World’s Best Case Writers, Teachers Named In 30th Annual Awards

Caren Scheepers of the University of Pretoria in South Africa won Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method, only the second time someone from an African institution has won in the history of Case Awards. Courtesy photo

It has been called the case method community’s annual “Oscars” — and, like the Academy Awards, it has been criticized for a lack of diversity. But unlike the Oscars, the Case Centre Awards and Competitions may be turning that reputation around, if this year’s results are any indication.

In the 10 years since the Case Awards grew out of being a Europe-only affair, the showcase — 11 awards and five competitions that honor excellence in case writing and teaching at global schools of business, management, and government — have made a name for themselves in terms of diversity in the ranks of the winners. Last year, five institutions and 18 individual faculty/researchers won distinctions for the first time. This year, setting new records, nine institutions and 22 individuals were first-time winners — and women, moreover, won an equal number of awards as men for the first time in the three-decade history of the awards.

“The 2020 Awards and Competitions mark their 30th anniversary and the 10th year of being global,” says Richard McCracken, director of The Case Centre. “We see a record number of successful female authors — now equal in number to their male counterparts — as well as more new winning institutions and authors than ever before. Though schools long associated with cases continue to win awards, the results show that the method is no longer their sole domain.”


Richard McCracken. Courtesy photo

The Case Awards, known as the European Case Awards until 2010, are held at Cranfield University northwest of London, where the Case Centre is based. (The Centre also has an office at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.) Overall this year’s awards went to 34 winners from 16 schools in 11 countries.

Among the most prestigious awards, Urs Mueller, associate professor of practice in the knowledge group “Strategy & Entrepreneurship” at SDA Bocconi School of Management, was named Outstanding Case Teacher, giving Bocconi its first Case Centre Awards and Competitions’ success. “A passionate and committed case teacher, Urs’ students comment on how immersive, challenging and engaging his case teaching is,” McCracken says. “He tackles critique of the case method head-on, making personal twists to his case teaching to mitigate its perceived disadvantages, while leveraging its strengths.”

Said Mueller: “I accept this award with the ambition to further improve my own use of cases, most importantly by using cases in ways that buffer the method against sometimes legitimate criticism of being tool-focused instead of helping the development of more relevant competencies like analytical skills, creativity and critical thinking.”

The Overall Winning Case, on Microsoft’s change in its mindset culture since 2014, was authored at London Business School, which wins the Overall Award for the fourth time but the first time since the Awards went global in 2011. It is a first-time Award for authors Herminia Ibarra, Aneeta Rattan and Anna Johnston, and notably the first time that a case with exclusively three female authors has won any Award.

Winning case subjects included, for the second consecutive year, U.S. President Donald Trump, in a case from University of Virginia Darden School of Business in the Economics, Politics, and Business Environment category. In the tech field, both Apple and Microsoft were represented, as were Tesla, Snap Inc., and TomTom. Ethical/Social Enterprise issues featured as the central theme in three winners, while Big Data figured in two.

“Almost every region of the world is now producing award-winning schools, authors and case topics,” McCracken says. “Today’s students right across the globe have the opportunity of being taught with the best case method materials and by recognized outstanding educators.”


Outstanding Case Writer success went to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (Steven Sweldens, Stefano Puntoni, Niela Kleinsmith, Tao Yue) and TomTom Automotive (Matthieu Campion) and showcases advancing female diversity in case protagonists across the Awards — now at a record 31% — and, notably, in the tech sector in this case.

Multiple Award/Competition winning schools in 2020 were: Harvard Business School (two), ICFAI Business School (two) and INSEAD (three), each of which has enjoyed success in previous years. Four single category winning schools have also enjoyed previous success: University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and University of St. Gallen. First-time winning institutions were Aalto University School of Business, GIBS Business School, IE Business School, London College of Fashion, Moscow State University, SDA Bocconi, Studio Etica, TomTom Automotive, and University of Vaasa.

But 2020 ‘s Case Awards also reflect growing diversity in business education. For the first time there were equal numbers of male and female Award/Competition winners: 17 male and 17 female. The preceding four years averaged just 29% of female winners.

“Because the awards are made based on data of actual uptake in education, they provide an annual snapshot of the topics being used to teach business and management,” McCracken says. “Issues such as ethics are now central to more cases than ever before. Meanwhile, the Competitions allow an evaluation of authors and teachers around the world who might otherwise remain undiscovered.”

(See Page 2 for a complete list of the 2020 Case Centre Awards winners, with links to each case.)

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