Role and Genre Expectations in Undergraduate Case Analysis in Information Systems

Publication Title

English for Specific Purposes

Publication Date


Document Type





case method, information systems, business writing, roles


Business and Corporate Communications | English Language and Literature | Rhetoric and Composition


This study examines case analysis writing in the field of Information Systems (IS), focusing on the roles students adopt in their writing and the functions that these roles perform. Previous research on case analysis in business has found that adoption of specific roles, such as business consultant or manager, is important in case analysis writing. In this study, we investigate role expectations in IS case analysis assignments across a 4-year IS curriculum, and students' performance of roles in writing in one IS course. We examined case analysis prompts from six courses as well as an interview with an IS faculty informant to identify roles expected in case analyses across an undergraduate IS curriculum. Secondly, we examined student writing in one IS course to examine students' performance of the expected roles. Results showed that students are expected to perform a wide range of roles, and that some roles included multiple distinct functions. In addition, prompts were arranged in many assignments in ways that structured a case analysis genre. Lower-graded analyses showed an over-reliance on reporting information from the case and on displaying disciplinary knowledge. Implications for teaching and incorporation of case analysis in information systems and business administration programs are discussed.