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71 case studies

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published: 20 Jan 2020

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
Corporations are increasingly held responsible for the products they source and the sustainability of their supply chains. It was to meet this need that EcoVadis, a sustainability rating agency, was founded in 2007 by Pierre-François Thaler (INSEAD MBA, 1999) and Frédéric Trinel to bridge the information gap between corporate buyers and their suppliers. Following an EcoVadis sustainability assessment, suppliers receive a “scorecard” of their performance which they can then share with clients, while corporate buyers can monitor suppliers’ sustainability performance via the EcoVadis platform. The combination of technology, expertise and network effects propels the rating agency onto the global stage, with over 650 employees in 10 offices on 5 continents, and over 55,000 assessments completed. However, the co-founders need to adjust their strategy in an increasingly competitive and technologically sophisticated market. How can they scale up its human capital and technology capabilities to drive growth in the next decade, and ultimately make the corporate world more sustainable?

Pedagogical Objectives:
EcoVadis is considered a game-changer in the supply chain sustainability field, tackling a complex task that most companies find hard to achieve in a cost-efficient way. The case discusses the EcoVadis’ value proposition and what market void it fills, the factors that have made EcoVadis the success it is today, as well as potential weaknesses that may derive from these. EcoVadis prides itself on combining technology, human intelligence and network effects to meet market needs. But as market needs change, technology advances and competition increases, what blend of technology and human capital will work best in the decade to come? The issues covered in the case is relevant to any organization navigating its digital transformation journey. Thus, this is a cross-disciplinary case study can be used to discuss digital transformation and business model innovation in the context of sustainability and operations management.

Keywords:
Sustainability, Supply Chain Management, Corporate Social Responsibility (csr), Environmental, Social, Governance (esg), Rating Agency, Software as a Service (saas), Entrepreneurship, Scale Up, Technology, International Expansion, Start-Up, European Entreprise, Procurement, Sourcing

published: 17 Dec 2019

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Region: North America

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Abstract:
Retail had always fascinated Katrina Lake, the youngest woman CEO to ever lead a US initial public offering. But she couldn’t help noticing that the age-old industry never changed. Brick-and-mortar retailers still competed on variety and touch-and-feel, while online competitors sought to differentiate through low prices and fast shipping. She realized that artificial intelligence and human beings -- in particular, stylists -- could be creatively leveraged to change the retail value proposition, create a fundamentally different and significantly superior buyer experience, and a differentiated and low-cost offering. The case describes how Lake turned a Harvard Business School class project into a $1.5 billion company, Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix provides a personal styling service, sending individually selected clothing and accessories based on customer preferences and constraints. Buyers receive the knowledge, creativity and style expertise of human stylists, combined with the benefits a top-tier AI provides. These are blended into a service previously reserved for the wealthy (personal styling), delivered directly to customers’ homes, at a price point that fits their budget. Lake’s Stitch Fix is founded and led by women, and has one of the largest female management and workforces in the AI space, if not almost all industries. As of 2019, Stitch Fix employs more than 6,600 employees, of which 86% are women. The case works especially well for teaching about women in business. It also looks at recent attempts by Amazon to jump into the blue ocean Stitch Fix created. This leads to an interesting discussion about the likely impact of Amazon’s Personal Shopper service, inviting student input on how to counter Amazon’s attack.

Pedagogical Objectives:
In this case students learn: • How Lake overcame extreme investor reluctance to raise funds from early-stage investors and venture capitalists who didn’t buy into her concept, with an open discussion on how she might have more effectively worked through these issues and the role gender might have played in her very difficult journey to raise funds. • How Lake unlocked a differentiated and low-cost offering leveraging both the latest artificial intelligence and the brilliance and creativity of human beings, namely stylists, to open new market space in retail. This case is among the first to explore how an organization can successfully leverage both AI and human personal interaction to create a fundamentally new offering. • How to think beyond the boundaries of an existing industry, break out of bloody competition, and create a new market space.

Keywords:
Artificial Intelligence, Ai, Retail, Machine Learning, Apparel, Clothing, Fashion, Women in Business, Personal Shopper, Blue Ocean Strategy, Blue Ocean Shift, Data Science, Algorithms, Data-Driven

published: 17 Dec 2019

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
The events in this case, which are fictional, provide a background for class discussion about problem-solving, critical thinking, stakeholder management and crisis management. The case puts students in the position of senior managers of an Indonesian geothermal energy company. Following an earthquake near the company’s main geothermal power plant (there is some suspicion that it may have been caused by the geothermal power plant), the managers are asked to devise strategies and solutions to a series of problems to satisfy various stakeholder groups. With the CEO temporarily trapped in a lift, they must come up with recommendations to handle the crisis by the time their leader arrives.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case, which can be used as an in-class assignment, is designed to facilitate discussion of concepts and approaches related to problem-solving, critical thinking, stakeholder management and crisis management.

Keywords:
Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Stakeholder Management, Crisis Management, Indonesia

published: 29 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
In the year 2000, only 2% of women in India used menstrual hygiene products. Almost a quarter-billion relied on cloth rags and many rural women were banished to a hut during their monthly cycle. In these unsanitary conditions, 62.4% had experienced at least one reproductive tract infection, with the result that teenage hysterectomies were not uncommon. The lack of menstrual products was linked to a high drop-out rate from school, forced teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy and often a lifetime of subservience. Yet despite the severity of the problem, taboo kept it largely hidden. Indians did not discuss menstruation. Arunachalam “Arun” Muruganantham changed this by innovating a new business method: micro-factories where women produced and sold sanitary napkins directly to other women. The case discusses how he solved a previously unaddressed problem in a way that created a new market, overcame deep social taboos, challenged centuries-old traditions and bettered women’s lives, resulting in the creation of over 3,500 small businesses. It highlights how enterprises can be economically profitable and a force for good. And why, contrary to conventional thinking, innovation does not need to be disruptive but can be based on nondisruptive market creation.

Pedagogical Objectives:
To show that innovation does not always involve disruption. It is possible to create a win-win for society and for the company that does not displace existing markets and players. This broader conception of innovation and embraces what Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne call “nondisruptive creation.”

Keywords:
Arunachalam Muruganantham, Period. End of Sentence., Pad Man, India, Nondisruptive Creation, Disruption, Social Entrepreneurship, Indian Women, Women’s Health, Menstrual Hygiene, Developing Nations, Innovative Healthcare, Academy Award Winning Documentary, Blue Ocean Strategy, Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing

published: 29 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: North America

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Abstract:
After years building a solid customer base by cross-selling its financial service offerings, Wells Fargo was engulfed by a scandal over unauthorized accounts opened in customers’ names. Regulators discovered that hundreds of thousands of fake accounts had been opened by bank employees scrambling to meet sales quotas. Was it the work of rogue employees, or the result of an unethical corporate culture coupled with an unrelenting drive to “sell, sell, sell”?

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To analyse factors that explain unethical behaviour in businesses. 2. To determine whether “bad apples or bad barrels” are the origin of organizational misdeeds. 3. To consider how the causes of organizational misconduct may be mitigated by responsible business leadership, organizational design and corporate governance. 4. To examine corporate hypocrisy in a context where an organization with an excellent banking reputation is nonetheless cheating its customers. 5. To use the ‘fraud triangle’ framework to explore the risks of organizational misconduct.

Keywords:
Organization Misconduct, Business Ethics, Leadership, Fraud Triangle, Stretch Goals, Rogue Employees, Sales Quotas, Corporate Culture, Corporate Hypocrisy, Consumer Banking, Mis-Selling, Rationalisations, Risk Management, Sales Incentives

published: 12 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Entrepreneurship
  • Region: Middle-East

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Abstract:
In 2012, when Careem first started operations in Dubai as a private limousine booking business, it was a tiny start-up working with just US$100,000 of its founders’ savings. Selim Turki is hired (its 18th employee) to develop and market its platform as a ‘white label’ solution for companies’ transport arrangements. The intention is to boost the supply of cars/drivers in Carem’s network, but it does not kindle the interest expected from local companies and proves to be a drain on resources at a time when the main business is challenged by global rivals like Uber. The company has to decide how to allocate its limited resources to compete successfully.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case highlights the issues of resource allocation decisions in a start-up and the need for agility in fast-changing conditions against a backdrop of digital disruption by new technologies and the entry of global competitors. It prompts discussion of the following themes/questions: 1. Strategy: Does distance still matter in digital business? The issue of business model adaptation – from emerging markets to developed/highly competitive markets. 2. Entrepreneurship: Where to allocate scarce technical and capital resources in a fast-growing tech enterprise? 3. OB/leadership: How to manage/lead products/services and internal/external stakeholders

Keywords:
Ride-Hailing, Uber, Middle East, Platform, Strategic Agility, Start-Up, Minimum Viable Product, White Label Solution, Resource Allocation

published: 12 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
The case describes how the Italian multinational Enel Group, one of the largest power utilities companies in the world, embraced the transformation of the energy sector, combining open innovation with sustainability – or what the company calls “Innovability”). CEO Francesco Starace believes that technology and business model innovation are the key to reducing CO2 emissions and creating a more sustainable future by boosting renewable energy production. From 2014, he makes innovation and sustainability his strategic pillars, embracing the notion of ‘open innovation’ – harvesting ideas externally (rather than just in-house) from an ecosystem of start-ups, SMEs, universities, researchers, suppliers, other corporations, and employees.

Pedagogical Objectives:
Discuss how large multinational corporations can make ‘open innovation’ a global strategy, setting up innovation hubs in different parts of the world and putting sustainability at the core of the organization.

Keywords:
Energy, Innovation, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Sdgs, Digital Transformation, Fourth Industrial Revolution, Business Model Innovation, Open Innovation

published: 12 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The case describes how three INSEAD alumni founded fintech company Prodigy Finance and created the market for international student loans by solving a problem long overlooked by the finance industry: funding for students in pursuit of advanced education outside their home country, especially “high-earning degree programmes” at top universities with high tuition fees and few scholarships. Traditional banks had ignored this burning need and stayed focused purely on domestic borrowers and local credit records. The founders of Prodigy Finance took a radically different approach, creating a lending platform based on a forward-looking, cross-border risk assessment model and connecting international student borrowers with individual and institutional investors. By 2019, Prodigy Finance had helped over 11,200 students from 132 countries, lending more than US$538 million. This strategic move offers an illustration of “nondisruptive market creation”, a concept coined by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, authors of the bestselling Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift. By identifying and solving a problem that had never been addressed, Prodigy Finance created a new market beyond existing industry boundaries, unlocking and capturing burgeoning new demand without displacing or competing with what the financial services sector had to offer.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This case is intended for use in MBA and executive classrooms, with the following objectives: 1) To illustrate nondisruptive creation and the major advantages of this market-creating method. 2) Use the case as a context to take students through the major steps of identifying potential opportunities for nondisruptive creation. 3) Demonstrate how to use new technologies, new platforms and new business models to achieve nondisruptive market creation.

Keywords:
Fintech, Loan Industry, Student Loans, Bond, Community Investment, Debt Financing, Credit Risk Assessment, Social Good, Social Impact, Disruption, Nondisruption, Nondisruptive Creation, Nondisruptive Innovation

published: 12 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
Jacqueline Novogratz quits a prestigious banking job to pursue a career in development but discovers that achieving real impact is harder than she had imagined, especially as grant-funded non-profits often lack the skills and accountability to be really effective. After getting an MBA and some experience with the Rockefeller Foundation, she starts work on setting up an impact investing fund called Acumen, with a mission to finance and support social enterprises that serve the world’s poor through market-based solutions.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This short case is suited for modules related to purposeful leadership, meaningful careers, nonprofit management, effective philanthropy, financial inclusion, impact-driven business, base-of-the-pyramid, social enterpreneurship and impact investing. It provides a basis to discuss why – in the absence of mechanisms to ensure accountability – the effectiveness of organisations in the social sector may be limited. It shows how combining an intention to make a positive impact with the discipline of a market-based approach can lead to more sustainable, scalable solutions to pressing societal needs.

Keywords:
Purposeful Careers, Social Impact, Venture Philanthropy, Base of the Pyramid (bop), Impact Investing, Business Model Innovation, Social Enterprise, Nonprofit Management, Inclusive Business, Impact Evaluation, Financial Inclusion, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Development

published: 12 Nov 2019

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
An INSEAD alumnus is asked to lead a digital transformation effort in a large commercial bank. S/he designs the project, sources an entrepreneurial partner to provide the software platform, and runs a highly successful pilot test that saves millions of euros. Yet rolling out the new system to the rest of the organization proves to be almost impossible. Why, and what should s/he do next?

Pedagogical Objectives:
. Examine the change implications of a significant digital disruption project. . Explore the process of chartering and executing a digital transformation project. . Demonstrate the use of agile methods in a cross-functional digital transformation project. . Understand why successful transformative projects must be designed from their inception with scaling up in mind.

Keywords:
Digital, Digital Transformation, Financial Services, Change Management, Leadership, Agile Methodology, Cross-Functional Projects, Working with Entrepreneurs

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