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Case Studies by Brian Henry

30 case studies

by Publication Date
published: 29 Jan 2018

  • Topic: Economics & Finance
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case examines the reforms to the French labour code made by President Emmanuel Macron after his election in April 2017, essentially designed to loosen restrictions on hiring and firing. The new laws gave smaller companies more flexibility in negotiating wages and conditions directly with employees (rather than being bound by industry-wide collective deals negotiated by trade unions) and the right to lay off workers in periods of economic difficulty. In the context of an upturn, Macron was hoping the reforms would encourage foreign investment such as financial institutions relocating in response to Brexit. He resorted to issuing executive decrees (ordonnances) to avoid the massive street protests typically sparked by macro-economic adjustments in France, ultimately consolidating his leadership at home and in the larger European Union.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case is ideal for economic and political science instructors for a discussion of labour reform in a country reputed for rigid regulations, highlighting the role of the executive in pushing through macro-economic changes after decades of stubbornly high unemployment. At the regional level, Macron has shifted the balance of power in the European Union by aligning himself with the German Chancellor both in approach and level of influence, in a combined effort to strengthen the European bloc in the face of Brexit and the rise of populist movements in Austria, Poland and Hungary.

Keywords:
Emmanuel Macron, Labour Reforms, Thomas Piketty, Jean Tirole, Eric Cohen, Judith Krivine, Myriam El Khomri, French Economy, Flexicurity, Francois Hollande, Prud’hommes, Unemployment, Trade Unions, Negotiations

published: 27 Nov 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Radio, Television, Consumer Electronics
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
This three-part case covers the history of Samsung from its origins as a small trucking company to one of Korea’s largest conglomerates. Part A, “Drivers of Success, Family Assets and Business Strategy”, charts the growth of Korea’s the export-led economy after the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, driven by a handful of family-owned ‘chaebols’. Founder Lee Byung-chull’s trucking business, set up in 1938, diversified in the aftermath of the Korean War, as he forged a strong political network that enabled him to embed his family’s influence and assets in the business strategy. Part B, “Heart Attack Puts Succession Planning at Risk”, describes how the ill health of the second-generation leader Lee Kun-hee deprived the firm of a clear succession plan. As the de facto leader of Samsung, his son had to build up his power base to assume the role in the context of a complex ownership structure. Part C, “Court calls time out on Lee Jae-yong”, examines how the de facto heir was convicted of bribery and given a five-year prison sentence, prompting speculation that he would run the Samsung empire from his cell.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The three parts can be used together or as stand-alone cases in the classroom. Part A (16 pages) explores the success of a family business with modest beginnings, transformed within a generation into a major conglomerate; the role of the second-generation leader who transformed the export-driven firm into a global company with factories and R&D facilities all over the world; and the role of family relationships that enabled the Lee clan to retain ownership over the sprawling enterprise. Instructors can use the shorter Part B (11 pages) to look at the Lee family and the choices available to the de facto heir after his father’s heart attack; the tax avoidance measures he must have taken (in view of Korea’s hefty 50% tax on estates of this size); and the much publicized merger of two Samsung affiliates that was clearly not in the interests of minority investors. Part C (10 pages) enables discussion of the legal ramifications of illegal behavior and the possibility of reforming aspects of the family-run chaebols, which critics blame for the state of the economy today.

Keywords:
Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, Korea, Lee Byung-Chull, Chaebol, Lee Kun-Hee, Lee Boo-Jin, Lee Seo-Hyun, Paul Elliott Singer, Elliot Management, Park Geun-Hye, Park Chung-Hee, Samsung Electronics, Conglomerates

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published: 27 Nov 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Radio, Television, Consumer Electronics
  • Region: Asia

Show details ...

Abstract:
This three-part case covers the history of Samsung from its origins as a small trucking company to one of Korea’s largest conglomerates. Part A, “Drivers of Success, Family Assets and Business Strategy”, charts the growth of Korea’s the export-led economy after the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, driven by a handful of family-owned ‘chaebols’. Founder Lee Byung-chull’s trucking business, set up in 1938, diversified in the aftermath of the Korean War, as he forged a strong political network that enabled him to embed his family’s influence and assets in the business strategy. Part B, “Heart Attack Puts Succession Planning at Risk”, describes how the ill health of the second-generation leader Lee Kun-hee deprived the firm of a clear succession plan. As the de facto leader of Samsung, his son had to build up his power base to assume the role in the context of a complex ownership structure. Part C, “Court calls time out on Lee Jae-yong”, examines how the de facto heir was convicted of bribery and given a five-year prison sentence, prompting speculation that he would run the Samsung empire from his cell.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The three parts can be used together or as stand-alone cases in the classroom. Part A (16 pages) explores the success of a family business with modest beginnings, transformed within a generation into a major conglomerate; the role of the second-generation leader who transformed the export-driven firm into a global company with factories and R&D facilities all over the world; and the role of family relationships that enabled the Lee clan to retain ownership over the sprawling enterprise. Instructors can use the shorter Part B (11 pages) to look at the Lee family and the choices available to the de facto heir after his father’s heart attack; the tax avoidance measures he must have taken (in view of Korea’s hefty 50% tax on estates of this size); and the much publicized merger of two Samsung affiliates that was clearly not in the interests of minority investors. Part C (10 pages) enables discussion of the legal ramifications of illegal behavior and the possibility of reforming aspects of the family-run chaebols, which critics blame for the state of the economy today.

Keywords:
Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, Korea, Lee Byung-Chull, Chaebol, Lee Kun-Hee, Lee Boo-Jin, Lee Seo-Hyun, Paul Elliott Singer, Elliot Management, Park Geun-Hye, Park Chung-Hee, Samsung Electronics, Conglomerates

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published: 27 Nov 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Radio, Television, Consumer Electronics
  • Region: Asia

Show details ...

Abstract:
This three-part case covers the history of Samsung from its origins as a small trucking company to one of Korea’s largest conglomerates. Part A, “Drivers of Success, Family Assets and Business Strategy”, charts the growth of Korea’s the export-led economy after the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, driven by a handful of family-owned ‘chaebols’. Founder Lee Byung-chull’s trucking business, set up in 1938, diversified in the aftermath of the Korean War, as he forged a strong political network that enabled him to embed his family’s influence and assets in the business strategy. Part B, “Heart Attack Puts Succession Planning at Risk”, describes how the ill health of the second-generation leader Lee Kun-hee deprived the firm of a clear succession plan. As the de facto leader of Samsung, his son had to build up his power base to assume the role in the context of a complex ownership structure. Part C, “Court calls time out on Lee Jae-yong”, examines how the de facto heir was convicted of bribery and given a five-year prison sentence, prompting speculation that he would run the Samsung empire from his cell.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The three parts can be used together or as stand-alone cases in the classroom. Part A (16 pages) explores the success of a family business with modest beginnings, transformed within a generation into a major conglomerate; the role of the second-generation leader who transformed the export-driven firm into a global company with factories and R&D facilities all over the world; and the role of family relationships that enabled the Lee clan to retain ownership over the sprawling enterprise. Instructors can use the shorter Part B (11 pages) to look at the Lee family and the choices available to the de facto heir after his father’s heart attack; the tax avoidance measures he must have taken (in view of Korea’s hefty 50% tax on estates of this size); and the much publicized merger of two Samsung affiliates that was clearly not in the interests of minority investors. Part C (10 pages) enables discussion of the legal ramifications of illegal behavior and the possibility of reforming aspects of the family-run chaebols, which critics blame for the state of the economy today.

Keywords:
Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, Korea, Lee Byung-Chull, Chaebol, Lee Kun-Hee, Lee Boo-Jin, Lee Seo-Hyun, Paul Elliott Singer, Elliot Management, Park Geun-Hye, Park Chung-Hee, Samsung Electronics, Conglomerates

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published: 06 Nov 2017

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Bakery products
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case highlights a failed attempt to ‘liberate’ management and employees from traditional business practices at a factory in France. It closely follows the events that took place at Poult during a 10-year period that began in 2006. It draws on the astute reflections of the last CEO at Poult, who, until his dismissal in 2017, was actively engaged in building an alternative culture among the firm’s 800 factory workers, machine operators and technicians. Thanks to detailed analysis, the case offers insight into the matrix of activities that constitute a ‘liberated enterprise’, from building autonomous teams to driving innovation from the bottom up.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers instructors a rare opportunity to discuss an alternative approach to traditional top-down management techniques. With a neutral voice, the case recounts a 10-year experiment in organizational design that changed the behaviour of hundreds of factory employees in France. Students may be surprised to learn that the main protagonist ultimately lost his job as CEO as a result of his commitment to the employees, who had embraced the radically new organizational design he had introduced 10 years earlier. The case serves to inspire students to align their beliefs with their career aspirations.

Keywords:
Entreprise Libérée, Poult, Semco, Ricardo Semler, Charles Van Der Haegen, Mehdi Berrada, Carlos Verkaeren, Banketgroep, Panier-Tanguy, Michel Et Augustin, W.l. Gore, Liberating Leadership, Isaac Getz, Biscuits

published: 25 Sep 2017

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Retail trade
  • Region: North America

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Abstract:
The case documents the emergence of Artsy, a digital solution to the sale of artwork. Once the preserve of the elite, the art market has been democratized by the founder Carter Cleveland, who in 2012 created an online catalogue of painting, photography, sculpture, film and video, and design. The curated platform features works by 70,000 artists, including Pablo Picasso and even a drawing by Vincent Van Gogh. How the young Princeton graduate became the go-to art player for museums and major auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s is attributed to a business model based on a network of gallery owners, museum curators, art fair organizers and auctioneers, and the creation of a unique database that renders artwork accessible. A truly global powerhouse, Artsy offers art lovers a secure portal to the world’s leading purveyors of art.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case can be taught in executive education seminars and elective MBA courses in the following courses: luxury management, art history, e-commerce, digital marketing, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. It allows instructors to focus on a wide range of issues related to the sale of artwork—e.g., as a means to discuss the power and diversity of e-commerce solutions, a way to look at innovation in entrepreneurship, the methodology of forging powerful alliances, and the need to offer continuous education to customers.

Keywords:
Artsy, E-Commerce, Carter Cleveland, Artwork, Art Dealers, Sebastian Cwilich, Online Platform, Auctionata, Auction Houses, Museums, Larry Gagosian, Art Genome Project, Christie’s, Sotheby’s

published: 25 Sep 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Household furniture
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
The case is about a small family-owned business making fine bone china in South Korea, whose founder was driven by a sense of filial piety, one of the principles of Confucianism. This emphasizes respect for parents, elders and children, and the idea that they will be taken care of in times of need. Exemplary behaviour is expected from children in public in order to reflect well on their family name and ancestors. Fraternity among brothers is also emphasized to prevent disputes arising out of sibling rivalry. The case explores how successive generations kept these values alive within the family, the company, and its employees. It also describes how more recently, Hankook Chinaware has lost significant market share on the domestic front as because of an influx of low-cost Chinese products flooding South Korea.

Pedagogical Objectives:
Instructors can use this case for specific situations in which the principles of Confucianism are being taught. Family business instructors who run courses in Asia-Pacific may find it particularly relevant as it deals with concepts relevant to the region. The case is short and easy to read. From a technical point of view, it can be used to shed light on the transfer of pottery skills from one generation to the next. Instructors can also use it to highlight how external market forces can transform a niche business into a commodity industry where profit margins are squeezed beyond breaking point.

Keywords:
Hankook Chinaware, Confucianism, South Korea, Porcelain, Luxury Chinaware, Dinner Plates, Dinner Plates, Pottery, Filial Piety, Wedgwood, Prouna, Vases, Josiah Wedgwood, Fine Bone China

published: 28 Aug 2017

  • Topic: Entrepreneurship
  • Industry: Fashion
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
This case illustrates solutions to a) the vexing problem of how to stop counterfeit luxury goods from being sold on the Internet; and b) the larger issue of how to sell lots of pre-owned personal luxury goods without fear of undermining their lofty prices. When the “fake luxury goods” problem first appeared in the mid-2000s, brands like L’Oreal, Hermès and Tiffany responded by taking one of the biggest online marketplaces, eBay, to court. The big brands won millions in damages and dragged eBay’s name through the mud for years to come. But on the sidelines were three different sets of entrepreneurs, almost all French, who saw in this scandal the opportunity of a lifetime. Separately they launched three competing digital platforms where pre-owned luxury products can be bought and sold on the condition that they are fully authenticated by experts. While all three are still in business, the company that started with six co-founders has been the most successful. This case examines the role of all six people and why eight years later the two “techies” were able to leave the company on good terms.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case can be taught in executive education and elective MBA courses in luxury management, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. With the case, instructors can focus on a wide range of issues related to both the sourcing and distribution of second-hand personal luxury goods within a global market. When sellers first offer goods for sale on the Vestiaire Collective platform, curators take them through a number of steps to ensure that the products are suitable for inclusion in the catalogue. Matching supply with demand is a key variable of success in this business, since fashion products have an especially unique set of characteristics that vary from one region to another, from one designer to another and from one epoch to another. Once a purchase is concluded, curators then ascertain if the actual product conforms to the seller’s description and is a genuine item. Creating trust among customers is also an absolute necessity in this business. In sum, instructors can use the case to discuss the essentials of business and management in an easily accessible setting.

Keywords:
Digital Platforms, E-Commerce, Fashion, Product Certification, Authentic Goods, Counterfeit Goods, Personal Luxury Goods, Premium Designer Clothes, Vintage Clothes, Curation, Concierge Service, Videdressing, Vestiaire Collective, Instantluxe

published: 03 Jul 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Apparel
  • Region: South America

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Abstract:
A well-known lingerie retailer in Colombia, Leonisa is a family-owned company that barely survived a second-generation succession crisis. Brothers Joaquín and Julio Ernesto Urrea founded the firm in 1956, and over 50 years built one of the most recognizable brands in Latin America. While they each had an equal stake in the company, their respective families were not of equal size: Joaquín had 11 children including nine boys, Julio had three daughters. While the girls were interested in design and fashion, the boys were keen to create satellite ventures around the core brand. When one of the co-founders died, a family dispute erupted over whether the dividends should be plowed back into the business or distributed to the shareholders. A mediator obliged the warring branches to reach a settlement that would allow Leonisa to survive. The ousted sisters eventually had their own success story by launching a new business based on their core competencies.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers an opportunity to learn from a family-run company that survived a succession crisis, requiring students to think about family differences from a shareholder point of view, and the role of mediators in saving warring family branches from destroying the firm. It underlines the need for co-founders whose families have different interests to have a long-term plan to prevent a clash of clans. In this instance, one branch got out of the original business and constructed a new business based on their fashion and design skills. Students of family business in Colombia and Latin America will learn lessons from a family dispute that was ultimately resolved.

Keywords:
Leonisa, Ellipse, Urrea, Women’s Underwear, Lingerie, Colombia, Brassieres, Ana Patricia Urrea, Urrea Jiménez, Urrea Arbeláez, Fernando Urrea, Carlos Ignacio Urrea, Julio Urrea Jiménez

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published: 29 May 2017

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Apparel
  • Region: South America

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Abstract:
A well-known lingerie retailer in Colombia, Leonisa is a family-owned company that barely survived a second-generation succession crisis. Brothers Joaquín and Julio Ernesto Urrea founded the firm in 1956, and over 50 years built one of the most recognizable brands in Latin America. While they each had an equal stake in the company, their respective families were not of equal size: Joaquín had 11 children including nine boys, Julio had three daughters. While the girls were interested in design and fashion, the boys were keen to create satellite ventures around the core brand. When one of the co-founders died, a family dispute erupted over whether the dividends should be plowed back into the business or distributed to the shareholders. A mediator obliged the warring branches to reach a settlement that would allow Leonisa to survive. The ousted sisters eventually had their own success story by launching a new business based on their core competencies.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers an opportunity to learn from a family-run company that survived a succession crisis, requiring students to think about family differences from a shareholder point of view, and the role of mediators in saving warring family branches from destroying the firm. It underlines the need for co-founders whose families have different interests to have a long-term plan to prevent a clash of clans. In this instance, one branch got out of the original business and constructed a new business based on their fashion and design skills. Students of family business in Colombia and Latin America will learn lessons from a family dispute that was ultimately resolved.

Keywords:
Leonisa, Ellipse, Urrea, Women’s Underwear, Lingerie, Colombia, Brassieres, Ana Patricia Urrea, Urrea Jiménez, Urrea Arbeláez, Fernando Urrea, Carlos Ignacio Urrea, Julio Urrea Jiménez, Wicfe, Succession, Next Generation, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

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