The HBS Case Method
Yale School of Management
Top cases of 2017
We generated a list of the 40 most popular Yale School of Management case studies in 2017 by combining data from our publishers, Google analytics, and other measures of interest and adoption. In compiling the list, we gave additional weight to usage outside Yale.
Case topics represented on the list vary widely, but a number are drawn from the case team’s focus on healthcare, asset management, and sustainability. The cases also draw on Yale’s continued emphasis on corporate governance, ethics, and the role of business in state and society. Of note, nearly half of the most popular cases feature a woman as either the main protagonist or, in the case of raw cases where multiple characters take the place of a single protagonist, a major leader within the focal organization. While nearly a fourth of the cases were written in the past year, some of the most popular, including Cadbury and Design at Mayo, date from the early years of our program over a decade ago. Nearly two-thirds of the most popular cases were “raw” cases – Yale’s novel, web-based template which allows for a combination of text, documents, spreadsheets, and videos in a single case website.
Read on to learn more about the top 10 most popular cases followed by a complete list of the top 40 cases of 2017.
#1 – Coffee 2016
Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort
Coffee 2016 asks students to consider the coffee supply chain and generate ideas for what can be done to equalize returns across various stakeholders. The case draws a parallel between coffee and wine. Both beverages encourage connoisseurship, but only wine growers reap a premium for their efforts to ensure quality. The case describes the history of coffee production across the world, the rise of the “third wave” of coffee consumption in the developed world, the efforts of the Illy Company to help coffee growers, and the differences between “fair” trade and direct trade. Faculty have found the case provides a wide canvas to discuss supply chain issues, examine marketing practices, and encourage creative solutions to business problems.
#2 – AXA: Creating New Corporate Responsibility Metrics
Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort and David Bach
The case describes AXA’s corporate responsibility (CR) function. The company, a global leader in insurance and asset management, had distinguished itself in CR since formally establishing a CR unit in 2008. As the case opens, AXA’s CR unit is being moved from the marketing function to the strategy group occasioning a thorough review as to how CR should fit into AXA’s operations and strategy. Students are asked to identify CR issues of particular concern to the company, examine how addressing these issues would add value to the company, and then create metrics that would capture a business unit’s success or failure in addressing the concerns.
#3 – IBM Corporate Service Corps
Faculty Supervision: David Bach in cooperation with University of Ghana Business School and EGADE
The case considers IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC), a program that had become the largest pro bono consulting program in the world. The case describes the program’s triple-benefit: leadership training to the brightest young IBMers, brand recognition for IBM in emerging markets, and community improvement in the areas served by IBM’s host organizations. As the program entered its second decade in 2016, students are asked to consider how the program can be improved. The case allows faculty to lead a discussion about training, marketing in emerging economies, and various ways of providing social benefit. The case highlights the synergies as well as trade-offs between pursuing these triple benefits.
#4 – Cadbury: An Ethical Company Struggles to Insure the Integrity of Its Supply Chain
Faculty Supervision: Ira Millstein
The case describes revelations that the production of cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire involved child slave labor. These stories hit Cadbury especially hard. Cadbury’s culture had been deeply rooted in the religious traditions of the company’s founders, and the organization had paid close attention to the welfare of its workers and its sourcing practices. The US Congress was considering legislation that would allow chocolate grown on certified plantations to be labeled “slave labor free,” painting the rest of the industry in a bad light. Chocolate producers had asked for time to rectify the situation, but the extension they negotiated was running out. Students are asked whether Cadbury should join with the industry to lobby for more time? What else could Cadbury do to ensure its supply chain was ethically managed?
#5 – 360 State Real Options
Faculty Supervision: Matthew Spiegel
In 2010 developer Bruce Becker (SOM ‘85) completed 360 State Street, a major new construction project in downtown New Haven. Just west of the apartment building, a 6,000-square-foot pocket of land from the original parcel remained undeveloped. Becker had a number of alternatives to consider in regards to the site. He also had no obligation to build. He could bide his time. But Becker worried about losing out on rents should he wait too long. Students are asked under what set of circumstances and at what time would it be most advantageous to proceed?
#6 – Design at Mayo
Faculty Supervision: Rodrigo Canales and William Drentell
The case describes how the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prominent hospitals in the world, engaged designers and built a research institute, the Center for Innovation (CFI), to study the processes of healthcare provision. The case documents the many incremental innovations the designers were able to implement and the way designers learned to interact with physicians and vice-versa.
In 2010 there were questions about how the CFI would achieve its stated aspiration of “transformational change” in the healthcare field. Students are asked what would a major change in health care delivery look like? How should the CFI’s impact be measured? Were the center’s structure and processes appropriate for transformational change? Faculty have found this a great case to discuss institutional obstacles to innovation, the importance of culture in organizational change efforts, and the differences in types of innovation.
This case is freely available to the public.
#7 – Ant Financial
Faculty Supervision: K. Sudhir in cooperation with Renmin University of China School of Business
In 2015, Ant Financial’s MYbank (an offshoot of Jack Ma’s Alibaba company) was looking to extend services to rural areas in China by providing small loans to farmers. Microloans have always been costly for financial institutions to offer to the unbanked (though important in development) but MYbank believed that fintech innovations such as using the internet to communicate with loan applicants and judge their credit worthiness would make the program sustainable. Students are asked whether MYbank could operate the program at scale? Would its big data and technical analysis provide an accurate measure of credit risk for loans to small customers? Could MYbank rely on its new credit-scoring system to reduce operating costs to make the program sustainable?
#8 – Business Leadership in South Africa’s 1994 Reforms
Faculty Supervision: Ian Shapiro
This case examines the role of business in South Africa’s historic transition away from apartheid to popular sovereignty. The case provides a previously untold oral history of this key moment in world history, presenting extensive video interviews with business leaders who spearheaded behind-the-scenes negotiations between the African National Congress and the government. Faculty teaching the case have used the material to push students to consider business’s role in a divided society and ask: What factors led business leaders to act to push the country’s future away from isolation toward a “high road” of participating in an increasingly globalized economy? What techniques and narratives did they use to keep the two sides talking and resolve the political impasse? And, if business leadership played an important role in the events in South Africa, could they take a similar role elsewhere?
#9 – Shake Shack IPO
Faculty Supervision: Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst
From an art project in a New York City park, Shake Shack developed a devoted fan base that greeted new Shake Shack locations with cheers and long lines. When Shake Shack went public on January 30, 2015, investors displayed a similar enthusiasm. Opening day investors bid up the $21 per share offering price by 118% to reach $45.90 at closing bell. By the end of May, investors were paying $92.86 per share. Students are asked if this price represented a realistic valuation of the enterprise and if not, what was Shake Shack truly worth? The case provides extensive information on Shake Shack’s marketing, competitors, operations and financials, allowing instructors to weave a wide variety of factors into a valuation of the company.
#10 – Searching for a Search Fund Structure
Faculty Supervision: AJ Wasserstein
This case considers how young entrepreneurs structure search funds to find businesses to take over. The case describes an MBA student who meets with a number of successful search fund entrepreneurs who have taken alternative routes to raising funds. The case considers the issues of partnering, soliciting funds vs. self-funding a search, and joining an incubator. The case provides a platform from which to discuss the pros and cons of various search fund structures.
40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2017
Customer/Marketing, Competitor/Strategy, Supply Chain, Sustainability
AXA: Creating New CR Metrics W
Todd Cort and David Bach
Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability, Metrics & Data
IBM Corporate Service Corps W
Competitor/Strategy, State & Society, Innovation & Design
Ethics & Religion, Supply Chain, Operations, State & Society
360 State Street Real Options
Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Metrics & Data, Sourcing/Managing Funds, Real Estate
Design at Mayo W
Rodrigo Canales and William Drentell
Healthcare, Innovation & Design, Leadership & Teamwork
Ant Financial W
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Investor/Finance, State & Society, Fintech, Credit Scoring
Business Leadership in South Africa’s 1994 Reforms
Business History, Leadership & Teamwork, State & Society
Shake Shack IPO
Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst
Competitor/Strategy, Innovation & Design, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds, Supercharged IPO
Searching for a Search Fund Structure W
Employee/HR, Entrepreneurship through Acquisition
Customer/Marketing, Entrepreneurship through Acquisition
TIAA 2016 W
Ahmed Khwaja, Vineet Kumar, and K. Sudhir
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Employee/HR, Investor/Finance, Millennials
Hip and Knee Replacement at YNHHS W
Competitor/Strategy, Healthcare, Leadership & Teamwork, Operations, Bundled Payments
Role of Hedge Funds in Institutional Portfolios: Florida Retirement System
Asset Management, Financial Regulation, Investor/Finance, Metrics & Data, State & Society
GE Ecomagination W
Constance E. Bagley, Ravi Dhar, and Fiona M. Scott Morton
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Investor/Finance, State & Society, Sustainability
Competitor/Strategy, Healthcare, Practice Management
Walmart de Mexico W
K. Geert Rouwenhorst
Palm Oil 2016 W
Competitor/Strategy, Law & Contracts, Macroeconomics, Operations, Social Enterprise, State & Society, Sustainability, Deforestation
Haiti Mangoes W
Entrepreneurship, Operations, Supply Chain, Social Enterprise, State & Society
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
Competitor/Strategy, Investor/Finance, State & Society
Customer/Marketing, Innovation & Design, Social Enterprise, State & Society, Sustainability
Metrics & Data, Operations
Customer/Marketing, Innovation & Design, Operations, Process Optimization
Strategy for Norway’s Pension Fund Global W
William Goetzmann and Olav Sorenson
Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds
Seven Theaters in Search of Revenue W
Arts Management, Pricing
Northern Pulp: A Private Equity Firm Resurrects a Troubled Paper Company
Heather Tookes and Peter Schott
Investor/Finance, Macroeconomics, State & Society, Sustainability, Acquisition
The Battle for Endesa
Competitor/Strategy, Law & Contracts, State & Society, Energy, Mergers
Netflix & Qwikster
Sharon Oster and Keith Chen
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Innovation & Design, Operations, Streaming Services
Alcoa and the Auto Industry
Todd Cort and Brad Gentry
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Innovation & Design, Sustainability, Automotive
Competitor/Strategy, Employee/HR, Financial Regulation, Investor/Finance
Ethics & Religion, Healthcare, Law & Contracts, State & Society, Patents
Golden Agri Resources and Sustainability
Competitor/Strategy, Sustainability, Palm Oil, Indonesia
Heather E. Tookes
Business History, Competitor/Strategy, Investor/Finance, Leadership & Teamwork, Asset Valuation, Publishing
Team Detroit W
Arun Sinha and Ravi Dhar
Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Employee/HR, Innovation & Design, Leadership & Teamwork, Ford, WPP, Advertising
Teach for All: Designing a Global Network W
Innovation & Design, Social Enterprise, Education
Customer/Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Operations, Social Enterprise, Education
Achievement First W
Social Enterprise, State & Society, Education
Mike Erwin: An Accidental Social Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship, Ethics & Religion, Leadership & Teamwork, Social Enterprise
Canary Wharf: Financing and Placemaking
Asset Management, Business History, Customer/Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Design, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds, State & Society, Real Estate, Placemaking, Fintech, Brexit
Case if freely available to the public
W Case features a woman in a major leadership role
Click on the case title to learn more, including how to purchase access, or contact [email protected] for more information.
December 19, 2017
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The Internet and Higher Education
Online, but on target? Internet-based MBA courses: A case study
In this study, the author investigates students' reactions to and attitudes about the Internet, online learning, and courses delivered online in a part-time MBA program with online course options. Two hundred and seventy students in a part-time MBA program are surveyed regarding Internet-based courses. In general, student feedback regarding online courses is very positive. Students cite lack of networking and interaction as concerns. The implications of these results are discussed. The results of this study may provide direction for future investigation and more descriptive research regarding the development of online programs for a graduate population.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. or its licensors or contributors. ScienceDirect ® is a registered trademark of Elsevier B.V.
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The case study method is a key component of the academic program at all IBS campuses, which is one of the few institutions in India that has made case studies a critical component of its curriculum.
Almost all the courses in the IBS program are designed keeping in mind the advantages of the case method. Some courses are even taught entirely through case studies – the case studies being tailor-made to the requirements of different subject areas and topics. Student evaluation is based on individual/team presentations, written reports and class participation. Cases encourage in-depth analysis by gathering supporting information – either through published sources or by directly interacting with the companies involved. IBS has a huge repertoire of case studies for almost all the functional areas in management.
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ICMR is a premier case development center developing high-quality teaching cases in Management. At ICMR, a dedicated and dynamic team works towards fulfilling the institution’s mission of developing high quality case studies. The case studies are written by a team comprising Faculty members and Research Associates. It not only ensures that IBS has a regular supply of case studies, but also caters to the increasing demand for quality case studies from other B-schools in India and abroad. Our cases have found extensive usage around the world. More than 200,000 individual copies of our case studies have been purchased by leading B-schools and universities around the world and over 10 million copies of our cases have been printed in international and Indian textbooks and casebooks. ICMR’s cases consistently win awards in several global case writing competitions.
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Besides IBS, these case studies are being used by a large number of business schools, universities and companies across the world. Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co., British Telecom, Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Procter & Gamble, and Siemens AG are some of the major business organizations that use IBS case studies. Universities and business schools that use IBS cases include University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Helsinki, London Business School, INSEAD, IMD, University of Michigan, etc.
IBS cases have also been published in several leading management textbooks published in Europe, the US and the UK. They have won recognition at international case writing competitions organized by institutions such as the Management Development Centre of Hong Kong, EFMD, The John Molson School of Business, and other institutions.
Learning through the globally accepted and popular case method of learning, students are able to hone their comprehension, analytical and decision-making skills and become better team players and managers.
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