Black Country Gifts: A Live Case Study

Black Country Gifts was launched this week as a live case study to support the learning, teaching and practice of information management.

Black Country Gifts

Black Country Gifts

Black Country Gifts is an online retailer based in the West Midlands selling a range of small, low cost gift items. This ebusiness has been launched with the specific aim of providing a real context that can be used to demonstrate a range of issues in information management.  University students need access to a real organization to understand the challenges that industries encounter in managing information.

Case studies provide a context in which to practice analytical tools and develop skills in problem solving.  Case studies can be used to demonstrate the complexity of situations and the ambiguity of the real world. As a teaching method, case studies promote problem-based action learning, supporting student-centred learning. They provide a bridge between academia and industry to help students develop both subject-specific and transferable skills.  However, writing case studies and preparing case study resources are extremely time-consuming tasks.  Writing case studies requires educators to develop new skills in storytelling, and skill in balancing the level of detail required in the case study.  Students need to be given sufficient information to meet the learning outcomes of the task set, and to be given broader and richer information about the organizational setting in which the case study is set in order to demonstrate the realistic context of a problem situation.  Achieving the balance of information provided in the case study is therefore challenging.

Descriptive case studies provide examples of past problems but can lack the impact of immediate issues and fail to effectively communicate the severity and complexity of problems in organizations.  In contrast, organizations are focused on staying in business and battling the daily challenges for their survival whilst seeking to achieve strategic goals.  Few organizations are therefore able to spend time providing access to students.

Black Country Gifts has been established with the aim of being a live case study, providing access to all aspects of the organization, within ethical and legal limits.  For example, customer details and financial accounting will not be disclosed.  As a live case study, current issues facing the organization will be discussed and the rationale for decisions taken will be made available to educators.

As the live case study develops, the Black Country Gifts website will include practical activities to help students to explore the challenges of maintaining a sustainable business.  The live case study will be used to demonstrate how theoretical concepts in information systems and information management apply to the real world case of Black Country Gifts.

Black Country Gifts is a commercial venture and its viability will depend on its ability to generate sufficient income to cover its operating costs. So why not take a look and pick up a bargain today?


Further Reading: Amy’s Candles, Bright Spark and Match Lighting are three case studies used throughout the book.

Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:

Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘Black Country Gifts: A Live Case Study’, 3 October 2014,, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]



© 2014 Sharon A Cox