Case studies are a teaching tool that enable participants to consider real or fictional scenarios from multiple perspectives. Cases are often rich in information and context, challenging practitioners to filter and interpret what is most important.
Cases should be practical and specific in contrast to more abstract conceptual notions of market systems. The challenge is for practitioners to practice applying tools and frameworks to make sense of the information. Ultimately they should come to some well argued decisions about what actions they (or an actor in the case) might take.
Using this mode
Case studies are widely used in training for market systems development. They can be used throughout a longer training to continually relate back concepts to a particular context. They can also be used at the end of a set of content delivery pieces as a capstone experience to show application and integration of knowledge.
- Have a clear idea of which capabilities you want to develop through a particular case. It will often make sense to combine thinking - deciding and interacting learning objectives into a single case. Create the time to debrief these individually.
- If using small groups, consider the composition of the groups and any potential inter-group dynamics that you can use to increase engagement and deepen learning. How could these mimic real-world dynamics? For example two sector teams trying to work with the same partner on different interventions.
- Cases are often written from the perspective of a single protagonist. Consider developing some additional material so different groups can approach the case from different actors’ perspectives. This can model complexity and deepen insights.
Example competencies for case studies
Systems analysis for economic inclusion: competency A1
Analysing a sub-sector, or local issue that all participants are familiar with to illustrate links between visible events and trends, structures, institutions and norms, and mental models of particular actors in that situation.
Business and financial analysis: competency A2
Provide a package of information on an organisation that includes details on its mission, activities and financial model. Provide detailed numerical data if possible. Ask participants, individually or in groups, to process and analyse the information and develop an assessment of the organisation.
Critical thinking, foresight & vision: competency A6
Provide several different small groups of practitioners with the same case study. They should each make their own starting assumptions about the ‘scope’ of system boundaries before jumping into the analysis. When debriefing findings draw out the link between assumptions, system boundaries and findings. Use this to emphasise the importance of building links across sector teams and challenging each other’s assumptions.
Intervention design: competency B2
Provide practitioners with a case study and a blank cost-share template. Have them debate and discuss in small groups the type of offer and fill out the template. Get the group to present and critique each other’s ideas.
Coordinating multiple interventions: competency B3
Provide practitioners with a case study of a given market system or situation and a programme goal - for example improved access to a product/service. Challenge them to develop interventions that go beyond one partnership with a market actor and instead aim to spread a changed practice across the system. For example media-based interventions, exchange visits, incentive structures, government policy.
Facilitation: comptetency C2
Provide a prompt for a situation where practitioners have to interact with a person whose behaviours are easy to judge negatively - for example predatory business behaviour or spending family money on drinking. Observe how much they are able to empathise, inquire and ask questions vs judging, jumping to conclusions and pushing.
Communication: competency C3
Provide practitioners with written or video samples of presentations or reports; ask them to critique or revise them. Prompt them to consider the audience, key messages, selection of appropriate visuals and redundant verbiage.
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