Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Genre of Business School Cases: Shaping the Future, One Classroom at a Time

Dr Ruth Harris, Kim Morouney.

Cases used for teaching in business schools comprise a well-recognized genre, one around which academic programs, classrooms, publishing houses, and careers have been built. In North America and in Europe, the genre of business cases is defined by its conscious and specific intent to shape the understanding and the behaviour - "the active responsive position" - of the business school student.
According to Bakhtin, genres reflect "all the changes taking place in social life". But, as teachers who use the case method, we question whether business cases reflect social reality as much as they attempt to shape it. In this research we pose the following question: Does the business case genre mirror the evolution of market forces or is the genre significant as a material force unto itself, working to maintain prevailing power structures for the benefit of the few?
We examine the business case genre in Europe, Canada and the U.S. over the period from 1940 to the present. To the degree that this genre reflects social changes, the comparison should show greater differences over time and across international borders; to the degree that the genre is actively conservative, fewer changes should be evidenced over time and between countries.


Dr Ruth Harris  (Canada)
Associate Professor
School of Business and Economics
Wilfrid Laurier University

Ruth Harris is an Associate Professor at the School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research interests are standardization in operations management and the case method of teaching.

Kim Morouney  (Canada)

Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Genre
  • Business cases
  • Business education
  • Reader response
  • "Masters of Thought"

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)