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EC 323 - Seminar in Business


This guide ties in with the class assignment to write a case study of a particular company and the problem it's facing. Start your research by gathering background information on your company, to learn about its recent history and identify the challenges that it faces in the current market environment. Then search the business magazines and trade publications for articles analyzing the company's performance. Be sure to obtain data such as company financial statistics, industry market shares, and consumption trends to help support your case.

If you need any assistance in using these resources or if you are having difficulty in locating information, please contact the Economics and Business liaison librarian.


Help with Case Studies

Geisel Library owns several books that offer guidance on conducting a case study, from formulating the problem to collecting evidence to proposing solutions. Consult one of the following books if you are having difficulty with any stage of the case study process.

Art and Craft of Case Writing
     LB1029.C37 N38 2006 (print version)

The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases
     HD30.4 .E435 2007

Case Study Research: Design and Methods
     H62 .Y56 2003


Background Information and Data

Before beginning to formulate your case study, it is important to gather basic information about the company such as its recent performance, portfolio of products and services, competitors, and target markets. But it is also critical to learn about recent and forecasted industry-level developments that may affect the company's position and strategy, including activities by its competitors. The following resources will provide you with this information, which can help you identify potential challenges confronting the company.

Company Profiles

Datamonitor Company Profiles [found in Business Source Premier]
This database includes Datamonitor reports on individual companies, which include histories, SWOT analyses, and revenue analyses. The SWOT analyses in particular may alert you to weaknesses or threats that could provide the foundation for your case study.

Hoover's Company Records
Profiles of US and foreign companies, including descriptions of their recent activities, breakdowns of their products and operations, and recent financial data.

Standard and Poor's Stock Reports [found in NetAdvantage]
These reports provide financial data plus info on the recent performance and future outlook of your company and its competitors. Click on the Companies tab, select "Stock Reports" as the Publication, and search for the company either by name or ticker symbol.

Company Documents

Annual Report Gallery
A one-stop source for the latest annual reports of several thousand companies. Read your company's most recent annual report to learn its (admittedly biased) perception of the challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

The Company's Website
Search for any documents discussing the company's performance. Look for webpages labeled "Investors", "Investor Relations", or "Corporate Information". For companies that are subsidiaries of larger firms, check the parent company's website.

Industry Profiles

Datamonitor Industry Profiles [found in Business Source Premier]
Datamonitor's Industry Profiles provide annual summaries of particular industries in specific countries and regions.  These include an overview of the competitive landscape, plus info on market share and segmentation.

FirstResearch Industry Reports [found in ABI-INFORM]
Quarterly-updated profiles of US industries.  Within each report, check the Quarterly Industry Update, Business Challenges, and Trends & Opportunities sections for useful info in creating your case.

Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys [found in NetAdvantage]
These detailed profiles discuss the major players, trends, and financial statistics for major industries. Click the Industry tab and use the Industry Surveys pull-down menus to find the appropriate report.


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Geisel Library catalog
Geisel Library owns a number of books profiling specific industries. Try doing a Keyword search in the online catalog for recent books about the sector in which your company operates. As examples, the following titles each contain detailed profiles of approximately 10-15 industries.

Industry and Firm Studies (4th ed.)
     Reserves HD31 .I55 2007

Structure of American Industry (12th ed.)
     Reserves HC106 .S78 2009

You may find recent books about your company or industry by using WorldCat, which searches the collections of libraries across the country. Try searching on the name of your company or industry, and limit the Year to the latest five years. To request a copy of a book, open the book's WorldCat record, click the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link, and follow the on-screen instructions. Allow 7-10 days for delivery. You will be emailed when your book arrives.


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Perhaps the most important source of information for your case study will be journal and newspaper articles. These provide coverage of the latest developments at your company, along with statistics, analysis, and discussion of the company's performance that you can incorporate into your case study.

Magazine and Journal Articles

Try keyword searches in the databases below to find articles about your company and the problems or challenges that confront it. As you find relevant articles, take note of useful subject terms (for example, the name of your company) and try searching them as Subjects. Here are three sample keyword searches:

  • "General Motors" AND ("just in time" OR inventor*)
  • "Johnson & Johnson" AND recall*
  • "Rite Aid" AND (problem* OR challenge*)

If you find a useful article for which no full-text link is available, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Business Source Premier
An excellent starting point for articles from business journals and the trade press, with many of them available in full-text. Use the Publication Type limiters to the left of the search results to narrow your focus to Academic Journals, Periodicals (popular magazines), or Trade Publications (industry insider magazines).

Another great starting point, with full-text articles from hundreds of scholarly journals and industry periodicals.  On the Results screen, click on the gray tabs to narrow your search to Scholarly Journals, Magazines, or Trade Publications.  Be sure to use the drop-down box at right to switch the sort order to "Most relevant first".

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.

Newspaper Articles

Newspaper articles (along with the trade press) are often the best source for information on the most recent company developments. The following databases offer full text of recent newspaper articles. Try the same keyword searches that succeeded in the journal databases.

LexisNexis Academic
Offers full-text articles from major newspapers and trade press publications. In the left menu, click on News, then either "Newspapers & Wires" or "Business & Industry".  Adjust the Date Range as desired to focus on particular time periods. In the results screen, change the Sort to "Relevance" to move the best results to the top.

Wall Street Journal
This database offers searchable, full-text access to the Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition) from 1984 through the present.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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