What Knowledge is Useful? > History
Audio Clip — Donaldson on Business History
I felt, and still feel, that the deep grounding in the practical reality of individual business decisions, through the case method, was a core strength that I think is essential to a business school, as opposed to a department of economics.
Although—and this is a comment I’ve thought of making to you—I’ve always felt (and again, this may reflect my prior broader education, in the sense of less focused on business) -- that the case method tends to be too much focused on the moment, and doesn’t give enough broader perspective to the flow of business decisions in a company.
I’ve always felt that Business History should have been a required course for all students of the Business School, so they get a perspective of how things change over decades, and not just over a year or two. And I tried to introduce some series cases where you looked at a problem at two or three different points in time. But I think they’re very hard to sustain in the classroom. . . . .
There is something of the instant gratification that a case provides that, I think, loses something of the flow of decisions in a company over time, and the culture of a company, and the way that changes over time, that I think is important to understanding how an organization works.
So I have some of my own concerns about the case method. Not to the extent of abandoning it, but of modifying, giving a different—well, as I say, a longer-term perspective to the process.