Category winner:
Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Google, Inc.

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This case won the Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2015.
 
The case

What

Google Inc. is one of the leading technology companies in the world. It began as an Internet search provider and over the years expanded into various other services. Google made innovation an everyday activity among its employees and followed a unique ‘launch and iterate’ process. Instead of perfecting a product before release, Google would obtain feedback from users to further improve future versions.

searchEmployees were strongly encouraged to innovate and go for ‘moon shots’ – to create products that were ten times better than the competition. In 2010, ‘Innovation Time Off’ was introduced, allowing employees to work for 20% of their time on work-related ideas. This led to many successful innovations such as Gmail, Google Talk, and Google News. 

Why

In August 2013, Google discontinued Innovation Time Off as employees were finding it difficult to get through their normal workload. Some analysts were questioning the viability of some of Google’s latest projects, such as Google Glass, whose viability in the market had not been proven. A leading investment bank based in New York City said there were ‘people on Wall Street who would like Google to quit spending on things that may not actually materialise in generating significant revenue’.

When

Google was founded in 1998 by two PhD students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Wheregoogle

Google’s headquarters are in California, US, and it also has 70 offices in 40 countries worldwide.

Key quote

‘One of the primary goals I have is to get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up.’ – Larry Page, CEO of Google, 2011.

What next?

As with any other technology company, Google’s future hinged on meeting the expectations of investors while continuing to be innovative. It would be a real challenge to keep the company’s entrepreneurial spirit alive. Said CEO, Larry Page: ‘We’re one of the bigger companies of the world and I’d like to see us do more stuff – not just do what somebody else has done, but something new.’ But how could the company’s entrepreneurial spirit be kept alive?

 
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Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Google, Inc.
Ref 414-033-1 
Teaching note
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The authors

Debapratim Purkayastha and Adapa Srinivasa Rao

Debapratim Purkayastha and Adapa Srinivasa Rao

Debapratim explains the enduring appeal of cases about Google and the main challenges to be overcome when writing a case from published sources.

Popular and versatile

Google is a top-of-the-mind recall brand and unique in many ways. Students have already experienced its services and the word ‘Google’ has entered the popular lexicon. So there is a high potential for student engagement. The case is also versatile. In addition to organisational behaviour, the case can be taught in strategic human resource management, innovation management, entrepreneurship and strategic management. This case also won the innovation2014 AESE Case Writing Competition, and was praised for its simple story, interesting storytelling style, clear, to-the-point descriptions, and excellent teaching note.

Published sources

Writing good cases from published sources is highly challenging. Sometimes you have too much information and sometimes too little. You have to painstakingly look for the data you need by skimming through volumes of text, and you still may not find it. You have to work through these gaps in data.

It is also a challenge to bring a decision focus into the case, as you do not have direct access to the protagonist or key decision-makers. However, good case writers know how to overcome these challenges.

General lessons

This case should help students understand the underlying principles and theoretical frameworks that led to the success at Google. These can then be adapted to different organisations and market sectors contexts. All this is part of the learning process.

Case writing advice

Framing the teaching objectives of a case is very important. Well-framed teaching objectives serve as a guide for the whole case writing process. This helps to structure the case, and decide what information should be included. Also, research the topic well. There’s absolutely no substitute for this.

Thank you!

We would like to thank The Case Centre for taking this wonderful initiative and recognising case writers in this way. We value these awards immensely and consider them an ‘annual report card’ offering feedback on our efforts. This award is a great source of motivation, and will spur us to write more cases that teachers will love to take into their classrooms.

About the authors

Debapratim Purkayastha is Associate Dean at ICFAI Business School (IBS).
e debapratim@icmrindia.org
tw @dpurkayastha

Adapa Srinivasa Rao is a Research Scholar at IFHE University.
e adapavasu@gmail.com
tw @adapasrinivas

 

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