Article | Academy of Management Learning & Education | 2009

Course Research: Using the Case Method to Build and Teach Management Theory

by Clayton M. Christensen and Paul R. Carlile

Abstract

Some in the Academy have questioned the usefulness of case studies in teaching sound management theory (Shugan 2006). Our research and experience suggests exactly the opposite-that case studies can unite the development of theory with the teaching of it in a single enterprise we'll call course research. Conclusions such as those that Shugan and others have reached stem from misconceptions about the relationship of research, theory, case studies, and teaching. In fact, the proper use of case studies in teaching can help faculty resolve a basic dilemma of academia: promotion is often based upon our published research, and we find that responsibilities to teach detract from the mandate to publish. When approached properly, case studies can transform teaching into research and enroll students as "course researchers," whose class participation can be exceptionally valuable in the theory-building process.

Keywords: Business Education; Curriculum and Courses; Teaching; Cases; Research; Theory;

Citation:

Christensen, Clayton M., and Paul R. Carlile. "Course Research: Using the Case Method to Build and Teach Management Theory." Academy of Management Learning & Education 8, no. 2 (2009): 240–251.