With the utmost discretion: A case study

This spring, librarians Caroline Lilyard and Mary Schoenborn worked on a top-secret project that required their strict confidentiality.

“We had to be very careful not to leak the details of the case,” said Lilyard.

As dangerous and enigmatic as that may sound, the case was not a matter of international espionage and no super sleuthing was required. Instead, the librarians applied their professional research expertise in support of a business strategy case competition that took place in March.

case-competition
The winning teams from the 2015 CoMIS Case Competition.

The Competition on Management Information Systems, an annual event at the Carlson School of Management, invited college teams from across the nation to compete in crafting a strategy to address a complex business problem or issue. After being given a case to work on, each team had a limited amount of time to devise and write up their solution.

But where did the case study come from?

Building a case

This year, Lee Thomas, Associate Director of SOBACO — the Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative — worked with Carlson School professors Alok Gupta and Norm Chervany to write a case about the health industry and changes that have happened since implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“We had an idea as to the important factors,” said Thomas, “but we needed data to check our assumptions and confirm some of the trends that had been included in the case background.”

That need led Thomas to the University Libraries. He handed off a draft of the case study to Lilyard and Schoenborn, who worked with the utmost discretion to answer questions and verify claims.

“They looked at sources I probably wouldn’t have found on my own,” said Thomas. And their in-depth research paid off in the form of a strong case to test the acumen of the 15 teams competing for this year’s prize.

To learn more about the case competition and the winners—Spencer Price, Sam Bagley, and Teja Choudhary from the University of Minnesota—check out the recent article from the Minnesota Daily.

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