Case Analysis, GRAD LEVEL, Human Resources Management, APA


Working with your assigned group, prepare and submit your analysis of the Merck & Co. (A) case. While your analysis should be submitted in essay format (similar to a research paper), focus on answering the following two questions:

1. Should the performance appraisal system be revised? Why or why not?

2. What changes would you recommend? Provide a clear rationale for your recommendations and carefully consider their consequences.

Guidelines for preparing case studies are contained in the “Learning Resources” file under “Helpful Resources.” For this case analysis, you will also find it helpful to read pp. 183-189 in the text regarding the design of merit pay systems and the Canvas file describing the Hay System of Job Evaluation. While this exercise focuses on performance appraisal, it is important to recognize that the performance appraisal system must ultimately link up with the compensation system for budgeting purposes. – If you need the pages, let me know

APA Format, not to exceed 8 Pages, 5 References.


A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem or situation, identify the causes of the problem, identify alternative solutions, and propose the most effective and actionable solution using supporting evidence.

Preparing and Analyzing the Case

  • Read and examine the case thoroughly. Read the case several times. Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
  • Develop your analysis. Identify the major problem/issue and any secondary problems/issues. Identify likely causes. Why do the problems/issues exist? How do they impact the organization? Who is responsible for the problems?
  • Identify possible solutions. Review course materials, conduct outside research, draw upon your experience.
  • Select the best solution from among alternatives. Restate the proposed solution. Provide strong supporting evidence or arguments. Is the solution realistic and actionable?

Writing up the Case

  • Present the key problem(s) and issues in the case. Develop a sound thesis statement that summarizes the outcome of your analysis in 1-2 sentences.
  • Set the scene. Present a brief background of the important facts and issues in the case.
  • Causes/Analysis. Demonstrate here that you have researched and analyzed the problems in the case. Present your assessment of why the problems exist based on various course materials and research.
  • Outline a limited number of reasonable alternatives. Explain why they were rejected.
  • Proposed Solution. Present the best and most realistic solution here. Explain why this solution was selected over other alternatives. Provide solid evidence or arguments to support your selection. If appropriate, recommend follow-up actions.

Finalizing the Write-Up

Read through your first draft of the case write-up, look for gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure. Proofread and edit your write-up. Run the spelling and grammar check in Word. Ensure proper formatting and compliance with APA style guidelines. Put the draft aside for a few days; then, reread and re-edit. A good write-up usually takes several iterations.

Elements of an Argument

A thesis (your claim or position), is supported by more specific arguments and evidence that will support your position. For instance, you could support your position about the value of distance learning by using the following ideas:

  • Today’s college students need access to education at times and places that are convenient to them, so distance learning may work better than traditional courses.
  • Students need to work on school projects at different paces since their schedules are not steady. Distance learning can allow them to do this.
  • Students who have already been in the work force are well prepared to work independently, and individualized education will work better for them.
  • Distance learning could be more affordable for schools and students than traditional methods.

Each of these ideas would be supported by additional examples and evidence. Some of the evidence could be facts and statistics, but most arguments also need other kinds of supporting information. After all, if an issue could be resolved simply by looking at “the facts,” people wouldn’t be arguing about it. Usually, supporting evidence includes facts, ideas and quotes from experts, examples of cases related to your topic, and quotes from people who are affected by it. For example, the distance learning argument could be supported by information about what today’s college students are like, descriptions of distance learning programs, quotes from reports/articles by educators and researchers, and quotes from students.

Evidence doesn’t work by itself, though. A good argument will explain how each piece of evidence relates to the argument and why the evidence is valuable and credible. For each supporting idea in an argument, the following pieces should appear:

  • Supporting idea (Distance learning allows students to fit college into their busy schedules).
  • Explanation of the idea (Why are students’ lives so busy? Why is it easier to fit distance learning into a busy schedule than it is to fit traditional courses?)
  • Evidence (quotes from students about their schedules, statistics on the number of students working full-time, descriptions of how distance learning programs are set up).
  • Explanation of the value of the evidence (information on the people you’re quoting, comments about what the increasing number of non-traditional students means, explanation of how distance learning is more convenient).