Macquarie University
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Towards a neo-Harvard case study method: the dialogical development of design principles and a 'hardwired humans' MBA prototype

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:39 authored by Tamzyn Dorfling
Early in the 20th century, the Harvard case study method - a pedagogical tool that teaches through the use of story - was introduced by the Harvard Business School. This method has been increasingly used across the globe, but since the turn of the century there has been theoretical criticism of the Harvard case study method in teaching appropriate leadership skills, and practical initiatives attempting to transcend it. Yet the theoretical critique and pedagogic initiatives have not been combined to create principle-based design courses that draw on the strengths yet overcome the weaknesses of the Harvard method. Drawing on a comprehensive review of the critical literature, a case-based analysis of a successful evolutionary psychology-based leadership programme, and an integrative and cyclical dialogue with the programme developer-facilitator, this dissertation develops and prototypes a set of design principles for a neo-Harvard case study method. There are four chief contributions made, the first being a comprehensive consolidation of the pedagogical literature bearing on the case study method. Secondly, this is translated into principles that build on the strengths yet overcome the weaknesses of the method. Thirdly, this work provides a case study analysis of a successful leadership programme, generating case-based recommendations for successful pedagogic delivery. Finally, this work brings together findings generated by the theory case study data, and dialogue with the practitioner, as a set of practical pedagogical design principles and a neo-Harvard case study method prototype suitable for delivery in a university-based Master of Business Administration (MBA) setting.


Table of Contents

1 Introduction -- Part One: Harvard case study method and beyond -- 2 The Harvard case study method -- 3 History of MBA education -- 4 -- The future of MBA education: Transformative possibilities -- 5 Methodology - the study framework enables -- Part Two: Case study - Hardwired Humans -- 6 -- Background to the Hardwired Humans Programme -- 7 Hardwired Humans Zoo Programme: Interview findings -- 8 Dialogue with practitioner: Hardwired Humans Zoo Programme, design principles and prototype -- Part Three: Design principles and MBA prototype -- 9 Neo-Harvard case study method: Design principles -- 10 Neo-Harvard case study method: MBA prototype -- 11 Conclusion


Theoretical thesis. Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Richard Badham


Copyright Tamzyn Dorfling 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (329, 110 pages) graphs and tables

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