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The Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling cases

Eleventh place  -Shouldice Hospital Ltd.
The case
Case: Shouldice Hospital Ltd Shouldice Hospital Ltd.
Authors: James L. Heskett
Institution: Harvard Business School
Ref: 9-683-068
Date published: 2003

Shouldice Hospital faced a major challenge: the need to find ways of increasing the hospital’s capacity while at the same time maintaining control over the quality of service delivered. Should it invest more money in Toronto or set up a similar hospital outside Canada? Another possibility was to increase the range of operations performed. In addition, the hospital was unsure how to go about marketing its services and was afraid of generating too much demand.

As well as issues of capacity and organisational analysis, the case describes a well-focused, well-managed medical service facility that could point the way to future economies in the field.

The authors

James L. Heskett is Baker Foundation Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School.
e jheskett@hbs.edu

The teacher

Leyland F Pitt Leyland F Pitt is Professor of Marketing and the Dennis F. Culver EMBA Alumni Chair of Business at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Canada. He explains the appeal of the case and why he uses it so much.

I use this case on just about every MBA and executive marketing course I teach, and must have taught it hundreds of times. It’s not really a marketing case, it’s an operations management case because it looks at service design and emphasises that by understanding service processes well, firms can innovate really effectively. It also emphasises that in service firms, it is usually really difficult to separate functions such as marketing, human resources and operations management.

Students’ reactions

Students are amazed that a 30-year-old case works so well and also because nothing has changed in Shouldice since the case was written. They love the website, which of course is new, and the fact that what used to be a huge advantage to the hospital – a shorter stay – then became a limitation, and has now become an advantage once more with a short stay to rest and recuperate.

Highly recommended

The case is well-written and a wonderful, unique story with lots of interesting problems and issues. It also has just enough numbers to make students think. I highly recommend it; it’s one of the all-time best Harvard Business School cases.

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