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Five minutes with Paul Matthyssens

Paul Matthyssens, Dean of Antwerp Management School

How did you discover the case method, and what is it you particularly like about cases?

After graduating with a BA and an MBA, I studied an additional specialised masters programme in marketing at Ghent University.

The professors used a lot of cases, both published and self-developed. As a student, I enjoyed the group work, discussions, and the analysis of rich quantitative and qualitative data.

Afterwards, I became an assistant professor on the same masters programme, so I started using and developing cases of my own.

I also built in roleplay, confrontations with real data and managers from the case companies.

Why do you believe cases work so well in strategy classes?

Strategy always contains a nexus content-context-process that leads to rich story-telling about a company in a specific environment or market, and forms complex links between strategy analysis, internal and external barriers, drivers that might (or not) lead to intended results, gaps, corrective actions, competitive reactions and necessary corrective actions, and organisational alignment.

A case provides a wonderful platform for group discussions, teaching students to listen to others’ (informed) opinions, which is especially insightful in groups of students with high degrees of diversity.

A strategy case is never a ‘one solution only’ challenge. Different routes might be valuable, and reality sneaks in to the classroom, a reality where nothing is clear-cut. 

What are the pros and cons of longer cases?

Longer cases are richer. I especially like(d) cases with short sequel notes, an update on what decision the company took and how competitors reacted, or what barriers were confronted; making implementation of the chosen strategy difficult.

I remember decades ago, a case on the war between Kodak and Polaroid with ten sequel caselets. The only teaching tool that is similar to such teaching is with business games, but they require more time and are less realistic.

However, a problem with long cases is that they require intensive pre-class reading, and our social media active student population is not used to reading long texts anymore, so I also use shorter cases now.

If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

Working in an architecture office (as an architect), or as a design specialist or a strategy consultant. But also, I think it would be nice to work as a social entrepreneur.

How do you relax?ski goggles

I work a lot and I have always done so. Writing and researching and preparing presentations with some background music – these are often my only relaxing moments during the working week.

And during real free time, I enjoy sports: biking, tennis and skiing.

It is a distorted work-life balance, but it remains a balance.

Do you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?

Not very original, but oh so true – the African Proverb about the value of teamwork: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

About Paul

Paul Matthyssens is Dean of Antwerp Management School and Professor of Global Strategic Management. He is also a guest professor at DTU Business in Lyngby, Denmark, and Fordham University in the US.

Paul has published more than 100 articles in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Management Studies, Industrial Marketing Management, and Long Range Planning and Technovation. He was also a member of the Industry Council of the Flemish Minister-President (2010-2014).

In June 2015, Paul received a Royal Award (Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau) in the Netherlands for ‘extraordinary contributions to the field of industrial marketing and the stimulation of the competitiveness of Dutch industry’.

Paul’s research interests include business and industrial marketing, value innovation, global strategy and purchasing.

e paul.matthyssens@ams.ac.be 
tw @PaulMatthyssens

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