Writing winning accounting case studies


A case study gives readers one aspect of a real world problem. That being said, the obvious purpose of a case study is to solve a problem. To do this, you must lead your reader through your investigation of the problem, directly to the solution. A case study can use a variety of information from:

  • diaries,
  • observation,
  • library research,
  • interviews,
  • historical documents,
  • questionnaires, etc…
  • Identify the Problem

The first step in writing a winning accounting case study is to identify the problem. The problem might be the introduction of rudimentary accounting software into the office or a new accounting standard in an old firm. After this, you need to describe the new software or accounting standard. You should explain what it is, how it works, why it was introduced into the workplace. Then you must research it by observing how it works in the office. You should talk to people in the office who are affected by it, such as employees or managers, and evaluate your results.

Once you have done this, you can reach a conclusion pertaining to the problem.

After the initial research is complete, you can write up your case study in one of three ways.

  1. Exploratory Case Study
  2. In the exploratory case study, your initial research looks out for patterns in your data. If you are drafting an exploratory case study you want to collect your data first, try and make sense of it, and then do any necessary reading. For this type of accounting case study you want to pose “what” questions such as “what are ways to increase sales?” or “what fiscal savings does this software provide?”

  3. Descriptive Case Study
  4. In the descriptive case study you expound upon the exploratory case study method. You try and obtain information that focuses on one feature of an issue. This case study requires a theory which will direct you to the type of data you need to collect. The research questions you use in a descriptive case study can focus on “what” questions but will often lead to more poignant questions such as “what are the effects of this particular sales activity?”

  5. Explanatory Research Case Study
  6. In the explanatory case study, you analyze or explain why or how something happened or happens currently. Your research question in this case is going to lean toward “why” or “how”, such as “Why did this new software promote increased sales?” or “how did this new accounting standard save money?”


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