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African Business Cases

sponsored by China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)

SweepSouth South Africa: Contextually Intelligent Female Leadership of Entrepreneurial Domestic Serviceswritten by:

  • Tracey Toefy, University of Pretoria, ZA
  • Caren Scheepers, University of Pretoria, ZA

SweepSouth CEO and co-founder Aisha Pandor sought to scale her platform-based business. The platform connected over 9,000 unemployed domestic workers with clients looking for home cleaning services, and there were more than 80,000 applications from unemployed women wishing to join the platform. Pandor wondered how to scale the business so that more women could find regular work to support their families. Pandor described the domestic work industry as “broken and living in the past”. SweepSouth provided a solution to the main problems in the industry: domestic workers were often underpaid and stripped of their dignity, but their only alternative was unemployment. The company’s mission was therefore to create employment opportunities, leading to poverty alleviation. Possibilities for expansion of the platform included moving into other African countries, introducing the sale of cleaning products or even creating a corporate cleaning offering. Pandor needed to decide how best to scale the business.

Bringing Technology to Market

sponsored by Bringing Technology to Market (BTM) Center, ESMT Berlin

“TOMTOM: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B”, written by:

  • Steven Sweldens, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL
  • Stefano Puntoni, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL
  • Niela Kleinsmith, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL
  • Matthieu Campion, formerly at TomTom Automotive,
  • Tao Yue, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL

Faced with declining B2C sales from its iconic portable navigation device, Dutch firm TomTom needs to refocus public awareness on the location and navigation software technologies that have fed its success. However, sudden market intrusions from technology giants, such as Apple in the past, and now, Google, present significant challenges. How can TomTom firmly assert its position in this highly-competitive, B2B market? This web-supported, multi-source marketing case about TomTom’s journey from B2C to B2B was developed by a team of authors at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, in collaboration with TomTom. Teaching materials highlight managing brands over time, B2B versus B2C branding, Big Bang disruption, and autonomous driving. Featuring Corinne Vigreux, one of TomTom's founding members and leading executives, this case presents not only rapidly evolving technology and marketing trends, but also, an exceptional female protagonist in a male-dominated sector.


Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence

sponsored by Instituto Internacional San Telmo – Cátedra Mayoral de Mejora Continua

“Northwestern Memorial Hospital: Smoothing Material Flow through the Receiving Area”, written by:

  • John Nicholas, Loyola University of Chicago, US
  • Paul Suett, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, US
  • Hussam Bachour, University of Chicago Medicine, US

The case describes the internal supply chain at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Packages arriving at the hospital were processed through the receiving area for distribution to supply rooms; on average this took three days—in most cases fa longer than required. Fearing shortages, clinicians often over-ordered, causing overstocked supply rooms. Lacking space, packages had to be stocked in hospital corridors, an intolerable situation.

Drawing from lean principles, a team of receiving-area staff value-stream mapped the process and discovered batch processing, motion waste, and defects as major contributors to the long lead time. Based on this information, they revised the receiving-area process and physical layout and instituted standard work procedures and visual management controls.  Results: smoother material flow and a reduced average lead time from three days to one day.  Among the benefits: greatly improved satisfaction among hospital clinicians; elimination of overtime, reorders, rush orders, and lost packages; and an estimated annual inventory savings of USD $20 million.

Corporate Social Responsibility

sponsored by ESC PAU Business School

“Barry Callebaut: Forever Chocolate”, written by:

  • Craig Smith, INSEAD, FR
  • Ron Soonieus, INSEAD, FR
  • Lisa Duke, Self-employed, CH

Absent sufficient action on sustainability, there will be no cocoa beans and, thus, no chocolate. Barry Callebaut (BC), the world’s largest B2B cocoa and chocolate company, transformed from viewing sustainable cocoa as being of little interest to embracing it fully. In 2016, BC set four highly ambitious targets to achieve by 2025 – eradicating child labour from its supply chain, lifting more than half-a-million cocoa farmers out of poverty, becoming carbon and forest positive, and ensuring 100% sustainable ingredients in all products. Knowing it was impossible to make changes in isolation, BC started a movement under the banner “Forever Chocolate”, involving multiple stakeholders. The case demonstrates that sustainability needs to be an integral part of the business. It presents the progress made by BC over the first two years and illustrates the difficulties encountered. It challenges students to consider what more can be done, and whether this is “radical corporate sustainability”.


sponsored by emlyon business school

“Developing an Effective Corporate Innovation System: The Case of the Bosch Group”, written by:

  • Ann-Kathrin Leiting, ETH Zürich, CH
  • Jana Thiel, ETH Zürich, CH
  • Bart Clarysse, ETH Zürich, CH

This case introduces the Robert Bosch Group—a widely acknowledged global player in the high technology industry—and its current approach to corporate entrepreneurship. Recent changes and intensified technological dynamism in the automotive industry, the company’s main business sector, call for a strategic reorientation and an exploration of new business fields. Subsequently, the company had made significant investments into a broad range of corporate entrepreneurship initiatives, e.g. hackatons, accelerator program, etc., to enable employees to generate new ideas and experiment in lean start-up fashion to identify and validate impactful new business opportunities. The case describes the goals, setup, and challenges of organizing these initiatives, notably how to create and protect projects that do not fit the company’s core business field and could potentially disrupt its current activities.


Family Business

sponsored by Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut

“Technology Park Company: Harvesting the fruits of a family business”, written by:

  • Ashraf Sheta, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG
  • Gamila Ibrahim, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG
  • Ahmed Darwich, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG
  • Ahmed El Tahan, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG
  • Ali Fouda, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG
  • Farah El Misalami, American University in Cairo (AUC), EG

The case addresses Technology Park Company a privately-owned company working in the field of IT. The case starts with a background about the entrepreneur, and his journey to success. It moves through a timeline, which started in Cairo, then the USA, and then back to Egypt again. The founding entrepreneur possesses vast experience in the field of IT. However, he is faced with a lot of challenges in his business due to the fast changes happening in the industry. Some of the major concerns related to the family business challenges are discussed, these include succession, the involvement of partners, and finally separation of management from ownership.

Finance and Banking

sponsored by Portsmouth Business School

“JPMorgan Chase & Co. – Creating a Next-Gen Banking Experience Powered by Digital Technology”written by:

  • Anil Anirudhan, ICFAI Business School, IN
  • Sanjib Dutta, ICFAI Business School, IN

The case is about the digital technologies play adopted by JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) to stay relevant amidst changing customer expectations and the increasing trend of digital banking. The case deals with the growth of JPMC over the years and its digital initiatives which included the ‘mobile first, digital everything’ strategy. The use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning provided JPMC’s customers superior customer value. JPMC also developed multiple mobile apps for its customers. These included Chase Mobile, Finn, and JPMorgan Mobile. JPMC tied up with several FinTech companies to develop new technologies for its banking operations. Even though it had emerged as a disrupter in the banking industry with its innovative technologies, it faced an ever-growing threat from banking organizations aligned with technology companies and from technology players with an eye on banking and financial services.

Hidden Champions

sponsored by Hidden Champions Institute (HCI), ESMT Berlin

“Digitally-Powered Customer-Centricity in the Industrial Gas Sector: The Air Liquide-Airgas Merger”, written by:

  • David Dubois, INSEAD, SG
  • Jean-Michel Moslonka, Agalio, FR

The case sets the stage for a vibrant discussion of how Air Liquide, a leading gas supplier to the industrial and healthcare sectors, strategically leverages digital technologies to strengthen customer relationships across its broad portfolio of customers following its acquisition of US company Airgas. Serving an increasingly diverse set of customers implies to select and deploy digital technologies within a multi-segment customer-centric strategy. Readers step into the shoes of top Air Liquide executives and take on the task to articulate the steps and transformation Air Liquide needs to embrace to harness the power of digital technologies around the customer after the merger. Group discussions reveal what technological features best match with specific customer segments. The discussion also covers how to effectively blend the two companies’ culture and approaches to customer centricity, learn from each other by taking the best of both worlds and turn the company into a glocal champion.

Inclusive Business Models

sponsored by IMD - Institute for Management Development

“BanaPads: To grow or not to grow? That is the question”, written by:

  • Luisa Alemany, London Business School, UK
  • Nicholas Andreou, Big Society Capital, UK
  • Alma Gutierrez, Elevar Equity, MX

While growing up, Richard Bbaale saw his sister missing school due to lack of access to sanitary towels. After becoming a teacher, he observed the same trend amongst teenage girls, with high levels of absenteeism, and therefore poor grades at the end of term. Richard took it upon himself to change things. In 2010, Richard founded BanaPads to make affordable sanitary pads from the stems of banana trees that grow in Uganda. By late 2018 BanaPads had 25,000 unique customers and was selling 400,000 pads per month. However, the current production facilities were not able to meet demand and growth opportunities. Automation of the production facilities required US$500,000 in financing to allow BanaPads to increase production by up to 12x. However, Richard was struggling to balance how much social impact to trade off for appealing financial projections. What was the right growth plan? And, even more important, how could they attract the necessary financing to make sure that BanaPads would become a self-sustaining company in the long term, while generating social impact?


Indian Management Issues and Opportunities

sponsored by EFMD

“ Turning the tables on disruption”, written by:

  • Amit M. Joshi, IMD, CH
  • Ivy Buche, IMD, CH

EFMD would like to warmly thank the jury members Prof. Radha R. Sharma, Prof. Vaidyanathan Jayaraman, and Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal for their expertise and contribution in assessing the cases submitted in the “Indian Management Issues and Opportunities” category.

Pepperfry, India's largest online furniture retailer, disrupted the furniture and home decor market while overcoming the challenges of India's weak infrastructure, age-old methods of buying and selling from local carpentry shops, lack of trust in e-commerce and a massive geography. By 2018 Pepperfry had grown exponentially to control over 60% of India’s online furniture market. However, several questions remained. Despite controlling costs and significantly expanding revenues, it was not profitable. Pepperfry had embarked on an omnichannel strategy establishing physical studios in Tier 1 cities. How could it manage this online-offline complexity, while staying on track to break even? Finally, the competitive space had heated up significantly with international giants like Ikea and Amazon entering the Indian market. Did Pepperfry have the brand name, systems and agility to respond to these challenges? Or will the disruptor be disrupted?

Innovative People Leadership Solutions in International Intergovernmental and Not-for-profit Organisations

sponsored by AHRMIO

“Managing the Growth of an Innovative Subsidiary in the Voluntary Sector: Fondation Caritas France, an Offshoot of Secours Catholique”written by:

  • Arthur Gautier, ESSEC Business School, FR
  • With an assistance of Fanny Massy, ESSEC Business School student. 

This case affords students the opportunity to discover how large charities and NGOs can innovate from within by setting up “subsidiaries” supported by some of their managers and executives. The originality of the case lies in the fact that it studies an intrapreneurial innovation – here, a “sheltering foundation” to attract new philanthropic resources for the mission – on the part of a large, established charity reliant on donations.

The case enables students to:

  • discover how innovation and intrapreneurship can take hold in a large, nonprofit organization;
  • understand how setting up a subsidiary is a possible strategy for developing new resources for this type of organization;
  • analyse the success factors and consider whether this success can be sustained;
  • learn how to manage such unexpected success, potentially generating a form of competition with the parent organization, and how to find balance between both organisations.

Latin American Business Cases

sponsored by Universidad Externado de Colombia

“Cinépolis S.A. de C.V. and KLIC: Rising to the Streaming Challenge “, written by:

  • Francisco Gil-White, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, MX

In general terms, the case seeks to familiarize the students with the challenges that a new entrant will face in a mature OTT (‘over the top’) market—the market, which Netflix made famous, for audio, video, and other media transmitted via the Internet as a standalone product (that is, without an operator of multiple cable or direct-broadcast satellite television systems). As such, the case steers students to consider the benefits of developing a niche strategy, stimulating them to think about unmet consumer demands that the OTT giants have difficulty capitalizing on. Specifically, the case is about Cinépolis, a Mexican company that is one of the most important players, worldwide, in the cinema-theater space, and the owner of a platform that is a recent entrant into the OTT space: KLIC. The case explores the challenges of competing against Netflix, Claro Video, Blim, and Apple TV, among others, and possible opportunities that may exist for synergies between a properly niched strategy for KLIC and Cinépolis’ highly profitable and innovative movie-theater business, which has been aggressively grown in Mexico and internationally with an out-of-the-box disruptive business culture. It is appropriate for undergraduate or MBA students, and it is useful in strategy and marketing courses.

MENA Business Cases

sponsored by HEC Paris in Qatar

"Almajid Limited: The tumultuous journey of a multigenerational enterprise in Saudi Arabia (Parts A, B, C & D)”, written by:

  • Virginia Bodolica, American University of Sharjah, AE
  • Martin Spraggon, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, AE

This case offers an exclusive opportunity to follow the tumultuous journey of a Saudi family-owned enterprise and analyse the different phases of its evolution over seven decades and three generations. The case highlights the complexities surrounding the management of a family firm and illustrates how various life-cycle stages stemming from multiple domains (family, business, industry, ownership, and governance) simultaneously influence the family business strategy. Being embedded in the context of Saudi Arabia, the case unveils the unique challenges of managing a diversified, multi-generational family organization in a conservative cultural setting. The case study is divided into four parts, with each of them putting the emphasis on a different life-cycle area of significance for the evolution of the family business. Each part culminates with the identification of an area-relevant dilemma that needs to be addressed for the family firm to be able to move into the next stage of its development.

Responsible Business

sponsored by School of Business, The American University in Cairo (AUC)

“Voles System’s Bribery Accusations in China”, written by:

  • Daniel Han Ming Chng, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Xin Pi, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Liman Zhao, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN

This case describes the bribery accusations and subsequent investigations at the Chinese subsidiary of a disguised U.S. public-listed company in the oil and gas industry called “Voles System” (Voles). The company was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after two internal investigations failed to find evidence to substantiate internal whistleblower allegations that the Mainland China office had bribed Chinese officials to win contracts. The DOJ’s investigation revealed a “slush” fund created by a few managers to entertain potential clients but no evidence of bribery of Chinese officials. The investigation was not only costly and disruptive but also hurt the company’s reputation in the industry. The case asks students to identify the causes of governance failure using a corporate governance framework, suggest short-term and long-term recommendations to improve the corporate governance system and discuss more general issues relating to responsible management in emerging markets.

Responsible Leadership

sponsored by University of San Diego School of Business

“PMI’s Vision of a Smoke-Free Future: Can a Tobacco Company be Sustainable?”, written by:

  • Vanina Farber, IMD - Institute for Management Development, CH
  • Natalia Olynec, IMD - Institute for Management Development, CH

Philip Morris International (PMI) CEO André Calantzopoulos announced in 2016 a radical pivot in the Marlboro cigarette manufacturer’s strategy: the company would shift to “smoke-free” products in more than 180 countries around the world. One of these products was IQOS, a new “heat-not-burn” (HNB) device aimed at providing the world’s over 1 billion “adult smokers with better options.” Calantzopoulos and PMI’s Board believed that its sustainability strategy was critical to the company’s success. Nevertheless, convincing important stakeholders that a tobacco company could be part of the solution to rid the world of cigarettes by offering better alternatives was a different matter. The United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), regulators, public health advocates, and some sustainable investors said that there was no safe level of use and no opportunity for effective engagement with tobacco companies. PMI organized the 2020 Stakeholder Engagement Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland to convene key stakeholders to engage with PMI’s smoke-free business transformation.

Supply Chain Management

sponsored by Coventry Business School

SmarterChains Workshop: Building an Industry 4.0 Transformation Roadmapwritten by:

  • Ralf W. Seifert, IMD - Institute for Management Development, CH
  • Richard Markoff, IMD - Institute for Management Development, CH

This case is a workshop exercise built with SmarterChains, an Industry 4.0 enterprise intelligence platform. It is a complement to a class session on Industry 4.0, a difficult subject to teach as it comprises dozens of technologies that are evolving rapidly and whose use cases can be difficult to immediately grasp without concrete examples. Modelled after a consumer goods factory, this workshop-type case encourages students to consider the managerial challenges of building an Industry 4.0 roadmap while illustrating concrete use cases for several key technologies. The students are given information about the current state of the factory and are provided with around 30 cards describing potential technologies the factory could choose to apply. Working in groups, they are asked to select up to 10 technologies to apply, in a sequence of their choosing. The case includes a benchmark solution and is supported by various videos.

Women in Business

sponsored by IMD - Institute for Management Development

“Google LLC: The Diversity Manifesto and Leader Candour”, written by:

  • Raymond Chiu, Brock University, CA
  • Fernando Olivera, Ivey Business School, CA

This case highlights the challenge of a diversity officer in the heated context of gender discrimination and ideological conflicts. In August 2017, a memo written by an engineer at Google LLC (Google) was leaked to the public, revealing fractured communication and leadership at Google. Labelled an “anti-diversity manifesto” by its detractors, the memo set off a public controversy over the causes of gender disparities in tech and the limits of free speech within organizations. With ideological divisions across the company, open disdain expressed between colleagues, and the credibility of leaders at a low, the new vice-president of diversity needed to establish trust and candour among the employees and move the company forward.  The teaching addresses women in STEM, scientific interpretations of gender bias, legal analysis, and leader communication. Translations are available in Simplified Chinese and Japanese

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