Rosa Chun joins The Case Centre’s UK executive committee

1 October 2014

A warm welcome to Professor Rosa Chun who has joined The Case Centre’s UK executive committee.

Rosa is Chair in Global Leadership, Reputation & Responsibility, at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin. Here, she shares her views on the future of the case method.

The Case Centre’s unique contribution

‘The Case Centre has been running case method workshops and case awards for 40 years, while providing business case collections from 50 business schools,’ says Rosa, ‘This is a unique contribution to business education, and I cannot think of any other organisation that could replace this role.’

Theories and textbooks no longer enough

Rosa quotes an exam question she recently set for an undergraduate strategy course:

Xiaomi is a four-year-old Chinese smartphone company. Their proposition is offering a compelling product at a low price, so their smartphone is sold at almost half the price of those made by Samsung and Apple. Discuss when ‘low price strategy’ could be successful, and when Xiaomi can overtake Samsung in China and in the global market.

‘These were very smart students and the majority wrote, “It is not possible for Xiaomi to win Samsung (without significant improvement on its brand which will take many more years to build)”.

‘But in fact, Xiaomi had just overtaken Samsung in China in the second quarter results that were published just before the exam (August 2014): business is a war and it has become unpredictable. The theories and textbooks we use in the classroom are no longer enough to teach the students how to win the war.’

Rosa believes that cases can explain non-rational variables and the role of hidden heroes, while forecasting and regression-based models cannot.

‘Cases are also fun to learn and fun to teach,’ she adds. ‘My MBA classes are typically comprised of 50% lecture and 50% case discussion. We try to choose and run the cases in the way that students can easily relate to their own experience.’ 

More diverse, interactive and innovative

In future, says Rosa, the case method will become more diverse, interactive, and innovative, from production to delivery.

‘We have to consider a number of factors,’ she says. ‘Business schools are increasingly opening overseas campuses and offering distance learning. They are also under pressure to offer social responsibility and leadership-related courses, often culturally relative. In addition, they are encouraging faculty to publish research papers with A journals, where case writing is not often recognised as publication.’

Globalizing the case community

‘I have taught MBAs and executives using cases (both mine and those of other writers) in various countries,’ says Rosa. ‘I hope I can contribute to globalizing the case community as well as the other issues mentioned above. For example, I hear a criticism that existing business cases are predominantly focusing on the West. It made sense when the majority of Fortune 500 companies were American, but now only 128 American companies count, while one third of the Fortune 500 have been replaced by companies from Asia (China, Japan and Korea).'

‘The Asian CEOs I meet are not keen on developing their success stories as a business case. Being humble is a cultural thing, and their approach is that they ‘are not good enough yet’. In addition, the society’s hierarchical tradition means class learning tends to be more textbook and lecture-driven rather than via the interactive debates that we often enjoy in Western classrooms. I would hope to work with the colleagues in opening up such success stories that go beyond secondary data and anecdotal notes in that region.'

‘We also need more cases about crises to promote positive learning and scholarship. Ireland is just coming out of a crisis, and without the Asian crisis in 1998, Samsung wouldn’t be the company it is now.’ 

Global experts with creative minds

‘I would like to thank the Director of The Case Centre, Richard McCracken, and Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean, UCD Smurfit Graduate School, for encouraging me to join the committee,’ says Rosa. ‘My observation so far is that the executive committee comprises global experts with creative minds who are genuinely devoted to the development of the case method. I look forward to being part of that development.’

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