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Hbr Case Study In A World Of Pay

Finding cases


Try searching the SFU Library catalogue and include () as part of your search. Check out these sample searches:

("case study" or "case studies" or cases) "organizational behavior"

("case study" or "case studies" or cases) "strategic management"

("case study" or "case studies" or cases) "brand name products".

Also try an Advanced Search in which you look for case studies in the Subject field, combined with your specific need (entrepreneurship? strategy?) as a Keyword. Add case* in the Title field as well to increase your chance of getting books that contain large numbers of cases. You can also start by searching for books that have cases in the title and case studies in the subject.


In the SFU Library catalogue, try searching for theses and graduating projects by SFU Business students. Such publications often involve specific case studies. Try searching the catalogue again, but this time combine the word theses (plural) with your topic. See these sample searches for example theses and electronic commerce // theses and dettwiler. Also, try Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index for theses completed elsewhere. See our guide to Finding University Theses and Projects from Simon Fraser and Other Universities for more suggestions.


  • In Business Source Complete enter your search terms, then either check off the Document Type Case study or include the Subject Case studies as part of your search.
  • CBCA Fulltext Business offers similar ways of finding case studies: either choose the Document Type (click on More Search Options) Case study or include the Subject Case studies as part of your search.
  • See the Sample cases area below for some specific journals focusing on business cases.


There are several publishers and clearinghouses of cases on the web. Many will allow qualified faculty members to view cases for examination purposes (after registering).

Note, however, that most cases sold by places such as Harvard or the Richard Ivey School of Business are not available via the library. You usually need to pay for the cases if you are not a faculty member, or if you are a faculty member and you want to use cases in your class. If you are a student and a case has been assigned as a reading in your class, double check with your instructor to see if the case might have been pre-purchased for all members of your class.

The Case Centre (formerly the European Case Clearing House)
"[T]he largest single source . . . of management case studies in the world. We hold and distribute all cases produced by the world's best-known management teaching establishments, as well as case studies in many languages produced by individual authors from almost every corner of the globe." Search for a case, then click on the link for an "inspection copy" (if available) and follow the links to register as a faculty member.

Harvard Business School Cases
Thousands of PDF format full-text cases, articles, and teaching notes are ready to download for examination purposes. NOTE: Requires registration (restricted to qualified and registered faculty only) to preview cases. If you aren't a faculty member, or if you want to use copies of specific cases in a class, you can purchase the PDF or paper version of the case at the HBR for Educators site as well, or you could go straight to the HBR store. Also see below for a discussion on how to find a small number of HBS cases in the Harvard Business Review.

A searchable database of business case studies and supplemental materials. The cases described tend to focus on social and environmental issues in business. You can search for relevant cases by discipline or topic, then use the supplied contact information for the author/publisher to request the cases. Note that many of the cases they list are from the Harvard Business School and the European Case Clearing House (mentioned above).

Sample cases

British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC ) - Business Case Library
A rare focus on BC companies!

Cases online via the Harvard Business Review 

Try searching for Harvard Business Review in the Publication Name field in Business Source Complete, then checking the box to limit your search to the Document Type "case study." Add in other terms to focus your search.  

Journals that feature case studies

Other online sources for cases

  • CaseBase & CaseBase2: Case Studies in Global Business:Covers business case studies focused on issues in emerging markets and emerging industries across the globe.
  • Business Ethics Case Studies: A few cases from Business Ethics Canada - St. Mary's University
  • The Case Centre (formerly the European Case Clearinghouse) offers a selection of free cases.
  • Business Gateway: Case studies from Scotland on starting and running a small business.
  • The Times 100: Free business case studies on real life companies. 
  • Acadia Institute of Case Studies (Acadia University): Most studies are focused on small business and entrepreneurship and include teaching notes. Some of them even include short videos (Quicktime). Permission is granted for educational use. 
  • Company-specific case studies: Intended as examples of how customers have used or could use their products: IBM, Intel, and LANSA.
  • Advertising Education Bureau: Case histories: "Case histories give you an inside look at the steps advertising agencies and advertisers take to create a campaign and how effective it can be. Case histories show the preceding issue/problem, the response and the outcome. Creative is included."
  • MarketLine cases in Business Source: Mostly strategic analysis cases featuring large, global companies.

Developing and analysing cases

  • Writing, Teaching, and Using Cases: A January 2014 presentation by Leyland Pitt and Michael Parent (both of SFU). Michael and Leyland led a full-day workshop with a focus on case teaching.
  • Teaching & Authoring Tools: Part of the Ivey Cases site, this page offers documents and videos to help you create your own cases, as well as lists of additional resources.

  • Application of a Case Study Methodology by Winston Tellis: (The Qualitative Report, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1997). This academic article covers all of the social science methodologies behind designing, conducting and analysing a case study. It also features a detailed bibliography. Winston Tellis, PhD is Director of Undergraduate Programs in Fairfield University's School of Business and formerly he was Director of Technical Services also in the School of Business at Fairfield.

  • The Art and Craft of Case Writing (3rd ed. 2012): "[A] practical, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary guide that blends an informal, workshop-style with solid theory and practice." Includes a section on video, multimedia, and Internet cases.

  • Basics of Developing Case Studies: Part of the Free Management Library, this site has some basic information on how to develop a case study, as well as links to some sample cases.

  • A Guide to Case Analysis: Focus is on how to analyse company cases when learning strategic management techniques.

  • Case Studies: Covers both analysing and writing a case study from the perspective of a business student.

  • Case Analysis Guide: Developed by a publisher to support students using a Strategic Management text, but applicable in many other situations.

Also, try the subject heading "Case method" in catalogue for books on using the case method in your classes. Suggested sample case method books:

  • Encyclopedia of case study research (print)

  • Case study research: design and methods (4th edition, 2009; print)

  • Case study research: principles and practices (online or print)

  • Case writing for executive education: a survival guide (print)

In Business Source Complete, try a Subject search for "Case Method (Teaching)"

You might also want to try checking an index of education articles such as ERIC: start with the subject heading (or Descriptor) Case Method (Teaching Technique).  Alternatively, try our Education Source database using Case method (Teaching)as your subject search term. 


1. The term "case studies" can be ambiguous: it can mean specific examples from real companies or fictitious stories written to help students learn a topic. The resources below provide a mix of both types of case studies - be sure that the studies you find are the type you need!

2. This guide has some resources that will be of more use to students (especially the tips on finding case studies in the SFU Library catalogue and in Business Source Complete) and other resources that instructors will find useful (especially the links to case clearinghouses and the sample cases). If you don't find what you need here, don't hesitate to ask for help.

One of the great features of the FT’s Global MBA and EMBA rankings is that they include an explicit research component. This is done in the belief that those who create the knowledge are likely to be those that best impart that knowledge. Thus, prospective MBA students should consider how close to the action they want to be.

The FT’s research component is based on publications by a business school’s teaching faculty in a list of 45 academic and practitioner journals (the so-called ‘FT 45’). It is no surprise that Harvard Business Review is on that list. It is perhaps the most widely read journal emanating from an academic institution. However, a recent change in its business practices should cause us to wonder if HBR should remain on that list.

While this has been brewing for four years, this summer, Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP), which handles the publication of Harvard Business School’s teaching cases, decided to enforce a dormant clause in its contracts with academic institutions. Even though those institutions’ libraries had a subscription to HBR that allowed students and teaching faculty to access them, these articles were “not intended for use as assigned course material in academic institutions”. This does not only apply to articles copied into course packs as required readings. It applies to everything else, including links from class web pages or even mere suggestions given to students to deepen their understanding of certain areas. HBSP would now only permit institutions to do any of those common activities if they paid a fee for each article and for each student enrolled in the course (whether the student accessed the article or not).

My dean at Rotman was clear to point out that our teaching faculty should assign HBR articles as we saw fit, but wanted us to be aware of the new cost. But to me there is a deeper principle: as academics, when we teach students ideas, we cite the original source of those ideas. In other words, we believe in acknowledgment for much the same reason that the FT believes students should understand where ideas come from. However, in an unprecedented move – to the best of my knowledge a course of action not pursued by any other scholarly publishers who are otherwise not known for their restraint in the exercise of market power – HBSP wants to treat articles with its teaching case business model and, thereby, tax acknowledgments that point to and credit knowledge creators.

But teaching cases are not research nor are they the dissemination of research. They are an innovative way of generating discussion and deepening learning and business schools worldwide have opted to pay for their inclusion in classrooms.

HBR is a journal. It has subscribers including the libraries of most institutions. It has advertisers. And it is designed to comment on business practice and disseminate the knowledge created by academics. It is not peer reviewed but emphasises editorial input in lieu of those costs. And for that reason, it was appropriate to be used by the FT as a measure of knowledge created by faculty.

But now it is not neutral. While teaching faculty stand above cost considerations in favour of pedagogy, we are not immune to them. A mere mention of an HBR article that some students may want to delve deeper into would cost the same as a case assigned as the basis for a three-hour class. Thus, the knowledge created by that journal will be less accessible for the students than knowledge elsewhere. How can it be, therefore, that the FT can consider HBR as a journal that connects students to knowledge creators? HBSP has relegated HBR to second-tier status and so should the FT.

What I suggest by the elimination of HBR from the FT 45 should not significantly have an impact on the FT’s ranking methodology. The methodology should be robust enough that the inclusion of one journal less does not matter. Unless, of course, one institution in particular is over-represented with its teaching faculty publishing in that journal. In which case, so be it.

Joshua Gans is professor and area co-ordinator of strategic management and the Jeffrey Skoll Chair in technical innovation and entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management. His latest book, Information Wants to be Shared, was published in 2012 by Harvard Business Review Press.

Harvard Business Review answers its critics: Das Narayandas, senior associate dean of Executive Education and Publishing and professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, has responded to Prof Gans’ criticisms. Many believe that information should be free he says, but ideas that achieve maximum impact come at a cost. Read the full article here.

Joshua Gans

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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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