Sunday was Academy Awards night, replete with popular and not-so-popular wins — and more than a few people wishing for a last-minute reversal in the choice of Best Picture, which (in)famously happened two years ago because of a screwup with the envelopes managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers. (Twas not to be — Green Book took, and kept, the top prize.)
Even as the outspoken among Hollywood’s elite stirred up a few minor controversies, another, concurrent awards show was being held: the annual Case Centre Awards and Competitions, celebrating 29 years of shining a light on the best creators of the curricular lifeblood of graduate business education. But if you thought this second, more cerebral event shied away from hot topics, you’d be wrong.
Winning subjects at the 2019 Case Awards included for the first time President Trump (Outstanding Case Writer Competition: President Trump Calling: Accept or Decline? by Karthik Ramanna, Vidhya Muthuram, and Sarah McAra, of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford). Other subjects being taught in classrooms worldwide with award-winning cases now include Uber, for the third time, as well as cases on familiar multinationals such as Accor, Amazon, and Apple. Meanwhile, cases on local business issues were also well represented among the winners, such as the Free Case category winner on KazOil, highlighting current national/international geopolitical trends.
“This year’s flagship awards and competitions show that over their 29-year history, standards of excellence in case writing and teaching have grown and spread right around the world to more institutions than ever before,” said Richard McCracken, director of the Case Centre. “Award-winning cases were taught in 103 schools in 34 countries. While many schools encourage faculty to prioritize journal-worthy research, the fact that ever more individual authors and teachers are now winning Case Awards and Competitions bears testament to the widespread dedication of faculty to bring students around the world topical, relevant and innovative classroom materials.
“Our annual case ‘Oscars’ shine a proud annual light on these impactful achievements.”
INTEGRATING TRADITIONAL DISCIPLINES ‘INTO ONE HOLISTIC APPROACH’
Now in its 29th year, the Case Centre is the UK-based “independent home of the case method,” a not-for-profit organization and registered charity that serves as a resource for business education. Its 11 annual awards and five competitions “celebrate excellence in case writing and teaching at schools of business, management, and government worldwide,” with many of the elite schools in the U.S. and Europe taking part since the awards expanded out of Europe to go global in 2011. Each year new schools add their names to the list of the honored: This year’s Case Centre Awards and Competitions saw five first-time winning schools: Oxford Blavatnik, Columbia Business School, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, ESCP Europe, and the ISEG Lisbon School of Economics & Management. There were also 23 first-time, individual faculty/research winners.
This year’s Overall Winning Case, on Accor’s digital marketing, was co-authored at Harvard Business School, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and ESSEC Business School. It is the fourth Overall Award for HBS, a first-time success for Cornell Johnson, and a first-time Overall win for ESSEC, which has won two category awards in previous years.
Outstanding Case Teacher was won by David Wood, MBA program director at Ivey Business School of Canada’s Western University — the second time a member of Ivey School’s faculty has won this competition.
“I truly enjoy teaching my students more about business, leadership, and how to handle some of the more complex challenges they will face in their career,” Wood said after winning the award. “The case method is what has enabled my students to integrate the traditional disciplines of business education into one holistic approach.
“Knowing that my students nominated me for this award makes this honor that much more gratifying.”
DRAWING THE CASE WRITER AND STUDENTS INTO ‘THE WORLD OF DISCOVERY’
Another prestigious ward, the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method, was won by Vijaya Narapareddy Zinnoury of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. Zinnoury was the winner of the Outstanding Case Writer Competition in 2018 and is the third female winner in the nine years that the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method has been recognized.
“I still find the case method to be unique in the way it draws both the writer and students into the world of discovery — discovery of critical problems and decisions to be made, concepts and their interrelationships, as well as the big picture that emerges from putting all the details together,” Zinnoury said in thanking the Case Centre for the award. “A well-written case is like a good puzzle and you can create a 50-piece, 100-piece, or a 1,000-piece puzzle based on the audience you want to reach.
“As a case writer, I have been successful in creating experiential exercises, role plays, or open discussions with the same case study, and have used the same case in traditional face-to-face and different versions of online courses.
“What other teaching tool can be as versatile and effective as the case method?”
A FAMILIAR WINNER IN A NEW CATEGORY
Among the other highlights, Outstanding Compact Case, a new competition for 2019, featured as its inaugural winner a cartoon case from ICFAI Business School. It was the first win for what the Centre termed an “innovative pedagogical format,” whose co-author (with illustrator Sid Ghosh) Debapratim Purkayastha won a total of three awards/competitions in 2019 to add to the five won in previous years. Purkayastha has consistently topped the Case Centre’s Top 40 Bestselling Case Authors list since it was first compiled in 2015-16.
“The steps involved are researching and writing the case, developing the script and the storyboard, and designing and developing the comic book,” Purkayastha said. “It is an iterative process and requires the case writer and artist to work closely. It is not just about converting the case text into images (visual art), but also combining it with literary and cinematic techniques involving, but not limited, to a plot, character development, multiple perspectives, metaphor, flashbacks and flash-forwards, speeding and slowing time, close-ups, long views, and so on.”
Added Ghosh: “We are extremely honored to be the inaugural winner of this important category. I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received for my work, as I am sure that the competition must have been fierce.
“I enjoyed the journey of conceptualizing and executing the creatives for this case along with Debapratim, which provided both of us with new challenges as well as learning at every step.”
(See the next page for a full list of Case Centre Award winners, with links to each case.)