• The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

  • Nitin Nohria

advantages of case study method of executive development

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?”

  • Nitin Nohria is the George F. Baker Jr. and Distinguished Service University Professor. He served as the 10th dean of Harvard Business School, from 2010 to 2020.

Partner Center

What is the Case Study Method?

Baker library peak and cupola

Overview Dropdown up

Overview dropdown down, celebrating 100 years of the case method at hbs.

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.

Case Discussion Preparation Details Expand All Collapse All

In self-reflection in self-reflection dropdown down, in a small group setting in a small group setting dropdown down, in the classroom in the classroom dropdown down, beyond the classroom beyond the classroom dropdown down, how the case method creates value dropdown up, how the case method creates value dropdown down, in self-reflection, in a small group setting, in the classroom, beyond the classroom.

advantages of case study method of executive development

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.

What happens in class if nobody talks? Dropdown down

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.

View Frequently Asked Questions

Subscribe to Our Emails

Darden Logo

3 August 2023

Benefits of Case Study Learning Approach for Organizational Development

D arden is known for its interactive case method approach to learning. But, what is case method and how is it relevant to organizations in trying to develop their leaders? Lisa Cannell (MBA ’17), Managing Director for Client Solutions , shares her perspective as a former HR leader and Darden MBA grad who now works with corporate and association clients who partner with Darden on leadership development.

In my time as an HR leader, I have helped facilitate many change initiatives and organizational development interventions . Additionally, I have been responsible for developing individual leaders and bringing together top-performing teams. One thing I’ve discovered is the power of stories, where coworkers share examples and experiences to help learn. Most leaders do not have enough examples in their own experience on which to draw – and need to have exposure to peers and other avenues to learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Darden’s case method approach uses case studies to provide those stories, and prompt participants in the room to share their own stories and raise curiosity about options and outcomes. Typically, there is no “right” answer.

HR also has the visibility to see all roles and capabilities needed in the organization and how they inter-relate to meet the goals (or not!). Darden’s MBA program helped me realize even more how this is a unique view that not all leaders have. One of the biggest opportunities in succession planning is to help functional leaders to “ put on the enterprise hat”. This is because they may not have had the opportunity to see or work cross-functionally in their career and are naturally first and foremost concerned about the goals of their function. Oftentimes, I have played the “chief communicator,” for example, to help the operations team understand why the finance team needs “x,” why the sales and marketing team said “y” and why the executive team demands “z.”  Case study discussions bring that to life in a safe & experiential environment in the classroom laboratory.

There is mounting research about the importance of critical thinking skills for jobs in the future. For years I have seen this play out – where you really see it is lacking during times such as major corporate decision points, key people issues, unplanned crisis, etc. I have experimented with how to assess this and help leaders to develop critical thinking skills, since it comes with practice.  Darden teaches decision-making skills and decision-bias, both of which directly help critical thinking; however, all case study discussion, regardless of the case topic, is practice in critical thinking. Participants are put in a situation where they must think on their feet, ask questions and share their recommendations. Case study discussions build the critical thinking muscle.

Benefits of Case Study Discussion

  • Multiple aspects of business intertwined – demonstrates enterprise perspective.
  • Non-intrusive way to open up discussion on sensitive issues – focus is on another organization and what they did, should do, etc.; however, the mirror is held up eventually, usually by a participant saying “this is like us.”
  • Broader exposure to examples outside of company and/or industry – helps innovative and creative thinking.
  • Focused time and opportunity to share stories or real-life experiences where managers have learned lessons with their peers.
  • Cross-functional contribution to discussion from people across the organization – those who may be expert can help others and observe how their function is perceived.
  • OD intervention – the spotlight sometimes reveals an organizational issue that inspires participants to open up and have productive dialogue about what they are observing in their own organization and how they can collaborate on new ideas for how to approach issues or address a needed change.
  • No right answer – no prescriptive training on what to do – only options and decision-making based on critical thinking – reflects real life where there is usually more than one answer.
  • Safe environment for dissent, open and robust dialogue, and experimentation – much needed in many organizations.
  • Fun environment where curiosity, laughter and learning go hand-in-hand.
  • Team engagement to question assumptions, explore alternative viewpoints, and challenge existing processes.
  • Celebration of the “why” and the “what if” questions that spark innovation and drive positive change.
  • Critical thinking as a superpower, enabling us to analyze information objectively, identify biases, and challenge the status quo. It’s the art of asking thought-provoking questions – Why did that decision backfire? What assumptions were made? How could the outcome have been different? – and embracing a mindset of curiosity.

I welcome the opportunity to host you and your organization to observe a class and participate in a case study discussion. It is something that you need to experience to really appreciate!

Connect with Lisa to discuss your organization’s development needs or learn more about our Solutions for Organizations .

Related Posts

Client Solutions - Custom and Open Solutions for Organizations

6 January 2022

by Shaun Rozyn & Lisa Cannell

Lisa Cannell Client Solutions Managing Director

1 September 2022

Brandon Hall Human Capital Management Awards

31 August 2021

IESE Standout

What is the case method?

The case method is a teaching methodology based on the study and discussion of real business cases intended to help managers like you improve your decision-making skills. The method, established in 1921 by Harvard Business School, ultimately teaches you the art of managing uncertainty.

The case method is the art of managing uncertainty. Chris Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor

And what is the most important thing for you to do as a manager in uncertain situations? Make decisions . After all, you’re responsible for taking the initiative on finding the proper solution to a specific problem.

There are two types of problems you’ll face while making business decisions. There are those that can be solved objectively through a set process or equation and that require a single correct response. Then there are others that can be solved in a variety of ways. It’s the second type of problem that usually falls to you, the executive, to fix.

Can you learn this type of decision-making capability? Yes. In fact, that is precisely the goal of the case method: learning to respond to what are called “non-operational” problems in the business world. This methodology places you and your classmates in the role of manager when identifying the problems discussed in each case and seeking answers to problems. Crucially, it also prizes dynamic interaction between a diverse group of participants

4 reasons why the case method is the best learning methodology

1. real world experience.

The case method is the methodology that best reflects the realities you face as a manager. It helps you identify symptoms and grapple with problems that appear without obvious solutions. The goal is that the judicious decisions you make in a classroom setting will enable you to make them in the professional world.

2. Calibrated conversation

The case method allows you to learn through the discussion of previously prepared cases. Many of these cases will have been prepared by your professors and are based on their own business experiences.

3. An expansive view

The challenges posed by the cases presented to you will not have a single solution. It’s precisely that range of possible solutions, which you’ll discuss in-depth with your classmates, that makes the method such a valuable experience. With the case method, you’ll constantly learn from the insights and opinions of your fellow participants and the professor.

4. Cross-functional preparation

The case method will refine your management knowledge in ways that can be applied to a wide range of departments in your company, including finances, operations and human resources. At the same time, it will offer you a global vision of the repercussions your decisions may have on the organization.

Learn how the IESE case method works .

If you’re a prospective MBA student interested in learning more about the case method, consider attending an IESE Open Day for an in-person experience of the methodology. IESE’s Executive Education programs also offer you training tailored to whichever step along your career path you find yourself on, wherever you find yourself and whatever the challenges ahead.

Related Posts

Layoffs 1

To read this content please select one of the options below:

Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, executive learning through case discussion.

Management Decision

ISSN : 0025-1747

Article publication date: 14 October 2014

The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework with which to understand the issues that arise in the discussion cases included in this Special Issue and explains the role of case studies in the education of those responsible for leading organizations.


This paper is based upon the review of literature from a range of disciplines, all of which is relevant to executive learning; the analysis of the cases and papers in this Special Issue, and interviews with colleagues who use the case method.

The case method is useful in the education of managerial decision makers who face complex situations, but it is most effective when the cases contain certain essential ingredients and when the instructor is skilled in discussion leadership. These ingredients include the presence of a protagonist, the deep description of a problematic situation, the existence of at least two reasonable courses of action, and sufficient data to evaluate each alternative. The interactive nature of case discussions reinforces those values and behaviors that associate with civility.

Research limitations/implications

Since some of the discussion cases were in the process of completion, it was not always possible to evaluate the experience with their use in the classroom.

Practical implications

The introductory paper points to broader opportunities for the use of the case method, and for its adaptation to experiential learning, than is generally recognized in academia.

Social implications

The use of discussion cases in management schools, where future business leaders interact with professors and classmates in an environment of critical learning and respect for opinions of others, encourages behaviors of civility.


This introductory paper is valuable in providing a framework to integrate and make sense of the diverse topics, situations, and contexts described in the cases contained in the Special Issue.

  • Sensemaking
  • Case studies
  • Management education
  • Executive learning
  • Decision makers


The Guest Editors express sincere appreciation to the members of the review team including Luis Noel Alfaro, Juan Carlos Barahona, Esteban Brenes, Guillermo Cardoza, Arnoldo Camacho, Luciano Ciravegna, Forrest Colburn, Kenneth Hoadley, Mauricio Jenkins, Santiago Kraiselburd, Enrique Kramer, Luis López, Pablo Martín de Holan, Mauricio Melgarejo, Eduardo Montiel, Felipe Pérez, Andrea Prado, Mike Prescott, Carlos Quintanilla, Julio Sergio Ramírez, Pedro Raventós, Jorge Rivera, and Carlos Rodríguez, without whose dedication and experience the publication of this Special Issue would not have been possible.

C. Ickis, J. , G. Woodside, A. and Ogliastri, E. (2014), "Executive learning through case discussion", Management Decision , Vol. 52 No. 9, pp. 1552-1563.

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles

We’re listening — tell us what you think, something didn’t work….

Report bugs here

All feedback is valuable

Please share your general feedback

Join us on our journey

Platform update page.

Visit to discover the latest news and updates

Questions & More Information

Answers to the most commonly asked questions here

Green Garage

Case Study Method – 18 Advantages and Disadvantages

The case study method uses investigatory research as a way to collect data about specific demographics. This approach can apply to individuals, businesses, groups, or events. Each participant receives an equal amount of participation, offering information for collection that can then find new insights into specific trends, ideas, of hypotheses.

Interviews and research observation are the two standard methods of data collection used when following the case study method.

Researchers initially developed the case study method to develop and support hypotheses in clinical medicine. The benefits found in these efforts led the approach to transition to other industries, allowing for the examination of results through proposed decisions, processes, or outcomes. Its unique approach to information makes it possible for others to glean specific points of wisdom that encourage growth.

Several case study method advantages and disadvantages can appear when researchers take this approach.

List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method

1. It requires an intensive study of a specific unit. Researchers must document verifiable data from direct observations when using the case study method. This work offers information about the input processes that go into the hypothesis under consideration. A casual approach to data-gathering work is not effective if a definitive outcome is desired. Each behavior, choice, or comment is a critical component that can verify or dispute the ideas being considered.

Intensive programs can require a significant amount of work for researchers, but it can also promote an improvement in the data collected. That means a hypothesis can receive immediate verification in some situations.

2. No sampling is required when following the case study method. This research method studies social units in their entire perspective instead of pulling individual data points out to analyze them. That means there is no sampling work required when using the case study method. The hypothesis under consideration receives support because it works to turn opinions into facts, verifying or denying the proposals that outside observers can use in the future.

Although researchers might pay attention to specific incidents or outcomes based on generalized behaviors or ideas, the study itself won’t sample those situations. It takes a look at the “bigger vision” instead.

3. This method offers a continuous analysis of the facts. The case study method will look at the facts continuously for the social group being studied by researchers. That means there aren’t interruptions in the process that could limit the validity of the data being collected through this work. This advantage reduces the need to use assumptions when drawing conclusions from the information, adding validity to the outcome of the study over time. That means the outcome becomes relevant to both sides of the equation as it can prove specific suppositions or invalidate a hypothesis under consideration.

This advantage can lead to inefficiencies because of the amount of data being studied by researchers. It is up to the individuals involved in the process to sort out what is useful and meaningful and what is not.

4. It is a useful approach to take when formulating a hypothesis. Researchers will use the case study method advantages to verify a hypothesis under consideration. It is not unusual for the collected data to lead people toward the formulation of new ideas after completing this work. This process encourages further study because it allows concepts to evolve as people do in social or physical environments. That means a complete data set can be gathered based on the skills of the researcher and the honesty of the individuals involved in the study itself.

Although this approach won’t develop a societal-level evaluation of a hypothesis, it can look at how specific groups will react in various circumstances. That information can lead to a better decision-making process in the future for everyone involved.

5. It provides an increase in knowledge. The case study method provides everyone with analytical power to increase knowledge. This advantage is possible because it uses a variety of methodologies to collect information while evaluating a hypothesis. Researchers prefer to use direct observation and interviews to complete their work, but it can also advantage through the use of questionnaires. Participants might need to fill out a journal or diary about their experiences that can be used to study behaviors or choices.

Some researchers incorporate memory tests and experimental tasks to determine how social groups will interact or respond in specific situations. All of this data then works to verify the possibilities that a hypothesis proposes.

6. The case study method allows for comparisons. The human experience is one that is built on individual observations from group situations. Specific demographics might think, act, or respond in particular ways to stimuli, but each person in that group will also contribute a small part to the whole. You could say that people are sponges that collect data from one another every day to create individual outcomes.

The case study method allows researchers to take the information from each demographic for comparison purposes. This information can then lead to proposals that support a hypothesis or lead to its disruption.

7. Data generalization is possible using the case study method. The case study method provides a foundation for data generalization, allowing researches to illustrate their statistical findings in meaningful ways. It puts the information into a usable format that almost anyone can use if they have the need to evaluate the hypothesis under consideration. This process makes it easier to discover unusual features, unique outcomes, or find conclusions that wouldn’t be available without this method. It does an excellent job of identifying specific concepts that relate to the proposed ideas that researchers were verifying through their work.

Generalization does not apply to a larger population group with the case study method. What researchers can do with this information is to suggest a predictable outcome when similar groups are placed in an equal situation.

8. It offers a comprehensive approach to research. Nothing gets ignored when using the case study method to collect information. Every person, place, or thing involved in the research receives the complete attention of those seeking data. The interactions are equal, which means the data is comprehensive and directly reflective of the group being observed.

This advantage means that there are fewer outliers to worry about when researching an idea, leading to a higher level of accuracy in the conclusions drawn by the researchers.

9. The identification of deviant cases is possible with this method. The case study method of research makes it easier to identify deviant cases that occur in each social group. These incidents are units (people) that behave in ways that go against the hypothesis under consideration. Instead of ignoring them like other options do when collecting data, this approach incorporates the “rogue” behavior to understand why it exists in the first place.

This advantage makes the eventual data and conclusions gathered more reliable because it incorporates the “alternative opinion” that exists. One might say that the case study method places as much emphasis on the yin as it does the yang so that the whole picture becomes available to the outside observer.

10. Questionnaire development is possible with the case study method. Interviews and direct observation are the preferred methods of implementing the case study method because it is cheap and done remotely. The information gathered by researchers can also lead to farming questionnaires that can farm additional data from those being studied. When all of the data resources come together, it is easier to formulate a conclusion that accurately reflects the demographics.

Some people in the case study method may try to manipulate the results for personal reasons, but this advantage makes it possible to identify this information readily. Then researchers can look into the thinking that goes into the dishonest behaviors observed.

List of the Disadvantages of the Case Study Method

1. The case study method offers limited representation. The usefulness of the case study method is limited to a specific group of representatives. Researchers are looking at a specific demographic when using this option. That means it is impossible to create any generalization that applies to the rest of society, an organization, or a larger community with this work. The findings can only apply to other groups caught in similar circumstances with the same experiences.

It is useful to use the case study method when attempting to discover the specific reasons why some people behave in a specific way. If researchers need something more generalized, then a different method must be used.

2. No classification is possible with the case study method. This disadvantage is also due to the sample size in the case study method. No classification is possible because researchers are studying such a small unit, group, or demographic. It can be an inefficient process since the skills of the researcher help to determine the quality of the data being collected to verify the validity of a hypothesis. Some participants may be unwilling to answer or participate, while others might try to guess at the outcome to support it.

Researchers can get trapped in a place where they explore more tangents than the actual hypothesis with this option. Classification can occur within the units being studied, but this data cannot extrapolate to other demographics.

3. The case study method still offers the possibility of errors. Each person has an unconscious bias that influences their behaviors and choices. The case study method can find outliers that oppose a hypothesis fairly easily thanks to its emphasis on finding facts, but it is up to the researchers to determine what information qualifies for this designation. If the results from the case study method are surprising or go against the opinion of participating individuals, then there is still the possibility that the information will not be 100% accurate.

Researchers must have controls in place that dictate how data gathering work occurs. Without this limitation in place, the results of the study cannot be guaranteed because of the presence of bias.

4. It is a subjective method to use for research. Although the purpose of the case study method of research is to gather facts, the foundation of what gets gathered is still based on opinion. It uses the subjective method instead of the objective one when evaluating data, which means there can be another layer of errors in the information to consider.

Imagine that a researcher interprets someone’s response as “angry” when performing direct observation, but the individual was feeling “shame” because of a decision they made. The difference between those two emotions is profound, and it could lead to information disruptions that could be problematic to the eventual work of hypothesis verification.

5. The processes required by the case study method are not useful for everyone. The case study method uses a person’s memories, explanations, and records from photographs and diaries to identify interactions on influences on psychological processes. People are given the chance to describe what happens in the world around them as a way for researchers to gather data. This process can be an advantage in some industries, but it can also be a worthless approach to some groups.

If the social group under study doesn’t have the information, knowledge, or wisdom to provide meaningful data, then the processes are no longer useful. Researchers must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the case study method before starting their work to determine if the possibility of value exists. If it does not, then a different method may be necessary.

6. It is possible for bias to form in the data. It’s not just an unconscious bias that can form in the data when using the case study method. The narrow study approach can lead to outright discrimination in the data. Researchers can decide to ignore outliers or any other information that doesn’t support their hypothesis when using this method. The subjective nature of this approach makes it difficult to challenge the conclusions that get drawn from this work, and the limited pool of units (people) means that duplication is almost impossible.

That means unethical people can manipulate the results gathered by the case study method to their own advantage without much accountability in the process.

7. This method has no fixed limits to it. This method of research is highly dependent on situational circumstances rather than overarching societal or corporate truths. That means the researcher has no fixed limits of investigation. Even when controls are in place to limit bias or recommend specific activities, the case study method has enough flexibility built into its structures to allow for additional exploration. That means it is possible for this work to continue indefinitely, gathering data that never becomes useful.

Scientists began to track the health of 268 sophomores at Harvard in 1938. The Great Depression was in its final years at that point, so the study hoped to reveal clues that lead to happy and healthy lives. It continues still today, now incorporating the children of the original participants, providing over 80 years of information to sort through for conclusions.

8. The case study method is time-consuming and expensive. The case study method can be affordable in some situations, but the lack of fixed limits and the ability to pursue tangents can make it a costly process in most situations. It takes time to gather the data in the first place, and then researchers must interpret the information received so that they can use it for hypothesis evaluation. There are other methods of data collection that can be less expensive and provide results faster.

That doesn’t mean the case study method is useless. The individualization of results can help the decision-making process advance in a variety of industries successfully. It just takes more time to reach the appropriate conclusion, and that might be a resource that isn’t available.

The advantages and disadvantages of the case study method suggest that the helpfulness of this research option depends on the specific hypothesis under consideration. When researchers have the correct skills and mindset to gather data accurately, then it can lead to supportive data that can verify ideas with tremendous accuracy.

This research method can also be used unethically to produce specific results that can be difficult to challenge.

When bias enters into the structure of the case study method, the processes become inefficient, inaccurate, and harmful to the hypothesis. That’s why great care must be taken when designing a study with this approach. It might be a labor-intensive way to develop conclusions, but the outcomes are often worth the investments needed.

helpful professor logo

10 Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages

case study advantages and disadvantages, explained below

A case study in academic research is a detailed and in-depth examination of a specific instance or event, generally conducted through a qualitative approach to data.

The most common case study definition that I come across is is Robert K. Yin’s (2003, p. 13) quote provided below:

“An empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.”

Researchers conduct case studies for a number of reasons, such as to explore complex phenomena within their real-life context, to look at a particularly interesting instance of a situation, or to dig deeper into something of interest identified in a wider-scale project.

While case studies render extremely interesting data, they have many limitations and are not suitable for all studies. One key limitation is that a case study’s findings are not usually generalizable to broader populations because one instance cannot be used to infer trends across populations.

Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages

1. in-depth analysis of complex phenomena.

Case study design allows researchers to delve deeply into intricate issues and situations.

By focusing on a specific instance or event, researchers can uncover nuanced details and layers of understanding that might be missed with other research methods, especially large-scale survey studies.

As Lee and Saunders (2017) argue,

“It allows that particular event to be studies in detail so that its unique qualities may be identified.”

This depth of analysis can provide rich insights into the underlying factors and dynamics of the studied phenomenon.

2. Holistic Understanding

Building on the above point, case studies can help us to understand a topic holistically and from multiple angles.

This means the researcher isn’t restricted to just examining a topic by using a pre-determined set of questions, as with questionnaires. Instead, researchers can use qualitative methods to delve into the many different angles, perspectives, and contextual factors related to the case study.

We can turn to Lee and Saunders (2017) again, who notes that case study researchers “develop a deep, holistic understanding of a particular phenomenon” with the intent of deeply understanding the phenomenon.

3. Examination of rare and Unusual Phenomena

We need to use case study methods when we stumble upon “rare and unusual” (Lee & Saunders, 2017) phenomena that would tend to be seen as mere outliers in population studies.

Take, for example, a child genius. A population study of all children of that child’s age would merely see this child as an outlier in the dataset, and this child may even be removed in order to predict overall trends.

So, to truly come to an understanding of this child and get insights into the environmental conditions that led to this child’s remarkable cognitive development, we need to do an in-depth study of this child specifically – so, we’d use a case study.

4. Helps Reveal the Experiences of Marginalzied Groups

Just as rare and unsual cases can be overlooked in population studies, so too can the experiences, beliefs, and perspectives of marginalized groups.

As Lee and Saunders (2017) argue, “case studies are also extremely useful in helping the expression of the voices of people whose interests are often ignored.”

Take, for example, the experiences of minority populations as they navigate healthcare systems. This was for many years a “hidden” phenomenon, not examined by researchers. It took case study designs to truly reveal this phenomenon, which helped to raise practitioners’ awareness of the importance of cultural sensitivity in medicine.

5. Ideal in Situations where Researchers cannot Control the Variables

Experimental designs – where a study takes place in a lab or controlled environment – are excellent for determining cause and effect . But not all studies can take place in controlled environments (Tetnowski, 2015).

When we’re out in the field doing observational studies or similar fieldwork, we don’t have the freedom to isolate dependent and independent variables. We need to use alternate methods.

Case studies are ideal in such situations.

A case study design will allow researchers to deeply immerse themselves in a setting (potentially combining it with methods such as ethnography or researcher observation) in order to see how phenomena take place in real-life settings.

6. Supports the generation of new theories or hypotheses

While large-scale quantitative studies such as cross-sectional designs and population surveys are excellent at testing theories and hypotheses on a large scale, they need a hypothesis to start off with!

This is where case studies – in the form of grounded research – come in. Often, a case study doesn’t start with a hypothesis. Instead, it ends with a hypothesis based upon the findings within a singular setting.

The deep analysis allows for hypotheses to emerge, which can then be taken to larger-scale studies in order to conduct further, more generalizable, testing of the hypothesis or theory.

7. Reveals the Unexpected

When a largescale quantitative research project has a clear hypothesis that it will test, it often becomes very rigid and has tunnel-vision on just exploring the hypothesis.

Of course, a structured scientific examination of the effects of specific interventions targeted at specific variables is extermely valuable.

But narrowly-focused studies often fail to shine a spotlight on unexpected and emergent data. Here, case studies come in very useful. Oftentimes, researchers set their eyes on a phenomenon and, when examining it closely with case studies, identify data and come to conclusions that are unprecedented, unforeseen, and outright surprising.

As Lars Meier (2009, p. 975) marvels, “where else can we become a part of foreign social worlds and have the chance to become aware of the unexpected?”


1. not usually generalizable.

Case studies are not generalizable because they tend not to look at a broad enough corpus of data to be able to infer that there is a trend across a population.

As Yang (2022) argues, “by definition, case studies can make no claims to be typical.”

Case studies focus on one specific instance of a phenomenon. They explore the context, nuances, and situational factors that have come to bear on the case study. This is really useful for bringing to light important, new, and surprising information, as I’ve already covered.

But , it’s not often useful for generating data that has validity beyond the specific case study being examined.

2. Subjectivity in interpretation

Case studies usually (but not always) use qualitative data which helps to get deep into a topic and explain it in human terms, finding insights unattainable by quantitative data.

But qualitative data in case studies relies heavily on researcher interpretation. While researchers can be trained and work hard to focus on minimizing subjectivity (through methods like triangulation), it often emerges – some might argue it’s innevitable in qualitative studies.

So, a criticism of case studies could be that they’re more prone to subjectivity – and researchers need to take strides to address this in their studies.

3. Difficulty in replicating results

Case study research is often non-replicable because the study takes place in complex real-world settings where variables are not controlled.

So, when returning to a setting to re-do or attempt to replicate a study, we often find that the variables have changed to such an extent that replication is difficult. Furthermore, new researchers (with new subjective eyes) may catch things that the other readers overlooked.

Replication is even harder when researchers attempt to replicate a case study design in a new setting or with different participants.

Comprehension Quiz for Students

Question 1: What benefit do case studies offer when exploring the experiences of marginalized groups?

a) They provide generalizable data. b) They help express the voices of often-ignored individuals. c) They control all variables for the study. d) They always start with a clear hypothesis.

Question 2: Why might case studies be considered ideal for situations where researchers cannot control all variables?

a) They provide a structured scientific examination. b) They allow for generalizability across populations. c) They focus on one specific instance of a phenomenon. d) They allow for deep immersion in real-life settings.

Question 3: What is a primary disadvantage of case studies in terms of data applicability?

a) They always focus on the unexpected. b) They are not usually generalizable. c) They support the generation of new theories. d) They provide a holistic understanding.

Question 4: Why might case studies be considered more prone to subjectivity?

a) They always use quantitative data. b) They heavily rely on researcher interpretation, especially with qualitative data. c) They are always replicable. d) They look at a broad corpus of data.

Question 5: In what situations are experimental designs, such as those conducted in labs, most valuable?

a) When there’s a need to study rare and unusual phenomena. b) When a holistic understanding is required. c) When determining cause-and-effect relationships. d) When the study focuses on marginalized groups.

Question 6: Why is replication challenging in case study research?

a) Because they always use qualitative data. b) Because they tend to focus on a broad corpus of data. c) Due to the changing variables in complex real-world settings. d) Because they always start with a hypothesis.

Lee, B., & Saunders, M. N. K. (2017). Conducting Case Study Research for Business and Management Students. SAGE Publications.

Meir, L. (2009). Feasting on the Benefits of Case Study Research. In Mills, A. J., Wiebe, E., & Durepos, G. (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Case Study Research (Vol. 2). London: SAGE Publications.

Tetnowski, J. (2015). Qualitative case study research design.  Perspectives on fluency and fluency disorders ,  25 (1), 39-45. ( Source )

Yang, S. L. (2022). The War on Corruption in China: Local Reform and Innovation . Taylor & Francis.

Yin, R. (2003). Case Study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) 15 Self-Actualization Examples (Maslow's Hierarchy)
  • Chris Drew (PhD) Forest Schools Philosophy & Curriculum, Explained!
  • Chris Drew (PhD) Montessori's 4 Planes of Development, Explained!
  • Chris Drew (PhD) Montessori vs Reggio Emilia vs Steiner-Waldorf vs Froebel

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What is Executive Development? Definition, Objectives, Importance, Methods, Process, Factors Influencing

  • Post last modified: 5 May 2023
  • Reading time: 31 mins read
  • Post category: Human Resource Management / Human Resource

Coursera 7-Day Trail offer

  • What is Executive Development?

Executive Development is an ongoing process that helps managers gain knowledge, skills and abilities to handle current situations in a more efficient manner and get matured to handle future challenges successfully.

Executive development is also known as management development. It is one of the fastest developing areas in personnel. It is realized that an effective management team may be as important to the survival of an organization as any tangible item on the balance sheet.

Executive Development

Table of Content

  • 1 What is Executive Development?
  • 2 Executive Development Definition
  • 3.1 Sustain in a dynamic and competitive environment
  • 3.2 Ensure competent staff at all levels
  • 3.3 Develop leaders
  • 3.4 Executive Career Growth
  • 4 Importance of Executive Development
  • 5 Factors Influencing Executive Development
  • 6.1.1 Coaching
  • 6.1.2 Job Rotation
  • 6.1.3 Understudy
  • 6.1.4 Projects and assignments
  • 6.2.1 Lectures
  • 6.2.2 Conference
  • 6.2.3 Business Games
  • 6.2.4 Case Study
  • 6.2.5 Role playing
  • 6.2.6 Sensitivity Training
  • 6.2.7 In basket technique
  • 7.1 Analysis of Development Needs
  • 7.2 Appraisal of the Present Managerial Talent
  • 7.3 Planning Individual Development Programmes
  • 7.4 Establishing Training and Development Programme
  • 7.5 Evaluating Developing Programs

Executive Development Definition

Peter Drucker defines it as, “An institution that cannot produce its own managers will die. From an overall point of view, the ability of an institution to produce a manager is more important than its ability to produce goods efficiently and cheaply”.

According to Flippo, Executive development includes the process by which managers and executives acquire not only skills and competency in their present job but also capabilities for future managerial tasks of increasing difficulty and scope.

According to Johnson and Sorcher , Management development focuses on developing in a systematic manner, the knowledge base, attitudes, basic skills, interpersonal skills and technical skills of the managerial cadre.

Executive development refers to the programs, activities, and processes designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of executives and prepare them to meet the challenges of their current and future roles. – Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Objectives of Executive Development

4 major objectives of executive development are:

Sustain in a dynamic and competitive environment

Ensure competent staff at all levels, develop leaders, executive career growth.

Objectives of Performance Appraisal

In today’s dynamic world where there is huge competition, it is very important to stay abreast with the latest technologies, business processes etc. Managerial obsolescence is avoided by investing in the executives to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities.

They need to be efficient and competent enough to be able to deal with market forces and stay ahead of the competition.

There needs to be a competent staff at each level of the organization so that bottleneck can be avoided and business can smoothly run. Executives at each level should be good performers and their potential should be fully exploited.

There needs to be a competent staff. Executive development is a futuristic and long term process. It not only helps the executives perform their current jobs in an efficient manner but also teaches them how to get prepared for larger roles.

  • It creates leaders from within the organization.
  • It helps them grow to look at different business situations in a matured manner, broaden their outlook, enhances their ability to make the right decisions, improves their communication skills.
  • Executives at each level should be good performers and their potential should be fully exploited.

It plans the career growth for the executives. It not only enhances their business skills but also helps them grow personally and become better human beings. They are prepared for higher roles so that they can be promoted in future.

  • It leads to an increase in their morale, self-confidence and commitment to the organization.
  • They feel assured that their career goals can be met in the current organization, it leads to retention of employees and they do not feel the need to leave the organization for greener pastures.

Importance of Executive Development

Executive development is important for the following reasons:

  • Executive development programmes are required to train and develop professional managers.
  • It helps managers to develop skills to face cut throat competition.
  • It enables managers to face problems related to technology and institution.
  • It helps in developing better relations with the labors.
  • Executives need training and education to understand and adjust to changes in socio-economic changes.
  • Executive development is required to broader the outlook of managers.

Factors Influencing Executive Development

  • Failure to train the managers will lead to ineffective and inefficient managers who negatively affect the organization’s performance.
  • In the absence of training and developmental avenues, the performing managers may get demotivated and frustrated in leading the organizations.
  • The organizational performance may be affected by the loss of market shares, lower sales, reduced profitability, etc.
  • The absence/ shortage of trained and skilled managers make it important for organizations to have appropriate retention strategies.
  • The competitive pressures make it necessary for organizations to continuously roll out new products and services, and also maintain the quality of the existing ones.
  • The competitive environment is making it imperative for the organizations to continuously restructure and re-engineer, and to embark upon these processes, it is essential for the organizations to train the managers for the new scenarios.

Methods of Executive Development

Executive development methods can be broadly divided into the following two categories:

On the Job Training

  • Off the Job Training

Methods of Executive Development are:

Job Rotation

Projects and assignments, business games, role playing, sensitivity training, in basket technique.

Methods of Executive Development

Under on the job training the employees get trained while doing their day to day job. Skills are gained while employees are carrying out their daily tasks and responsibilities.

They learn in the real work environment by facing challenges and situations and solving them under the guidance of a much superior and experienced employee.

On the job training can take the following forms:

Coaching is a process under which the trainee is placed under a much experienced employee or a supervisor who instructs and guides the trainee in the day-to-day work.

  • He instructs him what tasks are to be completed and the procedure to successfully finish them and would guide him in times of errors committed by him.
  • To help the trainee grow and to enhance his decision making and analytical skills the supervisors may also ask him to handle complex situations and problems.

An employee is shifted between two or more roles or departments . This helps them gain knowledge and experience in varied fields. They get huge exposure to various aspects of the business.

  • They get developed in this way to handle larger roles where knowledge of the various fields is required.
  • It helps to keep them motivated as they have to face new challenges under different roles.
  • It also helps to reduce the monotony of the job and does not lead to boredom.
  • It helps them gain more experience and insights in the various fields of operations

A position in the organization may fall vacant in the near future because of reasons like retirement, promotion or transfer of the current job holder.

  • In such a case a junior resource is chosen by the head of a particular department who is placed as an understudy under the superior who is about to leave that position.
  • The superior will train the understudy closely and make him capable to handle the role efficiently by including him in all day to day processes and decision making.
  • This helps the organization to not get affected when the job holder moves on as they have trained staff ready to replace him.

Employees might be given some special projects and assignments to handle. They might have to do in-depth research, analysis and present a report that advises a solution to the problem or case in hand.

  • This provides the employee a first-hand experience and in-depth knowledge to work in the field.

Off the job Training

Off the Job training is imparted when new job skills and knowledge is to be taught to the employees. Off the job training takes place away from the immediate work place.

There might be classroom sessions and trainers from outside the organization to train the employees. It is costlier and more artificial than on the job training.

Below are the various forms of Off the Job Training

Lectures are conducted on a particular topic or a specialized area of work to a group of people. It is conducted by an experienced and learned person who has an in-depth knowledge in that area.

  • It can be done in the form of a powerpoint presentation, audio-visual aids or just a speech.
  • The presenter should have good communication and interpersonal skills, he should be completely confident about his knowledge and very clear while imparting it.
  • He should give room to discussions and allow it to become an interactive session to keep the atmosphere lively and maintain the interest of the audience.

Conference is a meeting of people conducted to discuss a common topic of interest.

All the individuals are asked to prepare on the topic and get together to discuss about it in detail. The conference leader creates an environment that promotes healthy discussions. The participants are encouraged to freely voice out their opinions on the topic in discussion.

  • It is an enriching experience for each participant as they have a lot to learn from other participants views and opinions.
  • The conference leader should make sure that the conference proceeds on the desired and planned guidelines.

Under this method of executive development, the trainees are generally divided into teams and given a hypothetical situation that is very close to a real-time situation.

  • They are asked to take certain decisions and solve the situation at hand or produce the desired results.
  • Once they come up with a plan it is fed in the system and they are informed about the impact and result of their decision.
  • On the basis of the feedback provided to they might want to change the course of action to be adopted to solve the situation, this exercise goes on till they are able to achieve the desired results.

This exercise helps in improving the managerial and leadership skills and the decision making ability of the participants. It is a very effective tool of executive development as it allows them to experience how their decisions and actions impact the business.

Decision making is a very important role of a manager that impacts the profitability of a business to a large extent. Case study method brings interesting real world situations into the classroom. These cases are generally based on complex situations that can arise in the business environment.

  • Participants are expected to thoroughly read and master the content of the case, they should be able to grasp the objective of the case study and identify the problem.
  • The solution to the problem would more or less be on the lines of the concepts already taught to them.
  • They should be able to decide on a corrective course of action to resolve the case study.
  • They should also be able to judge the impact and effectiveness of their corrective actions on the end result.
  • This helps in improving their managerial and decision-making skills.

Under the role playing method a complex or conflicting situation is presented to the trainees. Each trainee then plays a role of a specific organizational member whose presence and decision making is required to resolve the situation.

  • It is like a spontaneous stage act where each participant plays a different role and works towards solving a given problem in hand in a different capacity.
  • While they act out their roles they get familiar with their own business acumen, on immediate feedback they can correct mistakes and reorient their focus in the right way, this way they learn by doing things.
  • The main purpose of role play is to enhance the interpersonal skills of the participants as they learn how others react to their suggestions and how their decisions impact other roles.

Sensitivity training aims at developing behavioural flexibility by improving the tolerance power of the participants to each other’s behaviour.

  • It enables them to understand the views and opinions of others in a better manner.
  • It consists of an unstructured group of 10-15 people with no trainer or leader to guide them; hence the trainees are motivated to resolve the situation themselves.
  • In order to find out a solution they start forming some kind of hierarchy, some forcefully try to become leaders and might be opposed by other trainees.
  • It leads to self-realization of what one wants and how the others react to their way of handling a situation.
  • Without the trainers support the trainees begin to examine their interpersonal behavior, giving each other feedback and starting to experiment with range of new behaviors and values which they might further use in their workplace.

In this approach, the trainees are presented with a number of tasks and problems that they might find in their “basket” while performing the role of a manager.

  • Various files, phone calls, reports, messages are handed over to them in no particular sequence.
  • They need to priorities the tasks in hand, delegate the work and clear the basket within a given time frame.
  • This helps acquaint them with the complexities of the job of a manager.

Executive Development Process

Contemporary organizations have realized the importance of human capital and increasingly finding its necessary to continuously train and develop human resources.

The process of arriving at the development needs of the executives can be comprehensively viewed through the process given in Fig:

Executive Development Process

Stage of Executive Development Process

In Stage I, at the macro level, there are three key elements are considered as

  • Competitive advantage
  • Organizational strategy
  • Organizational objectives

The analysis of the competitive environment helps the organization to decide its competitive positioning in the marketplace, based on which the organizational strategy is drawn out in an attempt to transform or reposition of the organization.

This stage deals with analysis on the competency mapping, identification of competency gap and career planning. This stage is the most important and crucial phase of the executive development process.

  • In the competency stage which helps to capture the competencies of all the employees of the organization which includes the capacities of the management also.
  • In the second stage, the organizational requirements and competency gap to be analyzed.
  • In the third phase, this deals with identifying and verifying the organizational needs, individual growth and along with career planning of the executives.

This stage deals with the activities involving training need assessment of individuals and of all employees based on which Annual Training Plan (ATP) is drawn.

Based on the annual training plan the employees are chosen to expose to either corporate training program, for internal training programs and external organizations.

Steps of Executive Development Process

Analysis of Development Needs

Appraisal of the present managerial talent, planning individual development programmes, establishing training and development programme, evaluating developing programs.

Steps of Executive Development Process

First of all the present and future development needs of the organization are ascertained. It is necessary to determine how many and what type of executives are required to meet the present and future needs of the enterprise.

A qualitative assessment of the existing executives is made to determine the type of executive talent available within the organization.

Each one of us has a unique set of physical, intellectual and emotional characteristics. Therefore, the development plan should be tailor-made for each individual.

The HR department prepares comprehensive and well-conceived programmes.

Considerable money, time and efforts are spent on executive development programmes. It is therefore natural to find out to what extent the programme’s objective has been achieved.

  • R. P. Lynton, U. Prateek, “Training for Development”, Sage Publications 2002.
  • Goldstein, “Training in Organizations”, Burr Ridge: McGraw Hill, Irwin, 1999.
  • W. Fitzgerald, “Training versus Development,” Training and Development, 46, 1992.
  • K.Dayal, “Management Training in Organisations”, Prentics Hall, New Delhi, 1970

What is Executive Development

Human Resources Tutorial

( Click on Topic to Read )

  • Human Resource Management
  • Functions of HRM
  • Human Resource Planning
  • What is Recruitment ?
  • What is Selection ?
  • Employee Induction
  • Types of Training
  • Importance of Training
  • Training Process
  • Human Resource Accounting
  • Methods of Human Resource Accounting
  • What is Motivation ?
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Performance Appraisal Process
  • Performance Appraisal Problems
  • Management by Objectives
  • 360 Degree Performance Appraisal
  • What is Compensation ?
  • Employee Discipline
  • What is Employee Grievance ?
  • What is Collective Bargaining ?
  • What is HRIS?
  • What is HR Audit ?
  • What is Human Resource Planning ?
  • Human Resource Planning Process

Human Resource Demand Forecasting

  • What is Human Resource Development ?
  • Challenges of Human Resource Development
  • What is Performance Appraisal?
  • What is Succession Planning?
  • What is International Human Resource Planning?
  • What is Job Analysis ?
  • What is Job Design ?
  • What is Recruitment?
  • Effective Recruiting
  • What is Selection?
  • What is Employee Induction ?
  • What is Career Planning?
  • What is Knowledge Management?
  • International Human Resource Management
  • Cross Cultural Theories
  • Dimensions of Culture
  • HRM Practices
  • Strategic Human Resource Management

Difference between Global HRM and Domestic HRM

  • International Selection Process
  • Expatriate Training & Development in IHRM
  • Process of Selecting Expatriates
  • International Compensation Management
  • What is Disciplinary Action?
  • What is Competency Based Training?
  • Human Resource Development
  • Methods of Human Resource Development

Steps for Designing HRD Intervention

  • Employee Orientation
  • Employee Socialization

Realistic Job Review

  • Performance Management System
  • 360 Degree Assessment
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • What is Coaching?
  • What is Mentoring ?
  • Leadership Development
  • Management Development
  • Organisational Development
  • What is Planned Change?
  • What is OD Interventions?
  • What is Performance Management ?
  • Performance Planning
  • Competency Mapping
  • What is Performance Appraisal ?
  • Employee Performance Monitoring
  • Performance Counselling
  • Performance Management and Reward
  • Ethics in Performance Management
  • Role of HR Professionals in Performance Management
  • What is Organizational Behavior?
  • What is Personality?
  • Theories of Personality
  • What is Perception?
  • What is Learning?
  • Theories of Learning
  • What is Attitude?
  • What is Motivation?
  • Motivation Theories
  • Mcclelland’s Needs Theory of Motivation
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Herzberg Two Factor Theory
  • Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation
  • What is Assessment Centre?
  • Consumer Attitude Formation
  • What is Culture?
  • Consumer Decision Making Process
  • What is Organisational culture?
  • What is Leadership?
  • What is Leader?
  • Organisational Stress
  • What is Organisational Culture?
  • Trompenaars Model of Organisational Culture
  • Organisational Culture Models

Types of Organisational Culture

  • Corporate Culture and Organisational Success
  • Creation of Organisational Culture
  • Sustaining Organisational Culture
  • Managerial Decisions Affected by Culture
  • Where Does Organizational Culture Comes From?
  • Functions of Organisational Culture
  • Ethical Organizational Culture
  • What is Culture Assessment?
  • Workplace Culture and Practice
  • Changing Organisational Culture
  • Innovative Culture in Organization
  • Leadership in Organization Culture
  • Organisational Culture and Business Strategy
  • Organizational Culture and Strategic Planning
  • ERP Implementation
  • Business Process Management
  • What is Competency Modeling?
  • Kirkpatrick Training Evaluation
  • What is Industrial Relations?
  • Organisational Change
  • What is Sales Budget?
  • What is Sales Control?
  • What is Sales Analysis?
  • What is Sales Quotas?
  • What is Sales Territories?
  • What is Group ?
  • Group Dynamics
  • Organisational Culture
  • Group Decision Making
  • Group Conflict
  • Diversity in the Workplace
  • Types of Powers
  • Factors Affecting Communication in Organisation
  • How to Create Training Program

You Might Also Like

Read more about the article What is International Human Resource Management (IHRM)? Approaches, Dimensions, Activities, Challenges

What is International Human Resource Management (IHRM)? Approaches, Dimensions, Activities, Challenges

5 step of training process & systematic approach.

Read more about the article What is Planned Change? Process, Theory

What is Planned Change? Process, Theory

What is performance management objectives, concept, principles.

Read more about the article What is Employee Discipline? Definition, Types, Causes, Importance of Creating

What is Employee Discipline? Definition, Types, Causes, Importance of Creating

What is employee induction objectives, process steps, supply forecasting methods, this post has one comment, leave a reply cancel reply.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

World's Best Online Courses at One Place

We’ve spent the time in finding, so you can spend your time in learning

Digital Marketing

Personal growth.

advantages of case study method of executive development


advantages of case study method of executive development

Executive Development

advantages of case study method of executive development

Everything you need to know about executive development.

Executive development – or simply development because it refers to learning opportunities thrown open to managers working at various levels – is any attempt to improve managerial performance by imparting knowledge, changing attitudes or increasing skills.

The aim of development is not just to improve current job performance of managers but to prepare them for future challenging roles.

Executive development or management development is a systematic and continuous process through which the executives learn advanced knowledge and skills in managing.


Executive Development Programme (EDP) is a planned and organised process of learning and growth designed to improve managerial behaviour and performance of executives by cultivating their mental abilities and inherent qualities through the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge insights and skills.

In the words of Michael Armstrong, “Executive development is eventually something that the executive has to attain himself. But he will do this much better if he is given encouragement, guidance and opportunity by his company”.

Learn about:-

1. Introduction to Executive Development 2. Meaning and Definition of Executive Development 3. Concept 4. Objectives 5. Need 6. Levels 7. Principles

8. Importance 9. Process 10. Factors Influencing 11. Methods 12. Obstacles  13. Perquisites for Success 14. Evaluation.

Executive Development: Meaning, Definition, Concept, Need, Importance, Factors, Methods, Obstacles and Evaluation

  • Introduction to Executive Development
  • Meaning and Definition of Executive Development
  • Concept of Executive Development
  • Objectives of Executive Development
  • Need for Executive Development
  • Levels of Executive Development
  • Principles of Executive Development
  • Importance of Executive Development
  • Process of Executive Development
  • Factors Influencing Executive Development Processes in Organizations
  • Methods of Executive Development
  • Obstacles that Hamper Executive Development
  • Requisites for Success of Executive Development
  • Evaluation of Executive Development

Executive Development – Introduction

Executive development – or simply development because it refers to learning opportunities thrown open to managers working at various levels – is any attempt to improve managerial performance by imparting knowledge, changing attitudes or increasing skills. The aim of development is not just to improve current job performance of managers but to prepare them for future challenging roles.

This would involve upgrading their knowledge, looking at things from a refreshing fresh angle or simply increasing their skill sets so that they can slip into complex and more demanding roles effortlessly. Development aims at building the competencies of people, of preparing them for planned career growth and is always future-focused.

Development is different from training because it focuses on less tangible aspects of performance, such as attitudes and values. It is a long-term educational exercise that helps managers to acquire conceptual and theoretical knowledge in a systematic manner.

The reasons for undertaking executive development in organizations may be summarized as follows:

i. Change and competition are continuous features which require continuous adaptation by the organizations. For this, continuous upgradation of skills and competencies at all levels, specifically at the management levels, is necessary.

ii. There is a need to hone the leadership skills of managers. Today’s organizations need leaders, not managers. The executive development programme (EDF) aims to address this particular need.

iii. Continuous learning and knowledge development inform and mould managers, which also helps them gain the respect of their subordinates. Motivating the management towards learning executive development is a systematized approach.

iv. Information technology (IT) has become an all pervasive phenomenon and a majority of the present-day organiza­tional processes are seamlessly integrated with IT. The decision making process has also been made easy with the help of IT support. It is thus necessary for the managers to become IT savvy to use IT for enhancing the performance of their departments.

v. People management skills, along with technical skills, play a crucial role in the growth and evolution of managers. The EDF addresses the need for developing the human competencies of managers.

Executive development is highly beneficial to both the organisation and the individuals. Employees and managers with relevant experiences and capabilities enhance the ability of an organisation to compete and adapt to a changing competitive environment. In the development process, the individuals’ careers also gain focus and evolve. The success of development effort, to be marked as effective depends upon the following inputs-

Trainee’s personal characteristics, such as his intelligence and motivation to learn; h is actual learning efforts. Development can turn out to be a fruitful venture, if the individual firmly believes in the exercise and seeks to undertake the explorative journey in a sincere way. All development is actually self-development. The motivation to change for the better should come from within. External factors could only facilitate the transformation process.

Executive Development – What is Executive Development: Meaning and Definition Propounded by Terry, Koontz and O’Donnell, Beach, Armstrong & Flippo

Executive development is considered as a systematic process of learning and growth through which executives gain and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitude to their jobs in the organisations efficiently and effectively. Executive development relates experience with learning. The main purpose of executive development is that managers should learn from their experiences.

With the help of executive development the executives learn to improve their behaviour and performance. This process of learning is targeted towards the implication that there will be changed behaviour on the part of individual who are provided with adequate training and education.

Executive development or management development is a systematic and continuous process through which the executives learn advanced knowledge and skills in managing. Executive Development Programme (EDP) is a planned and organised process of learning and growth designed to improve managerial behaviour and performance of executives by cultivating their mental abilities and inherent qualities through the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge insights and skills. This definition points out two important elements of executive development.

First, executive development will involve an improvement in the behaviour of the persons in the management, given the necessary training and education.

Secondly, Executive development is a continuous process. It never stops. The executives keep on learning through job experiences and by participating in the training programme.

In the words of George R. Terry, “Executive development should produce change in behaviour which is more in keeping with the organisation’s goals than the previous behaviour. Such a change frequently consists of a number of small steps resulting from the training, but the cumulative effect is considerable as the end result is sought. It is also basic that a terminal behaviour is identified before the development efforts start”.

According to Koontz and O’Donnell, “Executive development concerns the means by which a person cultivates those skills whose application will improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which the anticipated results of a particular organisational segment are achieved”.

According to Dale S. Beach, “The role of the company in management development is to establish the programme and the development opportunities for its present and potential managers”.

Flippo, “Executive Development includes the process by which managers and executives acquire not only skills and competency in their present jobs but also capabilities for further managerial tasks of increasing difficulty and scope”.

Beach, “Executive development is a systematic process of training and growth by which individuals gain and apply knowledge, skill, insights and attitudes to manage work organizations effectively”.

Bateman and Snell, “Executive development is teaching managers and professional employees broad skills needed for their present and future jobs”.

Thus, from the above definitions, it is clear that the executive development is a systematic and planned process of growth and development by which managers develop their abilities to manage. Executive development is the result of not only participation in formal courses of instruction but also the result of the actual job experience.

It aims at improving the performance of the managers by providing to them opportunities for growth and development. Mere classroom lectures of and class-study do not guarantee that the managers will develop but what is more important is the efforts of the managers themselves.

Every manager should make his own contribution to his own development because others can create or provide only opportunities. The responsibility of the company is only to create or provide opportunities whereas the responsibility of the manager is to take full advantage of such opportunities to develop themselves.

Executive Development – Concept

Executive or management development focuses on manager’s personal growth. It basically aims at improving judgment, logical thinking of managers to take complex decisions and to take responsibility. Executive development is a planned, system­atic and continuous process of learning and growth by which managers develop their conceptual and analytical abilities to manage.

It is combination of both experience and skills. The participants should also have capacity and self-motivation to learn and develop themselves.

Executive development is thus:

1. A planned effort to improve executive’s ability to handle high-level responsibilities.

2. It is continuous, ongoing activity as it aims improving total personality, behaviour, attitude of managers which cannot be done overnight.

3. It is a long-term process, as managers take time to acquire and improve their capabilities.

4. It is proactive in nature as it focuses attention on the present as well as future requirements of both the organisation and the individuals.

1. Continuous Process – Executive development is a continuous process because there is no fixed time limit for learning. It is not a one shot activity and continues throughout the career of the mangers.

2. Long Process – Executive development is a long process and takes time. It is time consuming because the skills of the managers cannot be developed overnight.

3. Planned Activity – Executive development is a well-planned, organized, and systematic activity. It is not a trial and error approach.

4. Involves Stresses and Strains – Development does not takes place in the total peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. It involves stresses and strains.

5. Conducive Environment – Executive development needs conducive environment which should be encouraging and stimulating. Further, it also require that adequate feedback should be received about the degree of development of the personnel.

6. Guided Self Development – Executive development can only be made possible only when the manager himself wants to learn. The individual must have the desire to learn and practice what he is taught. Coercion can never lead to the development of executives or the managers.

Executive Development – What are the Objectives of Executive Development: Knowledge to New Entrants, Improving Performance, Preventing Obsolescence and a Few Others

Following are the primary or important objectives of Executive Development:

1. Knowledge to New Entrants – The objective of executive development is to impart basic knowledge and information to the new entrants in the organisation for the purpose increasing their overall knowledge and improving their conceptual and decision making skills.

2. Improving Performance – Executive development aims for the improvement of the performance of the managers at all levels in their present jobs by introducing them with the latest concepts, information, and techniques.

3. Preparing Managers for Future Positions – Executive development has the main purpose to build the second line of the competent officers and prepare them for their future responsible positions as part of their career progression.

4. Preventing Obsolescence – The aim of executive development is to prevent obsolescence of executives by making them aware of the latest techniques and concepts in their area of specialization.

5. Developing Latest Management Techniques – Executive development has its purpose to develop and implement the latest management techniques in place of the traditional systems for increasing the productivity of the managers and the organisation as the whole.

6. Opportunities to Executives – The objective executive development is to provide the new and better opportunities to the executives so that they can fulfil their career aspirations.

7. Optimum Utilization of Managerial Resources – The aim of executive development is to optimally utilize the managerial resources in the organisation.

8. Introducing Changes – Executive development aims for the introduction of the required changes by developing executives and broadening their perspectives so that they can work as the change agents.

Executive Development – Need

There is growing need for the development of an efficient managerial pool to meet the challenges of industry. Realising this, many management institutes and training organisations have geared up their training and development activities to a great extent. However, there is a certain imbalance in the spread of management education. A concentration of management training is found in the industrial sector mostly in traditional industries and public sector enterprises.

1. Techno-managers in such sectors as engineering and steel, coal, fertilizer, oil and cement industries. Personnel in these industries need training not only in the functional areas of management but also need to acquire a thorough knowledge of the sector.

2. Management resource mobilisation towards professionalising such public utilities as water supply, power distribution, transport and communications, for agriculture and industry are dependent on the efficient functioning of these utilities.

3. Government and civic offices organised to render public services, including municipal services, housing, insurance, mass media, police, medical services and education, have been untouched by the management movement. The “managerialisation” of these services needs immediate attention.

4. Management principles and techniques need to be introduced in other areas of national economy – managerial services for agriculture and rural development, irrigation, co-operation and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and marketing. Management know-how also needs to be brought to bear on production processes at the farm level with a view to increasing efficiency in the tertiary or service sector in rural areas.

5. Public administration is a vast sector which needs management attention, because this segment has a direct relevance to economic and social activity, for it brings functionaries into contact with the citizenry and the entrepreneurial class.

6. Management development programmes for all those who are engaged in positions above the supervisory level of operations – whether as Deans of hospitals, the Vice-Chancellors of Universities, Superintendents of Police or Collectors of districts. Their job calls for the use of a management component which is concerned with such skills as leadership and communication. For them, training in management, productivity and human relations would be very valuable.

Executive development programmes help managers to cope with rapid technological change, cut­throat competition, sudden changes in government policies, changes in the outlook and expectations of a vast majority of workers possessing transferable skills.

Managers can update their skills, knowledge and competencies from time to time in sync with these changing trends and tackle knotty issues with confidence. In short, no organisation can achieve success in the long run unless it tries to improve, expand and develop its talent pool through constant learning initiatives.

Executive Development – 3 Levels of Management: Top, Middle Management and Middle Functional Executive and Specialists

1. top management :.

This consists of chief executives designated as chairman, managing director or as chief executive officer. This level is responsible for overall management of an organization within the policy frame work framed by the Board of Directors.

The following functions fall within their authority jurisdiction:

i. Formulation of long-term strategies.

ii. Issuing directions and instructions to various lower level functional areas.

iii. Coordinating the functions of different functional units.

iv. Appointing key personnel, performance appraisal, compensation decision and training and development of leaders.

v. Reviving and controlling organizational performances.

vi. Maintaining and being in constant touch with environmental elements.

vii. Continuously leading the organization for betterment and excellence.

2. Middle Management :

The various functional heads form the middle management. They act as interface between the top management and the operative management. This level faces pressure from three fronts namely, top management who impose targets and transmit downwards policies and strategies for implementation, operative management which give its views and suggestion and middle peers who depend on one another for smooth work performance at various domains.

Following are the responsibilities of the middle management:

1. Performance of domain functions.

2. Securing cooperation from their peers at various domains.

3. Integrating the various intra-domain functions.

4. Hiring human resources for its domain and training and developing the human resources employed in its domain.

5. Managing the respective domains in a way that it contributes its share to overall achievement of the organizational goal.

3. Middle Functional Executive and Specialists :

(i) To increase knowledge of business functions and operations in specified fields in marketing, production, finance, personnel;

(ii) To bring about an awareness of the broad aspects of management problems, and an acquaintance with, and appreciation of, interdepartmental relations;

(iii) To develop familiarity with the managerial uses of financial accounting, psychology, business law and business statistics;

(iv) To inculcate knowledge of human motivation and human relationships; and

(v) To develop responsible leadership.

Executive Development   – 10 Main Principles or Guidelines Observed by the Management towards Executive Development

The following principles or guidelines should be observed by the management towards executive development:

1. It is the responsibility of the management to arrange for executive development, which should be kept in charge of a senior executive.

2. Every departmental manager should take the responsibility of developing his subordinate extinctive.

3. Executive development programme should aim at meeting the needs of the individual executive as well as the needs of the enterprise.

4. The pre-requisite of effective executive development is the se­lection of the right man for the executive position.

5. The management should formulate a definite strategy of ex­ecutive development specifying clearly the various objectives, coverage and type of development.

6. The management should prepare a realistic time schedule for the executive development programme keeping in view the present and future needs of the organisation.

7. The executive development programme should be made ap­plicable to each and every executive so as to avoid executive obsolescence and impart latest knowledge and skills to all the executives.

8. The management should create congenial and favourable cli­mate conducive to executive development.

9. The participation of executives in every development pro­gramme should be made mandatory.

10. The management should arrange for feedback to its trainee executives so as to enable them to take necessary steps to improve themselves.

Executive Development   – Importance: Increase in Complexities and Size of the Organization, Shortage of Trained Personnel, Technological Changes and a Few Others

In modern organisations there is a great need of executive or management development programmes. The quality of managers greatly affects the achievement of goals of the organisation as the difference in the price policy, inventory policy, marketing and production policy is explained through the quality of management. Executive development thus helps in maintaining the efficient manpower through which organizational objectives can be achieved.

The importance for executive development is felt due to the following reasons:

1. Increase in Complexities and Size of the Organization – In the phase of increasing competition the size and complexities of the organisations is continuously increasing. Due to this reason the mangers need to be developed to handle the complicated problems of these organisations.

2. Shortage of Trained Personnel – It is very difficult to recruit and select the personnel according to the requirements. The need mostly arises to develop the personnel so that they could perform their assigned tasks effectively and efficiently, which is done through executive development.

3. Technological Changes – The technological changes are rapidly taking place in this competitive business environment. The modern business organisations are continuously introducing the new equipments, machines, and methods of production. So the mangers require the latest knowledge of these new techniques and technology which is provided through executive development.

4. Socio Cultural Changes – The rapid change also occurs in the socio cultural environment and for understanding the behaviour of the people in the proper perspective there is a great need to develop the managers.

5. Increased Competition – There is a tough competition in the market and the consumers have become conscious of their rights and they cannot be now easily misguided. The executive development is of great help in properly understanding and meeting the needs of the consumers.

6. Changes in Labour Management Relation – Executive development is needed due to the reason that there are frequent changes in the labour management relations and with the help of executive development the managers can ensure industrial peace in the organisation.

7. Social Responsibility of Management – Due to the changing business philosophy, the social responsibility is widely recognized by the business leaders. So the increased management tasks arising out of the fulfilling social responsibility have made the executive development necessary in the corporate world.

8. Increased Professionalism – Management of public utilities, state enterprises and civic bodies are being professionalized for the purpose of improving the operational efficiency. This professionalism is ensured through executive development.

9. Unending Process – Management development is used for imparting knowledge about the latest concepts and as learning is an unending process, this makes the executive- development as an unending process.

Executive Development – 6 Step Process: Analysing Development Needs, Appraisal of Present Management Needs, Inventory of Executive Manpower and a Few Others

The process of executive development consists of the following steps:

Step # 1. Analysing Development Needs:

In the first instance, once a decision is made to launch an executive development programme, a close and critical examination of the present and future developmental needs of the organisation is made. It becomes necessary to know how many and what type of managers are required to meet the present and future needs of the organisation.

This requires organisational planning. A critical examination of the organisation structure in the light of the future plans of the organisation reveals what the organisation needs in terms of departments, functions and executive positions.

After getting the information, it will be easy to prepare the descriptions and specifications for different executive positions, which in turn gives information relating to the type of education, experience, training, special knowledge, skills and personal traits for each position.

By comparing the existing talents including those to be developed from within with those which are required to meet the projected needs enables the management to make a policy decision as to whether it wants to fill these positions from within or from outside sources.

Step # 2. Appraisal of Present Management Needs:

For the purpose of making above mentioned comparison, a qualitative assessment the existing executives will be made to determine the type of executive talent available within the organisation and an estimate of their potential for development is also added to that. Then comparison is made between the available executive talent and the projected required talent.

Step # 3. Inventory of Executive Manpower:

An inventory is prepared to have complete information about each executive. For each executive, a separate card or file is maintained to record therein such data as name, age, length of service, education, experience, health, test results, training courses completed, psychological test results, performance appraisal results etc.

An analysis of such information will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each executive in certain functions relative to the future needs of the organisation.

Step # 4. Planning Individual Development Programmes:

Guided by the results of the performance appraisal which reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each executive, the management is required to prepare planning of individual development programmes for each executive. According to Dale S. Beach, “Each one of us has a unique set of physical, intellectual, emotional characteristics. Therefore, a development plan should be tailor-made for each individual”.

“It would be possible to impart knowledge and skills and mould behaviour of human beings, but it would be difficult to change the basic personality and temperament of a person once he reaches adult-hood stage”.

Step # 5. Establishing Training and Development Programmes:

It is the responsibility of the personnel or human resource department to prepare comprehensive and well-conceived development programmes. It is also required to identify existing levels of skills, knowledge etc. of various executives and compare them with their respective job requirements.

It is also required to identify development needs and establish specific development programmes in the fields of leadership, decision-making, human relations etc. But it may not be in a position to organise development programmes for the executives at the top level as could be organised by reputed institutes of management.

In such circumstances, the management deputes certain executives to the development programmes organised by the reputed institutes of management.

Further, the personnel or human resource department should go on recommending specific executive development programmes based on the latest changes and development in the management education.

Step # 6. Evaluating Development Programmes:

Since executive development programmes involve huge expenditure in terms of money, time and efforts, the top management of the organisation is naturally interested to know to what extent the programme objectives have been fulfilled. Such programme evaluation will reveal the relevance of the development programmes and the changes that have been effected by such programmes.

If the objectives of the programme have been achieved, the programme is said to be successful. But it is difficult to measure the changes or effects against the pre-determined objectives.

While the effect of certain programmes can be noticed only in the long-run in a more general way, the effect of certain other programmes may be noticed in the short-run in a specific way. Grievance reduction, cost reduction, improved productivity, improved quality etc. can be used to evaluate the effects of development programmes.

Executive Development   – Factors Influencing the Executive Development Processes in Organizations

A host of factors influence the executive development processes in organizations.

i. Failure to train the managers will lead to ineffective and inefficient managers who negatively affect the organization’s performance.

ii. In the absence of training and developmental avenues, the performing managers may get de-motivated and frustrated in leading the organizations. This would lead to severe losses for the organization in financial parameters, in terms of the cost of recruiting and training the new incumbent.

iii. The organizational performance may be affected by the loss of market shares, lower sales, reduced profitability, etc.

iv. The absence/shortage of trained and skilled managers makes it important for the organizations to have appropriate retention strategies. Training and development is being used by organizations as a part of their retention strategy.

v. The competitive pressures make it necessary for organizations to continuously roll out new products and services, and also maintain the quality of the existing ones. The training and development of managers would help them in developing the competencies in these areas.

vi. The competitive environment is making it imperative for the organizations to continuously restructure and re-engineer, and to embark upon these processes, it is essential for the organizations to train the managers for the new scenarios.

Executive Development and E-learning :

The IT environment has, in a way, created challenges and also opportunities for organizations. The challenges include the rapid pace of changes, and on the opportunities front, it has provided the following advantages-

i. Knowledge management has become easy for implementation. In the traditional environment, sharing of intellectual resources and knowledge was a herculean task. Organizations had to prepare, print, and mail the circulars across the organization for the dissemination of information, which frequently led to the obsoleteness of information by the time the employees, because of the time gap, received it.

Further, it was tough for the organiza­tions to come up with strategies to continuously collect, update, and dissem­inate the information.

ii. Knowledge management has provided various forums such as Intranets, on-line discussion forums, expert panels, etc.

iii. E-learning has made learning easy, irrespective of the time and distance factors, e-learning has led to the empowerment of employees, since the employers are now able to decide upon the pace and content of learning, depending on their requirements.

The above developments have affected the executive development process in a significant way and have helped in transforming the brick-and-mortar learning scenario to an e-learning scenario.

Executive Development – What are the Important Methods of Executive Development: On the Job Techniques and Off the Job Techniques

The methods of executive development are broadly classified into two broad categories:

1. On the Job Techniques.

2. Off the Job Techniques.

1. On the Job Techniques :

On the job development of the managerial personnel is the most common form which involves learning while performing the work. On the job techniques are most useful when the objective is to improve on the job behaviour of the executives. This type of training is inexpensive and also less time consuming. The trainee without artificial support can size up his subordinates and demonstrate his leadership qualities.

The following methods are used under on the job training:

(i) Coaching:

In this method the immediate superior guides and instructs his subordinates as a coach. It is learning through on the job experience because a manager can learn when he is put on a specific job. The immediate superior briefs the trainees what is expected from them and guides them how to effectively achieve them. The coach or immediate superior watches the performance of their trainees and directs them in correcting their mistakes.

Advantages of the Coaching Method:

(a) It is the process of learning by doing.

(b) Even if no executive development programme exists, the executives can coach their subordinates.

(c) Coaching facilitates periodic feedback and evaluation.

(d) Coaching is very useful for developing operative skill and for the orientation of the new executives.

Disadvantages of the Coaching Method:

(a) It requires that the superior should be a good teacher and the guide.

(b) Training atmosphere is not free from the problems and worries of the daily routine.

(c) Trainee may not get sufficient time for making mistakes and learn from the experience.

(ii) Under Study:

The person who is designated as the heir apparent is known as an understudy. In this method the trainee is prepared for performing the work or filling the position of his superior. Therefore a fully trained person becomes capable to replace his superior during his long absence, illness, retirement, transfer, promotion, or death.

Advantages of Under Study Method:

(a) Continuous guidance is received by the trainee from his superior and gets the opportunity to see the total job.

(b) It is a time saving and a practical process.

(c) The superior and the subordinate come close to each other.

(d) Continuity is maintained when superior leaves his position.

Disadvantages of Under Study Method:

(a) The existing managerial practices are perpetuated in this method.

(b) The motivation of the personnel is affected as one subordinate is selected for the higher position in advance.

(c) The subordinate staff may ignore the under study.

(iii) Job Rotation:

Job rotation is a method of development which involves the movement of the manager from one position to another on the planned basis. This movement from one job to another is done according to the rotation schedule. It is also called position rotation.

Advantages of Job Rotation:

(a) By providing variety in work this method helps in reducing the monotony and the boredom.

(b) Inter departmental coordination and cooperation is enhanced through this method.

(c) By developing themselves into generalists, executives get a chance to move up to higher positions.

(d) Each executive’s skills are best utilized.

Disadvantages of Job Rotation:

(a) Disturbance in established operations is caused due to the job rotation.

(b) It becomes difficult for the trainee executive to adjust himself to frequent moves.

(c) Job rotation may demotivate intelligent and aggressive trainees who seek specific responsibility in their chosen responsibility.

(iv) Special Projects Assignment:

In this method a trainee is assigned a project which is closely related to his job. Further sometimes the number of trainee executives is provided with the project assignment which is related to their functional area. This group of trainees is called the project team. The trainee studies the assigned problem and formulates the recommendations on it. These recommendations are submitted in the written form by the trainee to his superior.

Advantages of the Special Projects:

(a) The trainees learn the work procedures and techniques of budgeting.

(b) The trainees come to know the relationship between the accounts and other departments.

(c) It is a flexible training device due to temporary nature of assignments.

(v) Committee Assignment:

In this method the special committee is constituted and is assigned the problem to discuss and to provide the recommendations. This method is similar to the special project assignment. All the trainees participate in the deliberations of the committee. Trainees get acquainted with different viewpoints and alternative methods of problem solving through the deliberations and discussions in the committee. Interpersonal skills of the trainees are also developed.

(vi) Multiple Management:

This method involves the constitution of the junior board of the young executives. This junior board evaluates the major problems and makes the recommendations to the Board of Directors. The junior board learns the decision making skills and the vacancies in the Board of Directors are filled from the members of the junior board who have sufficient exposure to the problem solving.

(vii) Selective Readings:

Under this method the executives read the journal, books, article, magazines, and notes and exchange the news with others. This is done under the planned reading programmes organized by some companies. Reading of the current management literature helps to avoid obsolescence. This method keeps the manager updated with the new developments in the field.

2. Off the Job Training Programme :

The main methods under off the job training programme are:

(i) Special Courses:

Under this method the executives attend the special courses organized by the organisation with the help of the experts from the education field. The employers also sponsor their executives to attend the courses organized by the management institutes. This method is becoming more popular these days but it is more used by the large and big corporate organisations.

(ii) Case Studies:

This method was developed by Harvard Law professor Christopher C. Langdell. In this method a problem or case is presented in writing to a group i.e. a real or hypothetical problem demanding solution is presented in writing to the trainees.

Trainees are required to analyze and study the problem, evaluate and suggest the alternative courses of action and choose the most appropriate solution. Therefore in this method the trainees are provided with the opportunity to apply their skills in the solution of the realistic problems.

(iii) Role Playing:

In role playing the conflicting situation is created and two or more trainees are assigned different roles to play on the spot. They are provided with the written or oral description of the situation and roles to play. The trainees are then provided with the sufficient time, they have to perform their assigned roles spontaneously before the class. This technique is generally used for human relations and the leadership training. This method is used as a supplement to other methods.

(iv) Lectures and Conferences:

In this method the efforts are made to expose the participants to concepts, basic principles, and theories in any particular area. Lecture method emphasizes on the one way communication and conference method emphasizes on two way communication. Through this method the trainee actively participates and his interest is maintained.

(v) Syndicate Method:

Syndicate refers to the group of trainees and involves the analysis of the problem by different groups. Thus in this method, 5 or 6 groups consisting of 10 members are formed. Each group works on the problem on the basis of the briefs and the backgrounds provided by the resource persons. Each group presents their view on the involved issues along with the other groups.

After the presentation these views are evaluated by the resource persons along with the group members. Such exercise is repeated to help the members to look into the right perspective of the problem. This method helps in the development of the analytical and the interpersonal skills of the managers.

(vi) Management Games:

A management game is a classroom exercise, in which teams of students compete against each other to achieve certain common objectives. Since, the trainees are often divided into teams as competing companies; experience is obtained in team work. In development programmes, the management games are used with varying degrees of success. These games are the representatives of the real life situations.

(vii) Brainstorming:

It is a technique to stimulate idea generation for decision making. Brainstorming is concerned with using the brain for storming the problem. It is a conference techniques by which group of people attempt to find the solution for a specific problem by amazing all the ideas spontaneously contributed by the members of the group. In this technique the group of 10 to 15 members is constituted. The members are expected to put their ideas for problem solution without taking into consideration any type of limitations.

Executive Development – Obstacles

The administration of a executive development programme is not an easy task. A number of problems are encountered in the process- how should employees be motivated? How can they make the programme rewarding?

How can they feel the progress of the programme? And how can inertia and resistance to change be broken? A sound programme can be developed only when these problems are first tackled or overcome.

Some of the factors which hamper a executive development are:

(i) Job security of the employees, its stability, and pension; these slow down the mobility of employees and check the recruitment of younger people;

(ii) Supervisors at different levels, especially in the middle management, often feel trapped. They are “frozen”, i.e., there is little prospect of their promotion because of the limited opportunities for advancement available in an establishment. This is especially the case if a man is not ego- involved and does not take pride in his job.

(iii) Home ownership, homesickness, close ties with one’s family, community and social activities inhibit development to a large extent; and when these are accompanied by the absence of job security and chances of promotion, the employees tend to stress the non-job aspects of their lives.

(iv) Relations between superiors and subordinate are often not conducive to management development. When a subordinate is afraid of the wrath of his superiors, or when no challenging situations are offered to him, the chances of his development are greatly reduced.

The superior also finds little incentive for developing subordinates despite lip service, partly because he does not have much time for it, and partly because of his reluctance to promote a subordinate lest he lose a good worker and may have to train fresh personnel of unknown quality.

Executive Development – Re quisites for Success Executive Development Programmes

According to K. Prasad (of the Management Training Institute of Hindustan Steel Ltd.), the basic requisites for the success of executive development programmes are:

1. The top management should accept responsibility for getting the policy of development executed.

2. Executive development is essentially a “line job”. It takes place on the job and involves both the man and his boss.

3. Every manager must accept direct responsibility for developing managers under his control on the job, and a high priority should be given to his task.

4. Executive development must be geared to the needs of the company and the individual;

5. A policy of promotion from within is a necessary incentive for managers to develop in an organisation.

6. Executive development starts with the selection of the right materials for managerial ranks. It is essential to ensure that really good material is fed into the programme at the entry levels.

7. There should be a realistic timetable in accordance with the needs of a company. This time­table should take into account the needs for managerial personnel over a sufficiently long period and the resources which are available and which will be required.

In our view, the executive development programme should be based on a definite strategy, which should spell out the type, coverage and objectives of the programme. The multi-tier supervisory and executive development programme should start from the first line supervisor and go all the way up to the top management.

This programme should not only be looked upon as something meant for the “limping horses” in the organisation; it should be for the “high fliers” as well. In view of knowledge explosion and the consequent threat of managerial obsolescence, such programmes should be meant for everyone in an organisation and not just for the “weak ones”.

The training division should not be a dumping ground for people found to be unsuitable for other jobs; it should be manned by a group of smart and successful executives drawn from various functional areas and disciplines. A multi- disciplinary approach should be emphasised in training programmes rather than the purely personal flavour that is often found in them.

Executive Development – How to Evaluate Development of Executives ?

In the competitive scenario, where the focus is on efficiency and profitability and the return on investment (RoI) on all the activities of the organization, executive development cannot be an exception to the phenomenon.

The evaluation of the process assumes importance from the following perspectives:

i. Improving the quality of the training and development process.

ii. Improving the efficiency and competency of the trainers.

iii. Making improvements in the system to make it more responsive and realistic.

iv. Aligning the training activities to the organizational objectives.

v. Building the cost implications of the training into the organizational budget.

vi. Evaluating the RoI on account of training and development to justify further investment.

vii. Changing the perception of the management on training as an expenditure to more as an investment for the future growth of the organization. The levels of evaluation include the reaction level, immediate level, intermediate level, and ultimate level.

For the purpose of evaluation, it is essential to collect the data for which there should be appropriate measures for data collection, both during the course of the training programme and after the training programme.

Some of the methods being used by experts are self-complete questionnaires, interviews, observations, and desk research. The desk research involves analysis of the existing data to view the trends and also the expectations. It is used extensively since it depends upon the existing data and involves low cost and less amount of time.

Related Articles:

  • Importance of Management Development
  • Difference between Training and Development
  • Importance of Training and Development
  • Stages of Career Development

The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International Development

In this section.

  • Faculty Publications
  • Publications by Centers & Initiatives
  • Student Publications

HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Michael Woolcock Photo


  1. Advantages And Disadvantages Of Case Study

    advantages of case study method of executive development

  2. benefits of case study model

    advantages of case study method of executive development

  3. Benefits of case study method

    advantages of case study method of executive development

  4. Case Study Method: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

    advantages of case study method of executive development

  5. benefits of case study model

    advantages of case study method of executive development

  6. benefits of case study model

    advantages of case study method of executive development


  1. #Case_study_method#notes #study #psychology #PG #BEd

  2. Day-1 Tips for conducting Group Discussion as Innovative Teaching Practices

  3. Case study method used in Educational Psychology

  4. Case Study Method

  5. Day-1 Case Study Method for better Teaching

  6. Day-2 Case Study Method for better Teaching


  1. 5 Benefits of the Case Study Method

    Through the case method, you can "try on" roles you may not have considered and feel more prepared to change or advance your career. 5. Build Your Self-Confidence. Finally, learning through the case study method can build your confidence. Each time you assume a business leader's perspective, aim to solve a new challenge, and express and ...

  2. What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

    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 ...

  3. What is the Case Study Method?

    Overview. Simply put, the case method is a discussion of real-life situations that business executives have faced. On average, you'll attend three to four different classes a day, for a total of about six hours of class time (schedules vary). To prepare, you'll work through problems with your peers. Read More.

  4. Benefits of Case Study Learning for Organizational Development

    Benefits of Case Study Discussion. Multiple aspects of business intertwined - demonstrates enterprise perspective. Non-intrusive way to open up discussion on sensitive issues - focus is on another organization and what they did, should do, etc.; however, the mirror is held up eventually, usually by a participant saying "this is like us.".

  5. (PDF) Case-method teaching: advantages and disadvantages in

    Abstract and Figures. Purpose The purpose of this paper is to introduce case-method teaching (CMT), its advantages and disadvantages for the process of organizational training within organizations ...

  6. Case-method teaching: advantages and disadvantages in organizational

    Although CMT is still not considered as a popular organizational training method, the advantages of CMT may encourage organizational instructors to further apply it. Improving the long-term memory, enhancing the quality of decision making and understanding the individual differences of individuals are the advantages of CMT.

  7. The effectiveness of a live case study approach: Increasing knowledge

    This study sought to examine the effectiveness of a live case methodology for individuals engaged in executive development. In particular, the research examined whether 'hard' skills such as strategy could be developed by using a case study approach that is traditionally known for improving transferable or 'soft' skills.

  8. What is the case method?

    The case method is a teaching methodology based on the study and discussion of real business cases intended to help managers like you improve your decision-making skills. The method, established in 1921 by Harvard Business School, ultimately teaches you the art of managing uncertainty.

  9. PDF Benefits of the Case Study Method

    Case Method Process Learning increases at each step 1) Individual Preparation Start by reading and thinking about the case on your own. Determine broadly what the case is about, examine the data and information given and identify the critical issues. Put yourself in the place of the decision-maker in the case and develop some recommendations.

  10. The use of case studies in management training and development. Part 1

    In this, the first of two articles on the subject, they elaborate on the potential benefits of using the case study method but also the ways in which the method can be misused. They go on to explain how case studies can be used effectively in developing management skills. In the second article they will deal with the topics of writing case ...

  11. Case-method teaching: advantages and disadvantages in organizational

    Case-method teaching is able to bring dilemmas from the real world into training settings and helps organizations to identify the individual reactions before they make a decision, according to the review. Purpose The purpose of this paper is to introduce case-method teaching (CMT), its advantages and disadvantages for the process of organizational training within organizations, as well as to ...

  12. The effectiveness of a live case study approach: Increasing knowledge

    This study sought to examine the effectiveness of a live case methodology for individuals engaged in executive development. In particular, the research examined whether 'hard' skills such as strategy could be developed by using a case study approach that is traditionally known for improving transferable or 'soft' skills. A three-day live case study was undertaken by 19 participants as ...

  13. Executive learning through case discussion

    Findings. The case method is useful in the education of managerial decision makers who face complex situations, but it is most effective when the cases contain certain essential ingredients and when the instructor is skilled in discussion leadership. These ingredients include the presence of a protagonist, the deep description of a problematic ...

  14. Using Case Studies for Organizational Learning in Development Agencies

    The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International Development. Ed. Jennifer Widner, Michael Woolcock, and Daniel Ortega Nieto. Cambridge University Press, 2022, 258-279. Sarah Glavery and her coauthors draw a distinction between explicit knowledge, which is easily identified and shared through databases and reports, and tacit ...

  15. Case Study Method: A Step-by-Step Guide for Business Researchers

    Case study method is the most widely used method in academia for researchers interested in qualitative research (Baskarada, 2014). Research students select the case study as a method without understanding array of factors that can affect the outcome of their research. ... (2009) in the development of brand cocreation model. After this feedback ...

  16. Walking Our Evidence-Based Talk: The Case of Leadership Development in

    A content analysis of 21st-century mission statements of top business schools indicates that the majority sees leader development as critical (Kniffin et al., 2020).Most schools argue that, as important suppliers and gatekeepers of the leadership pipeline, business schools play a crucial role in the formation of future leaders of industries and, more broadly, society.

  17. Case Study Method

    List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method. 1. It requires an intensive study of a specific unit. Researchers must document verifiable data from direct observations when using the case study method. This work offers information about the input processes that go into the hypothesis under consideration.

  18. 10 Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages (2024)

    Advantages. 1. In-depth analysis of complex phenomena. Case study design allows researchers to delve deeply into intricate issues and situations. By focusing on a specific instance or event, researchers can uncover nuanced details and layers of understanding that might be missed with other research methods, especially large-scale survey studies.

  19. What Is Executive Development? Definition, Objectives, Importance

    Case Study. Decision making is a very important role of a manager that impacts the profitability of a business to a large extent. Case study method brings interesting real world situations into the classroom. These cases are generally based on complex situations that can arise in the business environment.

  20. Executive Development: Introduction, Concept, Importance and Methods

    The methods of executive development are broadly classified into two broad categories: 1. On the Job Techniques. ... Advantages of the Coaching Method: (a) It is the process of learning by doing. ... Case Studies: This method was developed by Harvard Law professor Christopher C. Langdell. In this method a problem or case is presented in writing ...

  21. The Case for Case Studies: Methods and Applications in International

    This book seeks to narrow two gaps: first, between the widespread use of case studies and their frequently "loose" methodological moorings; and second, between the scholarly community advancing methodological frontiers in case study research and the users of case studies in development policy and practice. It draws on the contributors' collective experience at this nexus, but the ...

  22. Case Study Methodology of Qualitative Research: Key Attributes and

    A case study is one of the most commonly used methodologies of social research. This article attempts to look into the various dimensions of a case study research strategy, the different epistemological strands which determine the particular case study type and approach adopted in the field, discusses the factors which can enhance the effectiveness of a case study research, and the debate ...

  23. (PDF) Case study as a research method

    Case study method enables a researcher to closely examine the data within a specific context. In most cases, a case study method selects a small geograph ical area or a very li mited number. of ...

  24. Senate 30 May 2024 Question and Answer Session

    Senate 30 May 2024 Question and Answer Session

  25. Headstart

    Watch Karen Davila's interviews with government officials and analysts on #ANCHeadstart (5 June 2024)