Thursday, August 28, 2008

Paper Trail

The American Public Media radio show Marketplace ran a story today, "MBA schools take new tack in studies," that argues that through digitization and networked communication business students are being encouraged to examine larger data sets than the traditional case study approach allows.

By using databases of documents and online news stories about companies in fiscal trouble, such as Enron or Bear Stearns, faculty are using the web to simulate encountering financial records, public relations materials, and press coverage without a pre-set narrative. Yale's Dean of the School of Management Joel Podolny discusses this "raw case method" in which materials are delivered online to facilitate criticism and collaboration and draws analogies with Wikipedia to explain the project. Podolny also claims that rights issues involving the electronic reproduction of these documents should be seen as relatively clear-cut, because the principles of fair use would apply, given the explicitly educational context, although the school is involved in a collaboration with the Wall Street Journal for the project.

Podolny explains more about this initiative here. As an example, this sample case about the FCC spectrum auction should be of interest to digital rights advocates.

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