MIS 538 Case Studies for Information Systems

Course Overview

Catalyzed by information technologies, the field of information systems (IS) has evolved - and information, knowledge, information technologies and their manifestations at the individual, group, organizational and inter-organizational levels are becoming increasing important and profound. Potential researchers in this area have tremendous opportunities to traverse growing and changing knowledge gaps regarding the transformational aspects of information technologies in business, organizations and society.

The burgeoning information technology catalyst has propelled the ”field” of IS from one that was consistently challenged as a business school discipline, to one that is relatively more accepted within the academic context. The field has struggled with definitional issues and credibility but IS researchers have responded through self-governance and enforcement of standards in the conduct and quality of research.

Today, IS research is comparable in rigor to the best disciplines within the social sciences. The field as it stands today, is very much influenced by its foundational thinkers who stimulated debate on (what was then considered) new and different perspectives. It also draws from a number of diverse theoretical lenses many of which are adapted from related (reference) disciplines. It is important for a new student venturing into this area to construct his or her own schema of the field so that new knowledge can be effectively synthesized. To do this, it is useful to understand key points in the field over both time and domain. This course is intended to provide you with these key points by cases. Over time, we look at influential (classical) papers and cases that made a difference in the field. Over domain, we examine key but necessarily incomplete theoretical underpinnings of the discipline and theory-practice gap.


The students who succeeded in this course;

  • will be able to explain (1) the relationship between a manager's need for information and his/her position in the organization; (2) how information technology can be used by a business organization to gain a competitive advantage.
  • will have an opportunity to develop (1) an understanding of the needs for and roles of management information systems (MIS) within business organizations; (2) an awareness of critical issues faced by the MIS profession, including international information flow, legal and ethical issues of information usage, and security and privacy of data resources; (3) problem solving and managerial decision making skills using information systems and information technology.
  • will be able to (1) show their excellent command of methodology and technique of scientific and research development and scientific communication; and (2) research, develop and combine new methods, procedures and devices, derived from analyses, and simulations of complex problems and situations, and experiments for affirming good hypotheses and solutions.

Case Studies

Please see the shared folder for some reading assignments and case studies:


This part presents several case studies that illustrate various problems that arise in MIS. They are based on publicly available information regarding different organizations. It might be nice to have additional inside information, but this level of detail is rarely available to students (and teachers). Instead, most of these cases look at larger problems over time—which provides useful insight into causes and attempts at solutions. These companies and organizations are presented because they have interesting issues, and available information, not because they are leaders or laggards. Each case should be treated independently. Every organization has its own outlook, goals, and internal issues. However, it is useful to examine what happens at multiple organizations to understand that the underlying problems can affect any company or organization.

Each case has a set of initial questions at the end. These should be taken as a starting point. The primary objective is always the last question: Create a report to management that defines a plan for moving forward. One useful way to approach this report is to (1) Identify the primary problems and causes of those problems, (2) Define a clear plan for the next steps to be taken, and (3) Explain how the plan solves the problems and provides additional benefits.

When you are searching for causes of problems, it can be helpful to classify the level of the problem: operations, tactics, or strategies. Although many problems will affect all three areas, the fundamental causes often focus at one level. You should also look at more research. Certainly read the detail provided by the references, but also check to see if new information is available, and check out existing Web sites. However, you should never try to contact workers at the organizations. They are busy with their jobs.

Remember that business problems rarely have a single correct answer. There is always room for creativity and innovation. Just make sure that your solution will actually solve the main problems. Also, think about the implications of any solutions. Will it cause more problems than it solves?

Virtually any MIS case could be solved with the simple statement that the firm needs more computers. However, a one-line statement is not a very useful plan. In any business setting, you not only have to find an answer, you must also persuade others (executives) that your answer is the best alternative. Additionally, a good solution will contain an implementation plan—perhaps with a timetable that delineates each step of the process.