2017 Annual Meeting

of the Decision Sciences Institute

Project Management Institute Case Competition



Project Management Institute (PMI) is sponsoring an award for the Best Case in Project Management: The Soft Side and/or the Technical Side at DSI 2017. Cases must be complete (no abstracts will be considered for the award), unpublished, not submitted elsewhere, and must include a full teaching note (see below).

To be eligible for this award, cases should be focused either on the “human side” of project management—any of the “soft skills” or the “technical” side of project management—“hard skills” and techniques.

Topical areas on the behavioral side include communication; leadership; teams; stakeholder management (both internal to the organization and external to it); ethics; professionalism; human resource issues; managing in a global environment; “distributed” or “virtual” teams; or cultural challenges.

Topical areas on the technical side include project management principles, processes, planning, resource management, cost estimating, scheduling, risk management, quality control, procurement, budgeting, business analysis, and information systems.

For more information about appropriate topics, please go to https://pmiteach.org and click on the heading Teaching PM. The second element in the drop down is PM Knowledge Modules (KMs). KM 1-15 describe technical topics and KM 16-23 describe behavioral topics. Teaching cases that address any of these knowledge modules are appropriate.

Cases can take a decision or analytical perspective. Cases should be full-length (8-12 pages plus exhibits) rather than compact or abbreviated.  Cases may be field researched or library researched.

Company Release:  If field researched, cases must be accompanied by a release (no exceptions will be made).  See below for a sample release.

Award for Best Case and Teaching Note to be conferred at DSI 2017 is $500. The winning case author will be invited to submit the case for publication through Project Management Institute.


To be eligible for consideration, a submission must meet the following criteria:

  1. The case must have been written in the past five years (since 2012) and must not have been formally accepted in print or through a Case Clearing House.
  2. Finalists must register for and present their cases at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Decision Sciences Institute in order to be eligible to win. For co-authored cases, a minimum of one author must register for the meeting.

Submission Requirements:

Submissions must constitute a complete teaching package including the following documents and materials:

  1. A title page listing all author(s) names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, and affiliation contact information for all authors, with corresponding author indicated; case title; case abstract; keywords; research method specification (field or secondary); the following statement must be included at the bottom of the title page:  “I/we certify that this is entirely my/our own original work and that it has not been published in any form prior to this submission.”
  2. Case document
  3. Teaching note – must include: synopsis, audience/course/placement, learning objectives, discussion questions and student-level answers, teaching strategy (if relevant), theory discussion, and epilogue.
  4. Supplementary files [optional]

Judging Criteria:

Judging Criteria:

Cases and Teaching Notes will be judged by a team of case referees, selected for their demonstrated skill in case writing and evaluation, and their knowledge of project management.

Submissions will be evaluated in a three-stage process as follows:

  • Stage 1: Cases and Teaching Notes (TN) will be checked for inclusion of required forms, signatures, and releases.


  • Stage 2:  Judges will evaluate cases based on the following weighted criteria:


    • Case: 50% of the Score


Points Criterion
5 Currency or relevance of content
10 Quality (depth) of research
10 Adherence to case conventions
15 Potential usefulness in the classroom (engaging and readable)
10 Quality of English writing and writing style


  • TN: 50% of the Score
Points Criterion
15 Addresses all elements of standard TN
10 Depth of analysis provided
10 Clarity of learning objectives
10 Completeness and quality of answers to discussion questions
5 Contribution to the field as instructional value


  • Stage 3: Finalist cases will be ranked based on the preceding bulleted items and narrative commentary provided by the judges.

The three finalists will present their cases at the 2017 DSI Annual meeting. The judges will select a winner based on a combination of the written material and the presentation.

Submission Procedure:

All submission files (author information, case, teaching notes, supplementary files, etc.) should be combined into a single PDF document and submitted via the conference submission system at the URL below…


All submissions must be received by May 30, 2017, to be eligible for the competition.  The finalists will be announced late August 2017. The winner will be announced at the 2017 DSI Annual Meeting (November 18-21, 2017).  Case authors whose cases are not selected as finalists may still choose to present their cases in a general session at the 2017 DSI Annual Meeting.


Further information follows.  Additional questions about the Best Teaching Case Studies Award for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Decision Sciences Institute can be directed to either of the Coordinators:  Dr. Carla Messikomer (Carla.Messikomer@pmi.org) of the Project management Institute or Dr. Gary Klein (gklein@uccs.edu) of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.


Title Page – must include:

  • Names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, and affiliation contact information for all authors, with corresponding author indicated
  • Case title
  • Case abstract (150 words maximum)
  • Keywords (five maximum to identify key topics). NB: Project Management or managing projects should not be among the keywords listed.
  • Statement of research (field research or secondary research). If field researched, you must include a Company Release.
  • This statement must be included at the bottom of the title page: “I/we certify that this is entirely my/our own original work and that it has not been published in any form prior to this submission.”




Jane Doe (corresponding author)
Assoc. Prof of Business Analytics
XYZ University
1 U Street NW
Anytown, Anystate, Anycountry postal code
Tel:  (111) 222-3333

John Brown
VP Marketing
Big Company
The Industrial Complex
Anytown, Anystate, Anycountry postal code
Tel: (111) 222-3456


Abstract: Key Words: coordination, building codes, emergency response

This case has been field researched (release from Big Company attached).

“I/we certify that this is entirely my/our own original work and that it has not been published in any form prior to this submission.”  (Jane Doe and John Brown).


Company Release: All primary or field-researched cases must be accompanied by a release from the organization that states:


I have read this case titled (TITLE HERE) and authorize the use of this material in case competitions, journal and textbook publications, educational and training programs, and in electronic formats for educational purposes.  This case is released without changes.

Signature                                                                                                         Date

Name and Title [please print or type]

Company                                             Division                                               Country                                                                      


Consent to Publish

The winning case may be submitted by the authors for publication by the Project Management Institute. If the paper meets review and publication requirements and standards, authors will be required to sign appropriate releases.

Writing a Case [1]

A case is a story that describes a factual series of actions that occurred in the past. When the case is written as a teaching tool, the reader is expected either to make a decision or recommendation to the protagonist for a course of action to pursue, or to perform an analysis of the action that has already taken place.

Key Elements of Cases

All cases contain some variation on the following eight elements.

  • The Opening Hook – This is the piece that is going to make people want to read more.
  • The Company Story/History – Give the reader enough information to get a full representation of the organization so that the reader will understand the situation clearly.
  • The Industry- Without some industry knowledge, it is very difficult to contextualize the action within the case and to understand the role the company plays within the industry. One way to do this is to write a miniature industry note, an in-depth look at an industry (energy, banking, automobiles) or a country or region (Russia, the Pacific Rim, Wyoming
  • The Actors -Readers of cases don’t care about situations, theories, or problems. They care about For that reason, case writers must strive to represent the protagonist and other case actors clearly.  The reader must feel empathy for one or more of the case characters in order to participate in helping that character to solve the case problem.
  • The Situation -The most interesting part of a story is the story itself—the narrative. However, the heart of a case is not the story; it is the case problem as developed in the telling of the story. The most interesting cases read like fiction, but they are not   This is the section in which you present the buildup to the problem, the problem itself, and various potential solutions being considered by the protagonist. Objectivity is the key to writing this section of the case.
  • The Closing Hook – Be sure that the reader is motivated to help the protagonist solve his/her problem. The closing hook is like the opening hook, in reverse. It must hark back to the beginning of the case and transfer the case problem to the reader.
  • Appendices or Exhibits – This includes all those things that didn’t fit within the narrative but that provide the data that students need for analysis: organization charts, maps, product lists, financials, time lines, thumbnail descriptions, tables and formulae, statistics, demographics, and other data.
  • The Title – The title should be descriptive. If the case is about quality control in a hospital, for example, you might consider a title like: Metropolitan Hospital: Sick of Errors. The title should include the name of the company if familiar. The title should tell the reader at a glance what the case is about.  The title should be appealing. No one wants to read a boring case, so it pays to avoid tedium right from the start. The title may reflect the key decision that the case focuses on. General Motors Corporation: Too Big to Fail?

Writing Teaching Notes [2]

The Teaching Notes, also known as an Instructor’s Manual, is the least visible section of the case. It is the element of case writing that makes cases acceptable scholarly presentations rather than simply good stories.

Contents of Typical Teaching Notes

  • Overview/Synopsis/Abstract – This element serves as the hook. The readers you are aiming for in the synopsis are the instructors, the gatekeepers who decide whether or not to assign your case to the class.


  • Intended Audience, Recommended Courses, and Placement – You also need to identify one or more courses in which your case might be used and when in the term the case is likely to be taught. Think in terms of a class session rather than an entire course.


  • Learning Objectives – These describe specifically what you want students to learn. Please note that these are not teaching objectives, the things that the instructors want to teach. Cases are the core of student-centered learning, and therefore the learning objectives must be focused on student outcomes.


  • Discussion Questions (DQ) – The goal of the Discussion Questions is to focus student analysis and guide the classroom discussion. These questions derive from the Learning Objectives. In fact, each Learning Objective should connect with one or more DQ and each question, in turn, must relate to one or more of the Learning Objectives.

Discussion Questions are open-ended, analytical and pose a solvable problem that is neither too difficult nor too simple for the level of the student. DQs must be answerable from the case; they cannot be based on material that does not appear in the case itself.

  • Teaching Strategies – Some cases are best taught simply using the DQs, but more cases lend themselves to specific teaching strategies and student preparation, focusing on case preparation and teaching methods.

Case Preparation relates to things that must happen for students before the case can be discussed.  For example, what must students have learned before being assigned your case?

Teaching Methods relate to things that must happen for the instructor before teaching your case.  How will students gain the most from this case? Is a lecture format appropriate?  If so, provide the lecture outline. If so, provide the board outlines. Do you have a creative exercise to suggest?  Provide the full instructions.


  • Literature Review, Theory, and Recommended Readings – If the literature review or theory discussion is straightforward, it is a simple matter to outline basic theory. If your case is about motivation, a several paragraph outline of the perspectives of three frequently-taught theorists will suffice. If your case is about a topic that requires considerable elucidation, you may have to write a bit more.


  • Answering Discussion Questions – Questions should be answered from the students’ perspective, using language that students are likely to use.


  • Epilogue – Students always want to know “what happened.” The epilogue provides information about the aftermath of the events in the case.  It describes the decision that the protagonist made and allows students to compare their own recommendations to the actions actually taken.

[1] Adapted from Vega, G. (2013). The Case Writing Workbook: A Self-Guided Workshop, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.

[2] Adapted from Vega, G. (2013). The Case Writing Workbook: A Self-Guided Workshop, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.


Updated: February 17, 2017 — 4:46 pm
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