Teaching Cases


  • Robert Sternberg at the University of Wyoming. Sternberg, an eminent psychologist, became president of the University of Wyoming in July, 2013, but was out before the end of the year.  A story that begins with high hopes and ends in disappointment illustrates some of the challenges facing a new president.
  • "A Difficult Professor."  A college administrator gets permission from his boss to fire an instructor.  The instructor protests and the boss changes his mind.  Now what?  This case is translated from the original Spanish version, "Un Maestro DifĂ­cil," also available here.
  • "A Leadership Moment: Colonel Joshua Chamberlain."   This is a one-page scenario depicting the situation facing Col. Chamberlain when he is suddenly saddled with a group of deserters, only days before the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg.
  • "Chris Cunnningham."  The newest addition to the collection, this is a short case about the president of a small company who has to figure out what to do about a valuable but difficult superstar sales rep.  Authorship is uncertain, but it was contributed by Professor Carole K. Barnett of the University of New Hampshire.  Appended to the case is a template that guides students in using the frames to develop an analysis and recommended action steps. 
  • "The Case of the Underperforming Executive." A brief case developed for teaching students the Argyris & Schon "theory of action"  perspective (espoused theory, theory-in-use, Models I & II, etc.).  This case originated in the same case that Argyris developed in the form of the "X and Y case."    [This case was originally written some years ago by one of the managing partners in a national professional services firm.  It was  the first case discussed in a workshop for the managing partners'  group.  It was memorable enough that both of the instructors in the workshop have used versions of it over the years.]
  • Midstate University Business School.  A new business school dean sets off a firestorm in his faculty when he speaks too much truth in a newspaper article.  Down the road, he struggles to get the faculty to move ahead.
  • "The Prince and the Principal." (A), (B), and (C)  This case, originally published by the National Center for Educational Leadership, describes the conflict between a new principal and the old guard in her school.  After months of no progress, she follows her boss's advice to read Machiavelli's The Prince.  She then embarks on a new, more political approach to school improvement.
  • "The University of Missouri" (A).  The threat of cutbacks at the main campus of the university triggers an effort to make a series of targeted, strategic cutbacks.  The result is a firestorm both on and off campus.