Category winner: Oxipouco: An Endangered Species
Resource Negotiation (A) & (B)

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This case won the Human Resource Management/Organisational Behaviour category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2017.
 
The case

Who – the protagonists

In case A, students are immediately asked to step into the shoes of the VP of Procurement for SuperPharma, a rising biotech company.

In case B, students become the Global Head of Cancer Research at the company PharmaCaring.

laboratory testing What?

SuperPharma has devoted vast funds to finding a drug to cure Alzheimer’s disease, with support from the Government of Singapore and renowned biotech venture capitalist funds.

PharmaCaring is the world leader in cancer research and treatment.

Why?

Both companies are keen to secure supplies of the rare oxipouco plant, an endangered species that grows in only a few places in the Amazon forest. The plant’s medicinal properties can be used to help treat both Alzheimer’s and leukaemia.

Green and yellow toucan

When?

Twelve years ago, SuperPharma’s research team came across an anthropological study that suggested an Amazon tribe had never experienced Alzheimer’s. The tribe’s diet included a compound from the hard seed of a rare fruit known as oxipouco (Deliccium oxypoccos).

Similarly, 20 years ago, one of PharmaCaring’s research teams discovered an indigenous Amazonian tribe with no registered cases of leukaemia. A substance found in the egg of the green and yellow toucan (Pterogreenus inscriptus), which resulted from the toucan’s natural diet of oxipouco, made them immune.

Where?

SuperPharma is based in Singapore, while PharmaCaring is a 70-year-old multinational pharmaceutical company based in France.

Key quote

‘In 20 minutes you will make your way to a meeting scheduled by the regional government in a hotel in the tropical forest. While you savour an exotic fruit juice over breakfast, you mentally review your notes.’ – From the case

Amazon plant

What next?

In a bizarre move, the local government has invited both SuperPharma and PharmaCaring to submit a joint proposal on how they plan to divide the all-important oxipouco fruits between them. If the proposal is not presented today, the government will open up the bidding process or decide on the allocation and price as they see fit. How should each company proceed?

The author

Horacio Falcão

authorHoracio discusses writing and teaching his award-winning case.

Positive learning impact

When I got the news about this award, I felt very blessed that I had wonderful collaborators who helped me with the case. It was a great feeling to have the work recognised and learn that it is benefiting so many people. This is why, I believe, most people write cases: to create a positive learning impact on as many people as possible.

Planning and implementing a strategy

Most students appreciate the simplicity of the case to begin with and enjoy the opportunity to experience negotiation right at the start of the course. They are not just asked to intellectually analyse the case, but need to plan a strategy and implement it by negotiating with their unknown counter-party within just a few minutes.

A guaranteed ‘aha’

Both the students and I are surprised by the solutions that come up. I created a whole set of ideas that I discuss in the debrief/review of Oxipouco that builds on ideas that students came up with while negotiating. So, while the case looks very simple, some students underestimate its complexity and quickly arrive at very basic deals, stopping short of harnessing all of its potential value.

Vilfredo Pareto

When they then hear additional and innovative value solutions from some of their colleagues that push harder towards the Pareto Frontier, this is when you see some jaws dropping. The Oxipouco case is almost guaranteed to create an ‘aha’ moment. Students learn that in negotiations, what seems like a zero-sum transaction can be transformed into a positive-sum exercise.

Based on real life

The case is based on a real situation. I disguised the country and product, thus adding a layer of fiction to the case. When I tested the case, some of the collaborators shared ideas to improve it that allowed us to increase the layers of complexity and realism, while keeping the case to one page.

Thank you

I would like to thank my collaborators Nuno Delicado, Rodrigo Gouveia, Carlos Roberto Della Libera Filho, and Claus Stie Kallesoe. I would also like to thank the support of INSEAD. I hope the Oxipouco case will facilitate the teaching of negotiation for professors around the world.

About the author

Horacio Falcão is Senior Affiliate Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD.
e horacio.falcao@insead.edu

 
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