How to develop a case

The Nordic Case House would particularly like to inspire and encourage the development of teaching cases seen through a Nordic lens – that is cases with the innovation, tradition, values, and culture common to the Nordic region. This, however, should not imply cases based on Nordic industries and businesses alone but rather developing cases both locally and globally that embrace a Nordic perspective.

Traditionally, case development has been in the form of written cases, but cases are also encouraged in other formats such as multimedia cases. The Nordic Case House supports the development of alternative case formats, and we can draw on the multimedia expertise and our talented colleagues in Teaching & Learning at CBS for assistance.

Characteristics of a teaching case

A teaching case is a story designed to put practice into conversation with theory. Typically, it describes a situation in an organization where a decision has to be made about a particular dilemma, problem, or opportunity. To make the story interesting it often includes a dramatic element described from a protagonist’s point of view – the CEO or another senior person in the organization. A teaching case is not a “case study” of the type used in academic research. Teaching cases provide information but provides neither analysis nor conclusions. A good teaching case supports multiple possible answers and learning objectives.

Typical steps of case writing

Creating a teaching case involves crafting an engaging narrative that presents a real-world situation or dilemma for students to analyze and learn from. Here are the steps to create an effective teaching case:

  1. Understand the Purpose:
    • Clarify the educational objectives of your teaching case. What do you want students to learn? What skills or concepts should they develop?
  2. Choose a Relevant Topic:
    • Select a topic that aligns with your course content and resonates with students. It could be related to business, ethics, healthcare, law, or any other field.
  3. Collect Information:
    • Gather relevant data from primary or secondary sources. Interviews with the protagonist or others involved can enhance the authenticity of your case study.
  4. Structure the Narrative:
    • Write the case study in the third person and past tense.
    • Begin by introducing the central protagonist and their dilemma.
    • Develop the protagonist’s character, motivations, and context.
    • Summarize the dilemma again at the end of the case.
  5. Create Multiple Perspectives:
    • Present different viewpoints on the problem or decision.
    • Avoid providing analysis, conclusions, or solutions within the case itself.
  6. Get Permission:
    • Include signed permission from the relevant protagonist or company featured in the case.
    • Ensure you have the necessary copyright permissions for any external materials used.
  7. Write a Teaching Note:
    • Develop a teaching note to accompany the case study.
    • Include theoretical frameworks, managerial concepts, and relevant course content.
    • Explain how the case connects to the course material.
  8. Test in Class:
    • Decide how you’ll use the case in class: discussion, role-play, presentation, or examination.
    • Tailor the teaching method to suit the specific case.
    • Use the case in class – preferably in different settings e.g. undergraduate and graduate level. You may also ask a peer to test the case and give you feedback.

If you would like further information on case development, please reach out to us at

Students sitting in front of the Solbjerg Plads campus and looking at a computer