Pitfalls and challenges of the case study method in the Asian context: Reflections and observation

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



The case study method as developed in the West demands that students participate actively in the learning process. Our paper discusses the feasibility of this approach in the Asian context. We begin with a literature review on the case study method, as well as, on the differences between Asian and Western students. Our literature review found some evidence to support the acceptance of the case study method by Asian students. Existing research shows that there are differences between Asian and Western students. For example, Asian students are more used to teacher-centered teaching styles and preferred learning to be more structured with detailed objectives and guidelines on project assignments. Relative to the Western students, many Asian students find it difficult to openly disagree with their peers in front of their teachers. We identify five pitfalls, which we believe can prevent the case study method from working the way it is intended to in the Asian context. These pitfalls include (1) unfamiliarity of the case study method, (2) cultural barriers, (3) lack of institutional support, (4) inappropriateness of Western cases, and, (5) resistance to the case study method. We share our observations of policies and infrastructure that our university has put in place, which we believe have dealt with some of these pitfalls to some extent. In particular, our university invests heavily in faculty training and infrastructure to promote the application of the case study method in class teaching. We conclude that the benefits of case study method learning, especially in a knowledge-based economy, cannot be ignored and put aside just because there are pitfalls to prevent it from working.


Case Study, Teaching methods


Asian Studies | Educational Methods | Higher Education

Research Areas

Strategy and Organisation; Macroeconomics


8th International Conference on Human Resource Development Research and Practice across Europe, Oxford, 27-29 June 2007

City or Country

Oxford, UK

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