Two awards ceremonies were held Sunday night. The Academy Awards, the biggest night in Hollywood, drew millions of viewers (and, to the relief of PricewaterhouseCoopers, this time around there was no screwup with the final envelope). But for MBA programs in Europe and the United States, the other awards program was an even bigger deal: the Case Centre Awards & Competitions, recognizing outstanding case writers and teachers from across the globe.
Like the Oscars, the Case Awards value — and strive for — diversity in their nominees and winners. And while that goal may be a work in progress in Hollywood, the Case Awards this year saw a remarkable diversity in winners, at least when it comes to new schools taking home honors. Case Centre Director Richard McCracken notes that more and more schools have been competing and winning at the annual event, a trend that has become even more pronounced since the awards went global in 2011. 2018, he says, saw the most variety in winning schools in the 28 years of the competition. Five schools won Case Awards for the first time: Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business, University of Denver Daniels College of Business, Hult International Business School, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Yet the traditional bastions of strong case writing, like Harvard Business School, were well-represented, too: HBS won two awards, including Overall Winning Case for the third time since 2011, while INSEAD won three category awards and two competitions.
“While we still see representation from traditionally high-profile schools that have a strong history and experience in the case method of teaching, such as Harvard Business School and INSEAD, year by year we are now seeing many other schools from every corner of the globe recognized for producing cases that their teaching colleagues worldwide want to teach with,” McCracken tells Poets&Quants. “This shows us that faculty at ever more institutions are developing successful teaching cases of a topicality, relevance, and pedagogical quality that faculty at other schools worldwide want to use them in their own classrooms.”
‘A UNIQUE ANNUAL INSIGHT INTO WHAT FUTURE BUSINESS PEOPLE ARE BEING TAUGHT’
The annual Case Awards comprises two parts: the awards, which include one overall winner and 10 management categories, and five competitions: Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method, Outstanding Case Teacher, Outstanding Case Writer, New Case Writer, and Case Writer on a “hot” topic. Three case writing competitions are held each year to find the outstanding case writer and outstanding first-time case writer, and to identify the best new case written on the topical “hot topic” (this year’s topic: disruptive change). For the awards, the blind data is analyzed to establish which cases have been ordered, and how many times, from the Case Centre for teaching at other schools across the globe. Their impact, McCracken says, is widespread: This year, 120 schools in 31 countries had taught with winning cases.
The Case Centre is a not-for-profit organization and registered charity. To be eligible for the awards, a case must have been registered during the last five years in the Case Centre’s collection of more than 61,700 cases. Schools don’t have to be nominated or put themselves forward, but a case can’t have won the category in a previous year — except for the overall winner. The competitions, by contrast, are based on nominations, or schools put themselves forward. A panel of international experts judges each competition.
“Winning a Case Centre award represents a high accolade because case authors and schools are effectively being judged by their peers worldwide — arguably, with their students, the most critical group to impress,” McCracken says. “The subjects of winning cases also give us a unique annual insight into what future business people are being taught. Cases on multinational business, and negotiating the new digital media landscape, remain well-represented, with many companies — Amazon, BP, Tesla, Unilever, Uber, and Zappos — appearing for a second, third, or even fourth year. But in 2018 we also see a strong representation of dilemmas around ethics, sustainability, and the highly topical issue of sexual harassment.
AMONG THE HONOREES IS A LATE HBS PROF OF BIZ ADMINISTRATION
Among the 2018 winners of the Case Awards are Harvard’s Youngme Moon, who won Overall Winning Case for a case about Uber; Alvaro Sandroni and Farhad Aspy Fatakia of Northwestern Kellogg, jointly named Outstanding New Case Writer; and INSEAD’s L. Felipe Monteiro and Anne-Marie Carrick, named Outstanding Case Writer on this year’s hot topic of disruptive change. Pierre Chandon of INSEAD was named Outstanding Case Teacher.
This year saw the Case Centre’s first posthumous award. Long-time HBS professor of business administration David Garvin, who succumbed to cancer in April 2017 at age 64, was honored for Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method, an decision McCracken says was not difficult for the judges. “The judges felt unanimously that few have contributed so much to the practice and understanding of the case method of learning as David A Garvin, whose lifelong contribution, both at Harvard Business School and far beyond, was cut short by his untimely death,” McCracken says.
Garvin was the C. Roland Christensen professor of business administration at HBS and a member of the Harvard faculty from 1979 until his death. Few have contributed so much to the practice and understanding of the case method of learning as David, McCracken says, both at HBS and beyond. He was “an extraordinary and meticulous case writer” who authored more than 70 cases — around a dozen of which feature as the most popular in HBS’s legendary case collection. As a case method scholar, Garvin published several books and articles on the topic, including the influential Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership, co-authored with C. Roland Christensen and Ann Sweet.
(See Page 2 for a complete list of the 2018 Case Centre Awards winners, with links to each case.)