole dataset with the aid of a qualitative data analysis software package.

The Framework approach is a practical approach, comprising of five stages (familiarisation; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; mapping and interpretation) , to managing and analysing large datasets particularly if time is limited, as was the case in our study of recruitment of South Asians into asthma research (Table 1 )[ 3 , 24 ]. Theoretical frameworks may also play an important role in integrating different sources of data and examining emerging themes. For example, we drew on a socio-technical framework to help explain the connections between different elements - technology; people; and the organisational settings within which they worked - in our study of the introduction of electronic health record systems (Table 3 )[ 5 ]. Our study of patient safety in undergraduate curricula drew on an evaluation-based approach to design and analysis, which emphasised the importance of the academic, organisational and practice contexts through which students learn (Table 4 )[ 6 ].

Case study findings can have implications both for theory development and theory testing. They may establish, strengthen or weaken historical explanations of a case and, in certain circumstances, allow theoretical (as opposed to statistical) generalisation beyond the particular cases studied[ 12 ]. These theoretical lenses should not, however, constitute a strait-jacket and the cases should not be "forced to fit" the particular theoretical framework that is being employed.

When reporting findings, it is important to provide the reader with enough contextual information to understand the processes that were followed and how the conclusions were reached. In a collective case study, researchers may choose to present the findings from individual cases separately before amalgamating across cases. Care must be taken to ensure the anonymity of both case sites and individual participants (if agreed in advance) by allocating appropriate codes or withholding descriptors. In the example given in Table 3 , we decided against providing detailed information on the NHS sites and individual participants in order to avoid the risk of inadvertent disclosure of identities[ 5 , 25 ].

What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided?

The case study approach is, as with all research, not without its limitations. When investigating the formal and informal ways undergraduate students learn about patient safety (Table 4 ), for example, we rapidly accumulated a large quantity of data. The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted on the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources. This highlights a more general point of the importance of avoiding the temptation to collect as much data as possible; adequate time also needs to be set aside for data analysis and interpretation of what are often highly complex datasets.

Case study research has sometimes been criticised for lacking scientific rigour and providing little basis for generalisation (i.e. producing findings that may be transferable to other settings)[ 1 ]. There are several ways to address these concerns, including: the use of theoretical sampling (i.e. drawing on a particular conceptual framework); respondent validation (i.e. participants checking emerging findings and the researcher's interpretation, and providing an opinion as to whether they feel these are accurate); and transparency throughout the research process (see Table 8 )[ 8 , 18 – 21 , 23 , 26 ]. Transparency can be achieved by describing in detail the steps involved in case selection, data collection, the reasons for the particular methods chosen, and the researcher's background and level of involvement (i.e. being explicit about how the researcher has influenced data collection and interpretation). Seeking potential, alternative explanations, and being explicit about how interpretations and conclusions were reached, help readers to judge the trustworthiness of the case study report. Stake provides a critique checklist for a case study report (Table 9 )[ 8 ].


The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and programme-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context. It should therefore be considered when an experimental design is either inappropriate to answer the research questions posed or impossible to undertake. Considering the frequency with which implementations of innovations are now taking place in healthcare settings and how well the case study approach lends itself to in-depth, complex health service research, we believe this approach should be more widely considered by researchers. Though inherently challenging, the research case study can, if carefully conceptualised and thoughtfully undertaken and reported, yield powerful insights into many important aspects of health and healthcare delivery.

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We are grateful to the participants and colleagues who contributed to the individual case studies that we have drawn on. This work received no direct funding, but it has been informed by projects funded by Asthma UK, the NHS Service Delivery Organisation, NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme, and Patient Safety Research Portfolio. We would also like to thank the expert reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Allison Worth who commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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Sarah Crowe & Anthony Avery

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AS conceived this article. SC, KC and AR wrote this paper with GH, AA and AS all commenting on various drafts. SC and AS are guarantors.

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Crowe, S., Cresswell, K., Robertson, A. et al. The case study approach. BMC Med Res Methodol 11 , 100 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

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The case study approach


The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

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Case Study Research: Methods and Designs

Case study research is a type of qualitative research design. It’s often used in the social sciences because it involves…

Case Study Method

Case study research is a type of qualitative research design. It’s often used in the social sciences because it involves observing subjects, or cases, in their natural setting, with minimal interference from the researcher.

In the case study method , researchers pose a specific question about an individual or group to test their theories or hypothesis. This can be done by gathering data from interviews with key informants.

Here’s what you need to know about case study research design .

What Is The Case Study Method?

Main approaches to data collection, case study research methods, how case studies are used, case study model.

Case study research is a great way to understand the nuances of a matter that can get lost in quantitative research methods. A case study is distinct from other qualitative studies in the following ways:

Here are the primary features of case study research:

They commonly use the case study method in business, management, psychology, sociology, political science and other related fields.

A fundamental requirement of qualitative research is recording observations that provide an understanding of reality. When it comes to the case study method, there are two major approaches that can be used to collect data: document review and fieldwork.

A case study in research methodology also includes literature review, the process by which the researcher collects all data available through historical documents. These might include books, newspapers, journals, videos, photographs and other written material. The researcher may also record information using video cameras to capture events as they occur. The researcher can also go through materials produced by people involved in the case study to gain an insight into their lives and experiences.

Field research involves participating in interviews and observations directly. Observation can be done during telephone interviews, events or public meetings, visits to homes or workplaces, or by shadowing someone for a period of time. The researcher can conduct one-on-one interviews with individuals or group interviews where several people are interviewed at once.

Let’s look now at case study methodology.

The case study method can be divided into three stages: formulation of objectives; collection of data; and analysis and interpretation. The researcher first makes a judgment about what should be studied based on their knowledge. Next, they gather data through observations and interviews. Here are some of the common case study research methods:

One of the most basic methods is the survey. Respondents are asked to complete a questionnaire with open-ended and predetermined questions. It usually takes place through face-to-face interviews, mailed questionnaires or telephone interviews. It can even be done by an online survey.

2. Semi-structured Interview

For case study research a more complex method is the semi-structured interview. This involves the researcher learning about the topic by listening to what others have to say. This usually occurs through one-on-one interviews with the sample. Semi-structured interviews allow for greater flexibility and can obtain information that structured questionnaires can’t.

3. Focus Group Interview

Another method is the focus group interview, where the researcher asks a few people to take part in an open-ended discussion on certain themes or topics. The typical group size is 5–15 people. This method allows researchers to delve deeper into people’s opinions, views and experiences.

4. Participant Observation

Participant observation is another method that involves the researcher gaining insight into an experience by joining in and taking part in normal events. The people involved don’t always know they’re being studied, but the researcher observes and records what happens through field notes.

Case study research design can use one or several of these methods depending on the context.

Case studies are widely used in the social sciences. To understand the impact of socio-economic forces, interpersonal dynamics and other human conditions, sometimes there’s no other way than to study one case at a time and look for patterns and data afterward.

It’s for the same reasons that case studies are used in business. Here are a few uses:

And that’s not all. Case studies are incredibly versatile, which is why they’re used so widely.

Human beings are complex and they interact with each other in their everyday life in various ways. The researcher observes a case and tries to find out how the patterns of behavior are created, including their causal relations. Case studies help understand one or more specific events that have been observed. Here are some common methods:

1. Illustrative case study

This is where the researcher observes a group of people doing something. Studying an event or phenomenon this way can show cause-and-effect relationships between various variables.

2. Cumulative case study

A cumulative case study is one that involves observing the same set of phenomena over a period. Cumulative case studies can be very helpful in understanding processes, which are things that happen over time. For example, if there are behavioral changes in people who move from one place to another, the researcher might want to know why these changes occurred.

3. Exploratory case study

An exploratory case study collects information that will answer a question. It can help researchers better understand social, economic, political or other social phenomena.

There are several other ways to categorize case studies. They may be chronological case studies, where a researcher observes events over time. In the comparative case study, the researcher compares one or more groups of people, places, or things to draw conclusions about them. In an intervention case study, the researcher intervenes to change the behavior of the subjects. The study method depends on the needs of the research team.

Deciding how to analyze the information at our disposal is an important part of effective management. An understanding of the case study model can help. With Harappa’s Thinking Critically course, managers and young professionals receive input and training on how to level up their analytic skills. Knowledge of frameworks, reading real-life examples and lived wisdom of faculty come together to create a dynamic and exciting course that helps teams leap to the next level.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Objectives Of Research , What are Qualitative Research Methods , How To Make A Problem Statement and How To Improve your Cognitive Skills to upgrade your knowledge and skills.

Case Study Research Method in Psychology

Saul Mcleod, PhD

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BSc (Hons), Psychology, MSc, Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event, or community. Typically, data is gathered from various sources and by using several different methods (e.g., observations & interviews ).

What are Case Studies?

The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e., the patient’s personal history). In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.

The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual’s past (i.e., retrospective), as well as to significant events which are currently occurring in his or her everyday life.

The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies.

Case studies are widely used in psychology, and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud, including Anna O and Little Hans .

Freud (1909a, 1909b) conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses. Even today, case histories are one of the main methods of investigation in abnormal psychology and psychiatry.

This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist, i.e., someone with a professional qualification.

There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical (i.e., abnormal) behavior or atypical development.

The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior. This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation.

The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view. The researcher then writes up the information from both sources above as the case study and interprets the information.

The research may also continue for an extended period of time, so processes and developments can be studied as they happen.

Amongst the sources of data the psychologist is likely to turn to when carrying out a case study are observations of a person’s daily routine, unstructured interviews with the participant herself (and with people who know her), diaries, personal notes (e.g., letters, photographs, notes) or official document (e.g., case notes, clinical notes, appraisal reports).

The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to or reconstructing ‘the case history’ of a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i.e., the idiographic approach .

The interview is also an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person’s friends, parents, employer, workmates, and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself.

Most of this information is likely to be qualitative (i.e., verbal description rather than measurement), but the psychologist might collect numerical data as well.

The data collected can be analyzed using different theories (e.g., grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, text interpretation, e.g., thematic coding).

All the approaches mentioned here use preconceived categories in the analysis, and they are ideographic in their approach, i.e., they focus on the individual case without reference to a comparison group.

Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always clarify which information is the factual description and which is an inference or the researcher’s opinion.

Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’.

Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach, case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways.

Research that only looks into the measurable aspects of human behavior is not likely to give us insights into the subjective dimension of experience, which is important to psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists.

Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas (that might be tested by other methods). They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person’s life are related to each other.

The method is, therefore, important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view (i.e., humanistic psychologists ).


Because a case study deals with only one person/event/group, we can never be sure if the case study investigated is representative of the wider body of “similar” instances. This means the conclusions drawn from a particular case may not be transferable to other settings.

Because case studies are based on the analysis of qualitative (i.e., descriptive) data, a lot depends on the psychologist’s interpretation of the information she has acquired.

This means that there is a lot of scope for observer bias, and it could be that the subjective opinions of the psychologist intrude in the assessment of what the data means.

For example, Freud has been criticized for producing case studies in which the information was sometimes distorted to fit particular behavioral theories (e.g., Little Hans ).

This is also true of Money’s interpretation of the Bruce/Brenda case study (Diamond, 1997) when he ignored evidence that went against his theory.

How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2019, August 03). Case study method . Simply Psychology. simplypsychology.org/case-study.html

Diamond, M., & Sigmundson, K. (1997). Sex Reassignment at Birth: Long-term Review and Clinical Implications. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine , 151(3), 298-304

Freud, S. (1909a). Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. In The Pelican Freud Library (1977), Vol 8, Case Histories 1, pages 169-306

Freud, S. (1909b). Bemerkungen über einen Fall von Zwangsneurose (Der “Rattenmann”). Jb. psychoanal. psychopathol. Forsch ., I, p. 357-421; GW, VII, p. 379-463; Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis, SE , 10: 151-318.

Further Information

Case Study Approach Case Study Method

Enhancing the Quality of Case Studies in Health Services Research

“We do things together” A case study of “couplehood” in dementia

Using mixed methods for evaluating an integrative approach to cancer care: a case study

Freud’s Case Studies

Little Hans – Freudian Case Study

H.M. Case Study

Anna O – Freudian Case Study

Genie Case Study – Curtiss (1977)





The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of, and comfort with, applying problem solving strategies and decision-making techniques to a selected case study.

You must use the knowledge and skills gained in class to summarize your selected case study, apply a problem solving strategy to the case study to determine potential solutions, and use a decision-making strategy to select the optimal solution. Finally, you will reflect on potential problems/risks with this decision and develop a contingency plan for the chosen solution.

This assignment is to be completed individually and submitted to your instructor as a typed document through the Assignment Submission Folder.

Assignment Steps


You are a production clerk working at a small car manufacturing plant. You are responsible for inspecting parts and deciding if they meet the quality standards. You receive a large batch of parts and see that the production quality is questionable. Ordering new parts could cost the plant time and money, but using poor-quality parts could cause problems in the future. Due to the fast-paced production schedule, you must quickly decide what to do with the questionable parts. The company has an excellent reputation for meeting high-quality standards.

Answer & Explanation

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The 2021-2022 academic year marks the 100-year anniversary of the introduction of the case method at Harvard Business School. Today, the HBS case method is employed in the HBS MBA program, in Executive Education programs, and in dozens of other business schools around the world. As Dean Srikant Datar's says, the case method has withstood the test of time.

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How Cases Unfold In the Classroom

How cases unfold in the classroom dropdown up, how cases unfold in the classroom dropdown down, preparation guidelines expand all collapse all, read the professor's assignment or discussion questions read the professor's assignment or discussion questions dropdown down, read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case dropdown down, reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes dropdown down, note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again dropdown down, how to prepare for case discussions dropdown up, how to prepare for case discussions dropdown down, read the professor's assignment or discussion questions, read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case, reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes, note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again, case study best practices expand all collapse all, prepare prepare dropdown down, discuss discuss dropdown down, participate participate dropdown down, relate relate dropdown down, apply apply dropdown down, note note dropdown down, understand understand dropdown down, case study best practices dropdown up, case study best practices dropdown down, participate, what can i expect on the first day dropdown down.

Most programs begin with registration, followed by an opening session and a dinner. If your travel plans necessitate late arrival, please be sure to notify us so that alternate registration arrangements can be made for you. Please note the following about registration:

HBS campus programs – Registration takes place in the Chao Center.

India programs – Registration takes place outside the classroom.

Other off-campus programs – Registration takes place in the designated facility.

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Professors are here to push everyone to learn, but not to embarrass anyone. If the class is quiet, they'll often ask a participant with experience in the industry in which the case is set to speak first. This is done well in advance so that person can come to class prepared to share. Trust the process. The more open you are, the more willing you’ll be to engage, and the more alive the classroom will become.

Does everyone take part in "role-playing"? Dropdown down

Professors often encourage participants to take opposing sides and then debate the issues, often taking the perspective of the case protagonists or key decision makers in the case.

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Research Method

Home » Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Table of Contents

Case Study Research

Case study is a research method that involves an in-depth, detailed examination of a single unit, such as an individual, family, group, organization, community, or event. Case studies are usually conducted by sociologists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, or researchers from other social science disciplines.

Case studies are used to provide a rich and detailed account of a particular social phenomenon. They are often used to generate new hypotheses or to test existing theories. In some cases, case studies are also used to evaluate programs or interventions.

Types of Case Study

There are three types of case study research:

Exploratory Case Studies

Descriptive case studies, explanatory case studies.

Exploratory case studies are conducted when little is known about a phenomenon. They are used to generate hypotheses and gather preliminary data.

Descriptive case studies describe a phenomenon in detail. They are used to develop an understanding of a complex issue.

Explanatory case studies explain why or how something happens. They are used to test theories and identify cause-and-effect relationships.

Case Study Data Collection Methods

There are a variety of case study data collection methods, including:


Interviews are perhaps the most common type of data collection in case studies. They allow researchers to collect detailed information about individuals’ experiences and perspectives.

Observations can also be useful in case studies, particularly if the researcher is interested in studying how people interact with their environment.

Document Analysis

Document analysis is another common data collection method in case studies; it involves examining documents such as policy records, media reports, and demographic data.

How to conduct Case Study Research

Conducting case study research is a complex process that requires both scientific and methodological rigor. Follow the steps below:

Advantages of Case Study Research

There are several advantages of using case study research.

Also see Focus Groups in Qualitative Research

Disadvantages of Case Study Research

There are also a number of drawbacks to using this approach.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

I am Muhammad Hassan, a Researcher, Academic Writer, Web Developer, and Android App Developer. I have worked in various industries and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In my spare time, I enjoy writing blog posts and articles on a variety of Academic topics. I also like to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the IT industry to share my knowledge with others through my writing.

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Case Method Teaching and Learning

What is the case method? How can the case method be used to engage learners? What are some strategies for getting started? This guide helps instructors answer these questions by providing an overview of the case method while highlighting learner-centered and digitally-enhanced approaches to teaching with the case method. The guide also offers tips to instructors as they get started with the case method and additional references and resources.

On this page:

What is case method teaching.

Why use the Case Method?

Case method teaching approaches, how do i get started.

The CTL is here to help!

For support with implementing a case method approach in your course, email [email protected] to schedule your 1-1 consultation .

Case method 1 teaching is an active form of instruction that focuses on a case and involves students learning by doing 2 3 . Cases are real or invented stories 4  that include “an educational message” or recount events, problems, dilemmas, theoretical or conceptual issue that requires analysis and/or decision-making.

Case-based teaching simulates real world situations and asks students to actively grapple with complex problems 5 6 This method of instruction is used across disciplines to promote learning, and is common in law, business, medicine, among other fields. See Table 1 below for a few types of cases and the learning they promote.

Table 1: Types of cases and the learning they promote.

For a more complete list, see Case Types & Teaching Methods: A Classification Scheme from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.

Back to Top

Case Method Teaching and Learning at Columbia

The case method is actively used in classrooms across Columbia, at the Morningside campus in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the School of Business, Arts and Sciences, among others, and at Columbia University Irving Medical campus.

Faculty Spotlight:

Professor Mary Ann Price on Using Case Study Method to Place Pre-Med Students in Real-Life Scenarios

Read more  

Professor De Pinho on Using the Case Method in the Mailman Core

Case method teaching has been found to improve student learning, to increase students’ perception of learning gains, and to meet learning objectives 8 9 . Faculty have noted the instructional benefits of cases including greater student engagement in their learning 10 , deeper student understanding of concepts, stronger critical thinking skills, and an ability to make connections across content areas and view an issue from multiple perspectives 11 . 

Through case-based learning, students are the ones asking questions about the case, doing the problem-solving, interacting with and learning from their peers, “unpacking” the case, analyzing the case, and summarizing the case. They learn how to work with limited information and ambiguity, think in professional or disciplinary ways, and ask themselves “what would I do if I were in this specific situation?”

The case method bridges theory to practice, and promotes the development of skills including: communication, active listening, critical thinking, decision-making, and metacognitive skills 12 , as students apply course content knowledge, reflect on what they know and their approach to analyzing, and make sense of a case. 

Though the case method has historical roots as an instructor-centered approach that uses the Socratic dialogue and cold-calling, it is possible to take a more learner-centered approach in which students take on roles and tasks traditionally left to the instructor. 

Cases are often used as “vehicles for classroom discussion” 13 . Students should be encouraged to take ownership of their learning from a case. Discussion-based approaches engage students in thinking and communicating about a case. Instructors can set up a case activity in which students are the ones doing the work of “asking questions, summarizing content, generating hypotheses, proposing theories, or offering critical analyses” 14 . 

The role of the instructor is to share a case or ask students to share or create a case to use in class, set expectations, provide instructions, and assign students roles in the discussion. Student roles in a case discussion can include: 

Prior to the case discussion, instructors can model case analysis and the types of questions students should ask, co-create discussion guidelines with students, and ask for students to submit discussion questions. During the discussion, the instructor can keep time, intervene as necessary (however the students should be doing the talking), and pause the discussion for a debrief and to ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the case activity. 

Note: case discussions can be enhanced using technology. Live discussions can occur via video-conferencing (e.g., using Zoom ) or asynchronous discussions can occur using the Discussions tool in CourseWorks (Canvas) .

Table 2 includes a few interactive case method approaches. Regardless of the approach selected, it is important to create a learning environment in which students feel comfortable participating in a case activity and learning from one another. See below for tips on supporting student in how to learn from a case in the “getting started” section and how to create a supportive learning environment in the Guide for Inclusive Teaching at Columbia . 

Table 2. Strategies for Engaging Students in Case-Based Learning

Approaches to case teaching should be informed by course learning objectives, and can be adapted for small, large, hybrid, and online classes. Instructional technology can be used in various ways to deliver, facilitate, and assess the case method. For instance, an online module can be created in CourseWorks (Canvas) to structure the delivery of the case, allow students to work at their own pace, engage all learners, even those reluctant to speak up in class, and assess understanding of a case and student learning. Modules can include text, embedded media (e.g., using Panopto or Mediathread ) curated by the instructor, online discussion, and assessments. Students can be asked to read a case and/or watch a short video, respond to quiz questions and receive immediate feedback, post questions to a discussion, and share resources. 

For more information about options for incorporating educational technology to your course, please contact your Learning Designer .

To ensure that students are learning from the case approach, ask them to pause and reflect on what and how they learned from the case. Time to reflect  builds your students’ metacognition, and when these reflections are collected they provides you with insights about the effectiveness of your approach in promoting student learning.

Well designed case-based learning experiences: 1) motivate student involvement, 2) have students doing the work, 3) help students develop knowledge and skills, and 4) have students learning from each other.  

Designing a case-based learning experience should center around the learning objectives for a course. The following points focus on intentional design. 

Identify learning objectives, determine scope, and anticipate challenges. 

Determine how you will know if the learning objectives were met and develop a plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the case method to inform future case teaching. 

Select an existing case, create your own, or encourage students to bring course-relevant cases, and prepare for its delivery

Plan for the case discussion and an active role for students

Student preparation and expectations

Andersen, E. and Schiano, B. (2014). Teaching with Cases: A Practical Guide . Harvard Business Press. 

Bonney, K. M. (2015). Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains†. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education , 16 (1), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846

Davis, B.G. (2009). Chapter 24: Case Studies. In Tools for Teaching. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Garvin, D.A. (2003). Making the Case: Professional Education for the world of practice. Harvard Magazine. September-October 2003, Volume 106, Number 1, 56-107.

Golich, V.L. (2000). The ABCs of Case Teaching. International Studies Perspectives. 1, 11-29. 

Golich, V.L.; Boyer, M; Franko, P.; and Lamy, S. (2000). The ABCs of Case Teaching. Pew Case Studies in International Affairs. Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. 

Heath, J. (2015). Teaching & Writing Cases: A Practical Guide. The Case Center, UK. 

Herreid, C.F. (2011). Case Study Teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. No. 128, Winder 2011, 31 – 40. 

Herreid, C.F. (2007). Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science . National Science Teachers Association. Available as an ebook through Columbia Libraries. 

Herreid, C.F. (2006). “Clicker” Cases: Introducing Case Study Teaching Into Large Classrooms. Journal of College Science Teaching. Oct 2006, 36(2). https://search.proquest.com/docview/200323718?pq-origsite=gscholar  

Krain, M. (2016). Putting the Learning in Case Learning? The Effects of Case-Based Approaches on Student Knowledge, Attitudes, and Engagement. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching. 27(2), 131-153. 

Lundberg, K.O. (Ed.). (2011). Our Digital Future: Boardrooms and Newsrooms. Knight Case Studies Initiative. 

Popil, I. (2011). Promotion of critical thinking by using case studies as teaching method. Nurse Education Today, 31(2), 204–207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2010.06.002

Schiano, B. and Andersen, E. (2017). Teaching with Cases Online . Harvard Business Publishing. 

Thistlethwaite, JE; Davies, D.; Ekeocha, S.; Kidd, J.M.; MacDougall, C.; Matthews, P.; Purkis, J.; Clay D. (2012). The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education: A BEME systematic review . Medical Teacher. 2012; 34(6): e421-44. 

Yadav, A.; Lundeberg, M.; DeSchryver, M.; Dirkin, K.; Schiller, N.A.; Maier, K. and Herreid, C.F. (2007). Teaching Science with Case Studies: A National Survey of Faculty Perceptions of the Benefits and Challenges of Using Cases. Journal of College Science Teaching; Sept/Oct 2007; 37(1). 

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass.

Additional resources 

Teaching with Cases , Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 

Features “what is a teaching case?” video that defines a teaching case, and provides documents to help students prepare for case learning, Common case teaching challenges and solutions, tips for teaching with cases. 

Promoting excellence and innovation in case method teaching: Teaching by the Case Method , Christensen Center for Teaching & Learning. Harvard Business School. 

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science . University of Buffalo. 

A collection of peer-reviewed STEM cases to teach scientific concepts and content, promote process skills and critical thinking. The Center welcomes case submissions. Case classification scheme of case types and teaching methods:

Columbia Resources

Resources available to support your use of case method: The University hosts a number of case collections including: the Case Consortium (a collection of free cases in the fields of journalism, public policy, public health, and other disciplines that include teaching and learning resources; SIPA’s Picker Case Collection (audiovisual case studies on public sector innovation, filmed around the world and involving SIPA student teams in producing the cases); and Columbia Business School CaseWorks , which develops teaching cases and materials for use in Columbia Business School classrooms.

Center for Teaching and Learning

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers a variety of programs and services for instructors at Columbia. The CTL can provide customized support as you plan to use the case method approach through implementation. Schedule a one-on-one consultation. 

Office of the Provost

The Hybrid Learning Course Redesign grant program from the Office of the Provost provides support for faculty who are developing innovative and technology-enhanced pedagogy and learning strategies in the classroom. In addition to funding, faculty awardees receive support from CTL staff as they redesign, deliver, and evaluate their hybrid courses.

The Start Small! Mini-Grant provides support to faculty who are interested in experimenting with one new pedagogical strategy or tool. Faculty awardees receive funds and CTL support for a one-semester period.

Explore our teaching resources.

CTL resources and technology for you.

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What is it?

Case study is a research methodology, typically seen in social and life sciences. There is no one definition of case study research. 1 However, very simply… ‘a case study can be defined as an intensive study about a person, a group of people or a unit, which is aimed to generalize over several units’. 1 A case study has also been described as an intensive, systematic investigation of a single individual, group, community or some other unit in which the researcher examines in-depth data relating to several variables. 2

Often there are several similar cases to consider such as educational or social service programmes that are delivered from a number of locations. Although similar, they are complex and have unique features. In these circumstances, the evaluation of several, similar cases will provide a better answer to a research question than if only one case is examined, hence the multiple-case study. Stake asserts that the cases are grouped and viewed as one entity, called the quintain . 6  ‘We study what is similar and different about the cases to understand the quintain better’. 6

The steps when using case study methodology are the same as for other types of research. 6 The first step is defining the single case or identifying a group of similar cases that can then be incorporated into a multiple-case study. A search to determine what is known about the case(s) is typically conducted. This may include a review of the literature, grey literature, media, reports and more, which serves to establish a basic understanding of the cases and informs the development of research questions. Data in case studies are often, but not exclusively, qualitative in nature. In multiple-case studies, analysis within cases and across cases is conducted. Themes arise from the analyses and assertions about the cases as a whole, or the quintain, emerge. 6

Benefits and limitations of case studies

If a researcher wants to study a specific phenomenon arising from a particular entity, then a single-case study is warranted and will allow for a in-depth understanding of the single phenomenon and, as discussed above, would involve collecting several different types of data. This is illustrated in example 1 below.

Using a multiple-case research study allows for a more in-depth understanding of the cases as a unit, through comparison of similarities and differences of the individual cases embedded within the quintain. Evidence arising from multiple-case studies is often stronger and more reliable than from single-case research. Multiple-case studies allow for more comprehensive exploration of research questions and theory development. 6

Despite the advantages of case studies, there are limitations. The sheer volume of data is difficult to organise and data analysis and integration strategies need to be carefully thought through. There is also sometimes a temptation to veer away from the research focus. 2 Reporting of findings from multiple-case research studies is also challenging at times, 1 particularly in relation to the word limits for some journal papers.

Examples of case studies

Example 1: nurses’ paediatric pain management practices.

One of the authors of this paper (AT) has used a case study approach to explore nurses’ paediatric pain management practices. This involved collecting several datasets:

Observational data to gain a picture about actual pain management practices.

Questionnaire data about nurses’ knowledge about paediatric pain management practices and how well they felt they managed pain in children.

Questionnaire data about how critical nurses perceived pain management tasks to be.

These datasets were analysed separately and then compared 7–9 and demonstrated that nurses’ level of theoretical did not impact on the quality of their pain management practices. 7 Nor did individual nurse’s perceptions of how critical a task was effect the likelihood of them carrying out this task in practice. 8 There was also a difference in self-reported and observed practices 9 ; actual (observed) practices did not confirm to best practice guidelines, whereas self-reported practices tended to.

Example 2: quality of care for complex patients at Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics (NPLCs)

The other author of this paper (RH) has conducted a multiple-case study to determine the quality of care for patients with complex clinical presentations in NPLCs in Ontario, Canada. 10 Five NPLCs served as individual cases that, together, represented the quatrain. Three types of data were collected including:

Review of documentation related to the NPLC model (media, annual reports, research articles, grey literature and regulatory legislation).

Interviews with nurse practitioners (NPs) practising at the five NPLCs to determine their perceptions of the impact of the NPLC model on the quality of care provided to patients with multimorbidity.

Chart audits conducted at the five NPLCs to determine the extent to which evidence-based guidelines were followed for patients with diabetes and at least one other chronic condition.

The three sources of data collected from the five NPLCs were analysed and themes arose related to the quality of care for complex patients at NPLCs. The multiple-case study confirmed that nurse practitioners are the primary care providers at the NPLCs, and this positively impacts the quality of care for patients with multimorbidity. Healthcare policy, such as lack of an increase in salary for NPs for 10 years, has resulted in issues in recruitment and retention of NPs at NPLCs. This, along with insufficient resources in the communities where NPLCs are located and high patient vulnerability at NPLCs, have a negative impact on the quality of care. 10

These examples illustrate how collecting data about a single case or multiple cases helps us to better understand the phenomenon in question. Case study methodology serves to provide a framework for evaluation and analysis of complex issues. It shines a light on the holistic nature of nursing practice and offers a perspective that informs improved patient care.

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Read the full text or download the PDF:

Mike Green

Mar 12, 2018

Case Study: Detroit, Michigan

How can cities build inclusive local innovation ecosystems, the case studies.

Over the course of six months Forward Cities and ScaleUp Partners LLC visited four cities to learn about their efforts to build inclusive local economies. These cities, Durham, Detroit, Cleveland and New Orleans, all agreed to form their version of a Local Innovation Council through which organized efforts to stimulate and cultivate entrepreneurship would offer access to resources, improve business ownership, and connect diverse communities as viable pipelines of economic productivity to their local innovation ecosystem. A case study for each city describes the approach taken and presents insights into the challenges faced and positive outcomes achieved.

All four of these cities currently face similar economic problems. Communities of color (primarily black and Hispanic residents) are uniformly disconnected from the economic drivers of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and available business resources therein. This disconnect results in low participation of black and Hispanic entrepreneurial talent in regional growth sector industries as well as stagnation of business ownership and growth within communities of color.

Untapped talent in communities of color remains a potential source of new business growth, tax revenue and jobs to bolster the growth of local economies. Cities across the nation with significant populations of minority residents experience similar challenges in connecting minority communities to needed resources and cultivating the entrepreneurial talent inherent within.

Understanding how to develop economic tissues from existing infrastructure and connecting it to communities operating under long-term deficiencies is part of the takeaway from these analyses. These case studies can be used to help metro regions learn how to improve business productivity and job growth among communities of color and transform economic anchors into economic boosters, resulting in a thriving inclusive local economy with access to opportunity, shared prosperity and improved quality of life for all residents.

The case studies are segmented into five main sections (followed by a conclusion and set of recommendations) to correspond with sections of the Forward Cities’ Policy Toolkit . The five case study sections are:

ABOUT — Offers high-level data points and information about the city’s economic ecosystem.

INNOVATION COUNCIL –The main frame for developing an inclusive economic ecosystem.

MAPPING — Each city has data-collection efforts that inform policymakers and stakeholders.

STRATEGY –Insights on the strategic approach to develop an inclusive innovation ecosystem.

POLICY –Insights into policy measures that guide the process of developing an inclusive economy.


Detroit is a relic of America’s 20th century struggles to reconcile two racially divided societies that date back to the passage of the 14th amendment , which conferred constitutional American citizenship to black people in 1868, just three years after the Civil War. This act of Congress took two years of political battles and the threat of continued military occupation of many southern states to coerce two-thirds of the 37 states of the union to ratify the proposed amendment.

The fallout from that political battle spilled into the streets of American society and established two permanently separate and unequal landscapes. Detroit’s booming manufacturing economy was a major attraction and became a destination for many black Americans heading north and west to escape the hostilities of southern states during the Great Migration . And as the 90% white population of Detroit grew more diverse, racial tensions flared.

One hundred years later in 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King was killed, Detroit had undergone a massive population metamorphosis. It had transformed from a city built upon a foundation of wealthy industrial manufacturing, with a white population of more than 90 percent, to a city in economic crisis and social chaos that had endured two of the biggest race riots in US history.

The city was bleeding residents in huge chunks each year as white Detroiters fled while refugees from the Great Migration continued to settle in the Motor City. Today, the city reflects a complete flip in population demographics from its pre-WWII status. The economy also represents a flip, from robust to restoration.


Geography: 139 square miles Population: 675K Demographics of Population: Black 82%, White 8%, Hispanic 7%, Asian 2% Business Growth Sectors: Foodtech, Healthtech, education/Edutech, finance/Fintech


The economy in Detroit, as measured by the Federal Reserve , is rebounding but remains lower than its measured 1997 level.

A major challenge still facing the Motor City is its unfinished transformation from an economy driven by auto manufacturing to a tech-based innovation economy.

The tech economy, which cuts across myriad industry sectors, like food tech, health tech, edu tech, energy and others, offers only a fraction of the jobs previously produced by the auto industry.

Ironically, this trend of shedding jobs began during the heyday of the auto manufacturing economic boom.

“Between 1948 and 1967 — when the auto industry was at its economic peak — Detroit lost more than 130,000 manufacturing jobs,” writes The Atlantic in a quote taken from historian Thomas J. Surgue.

Detroit’s transition into a tech-driven innovation economy inevitably means there will be fewer jobs. Entrepreneurship, and the ability for residents to create their own job, will be a key component of any successful economy recovery effort.

That recovery will have to address the current socioeconomic challenges inherited from the past, which shaped the dire economic conditions Detroit faces today. The quotation above marked a key point in Detroit history that continues to impact the city today.

In 1967, Detroit experienced the largest of 159 race riots across the nation that year, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

In the immediate aftermath of the ’67 riot, 67,000 white residents left Detroit. Another 80,000 followed the year after, many lured by the federal government’s FHA guidelines that guaranteed home loans to whites who moved to the suburbs while simultaneously denying such loans to black residents, said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in a summer 2017 presentation to business leaders at the Mackinac Policy Conference .

The combination of federal, state and local policy biases favoring white residents, alongside racial animus and fear, coupled with job losses in a declining manufacturing industry, resulted in a toxic economic environment across the Motor City.

When white residents fled Detroit, it flipped the population from 90 percent white (in the 40s and 50s) to a majority black city in the 70s (end of the Great Migration era, 1916–1970 ).

Over the next several decades, through the turn of the century and into the Great Recession of 2007–2009, manufacturing jobs would continue to plummet and black residents would flee the city to surrounding suburbs, further reducing Detroit’s dwindling population while increasing the concentration of black residents left in the city to its present-day 82 percent.

The loss of jobs, rapid diminishing of the auto manufacturing industry, and flight of white and subsequently black residents from Detroit, all contributed to depleting the economic base that set the city on a track toward bankruptcy.


The historic announcement of Detroit’s Bankruptcy in the summer of 2013 shocked the nation. But it also reset the scale and allowed Detroit to rebound in a way that attracted new investments in the city, which included Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, and accelerated its economic growth. The Federal Reserve offered this insight :

Detroit entered bankruptcy in July 2013 and exited bankruptcy just 18 months later, in December 2014. This made it not only the biggest municipal bankruptcy by debt (estimated at $18 to $20 billion) in U.S. history but also one of the fastest resolved. In 2013, years of declining economic output and falling personal incomes made it seem inevitable that Detroit was headed for bankruptcy; and investors, betting on an eventual recovery, started to acquire large areas of the city. For instance, Detroit native and founder of Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert had already embarked on a project to revitalize a two-square-mile area of downtown Detroit prior to the bankruptcy. By April 2013, Gilbert had invested $1 billion to acquire nearly three million square feet of real estate in the downtown area. The influx of new capital and an improved attitude about Detroit’s recovery following its bankruptcy started to pay early dividends for the city. In fact, while Detroit’s municipal government was still working out the details for exiting bankruptcy, the city’s economic conditions were already starting to improve.


Detroit’s strongest assets in the bankruptcy era were in its infrastructure. While the people could move away from the city, the buildings remain rooted. Dan Gilbert purchased 90 buildings in the Midtown area of downtown Detroit and placed the management of them under Rock Ventures which governs his portfolio of companies.


One key component of the economic recovery plan for Detroit centers on a tech-centric Midtown area as an initial buildup to build out. It plans to feature clusters of tech-based startups, Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurial resources and a walkable vibrant entertaining downtown environment. Microsoft has committed to occupying a 40,000 square foot building downtown starting in 2018.

From its Midtown core, Detroit is investing outward in holistic development of targeted regions that will connect those communities to the downtown core. (Learn more in the Policy section)


One of the initial steps Forward Cities takes in assisting member cities develop an inclusive innovation ecosystem is to form an Innovation Council comprised of a cross-section of community stakeholders, elected and appointed leaders, economic development and urban planners, educators, investors, business leaders, entrepreneurs and activists. In Detroit, Forward Cities learned that a version of the Innovation Council was operating under the auspices of the New Economy Initiative (NEI). Due to its significance in developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem at the community level, we highlighted NEI in the Strategy section of this study.


Forward Cities convened 40 leading stakeholders in a series of meetings to discuss the development of a local Innovation Council. Participants included:

ACCESS Growth Center BUILD Institute Issue Media Group TechTown Detroit Eastern Market Corporation City of Detroit ProsperUS Detroit Brand Camp University Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. Penske Automotive Group, Inc. Southwest Economic Solutions The Case Foundation Skillman Foundation BMe Community Goldman Sachs Foundation New Economy Initiative Bizdom Wayne County Community College Detroit Area PreCollege Engineering Pgm. LOVELAND Technologies Henry Ford Health System Innovations Data Driven Detroit Michigan Community Resources Wayne State University Detroit Economic Growth Corp. (DEGC) Goldman Sachs Foundation Global Detroit Excellent Schools Detroit Data Driven Detroit Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses at Wayne State University Cornerstone Charter Schools

Through meetings with the above list of participants, it was learned that the vision, work and measured outcomes of the proposed Innovation Council already existed within the framework of the New Economy Initiative. NEI serves as a convener of five Working Tables in partnership with the Michigan Community Resource as part of a Neighborhood Business Strategy. (Learn more in the Strategy section).

According to MCR :

NEI convenes a collaborative worktable of neighborhood service providers to strengthen the small business ecosystem in the neighborhoods outside of Downtown and Midtown. The scope of work entails asset mapping, networking, and coordinating technical assistance and engagement opportunities between entrepreneurs and business service providers.


The NEI Working Tables also include state Smart Zone areas. Smart Zones provide distinct geographical locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers locate in close proximity to all of the community assets that assist in their endeavors. SmartZone technology clusters promote resource collaborations between universities, industry, research organizations, government and other community institutions, growing technology-based businesses and jobs.

New and emerging businesses in SmartZone technology clusters are primarily focused on commercializing ideas, patents and other opportunities surrounding corporate, university or private research institute R&D efforts.

Smart Zones include technology business accelerators that provide the services identified below and, partnering with tech transfer offices, facilitate the commercialization of technology emerging from research in Michigan universities and private companies. Accelerators help to mine technology from universities and private enterprise, assist companies and entrepreneurs in building business structures around the technology, conduct product development and help companies secure necessary start up financing.


Asset mapping is a key component of policymaking in every city. The decisions driven by unbiased comprehensive and disaggregated data help Detroit leaders better understand the depth and scope of problems that need to be addressed. Analysis of collected data can influence decision-making in budget allocation and the priorities placed on projects and programs that impact communities. Below are three key sources of data in Detroit: Loveland, Data Driven Detroit and Michigan Community Resources.


Jerry Paffendorf mapped every parcel of land in the city of Detroit. Paffendorf is founder of Loveland software, a Detroit-based data software company with a platform that empowers anyone anywhere in the nation to use the software to map every lot of land in their city or region. Data can reveal helpful information such as zoning and ownership as well as the ongoing problem of tax and mortgage home foreclosures.

Detroit homeowners experienced a double whammy in the down economy. Tax and mortgage foreclosures combined to gobble up real estate across the city.

The city put homes on the auction block while banks repossessed homes of indebted residents. Out of 386,000 properties, banks today own 100,000. Another 150,000 homes were lost to tax foreclosure over this decade, with 10,000 this year alone.

For the first time in its history, Detroit surpassed 50 percent renters in its real estate market, said Paffendorf. Of those, at least 37 percent spend more than half of their income on monthly rent. It is a telltale sign of white equity investors buying properties and renting to primarily black tenants who once owned their own homes, he said. Paffendorf prefers a more strategic approach by the city and banks that empower residents to stay in their homes and retain ownership. The lack of jobs and income contribute to the problem.

Lack of Jobs

The improvement in Detroit’s economy due to new developments in the Midtown and downtown areas, along with targeted development of adjacent communities has seen a slight rise in the jobs-to-population ratio. In 2010, there were 25 jobs per 100 residents. Today, that number has risen to 30 jobs per 100 residents. But the increase hasn’t transferred to the black population of Detroit, which is more than 80 percent of the total. Of all the jobs in the city, 33 percent are held by black Detroiters. That’s down from 36 percent in 2010, according to an Aug 29, 2017 article in the Detroit Free Press , quoting from a report published by Detroit Future City titled, “ 139 Square Miles .”

The increase in jobs, albeit concentrated in both geography and among racial sectors, has also increased the per capita incomes of average Detroiters, according to Federal Reserve data.


What do different people care about? This is the question Data Driven Detroit (a.k.a. D3) exists to answer, says Sylvia Tatman-Burruss, Director of Strategic Development and Outreach.

“Some people care about schools, crime, parks availability and restaurants in their neighborhood,” said Tatman-Burruss. “So we’re making more data available for people to make better choices about where they want to live, and look at trajectories that allow people to have better conversations around where neighborhoods are going. You can have a gut feeling about where a neighborhood is going but when you have data the conversation becomes a lot more direct and a lot more based in reality of what’s going on.”

D3 is a unique L3C organization that provides high-quality information and unbiased analysis of hyperlocal data, which is made accessible to the general public. According to its website, D3 began as a data hub for community organizations, foundations, governments, and other organizations in need of reliable data to help them make better decisions about the future of Detroit and the surrounding region. Today, D3 also functions as a data intermediary and partner to socially-minded groups seeking data to drive decision-making processes.

In 2008, The Skillman Foundation and The Kresge Foundation awarded City Connect Detroit a $1.85 million grant to incubate Data Driven Detroit (originally named the Detroit-Area Community Information System). Within its first year, D3 was selected by the Urban Institute to join the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) . NNIP is a select group of organizations that have built advanced and continuously updated data systems to track neighborhood conditions in their cities.

By December 2012, Data Driven Detroit became an affiliated program of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) . This move strengthened D3′s operations and increased exposure to a statewide network of member nonprofits and philanthropic organizations. In October of 2015, D3 transitioned to the structure of a Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C). An L3C requires its projects and partners to align with the mission of D3.

FORWARD CITIES REPORT: D3 was chosen by Forward Cities to conduct a hyperlocal assessment of a target area of Detroit to determine its suitability for entrepreneurship and small business sustainability, growth and scale. D3 produced a report in December 2016 titled, “ Forward Cities Detroit: North End/New Center District .”

From the report:

The North End/New Center District was chosen based on existence of established businesses and community investment in the area combined with the potential for significant entrepreneurial engagement and community growth. In accordance with goals of Forward Cities, the area selected by the Detroit team has the potential to not only support local innovators and create a stronger neighborhood locally, but can also expand reach of local businesses regionally and even nationally. The North End/New Center District contains active and potential nodes for public transit, commercial establishments, and residential housing. The target area also contains at least six entrepreneurial resources in or near the North End/New Center District out of 20 listed resources in the report. The D3 report and additional data, maps and information can be found in the resource area of the Forward Cities website: http://www.forwardcities.org/resources/


Economic development of communities inevitably requires a strategic planning approach to building and sustaining commercial corridors that service a community’s needs. Michigan Community Resources published an insightful report on several communities in partnership with ProsperUS, a non-profit organization targeting low opportunity communities to help them build capacity through small business enterprises.

The report titled, “ Revitalizing the Corridor: An Analysis of Commercial Markets in Detroit Neighborhoods ,” focuses on the five ProsperUS target areas: Cody Rouge, Grandmont Rosedale, the Lower Eastside, the North End, and Southwest Detroit. The report provides information to the place-based organization about how to attract, grow, and retain businesses in their community, as well as provide critical information to the ProsperUS enterpreneurs so that they may strategically site their businesses.


When Mayor Duggan approached the daunting task of revitalizing an entire city that was blighted, abandoned and economically starved for decades, his first step was a FEMA-style approach in which he sought to ensure basis necessities, like water and safety were paramount priorities. As the desperation of daily needs became less of a burden on the city budget, Duggan began to work collaboratively with investors and foundations and expanded the priority list to urban core development.

The idea was to attract investors into the downtown district, starting with the Midtown area, and revitalize downtown as a tech-based, startup-dense environment wherein young, creative, artistic entrepreneurial-minded Millennials would live, work and play. Then, the city and its economic collaborators would expand the development to surrounding areas.

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, was a principal investor who joined efforts led by Midtown Detroit, Inc, Kresge Foundation, Techtown, The Integration Initiative and others targeting the urban core. Efforts to revitalize Midtown was were accelerated, and the area continues to thrive and attract people back to Detroit. The next step in the strategic process, which Duggan calls an, “ Inclusive Growth Strategy ,” is to expand the development focus in targeted areas of NW Detroit and adjacent to downtown. There are plans to invest in a comprehensive development of communities, which includes renovation of blighted buildings and lots, and establishment of mixed use properties and commercial corridors that include affordable housing units as a mandatory priority for investors who capitalize upon subsidized real estate investments and/or tax abatements.

But the city’s strategic approach to developing 139 square miles that encompass the City of Detroit needs help in accelerating the slow process beyond the downtown core. Individual influencers and community organizations are engaged on the front lines of the economic battle. But challenges remain in these laudable, but fragmented, disconnected and disparate efforts.


Within a few minutes’ drive of Detroit’s urban core, sits small building that is the first stage of a promising art district.

James Feagin is the visionary and architect of a prospective creative district for local artists to connect, collaborate and do business with the public. He received funding to purchase a building and provide space for artists to showcase their talent in visual displays and events for performance art. The building is located in a blighted area near downtown. Feagin is concerned that the pace of development headed his way has already caused the real estate value to soar.

For an investor, rising real estate values is a welcome return on investment. For Feagin, who envisions the development of an art district, the rising prices may soon push him and his district dreams elsewhere. This dichotomous impact of Detroit’s rebounding economy lacks a specific strategy.

As the speculative investors witness the renovation and rebirth of a once grand metropolis, complete with a rising tide of white, educated, entrepreneurial-minded tech-savvy artistic Millennials, the local residents of color find their entrepreneurial aspirations drifting away. Efforts are underway, however, to support the development of an inclusive Detroit for all.


The New Economy Initiative, a special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan , is the largest philanthropy-led economic development initiative working to build an inclusive regional network of support for entrepreneurs and small businesses. It was initially established in the face of unprecedented job loss. In lieu of a formal Local Innovation Council, NEI serves as a defacto connecting body between the local communities of Detroit, the city and the greater regional economic leaders.

According to NEI , in the first decade of the 21st century, 50 percent of all jobs lost in America were in Michigan alone. The state lost 367,000 manufacturing jobs, and its income per capita rate fell from 18th in the nation to 39th.

In 2006, with such an extraordinary economic catastrophe serving as a backdrop, 10 foundations pooled an initial $100M to form an initiative (NEI) that would build a network of support for entrepreneurs across southeast Michigan. In 2014, another $33.25M was added to support the work of NEI, plus two additional donor organizations increased the number to 12.

Today, NEI has 13 total donor organizations and is on track to sunset as an initiative in 2020 after completing a three-phase operation that has created scaffolding for entrepreneurial success in the region, said Pamela Lewis, who leads the initiative alongside Don Jones.


PHASE I: $100M

Reignite a culture of entrepreneurship Focus on a defined region of seven counties 70 percent focus on Detroit 88 percent of investments in stimulating/cultivating high-tech, high-growth startup companies Establish five state smart zones and connect them through Working Tables Build collaboration across the five state Smart Zones through the Working Tables Invest in TechTown, a business agnostic tech-based entrepreneurship incubator/accelerator Establish Michigan Innovation Competition (NEIdeas Challenge)

PHASE 2: $33.25M

Establish and grow NEIdeas Challenge Invest in Global Detroit as a means of supporting immigrant entrepreneurship Encourage / cultivate and support immigrant entrepreneurship Encourage / cultivate and support US born minority entrepreneurship Support TechTown SWOT Develop Working Tables: Communication, Collaboration and Coordination Serve entrepreneurial ecosystem at community level Provide entrepreneurial concierge services and connection to resources Serve as ambassador for southeast Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem Lower barriers to entry for startup entrepreneurs Invest in real estate for entrepreneurs to have affordable sustainable places to exist and grow Attract businesses in target sectors that align with needs of communities Invest in companies as capital support, pre-seed, seed and early growth stages Develop relationships with local residents and bring them to Working Tables as advisors Prioritize inclusive entrepreneurship and business ownership

PHASE 3: $25M (Next 3 years to sunset)

Strengthen Working Tables to become independent and sustainable Ensure capital readiness and access to resources of network Ensure success of Any Ideas Challenge Raise awareness — Storytelling Sustainability of Co-working spaces (Ford Resource Engagement Centers) Development of Micro-loans; $5K to $25K (Living Cities $3M investment)


TechTown — TechTown was founded in 2000 by Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and General Motors. In 2004, it incorporated as a nonprofit and established its headquarters near the campus. Originally founded to support tech-based spinoffs from the university, its incubation and acceleration strategies for tech companies now help strengthen neighborhood small businesses and commercial corridors across Detroit. TechTown has full suite of entrepreneurial services for tech and neighborhood businesses, with its campus hub connected to satellite offices across the city. TechTown startups also connect to and serve the Midtown tech sector of the city.

BizGrid — provides an interactive directory of local business resources and networks to help connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is funded by NEI with content contributions from DEGC, Rock Ventures and other major business support organizations and networks.

Global Detroit — Originally funded by the New Economy Initiative of Southeast Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Skillman Foundation, Global Detroit is a non-profit offering strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world to make the region more attractive and welcoming to immigrants, internationals and foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth. More than $7 million in philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual funding has been raised for innovative initiatives identified in the Global Detroit study , which projects more nearly $300M annually is infused into the southeast Michigan economy by immigrants.

ProsperUS — offers a place-based economic development strategy designed to empower low- and moderate-income, immigrant and minority individuals with training business services and micro-lending. Average household income is $28K. 38 of the 39 startups funded are minority owned. Three-year-old organization serving primarily an unbankable population.

Build Institute — offers a suite of programs and educational resources for aspiring local entrepreneurs to learn first and then pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations. More than 1,000 Build students have gone on to pursue their dreams of owning a startup business.

Food Lab — catalyzes, cultivates and connects food-related businesses in Detroit to resources to help them grow and thrive.

Lifeline — provides consulting services offering education, coaching, mentoring and access to funding

Michigan Womens Foundation — deploys financial resources and expertise in service of the economic self-sufficiency and personal well-being of Michigan’s women and girls

Detroit Demo Day — Managed by James Chapman as an initiative of Rock Ventures, Detroit Demo Day absorbed Bizdom, which was an entrepreneurial resource organization and incubator. Demo Day has a budget of $2.5M and produces an annual $1M startup competition designed to usher entrepreneurial concepts from ideas to action to impact in the market. The goal is to fund 1,000 businesses each year.

The pitch competition receives 600 applicants or which 20 are accepted into the annual contest. Only eight will receive the prize of a zero percent interest loan, which is paid back over five years through five annual installments. This process allows the business a full year runway to ramp up its revenue to cover the first installment in re-payment of the loan.

Chapman believes all ideas are created equal; and the role that Rock Ventures Demo Day plays is to serve the entrepreneurial ecosystem by stimulating, cultivating, developing, funding and growing local startup companies.

“Our goal is to start, grow and scale more businesses in Detroit,” said Chapman.

In addition to offering seed funding through its competitive process, Chapman says that Rock Ventures is committed to procuring services and products its needs from its portfolio of companies and local businesses. It encourages the businesses it funds and patronizes to also do business with one another. Rock Ventures also provides business development loans, mentoring and networking resources, as well as advocate on behalf of local businesses to reduce regulatory red tape in city bureaucracy.

NEIdeas — Established by NEI as a stimulant to developing a network of existing businesses and supporting their growth, the NEIdeas Challenge has two entry points:

The $10k Challenge provides awards of $10,000 each to 20 businesses grossing less than $750,000 annually. The $100k Challenge provides awards of $100,000 each to 2 businesses that gross more than $750,000 and less than $5 million annually with ideas to grow ‘ big. ’

All businesses that apply become part of a network, regardless of whether they are chosen to receive an award. The network provides access to business resources and mentoring to the entire community of businesses within.


The strategies of economic growth in a city are reflected in the policy measures it deploys. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has an “Inclusive Growth” strategy that includes requirements for investors and developers partnered with the City to include local businesses in the development process and ensure affordable housing is part of the development of every community, thereby disrupting the historic pattern of geographic segregation.


Michael Rafferty is VP of Small Business at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), which serves as an arm to activate the mayor’s Inclusive Growth strategy. Rafferty describes the approach as “focused density” in expanding the core development outward into targeted communities to make capital improvements, fill vacancies, create attractive spaces and establish small business commercial corridors that serve the needs of communities.

DEGC hopes to attract local creative artistic entrepreneurs to start and own local businesses and buy homes in the same communities. It seeks to ensure at least 20 percent of all new developments in communities also contain affordable housing. Targeted communities include Fitzgerald and Cody Rouge. These are best opportunities for comprehensive development, said Rafferty, which aligns with the reporting of the Detroit Free Press in August 2017:

Growth and redevelopment centered in midtown and downtown for organic reasons. Most simply, each area has resources — like major employers, educational institutions or hospitals — that attracted investment. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city planner Maurice Cox believe the same kind of strategies can benefit other Detroit neighborhoods — like Fitzgerald in northwest Detroit, where more than $4 million will rehabilitate 115 vacant houses and create a new park and other amenities — chosen in part because of nearby anchor institutions like like Marygrove College and the University of Detroit-Mercy. It’s a pilot program, one intended to serve as proof of concept that targeted investment can bear results outside Detroit’s urban core.


In partnership with DEGC, Motor City Match is an initiative that connects commercial building landlords with prospective business tenants seeking to lease space. Through loans and grants, including federal subsidies, MCM efforts seek to increase the occupancy rate of vacant buildings while serving the needs of small business owners to help them succeed. More than three-quarters of the 763 businesses served are minority owned, with 70 percent locally owned.


Michigan Economic Development Corporation — MEDC is a marketing platform for promoting the state of Michigan as an attractive environment for corporations and mature small businesses. It focuses on the following core industries:

Advanced Manufacturing Aerospace (nearly 700 aerospace businesses are in Michigan) Automotive / Mobility Carbon Fiber / Composite Materials Agri-Business (Michigan is second behind California as one of America’s largest contributors to the agriculture economy) Cybersecurity Defense (Michigan supplies 70 percent of everything a solider shoots, drives, flies, wears, eats or uses in communications)

MEDC also connects entrepreneurs with needed resources, such as workforce talent . a broad range of capital resources , and global advocacy .

Business Leaders for Michigan — Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), established in the 1970s in Detroit, is the state’s business roundtable composed of the chairpersons, CEOs, and the most senior executives of the state’s largest job providers and universities. BLM’s members power one-third of the state’s economy and educate nearly one-half of the state’s university students, according to its website, which makes it a powerful driver for economic development and change.

BLM’s work is concentrated on developing economic competitiveness strategies, raising awareness, advocating policy and championing initiatives that grow jobs and the state’s economy. MLB produced the Building a New Michigan Plan , a comprehensive strategy for making Michigan a “Top Ten” state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy.

BLM also focuses on researching and benchmarking new data and competitiveness strategies that can help advance Michigan’s growth on par with Top 10 state economies.

For example, BLM found that if Michigan were performing economically like a Top 10 state some significant changes would be required to bolster a more healthy economy. For the Michigan economy to perform on par with the nation’s best regional economies:

72,300 more Michigan residents would be working $9,200 more income per resident would be needed $12,300 more GDP contribution per resident would be required

MEDC and BLM approach the economic development calculus of the state from a distinctly different approach than NEI, DEGC and the foundations invested in developing and nurturing entrepreneurship at the community level. The metrics used by BLM, such as GDP contribution, employment, unemployment, per capita personal income, etc. are not part of the process of developing entrepreneurship, job growth and sustained economic impact at the community level.

The measuring stick by which the state and cities are measured do not reach into the communities that produce the business productivity at the base level of entrepreneurial development.

According to the Business Leaders of Michigan economic performance data, the required improvement in individual income and individual contribution to the GDP, in order for the Michigan economy to compete on par with the best in the nation, would have to occur in Region 10, which is the geographic footprint of NEI, DEGC and the local innovation ecosystem of the Detroit area. This is where a significant portion of the state’s population exists. It is where the strongest opportunity for entrepreneurial and business growth to occur.

The largest disconnect that must be bridged is in the education of Detroit residents. The education output is misaligned with the economic needs of the city, region and state. Twenty-two percent of Detroiters lack a high school diploma; 33 percent have a high school diploma or a GED. Just 7 percent have an associate’s degree, and only 13 percent have bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Detroit Free Press quoting from the Future City report.

With two separate and distinct economic strategies at work in the city and region, along with an education sector that isn’t fueling the workforce and entrepreneurial pipeline needs of an increasing tech-based demand, the nascent efforts initiated a decade ago by area foundations to stimulate, cultivate and nurture an inclusive local economy could potentially run out of gas when the New Economy Initiative runs out in 2020.

The approach by the NEI entrepreneurial ecosystem is working to cultivate business productivity at the community level and highest touch points to entrepreneurial activity. As an initiative, it is well-positioned to engage residents at the community level.

The question remains whether NEI, or some other organization, or authoritative initiative will intentionally connect the community level entrepreneurial efforts to city economic development plans, and the corporate and business leaders who steward the region and state’s economic competitiveness strategies and plans. An alignment from the community level with the city, region and state economic benchmarks and investment priorities will provide more resources where needed, systemic measures of outcomes and a more sustainable economic ecosystem at all levels.

The intentional connection of regional competitiveness strategies and benchmarks with community level productivity, i.e. community competitiveness , could result in a deeper understanding and recognition of the economic impact of community level entrepreneurship and small business growth, which may lead to a broader range of investment resources (federal, state, regional, city, public-private partnerships, foundations) to scale up the success rate of local entrepreneurial activities and the growth of existing small businesses that serve Detroit’s diverse communities.


CONDITIONS FOR SUCCESS: It is recommended that the ground NEI has tilled be used to develop a permanent Inclusive Innovation Council. The disparate, fragmented efforts at the community, city, region and state levels can be connected through a common core of collaborative groups and organizations managed by a permanent convening authority focused on inclusive ecosystem outcomes. NEI is currently doing this work.

NEI’s Working Tables network is a foundation upon which to build a permanent Inclusive Innovation Council , which can serve as a local and regional convening authority that manages the alignment, coordination and collaboration of policymaking influencers.

Establishing the basic conditions for success of an inclusive innovation ecosystem requires intentional disruption of inherited 20th century segregationist policies and practices. These policies and practices remain rooted in the pipelines of productivity: education, workforce development, entrepreneurship. The Inclusive Innovation Council can be used as a platform for addressing these challenges and introducing solutions that support equitable pathways to opportunity with measurable outcomes.

HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT: It is recommended that the under-performing areas of the P-20 education pipeline be regarded as valued assets with untapped talent potential for both workforce and entrepreneurship pipelines of productivity.

It is recommended that prioritized investments target these institutions with strategies for measurable output incorporated into the collaborative fold of all economic plans. P-20 education pipelines, particularly for under-performing sectors of the city, can be infused with STEEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts and Math) project-based curricula.

Examples: Techaccess.org , Wildfire-Education.org and Level Playing Field Institute .

DATA COLLECTION/ANALYSIS: It is recommended that the myriad data collection sources throughout the city and region be compiled into a publicly available platform for use and analysis.

Adoption of the Forward Cities Inclusive Competitiveness Index ® is recommended to inform planners and policymakers of the status of disconnected populations in both urban and rural communities, with select metrics and key performance indicators that result in an overall competitiveness quotient. Strategies to improve the competitiveness quotient of places and people can bolster the overall competitiveness of the city and region while improving the quality of life throughout.

ALIGNMENT OF ECONOMIC STRATEGIES/PUBLIC POLICY: It is recommended that a permanent Inclusive Innovation Council steward the alignment process for economic strategies employed at all levels (community, city, region and state) to ensure they are interconnected, overlapping and aligned to attract and deploy investment capital and other resources seamlessly where needed to improve measurable outcomes that deliver value and benefits across the city, region and state economic ecosystems.

Communication is an essential component to collaboration between planners of economic development strategies, CEDS plans, regional development organizations and competitiveness managers. It is recommended that a common online platform, available to the public, be developed and managed to ensure continual communications and alignment across strategic frameworks.

SUSTAINABILITY: A decades-long comprehensive economic strategy for is highly recommended at a community or council district level, which can ensure measurable pipeline outcomes in qualified workforce talent and entrepreneurship/business productivity at the ground-floor level. Cultivation of entrepreneurial activity and business stability and growth within communities and council districts is key to long-term economic viability and sustainability in Detroit.

STORYTELLING: It is recommended that a branded media platform be built and maintained with a focus on telling the stories of development and stewardship of the city and region’s inclusive innovation ecosystem.

Highlighting the good and bad with objective reporting by professionals is essential to understanding where strategies are working and where problems persist. Corporate media may be used, but are not a suitable substitute for this focused storytelling. Raising awareness of issues, by identifying problems and highlighting solutions, can provide a balanced platform of information that communities can use to become more engaged in building and maintaining vibrant cities.


Governing Institute: Public Policy and the Degradation of Detroit

Governing Institute: Can We Build Inclusive, Innovative Local Economies?

Strong Towns: The Promise of Durham

More from Mike Green

Co-founder, ScaleUp Partners LLC; Consultant: Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems, Regional Competitiveness and Empowering Underrepresented Populations

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Case Study: How This Am Law 100 Firm Transformed Its Approach To Ediscovery

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As client data explodes, timelines tighten, and resources remain flat, law firms large and small are finding enterprising ways to generate more revenue while delivering superior client value. 

Technology plays a key role in this process, enabling law firms to unlock the potential of their teams, empower their attorneys, and deliver services more efficiently and effectively — impacts that can be seen clearly in Everlaw’s newest case study with the Am Law 100 firm Barnes & Thornburg . 

Headquartered in Indianapolis, with a staff of more than 800 legal professionals spread across 22 offices in the United States, Barnes transformed its approach to ediscovery by embracing advanced but accessible technology. 

A leader in focusing on quality and innovation, the firm recognized early that it must move on from its clunky, on-premises ediscovery software for a more modern, collaborative, cloud-native platform to remain ahead of the curve–and the competition.

See more in this brand new success story from Everlaw.

Barnes & Thornburg needed a solution that would encourage firmwide adoption, bring more work in-house, increase billable hours, and provide a superior client experience. It not only needed to move on from outdated on-premises technology, but wanted a modern platform that supported today’s file types, offered advanced analytics, and would encourage anyone at the firm, regardless of their job function or title, to use the platform themselves.

They found that in Everlaw. 

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After evaluating and eventually adopting Everlaw, the firm has increased its litigation support billable hours for entry-level employees by 1000%. Yes, you read that right. In addition, Barnes & Thornburg has cut costs by bringing 70% more work in-house, and has generated $4.5 million in new billable hours.

The firm uses Everlaw for its biggest cases, with its top 5 largest matters accounting for more than half of the firm’s data in Everlaw’s cloud-native platform. Everlaw has been an investment critical to the firm’s success with Litigation Support Manager Eric Beard calling Everlaw an invaluable partner in the firm’s rapid growth. “We knew we had to invest in really powerful technology that’s easy to use, that makes it consumable for any user and reasonable to manage,” he said. 

“That’s where the future is — it’s the only way you’re going to stay ahead,” Beard added. 

See how Barnes & Thornburg is staying ahead in our full success story here , and request your Everlaw demo here .

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Crop Yield Prediction Using Hybrid Machine Learning Approach: A Case Study of Lentil ( Lens culinaris Medik.)

a case study approach

Reviewer 1 Report

This work tell me a story about the comparison of the model fitness and prediction effect of three prediction models and two hybrid prediction models, and found that hybrid models MARS-ANN and MARS-SVM have superiority over single model. However, I can’t judge the novelty of this work because the author didn’t provide whether such work has been conducted in previous publications, and what’s the new improvement compared with previous findings. Moreover, the article is badly written and is not quite formal. Therefore, I recommend the author supplement some important contents in almost every part of the manuscript, and resubmit for further evaluation.

The detailed questions and comments that need improvement are as follows:

1, line 8-22 in the abstract part are the background, and should be shorted to two to three lines, show more contents on your main results and new findings. In the abstract, the two R packages are not developed by this work, and should not be mentioned in abstracts. Please show how MARS-ANN and MARS-SVM have better performance.

2, In the introduction, in line 33, the word “share” seems improper; pay attention to the first letter of “Morphological” and “it” in line 36, such grammatical errors are prevalent in the manuscript. Line 30-46 is the first paragraph (para), the author tell us too many things, but not focal, I would suggest the author divided it into to part, with the first describing the importance of lentil, and the second about the linear models along with their shortcomings. Line 47-82 is the second para, the author raised many examples, but didn’t introduce whether the methods used in this study have been used before, and what should followers do to make improvements. Therefore, I can’t see the necessity and meaning of this work. Moreover, the author should introduce these models in this para. Line 83-91 should tell the objective of this study, especially their new ideas or thinkings. Bear in mind that the full names of each abbreviation should be provided when it first appears.

3, in line 94-96, if this data have been used in other publications, it is better to cite the references;   in line 98, if the author use all the 21 descriptors, the author should provide these descriptors, and how they were measured as supplementary (supp). Some part (Line 108-120, 126) of “2.2. Data processing, statistical analysis and input variable selection” should be moved to the part of ”results”, if these results were not provided in other findings (if yes, these results should be removed or briefly introduced). Some part (Line 120-125) should be moved to “discussion”. Some part (Line 134-145) should be moved to “introduction”.   Some part (Line 153-155) should be moved to the first part of “Materials of Methods”.

4, what is the relationship between “ 2.3.1. Multiple linear Regression (MLR) model ” and this work, many manuscripts can copy and use lines 158-162.   Lines 164-170 should be move to “Introduction”.   The descriptions of “ n is number of hidden nodes, m is the number of hidden nodes ” in lines 172-173 indicate that this is a careless manuscript.

Please check the whole manuscipt, and resubmited a thoroughly improved version.

Author Response

Point.1, line 8-22 in the abstract part are the background, and should be shorted to two to three lines, show more contents on your main results and new findings. In the abstract, the two R packages are not developed by this work, and should not be mentioned in abstracts. Please show how MARS-ANN and MARS-SVM have better performance.

Response 1: The abstract has been summarised.

R packages are developed by this work. Links of published R packages are given below

MARSANNhybrid: https://cran.r-project.org/package=MARSANNhybrid

MARSSVRhybrid: https://cran.r-project.org/package=MARSSVRhybrid

MARS-ANN and MARS-SVM have better performance compared to singular ANN and SVR models.

Point 2. In the introduction, in line 33, the word “share” seems improper; pay attention to the first letter of “Morphological” and “it” in line 36, such grammatical errors are prevalent in the manuscript. Line 30-46 is the first paragraph (para), the author tell us too many things, but not focal, I would suggest the author divided it into to part, with the first describing the importance of lentil, and the second about the linear models along with their shortcomings. Line 47-82 is the second para, the author raised many examples, but didn’t introduce whether the methods used in this study have been used before, and what should followers do to make improvements. Therefore, I can’t see the necessity and meaning of this work. Moreover, the author should introduce these models in this para. Line 83-91 should tell the objective of this study, especially their new ideas or thinkings. Bear in mind that the full names of each abbreviation should be provided when it first appears.

Response 2. All grammatical errors have been rechecked and corrections have been made in the revised manuscript.

As per the suggestion, lines 30–46 are divided into two parts in the revised manuscript.

Lines 47–82 have been rewritten. Shortcomings of ML models and the importance of variables in the section are added in the section.

The full names of each abbreviation are checked and revised according to their appearance in the revised manuscript.

Point 3. in line 94-96, if this data have been used in other publications, it is better to cite the references;  in line 98, if the author use all the 21 descriptors, the author should provide these descriptors, and how they were measured as supplementary (supp). Some part (Line 108-120, 126) of “2.2. Data processing, statistical analysis and input variable selection” should be moved to the part of ”results”, if these results were not provided in other findings (if yes, these results should be removed or briefly introduced). Some part (Line 120-125) should be moved to “discussion”. Some part (Line 134-145) should be moved to “introduction”.  Some part (Line 153-155) should be moved to the first part of “Materials of Methods”.

Response 3. Citation related to the dataset has been included in the revised manuscript.

A supplementary sheet regarding the descriptors has been prepared and will be submitted with the revised manuscript.

All the sections have been restructured in the revised manuscript.

Point 4.  What is the relationship between “ 2.3.1. Multiple linear Regression (MLR) model ” and this work, many manuscripts can copy and use lines 158-162.  Lines 164-170 should be move to “Introduction”.  The descriptions of “ n  is number of hidden nodes,  m  is the number of hidden nodes” in lines 172-173 indicate that this is a careless manuscript.

Response 4. The study focused on ML models. For ease of understanding, the ML model, Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) model and related results have been removed from the manuscript.

172-173 have been corrected. "n is number of hidden nodes, m is the number of input nodes"

Reviewer 2 Report

Overview and general recommendation:

The authors investigated the use of ML models for predicting yield crop in a lentil crop.

While I see the interest and utility of using such techniques and the novelty of the paper, the required technical details on the way those models have been built are totally missing from the manuscript thus making it impossible to evaluate if those models offer replicable unbiased results.

Moreover, the English level of the manuscript needs to be significantly improved in several parts as it is below standard.

1.      References are not presented in order

2.      There is an almost infinite amount of English mistakes throughout the manuscript, which therefore requires a deep revision

3.      Table 1 should present also the measurement units for each variable. Were the data distribution gaussian?

4.      Variables are normalized, but was this done before or after data splitting? If done before, then this is a serious case of data leakage

5.      Are results shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 related to the whole dataset or just the training set?

6.      Are the results shown in the Results section obtained on the test set or on the whole dataset?

7.      Significant information is missing on the way the models have been built; without this info it is not possible to understand if the authors built models affected by overfitting

Point 1. References are not presented in order

Response 1: All references are thoroughly reviewed and presented in a proper order in the revised manuscript.

Point 2. There is an almost infinite amount of English mistakes throughout the manuscript, which therefore requires a deep revision

Response 2: The manuscript has been thoroughly revised and all necessary corrections have been made.

Point 3. Table 1 should present also the measurement units for each variable. Were the data distribution gaussian?

Response 3: The measurement units for each variable are incorporated in the revised manuscript.

The data do not follow Gaussian distribution. Machine learning models do not require any prior assumption data distribution. Therefore, we use these models in the present study.

Point 4. Variables are normalized, but was this done before or after data splitting? If done before, then this is a serious case of data leakage.

Response 4: Yes. Variables were normalized after data splitting. The data were analysed using minimax normalization. To make the final prediction, all predicted values were denormalized after the prediction.

Point 5. Are results shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 related to the whole dataset or just the training set?

Response 4: Table 1 (Revised Table 2) and Figure 1 (Revised Figure 2) are related to the entire dataset. Table 1 represents summary of the data set, where the correlations of different variables with the study variable (yield) was visualized in figure 1.

Point 6. Are the results shown in the Results section obtained on the test set or on the whole dataset?

Response 6: The model building for the results section was done using train data, and all of the study results were based on test data.

Point 7. Significant information is missing on the way the models have been built; without this info it is not possible to understand if the authors built models affected by overfitting.

Response 7. Figure 1 depicts the process of the study. The two primary issues with the study were first, the use of MARS to identify key variables, and second, the use of these variables as input for ML models like ANN and SVR. The suitable MARS model for variable selection should be chosen before making any selections. We must choose the best MARS model for variable selection prior to making our choice of variables. The whole data set was spilt into training and testing sets. On the basis of training data, several orders of MARS models were developed, and test data was used to evaluate them. The MARS model that results in the lowest values for the performance metrics specified is considered as the variable selection model. In the entire set of data, this model was used to extract significant variables from the independent variables.

The chosen variables were then employed as inputs in ML models for yield prediction after variable selection. Data was normalised and split into training and testing sets for ML models. On the basis of the training data, the models were created, and the testing data was used to assess their generalizability.

Using a trial-and-error approach, we looked for the ideal set of ML model hyperparameters. In order to prevent overfitting, three folds (k = 3) were examined in this study for each dataset.

Reviewer 3 Report

Could you please explain why you chose these parameter for hyperparametrization process?

Point 1. Could you please explain why you chose these parameter for hyperparametrization process?

Response 1: The hyperparametrization process is an important procedure as it helps to improve the performance of a machine learning model. In addition, it can help reduce overfitting and make the model more robust to changes in the data. Using a trial-and-error approach, we looked for the ideal set of ML model hyperparameters. In order to prevent overfitting, three folds (k = 3) were examined in this study for each dataset.

The optimal values of the hyperparameters are generally selected by minimizing a function of the error, in this study we have assumed the function to be “mean square error”. The values of the hyperparameters so obtained for ANN and SVR models are reported in Table 2.

I would suggest the author move table 7 and 8 to the part of results, and add new discussions.

Response to Reviewer 1 Comments

Point 1: I would suggest the author move table 7 and 8 to the part of results, and add new discussions.

Response 1: The table 7 and 8  have been added to results section of the manuscript and discussions have modified.

I am fine with all the modifications carried out by the authors

Response to Reviewer 2 Comments

Point 1: I am fine with all the modifications carried out by the authors.

Response 1: Thank you for agreeing to our modifications.

Das, P.; Jha, G.K.; Lama, A.; Parsad, R. Crop Yield Prediction Using Hybrid Machine Learning Approach: A Case Study of Lentil ( Lens culinaris Medik.). Agriculture 2023 , 13 , 596. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030596

Das P, Jha GK, Lama A, Parsad R. Crop Yield Prediction Using Hybrid Machine Learning Approach: A Case Study of Lentil ( Lens culinaris Medik.). Agriculture . 2023; 13(3):596. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030596

Das, Pankaj, Girish Kumar Jha, Achal Lama, and Rajender Parsad. 2023. "Crop Yield Prediction Using Hybrid Machine Learning Approach: A Case Study of Lentil ( Lens culinaris Medik.)" Agriculture 13, no. 3: 596. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030596

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