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Case Studies by Brian Henry

44 case studies

by Publication Date
published: 05 Apr 2019

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
This two-part case collection presents the profiles of 39 family-run firms that are 'Hénokiens', a French association whose members have survived for more than two centuries. The oldest member, a hostel in Japan named Hoshi Ryokan, has been in business for 1,300 years over 46 generations. The family business narrative is based on five analytical pillars: family assets, roadblocks, succession planning, professionalization and innovation. Instructors can take a single profile of a member firm and use it to illustrate one or more of the five themes. The cases highlight the key people and events that have marked economic history over the centuries, making for a fascinating read as well as offering an alternative business model of leadership and longevity.

Pedagogical Objectives:
i) To evaluate the role of such families in building multi-generational businesses. ii) To understand the assets that such families contribute to their firms, the various obstacles faced over the centuries and different ways that they have overcome them. iii) To learn about family succession and the dangers and opportunities presented by an ever-growing number of family members. iv) Why family firms bring in professionals to run them. v) The role of innovative leaders and entrepreneurs in family businesses.

Keywords:
Hénokiens, Family Business, Family Assets, Family Roadblocks, Family Succession, Family Innovation, Multigeneration, Next Generation, Strategy and General Management

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published: 18 Feb 2019

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case explores leadership and professionalization issues at Fibbie Cornuda, an Italian manufacturer of ski boot buckles and automotive parts that utilize metal cold-forming technology. The founder’s daughter has worked in the finance department, but left to do an MBA. Although potentially his successor, she urges Pino to hire professional management for the successful but somewhat disorganized firm, which has been run “from the top down”. Approaching retirement, Pino has unrivalled know-how, charisma, and pride in having built an industry leader in his own image. But with competition rising, the business needs a more formal structure if it is to stay ahead after the succession. Given Pino’s commercial knowledge, strong personality and opinions, there is a risk he’ll interfere in management once he retires. Georgia has her father’s ear, but what exactly should she recommend?

Pedagogical Objectives:
How to build organizational routines and structure in a company where things work well but not well enough to survive a power transition and ensure future growth. How to effectively routinize highly technical knowledge that is possessed by a single (senior) person. How to handle delicate family business successions and transition to a professional CEO. How to manage an organization marked by the founder’s values and traditions to the point where employees may not thrive if the founder is replaced by an outsider. A complementary case entitled “Fibbie Cornuda: Operations and Supply Chain Management” has been written by the authors with entirely different pedagogical objectives. (Note: names have been changed at the request of the family).

Keywords:
Formalizing Organizations, Organizational Structure, Family Business, Leadership, Founder Transition, Organizational Behaviour, Organizational Culture, Organizational Change, Professionalization, Cold-Forming, Metallurgy, Ski-Boot Buckles, Automotive Parts, Italy

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published: 18 Feb 2019

  • Topic: Operations
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
Fibbie Cornuda is an Italian company that uses metal cold-forming technology to manufacture ski boot buckles and components for carmakers. Managing production of automotive components at Fibbie Cornuda is easy: demand is predictable and there are few SKU varieties. Conversely, for ski boot buckles it manages a catalogue of thousands of SKUs that changes every year, with widely varying demand. To match supply and demand, the founder of the company has set up a plant in Romania and implemented operations strategies such as mass customization and delayed differentiation. But there is a downside: leadership has to manage two plants instead of one, and plant managers are constantly fire-fighting. The case provides a backdrop for the analysis of several operations strategies, such as reactive production capacity, delayed differentiation, outsourcing, and mass customization.

Pedagogical Objectives:
To examine the benefits and drawbacks of production outsourcing. To analyze the value of postponement and delayed differentiation in manufacturing. To appraise the implementation of a mass-customization initiative. (Note 1: The names of the company and people have been disguised at the request of the family owners, but nothing else has been changed. Note 2: This case complements an organizational behavior case study of the same company, by the same authors, entitled “Fibbie Cornuda: Manufacturing to Stay Fit”, with different pedagogical objectives).

Keywords:
Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, Ski-Boot Buckles, Automotive Components, Skus, Cold-Forming, Make to Order, Lead Time, Family Business, Components, Forecasting, Sourcing, Strategy, Erp

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published: 13 Feb 2019

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The case provides a strategic overview of one of the UK’s fastest-growing household goods companies, Dyson Ltd. Starting out in the early 1990s as sole vendor of bagless vacuum cleaners in the UK market, Dyson would ultimately become the market leader before its competitors finally woke up. The case tracks founder James Dyson’s global ambitions over an 18-year period until his entry into the electric vehicle market, and a move of corporate headquarters to Singapore (2019), with Asia now accounting for the majority of revenues. It offers insights into the multi-faceted vision of the founder, who combines inventiveness and a love of engineering and design with a rigid respect for lawful business practice.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers a broad tableau to deliver courses on a wide range of topics, strategy and management, family business, supply chains, entrepreneurship and international business. With an easy-to-read style to facilitate classroom discussion (Masters in Management, MBA and executive education), supporting materials include video clips of interviews with the first CEO of Dyson France.

Keywords:
Dyson, Bagless, Vacuum Cleaner, Electric Vehicle, Hoover, Singapore, Patent Infringement, Innovation, Inventor, Engineering, Digital Motors, Batteries, Hand Dryer, Purifier

published: 23 Jan 2019

  • Topic: Economics & Finance
  • Industry: Technology
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
On 30 August 2016, Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, ordered Ireland to recover €13 billion in illegal state aid that the state had granted Apple over a decade from 2003. In allowing Apple to pay close to zero in taxes, she ruled, Ireland had given the foreign company a selective advantage over other businesses paying the regular corporate tax rate of 12.5%. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, appealed the ruling, a process that is still ongoing. The case explores this event from five analytical pillars: 1) the role of Ireland’s low corporate tax rate in attracting FDI; 2) Apple’s decision to allocate its earnings to a paper company in Ireland with no physical presence in the country; 3) the repatriation of foreign earnings to the United States; 4) the transfer payments that Apple makes to the US to pay for R&D; 5) the Commissioner’s decision to impose a retroactive tax penalty on a foreign company that acted in accordance with the tax arrangements granted by its host country.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case is designed to encourage students to think about the role of tax policy from the perspective of the company. With the rise of global companies such as Apple whose products are sold all over the world, the question of where they should be taxed becomes a particularly controversial issue. Students will be asked to reflect on tax policy around the following five points: 1) as a national competitive advantage in attracting FDI; 2) on shrewd corporate accounting that renders taxable income to nearly zero sums; 3) on powerful tax disincentives for the repatriation of earnings approaching two trillion dollars to the United States, 4) the political rational behind the current corporate tax principle that states taxes for innovative companies like Apple should be paid in the source country where R&D is carried out; 5) and that supranational entities such as the European Commission should take preventive measures and not corrective punitive measures in dealing with foreign countries who have created thousands of jobs in a particularly vulnerable host country such as Ireland.

Keywords:
Margrethe Vestager, Public Finance, Corporate Tax, Repatriation of Earnings, State Aid, Tax Haven, Ccctb, Apple, European Commission for Competition, Transfer Payments, Enda Kenny, Tax Minimization, United States, International Taxation

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published: 30 Jul 2018

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Heating equipment
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
Family-owned firm Brunata, an engineering business and major player in Denmark’s heat consumption market, faces a leadership crisis after the retirement of its charismatic founder. Although his four children have worked in the company, none ultimately have the right stuff to lead, notably the eldest son who is removed by his father three years after taking over the top job. The professional manager who is subsequently appointed lasts only two years. The case includes interview material and highlights the emerging role of the board, whose external directors tried to turn the situation around.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers penetrating insight into the issues of succession and professionalization of management at family-owned firms. It provides information for a lively discussion on the role of founders, owner-managers, next gens, professional managers and board members planning for the long term, as well as the distinctive hurdles that such firms face. It can be used for courses on family business, directors, leadership and negotiation.

Keywords:
Family Business, Board of Directors, Brunata, Danish Market, Heat Meters, Owner-Managers, Negotiations, Succession, Next Gens, Ceo, Founders, Sibling Disputes, Professionalization, Denmark

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published: 30 Jul 2018

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Heating equipment
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
Family-owned firm Brunata, an engineering business and major player in Denmark’s heat consumption market, faces a leadership crisis after the retirement of its charismatic founder. Although his four children have worked in the company, none ultimately have the right stuff to lead, notably the eldest son who is removed by his father three years after taking over the top job. The professional manager who is subsequently appointed lasts only two years. The case includes interview material and highlights the emerging role of the board, whose external directors tried to turn the situation around.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case offers penetrating insight into the issues of succession and professionalization of management at family-owned firms. It provides information for a lively discussion on the role of founders, owner-managers, next gens, professional managers and board members planning for the long term, as well as the distinctive hurdles that such firms face. It can be used for courses on family business, directors, leadership and negotiation.

Keywords:
Family Business, Board of Directors, Brunata, Danish Market, Heat Meters, Owner-Managers, Negotiations, Succession, Next Gens, Ceo, Founders, Sibling Disputes, Professionalization, Denmark

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published: 30 Jul 2018

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The case accounts for the gender pay gap in companies and industries around the world. In Europe, women earn on average 84 cents per hour for every euro men make. In the United States, they earn between 80 and 82 cents per hour for every dollar made by a man. The gap widens further after women have children. Iceland is a rare exception; companies in Iceland are under a legal obligation to prove that they offer equal pay. Elsewhere, the under-representation of women in leadership roles in government, industry, the boardroom and c-suite means a dearth of role models for girls. The case shines a spotlight on ingrained behaviours and perceptions that condone the gender pay gap on the grounds that men have more responsible jobs and hold more senior positions.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case is designed for MBA participants and senior executives entering the labour force at management level or returning to the job market (female and male employees alike). It focuses on a key public policy issue that is present at all levels in the public and private sectors. Without seeking to present instant solutions to one of the thorniest problems facing organizations, it gives instructors the opportunity to demonstrate concern about gender-related issues and flexibility in handling classroom discussion on this hot topic.

Keywords:
Gender Pay Gap, Job Discrimination, Pay Data, Childbirth, Senior Positions, Low-Paid Work, Government Intervention, Women’s Work, Gender Segregation, Female Earnings, Pay Difference, Career Choices, Status Quo, Public Policy

published: 25 Jun 2018

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Retail trade
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case follows the career path of Megha Malagatti, from her humble Indian origins as a member of the Dalit caste (known as “untouchables”) to a senior management position in a French luxury goods company – an improbable journey that speaks to her personal strengths, skills and qualifications, as well as the possibilities open to young women to make a career in the luxury goods industry irrespective of their background. It opens a window on gender diversity in the executive suite, highlighting the company culture of S.T.Dupont and the CEO who mentored her.

Pedagogical Objectives:
Gender diversity in the workplace and the executive suite.

Keywords:
Career, Luxury, India, Emotional Intelligence, Hindu, Mentor, Hr Professionals, Comité Colbert, S.t.dupont, Alain Crevet, Untouchables, Coach, Sharon Flood

published: 26 Mar 2018

  • Topic: Marketing
  • Industry: Wholesale-Beer, Wine & Distilled Alcoholic Beverages
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case goes back in time to the ‘golden age’ of Absolut when contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring painted the unusual bottle to the amazement of the global arts community. The nearly accidental collaboration with artists in the glorious years turned the brand into a must-have aspirational drink to be consumed at chic bars and art fairs. Based on the vivid recollections of Vadim Grigorian (INSEAD MBA ‘00J), the case uncovers the awakening of new paradigm, the brand as acultural agent of contemporary art in consumer society. In his retelling of these events, hitherto unknown, the marketing executive recaptures the essence of Absolut during its hey day from the mid-1980s to 2011 in an exquisitely told and unusual account of cultural engagement.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case can be used by instructors teaching specialized courses in marketing and communication, and marketing research. By focusing on the engagement of Absolut with contemporary art and culture, the case prompts discussion of the role of brands as cultural agents. It draws students into a discovery process, tracing the relationship that Absolut, acquired by the global drinks conglomerate Pernod-Ricard in 2008, developed with young artists, fashion photographers, musicians, and even designers of art bars and cocktail recipes. It can start a conversation about the future of cultural engagement strategies that many brands have embarked on, for example, when a brand needs to move on from a wildly successful personality to a more nuanced image that appeals to a broader customer base. The short case is a page-turner that will satisfy a broad range of intellectual interests.

Keywords:
Absolut, Keith Haring, Vadim Grigorian, Documenta, Venice Biennale, Michel Roux, Spirits, Andy Warhol, Pernod-Ricard, Arts and Culture, Tbwa, Grey Goose, Grey Goose, Bottle

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