What would make for a good case study?

Specifically, what would make for a good case study for undergraduate business students (some interested in accounting, finance, investment management, HR, marketing)? Any thoughts?

What are they supposed to be studying?

I’m value-biased, but I just pulled “Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond”, the 2001 paperback edition off my bookshelf and took a look for the study I was thinking of. Chapter 6 is called “A wonderful little franchise”, and it’s about the ‘moat’ around WD-40 (WDFC) and why they can earn excess returns on capital despite not having patents around their product or government protection (specifically, a strong brand name, great pricing power, and very tame CapEx, if I recall). If the students have a decent understanding of financial statements and what normally profitable businesses look like, it’s an eye opener. If you’re going to be taking some of through the financial statements through the first time (“This is the balance sheet. This is where all the assets and all the liabilities of the business are listed…”), then it’ll probably go over a lot of heads.

Doubt it will be of any interest, but I did a Business Case Study, for the European Commission. ‘Feasability of a new RoRo service between Ireland and Continental Europe’. This would be going down the transport route of things, I mean there clearly was a need for more shipping services between Ireland and Europe, end result is that it got published, which I was proud about, I was only 22 at the time. It was a substanial report too, taking into account how the new service would be priced based purely on it nearest comp, what kind of cargo’s you would expect it to attract (non-perishable), all the financial risks and revenues, and of course the beauty of it was that it was a much ‘greener’ option then trucking through the UK and across the channel, so I was able to hype that part up aswell. Maybe give you ideas, as in it does not have to be something that hasnt been done before, or breathtaking in any way.

Again, the kids are undergraduates in business, so there’s kind of a wide range of things they could do. I think most of the kids will be Asian, so Europe might be a bit far from their knowledge base. I recall reading the WD-40 example, that’s a good one.