A lot can happen in 50 years! We've gone from distribution in the UK and Ireland, to worldwide; from photocopiers whirring day and night, to instant digital delivery; and from cases written mainly in the US and Europe, to cases from authors in all corners of the globe.
The case community's needs have been at the heart of our strategy and activities throughout the last 50 years, as our timeline below shows. We hope you enjoy discovering more about what we've achieved in partnership with authors, teachers and colleagues around the world.
Explore the whole timeline below, or click one of the themes at the top to filter the events you see. You can also find out how else we're celebrating our anniversary here.
Eight signatures (D J Hall, Cranfield School of Management; A Henderson, UWIST; DF Channon, Manchester Business School; BA Littlewood, Anglian Regional Management Centre; TE Milne, The Scottish Business School; JM Stopford, London Business School; PW Strachan-Timms, South West London College; AF Cunnane, Irish Management Institute) called The Case Clearing House of Great Britain & Ireland into being on 18 May 1973 with the aim of securing the distribution of teaching cases for all teachers in the UK and Ireland.
Printed copies of cases were produced on high-volume photocopiers, and shipped to customers for use in class.
Jeffrey Gray was appointed as the first full-time Director in 1979. Jeff was tasked by the Executive Committee to professionalise the organisation and its procedures.
Our offices were computerised in 1988 with state of the art Apple Macintosh computers.
We launched the world's first online case search - COLIS (Case OnLine Information System) - in 1989. UK institutions could access COLIS over the JANET network, whilst those outside the UK had to dial up to access the server using a modem.
Harvard Business Review articles were added in 1990, marking the first journal reprints available in the collection. We now distribute over 12,600 articles published in a wide range of leading management journals and newsletters.
A service for paper inspection (preview) copies of cases was introduced in 1990 to allow educators the opportunity to assess the suitability of a case for classroom use.
We became the European Case Clearing House in 1991 to reflect the growth of the case method in Europe.
By 1991 the team had grown to seven full-time members of staff. From the outset our customers have been at the heart of everything we do, as reflected in Jeff Gray's comment in 1991: "Although we use increasing numbers of computers, information processors and networks which are vital to the efficiency of our business, our mission lies in the personal attention and service which we give to all our customers."
Designed to recognise excellence in case writing, the first European Case Awards took place in 1991. Christian Pinson from INSEAD won the Overall Award with his case on Swatch, and his award was presented at INSEAD by Robert Ayling, Director of Marketing and Operations at British Airways.
To meet the demand in North America for cases written in other parts of the world, we opened our US office at Babson College in 1992. Pictured below are the members of the first ECCH at Babson Board (Jean-Pierre Jeannet, Ralph Sorensen, Douglas Dalrymple, Hans Klein, Philippe Haspeslagh, Melvyn Stanford and Avram Goldberg) with Office Manager Wendy Carmichael.
Our focus on case training dates as far back as 1992, when we ran a two-day case teaching and writing workshop for eight lecturers and Economic and Social Science Research (ESRC) council fellows at the University of Bath Business School, led by Ken Roberts and Tom Milne.
In 1994, for the first time non-English language cases were introduced to the collection, with 80 available in French, German and Spanish. Most were from INSEAD and IMD and were translations of popular English language cases. In 2023 this has grown to over 7,700 cases in 20+ languages.
Our first website went live in 1996, providing easier access to COLIS (Case OnLine Information System), along with information about all our activities. COLIS was also upgraded to allow searching on date ranges, the number of pages in a case, and for cases with a teaching note.
The first multimedia case on CD, Pacific Dunlop China (A): Beijing, was submitted for distribution from Harvard Business School in 1998. The case included video interviews, video tours of the Pacific Dunlop plant in action, an operations simulation, tests for different models to increase profitability, and "hypertext links to other resources to harness the power of the World Wide Web as a research tool"!
In 1998, we published the book Teaching & Writing Cases: A Practical Guide, written by case workshop expert and workshop tutor John Heath. The book, now in its fourth edition and available digitally, is still an important resource for new case teachers and writers today.
Our website underwent a major upgrade in 2000 to provide customers with facilities to view online preview copies (82 PDFs were initially available), and to place their orders online.
In 2001 the first online cases were added to the collection. ChemUnity.com - eMarketplace for the Chemical Industry, and Nextrom: Procurement through an Online Marketplace were both written at IMD by Petri Lehtivaara under the supervision of Professors Carlos Cordón and Thomas E Vollmann.
We published a list of our bestselling cases from the previous year for the first time in 2003.
Alongside the Concessionary Pricing Programme, a series of free case teaching and writing workshops were offered to educators in Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
In 2005 we changed our name to 'ecch' to reflect the global reach of our operations. The new logo featured a strapline to convey the focus of our activities.
Jeff Gray passed away unexpectedly in 2007, and the Executive Committee began a search for a new Director. Richard McCracken, formerly Head of Intellectual Property at the Open University, was appointed in 2008.
In 2011 the Case Awards broadened from just recognising case excellence in Europe, to rewarding it globally. The overall winning case was Apple Inc. in 2010 by David B Yoffie and Renee Kim of Harvard Business School. Two case writing competitions, for a new case writer and a case on a hot topic, were also introduced, along with an Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method Award, won in 2011 by Kamran Kashani of IMD (pictured below receiving his award).
As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations we were renamed The Case Centre to clearly communicate our status as a world-leading case distributor, expert and knowledge centre.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations we ran a case conference in India. Hosted by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, the conference brought expert speakers from around the world and over 100 participants together to share best practice.
An online discussion group, the Case Writing & Teaching Exchange, was launched on LinkedIn in 2014 to allow case writers and teachers to share ideas and best practice.
To further support educators in making decisions about the best case for use in their classroom, the facilities to post a review of a product, and to see its usage data, were launched in 2015.
To recognise the contribution and impact of case authors, in 2016 we revealed the first annual list of our top bestselling case authors. Faculty whose cases sell the most copies during the previous academic year appear in the list. The late Debapratim Purkayastha, ICFAI Business School (IBS), has topped the list every year since its launch.
The first comprehensive collection of online multimedia teaching materials, from IE Business School, became available through The Case Centre in 2016. The content included multimedia cases, tutorials, simulations, online business games, videos, animations, interactive graphs and exercises, each with an online preview copy.
The Outstanding Case Writer Competition was introduced in 2017 to provide the opportunity for authors to compete against the best case writers in the world. In its inaugural year the winner was a Harvard Business School case, The Maggi Noodle Safety Crisis in India (A), by Karthik Ramanna and Radhika Kak.
Learning with Cases: An Interactive Study Guide was launched in 2018 to take students through the process of learning with cases, providing practical tips, tricks and tools.
To recognise the increasing demand for short cases, the Outstanding Compact Case Competition was introduced in 2019. The first winner was a cartoon case, Turbulence on the Tarmac, by Debapratim Purkayastha and Sid Ghosh, ICFAI Business School (IBS).
We ran our first webinar in 2019 in collaboration with the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. Since then our webinar programme has become firmly established, and we have hosted over 40 webinars on a diverse range of topics including multimedia cases, teaching and writing role-play cases, implementing diversity, equity and inclusion in cases, and many more.
We published Issue 1 of Case Focus in 2020 offering, for the first time, a journal publication outlet for high-quality, peer reviewed teaching cases, with a focus on management and business situations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 we faced the same challenges for the delivery of our workshop programme as our colleagues in education were facing around the world. The Events Team worked with our group of expert tutors to quickly pivot delivery to online. This was very successful, and online programmes will continue to run alongside our in-person events in the future.
Our scholarship programme was extended in 2021 to offer five scholarships to support the development of new case teachers. The scholarships provide a comprehensive range of training, mentoring and resources. In 2023 the number of scholarships offered will increase to ten.
A new website was launched in 2021, designed to make the user experience quicker, more intuitive, and more visually appealing. For the optimum browsing experience at all times, the new site used a responsive design, meaning that it automatically adjusted to the device it was viewed on (mobile, tablet, laptop etc.).
Vicky Lester became Chief Executive Officer in 2022 following the retirement of Richard McCracken. Vicky joined The Case Centre in 1991 and worked in many areas of the business, including sales, operations and systems, and as Deputy Director, before her appointment as CEO.
LiveCases, multimedia chat simulations that engage and challenge learners, were added to the collection in 2022. In a LiveCase learners don’t just read a case, but live and feel the events as the protagonists of a carefully crafted dynamic journey.
In 2022 our inaugural online Members' Case Forum brought together participants from 86 organisations in 29 countries to share case method ideas, innovations and best practice.
In our 50th anniversary year our mission remains the same as when we were first established, to advance the case method worldwide. Our dedicated team of 25 (two based in Boston, US, and 23 in Cranfield, UK) still follow the original ethos outlined by Jeff Gray, providing personal attention and service to the case community all around the world.