World Case Teaching Day 2023 provides an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the ways in which Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) engages with the case teaching method.
Research informed teaching that equips students to make real-world impact sits at the centre of programmes at CJBS. Case studies provide an ideal tool to allow students to put theory into practice by stepping into the shoes of a practitioner facing a challenge. CJBS is equally engaged with teaching and developing new case studies, with a frequently updated and bestselling collection published with The Case Centre covering a variety of disciplines and sectors that reflect the diverse and global nature of CJBS research and teaching.
Professor Vincent Mak speaks about the importance of case studies from his perspective as a case study teacher and author, and with his unique overview as Vice-Dean for Programmes & Research.
“Case studies sit at the intersection between practitioner engagement, research, and teaching. At Cambridge Judge Business School, we value case studies for this very reason: for combining 3 key elements of our work, and generating mutually beneficial outcomes for our research and teaching colleagues, students, and non-academic partners.”
Collaborating to create a diverse and topical collection
The CJBS case study collection is constantly evolving to explore current professional practice challenges and perspectives. The most recent addition to the collection, “Can company commitments to the environment and society be retained over time?” (Professor Matthew Grimes with UNDP co-authors Sebnem Sener and Bellisa Rojas), is an exploration of how environmental and societal commitments can be forced to compete with other priorities during a challenging period of transition in company ownership, structure, and leadership. Last year also saw the milestone of the first CJBS case study published in an alternative language. “Inditex: how to become larger when you are the largest one” (José Luis Gastón EMBA, and Professor Feryal Erhun) was released in both English and Spanish, making the case more accessible by providing a translation in the headline company’s national language.
Dr Thomas Roulet champions the importance of diversifying the content of CJBS case studies in his own teaching and writing, and also through leading diversity initiatives within CJBS.
“Context matters, and diversity of perspectives matters. Encouraging diversity in the case studies that we author and teach means that the diverse backgrounds of our student body are appropriately reflected, and students are given the opportunity to explore a challenge or industry from another viewpoint. The right case studies present us with a learning experience that simultaneously puts theory into practice and fosters a culture of empathy and inclusivity.”
Dr Thomas Roulet’s most recent case study publication “The making of LGBTQ+ leaders in an international bank: obstacles and strategies to career progression” is co-authored with three CJBS MBA students (Akansha Goyal, Jacinthe Bruscemi and Evan Talbot). The case study focuses on LGBTQ+ experiences of career progression in a major bank. Students are prompted to consider the efficacy of policies and strategies designed to overcome obstacles that affect the LGBTQIA+ community in their professional lives.
Collaboration is an important part of the ethos at CJBS and is key to the approach taken in developing case studies. All the case studies listed above, and many more throughout the CJBS collection, were co-designed and co-authored with practitioners or CJBS students. Working directly with non-academic partners enables CJBS case studies to present the latest in-depth practice knowledge and strengthens collaborative relationships. Case studies developed alongside students reflect the interests and experiences of the student body, feeding into the culture of teaching colleagues and students working together to make real-world impact.
A bestselling case standing the test of time
A case study led by Professor Michael Barrett, “M-Pesa Power: leveraging service innovation in emerging economies”, has recently been announced as a Case Centre 2022 bestseller in the Knowledge, Information and Communications Systems Management category. The case study’s long-standing popularity has seen it receive bestseller recognition 6 years in a row between 2014 and 2019, before moving into the ‘Classic Cases’ category, where it is standing the test of time and continues to be a popular teaching tool and a bestseller for the last 2 years.
The case study focuses on M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer service developed by Cambridge-based Sagentia in collaboration with Vodafone. Students are encouraged reflect on the benefits and challenges of collaborative innovation in emerging economies with different cultures, regulations and infrastructure. This case is another excellent example of effective collaboration between a faculty member, a CJBS student and a practice-based co-author, in this case Professor Michael Barrett, Dr Anna Kim (MPhil and PhD) and Dr Karl Prince (then of Iceni Mobile), as well as close collaboration with multiple organisations involved in the M-Pesa project.
On World Case Teaching Day CJBS acknowledges the importance of case studies, and the commitment from academic staff, students, and non-academic partners in keeping the CJBS case study teaching and published collection contributions vibrant. CJBS also looks forward to future development of new case study content and approaches to the case teaching method.