A tribute to Debapratim Purkayastha, 1976-2021

Debapratim PurkayasthaDebapratim Purkayastha, Director of ICFAI Case Research Center and Professor at ICFAI Business School (IBS), passed away from COVID-19 on 7 May 2021.

Few people have had such an impact on the case method as Debapratim. His skills as a case writer and academic have transformed case writing in India and had an impact in classrooms around the world.

Richard McCracken, Director of The Case Centre, said:

“Debapratim Purkayastha who we’ve lost, tragically, through COVID-19, was an outstanding case writer, case teacher and respected academic. His approach to case writing was rigorous and adventurous. He wrote hundreds of cases ranging widely in the formats, settings, and issues he chose to explore. Debapratim was always open to experimentation and his work regularly broke new ground, most recently in his exploration of cases in the style of a graphic novel, written by him and illustrated by his childhood friend Sid Ghosh. We were all the beneficiaries of his work, and his willingness to share insight into case writing and teaching at academic conferences and workshops. 
Sudhaker Rao, Richard McCracken, Debapratim Purkayastha and Vicky Lester“Many hearing the news will feel as I do. I have lost a friend. For Debapratim was someone I always looked forward to meeting - a good companion and generous host, a friend to many in the case community around the world, a much-loved colleague to the case publishing team at ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad, and a devoted husband and father. He was so proud of the achievements of his work team, and of his family, his wife Somali and son Supratim. Debapratim’s absence will be felt greatly by the case method community, friends and colleagues in business schools, editorial teams and - he would say, most importantly of all - in classrooms all around the world. 
“Debapratim and I often found ourselves sharing a taxi, or a deserted airport gate waiting for a flight, and the talk once turned to books we enjoyed as boys. Debapratim’s favourite was the Feluda stories - the tales of a Bengali detective - by one of India’s master storytellers, novelist, and filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Reading the book, I saw how it influenced Debapratim’s ability to combine a good story with academic intent. I take a copy in every travel bag I pack. I shall be turning its pages this evening in his memory.”

A career devoted to cases

Debapratim was born in Hailakandi, Assam in India on 24 May 1976. His BSc was from Cotton CollegeGauhati University, MBA from Utkal University, and PhD from Kalinga Institute of Industrial TechnologyBhubaneswar.

After a stint in the pharmaceutical industry, he joined IBS Center for Management Research (ICMR) in February 2006 to lead the team engaged in case development, and to teach business strategy at ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad.

Promoted to Assistant Professor in October 2010, Debapratim then progressed to Associate Professor in October 2014, and Professor of Strategy in October 2017.

Throughout his career Debapratim’s involvement continued with the ICFAI Case Research Center and in January 2015 he became Associate Dean responsible for heading the IBS Case Research Center (City Unit). In August 2017 he took overall charge of the IBS Case Research Center (IBSCRC) and became Dean for ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education’s International Affairs and the convenor of ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education’s Research Committee. In March 2020 he was promoted to Director of ICFAI Case Research Center, spearheading the case initiative at the ICFAI Group of institutions.

A prolific case writer

Debapratim was a prolific and dedicated case writer. In May 2021 The Case Centre’s database held 531 cases authored or co-authored by him.

Debapratim Purkayastha and Richard McCrackenHis skill as a case writer won him international acclaim. He topped The Case Centre’s Top 40 Bestselling Case Authors ranking each year since its launch in 2016. He won 11 Case Awards, only two behind the great case master Sumantra Ghoshal, and his cases won prizes at a wide range of global case competitions. In appreciation of his achievements, he was recognised with the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method award from The Case Centre in 2015. Full details of all Debapratim’s awards can be found below.

His cases had an impact in classrooms all around the world. At the time of his death The Case Centre’s records show that his cases had been used at 1,595 schools in 95 countries to teach over 233,900 students.

Sharing knowledge and expertise

Debapratim was devoted to sharing his knowledge and helping others improve their case writing and teaching skills. He led many case method workshops, the last of which was at Jaipuria Institute of Management, Jaipur the week before his death.

Debapratim PurkayasthaHe regularly spoke as a case expert at a variety of international management conferences, including the Academy of Management and The Case Centre’s 40th Anniversary Case Conference in 2014.

As a reviewer of cases for The Case Centre’s case writing scholarship programme, Debapratim provided thoughtful and constructive feedback to recipients. He also served as a judge on many case writing competitions, including those run by The Case Centre.

Debapratim worked tirelessly to promote excellence in case teaching and writing. He was Consulting Editor of Case Folio, the IUP Journal of Management Case Studies, and a member of the editorial boards for The Case Centre’s Case Focus journal, the North American Case Research Association’s Case Research Journal, and the CASE Association’s The CASE Journal.

Impact and recognition

Debapratim won a host of case awards and competitions.

The Case Centre

AESE Case Writing Competition

Dark Side Case Writing competition

EFMD Case Writing Competition

  • Corporate Coaching category winner: 2006
  • Corporate Social Responsibility category winner: 2020
  • Entrepreneurship category winner: 2007
  • Family Business category winner: 2016
  • Inclusive Business Models category winner: 2011
  • Latin American Business Cases category winner: 2015, 2018
  • Supply Chain Management category winner: 2018

John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition

 oikos Case Writing Competition

Browse all Debapratim's cases

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