Competition winner: Kirat Housing Development Society

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This case won the Outstanding New Case Writer Competition at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2018.
 
The case

Whothe protagonist

Phil Lee, first year employee at Orion Information Technology Consulting.

What?building

Orion specialises in proprietary building management software, and bids to work on projects around the world.

Why?

Orion were hoping to win a contract where they would work with one of India’s most respected private residential property developers, Kirat Housing Development Society (KHDS).

Lee and Karl Lehner, Orion’s Project Management Director, flew to KHDS’ offices in New Delhi to discuss a proposed bid to implement their building management software in KHDS’ newest residential property in development, Sikandar Luxury Tower.

Lehner, who took the lead, and Lee met with Colonel Bhaman, KHDS’ Head of Procurement, and his assistant, Rohana Yousuf.

A positive meeting took a turn for the worse when, once Colonel Bhaman and Lehner were out of the room, Yousuf offered to help Lee and his board win the bid for Orion – but it would come at a price.

indiaWhen?

It was September 2016 when Lee made the trip to India.

At the same time he had the pressure of paying for his dad’s medical bills, who was suffering from stage one lung cancer. Simply, Lee couldn’t afford to lose his job.

Where?

Orion are an American company based in the capital Washington D.C.

Key quote

“I can think of 200,000 reasons why you can trust me, Mr. Phil.” – Phil Lee is shocked as Rohana Yousuf makes an unexpected proposal.

What next?DC

Lehner and Lee returned to D.C. for a debrief with Orion’s chairman. Upon informing the chairman of Yousuf’s international consultancy agreement, it was up to Lehner and Lee to find a solution.

 
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Kirat Housing Development Society
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The authors

authorsAlvaro Sandroni and Farhad Aspy Fatakia

Alvaro and Farhad explain what drew them to the case method, and how this case presents students with numerous dilemmas.

Worth the effort

Alvaro and Farhad said: “It’s fantastic to win this award.

“We are deeply humbled by our work being recognised. We wanted to produce a high-quality product that would have practical instructional value.

“This win definitely vindicates the countless hours of effort we put in, and the effort that everyone who was involved at Kellogg made, especially Katharine H. Kruse and Vasilia Kilibarda Funston.”

Case method appeal case method appeal

“Our combined expertise is economics, behavioural science, game theory, corporate governance, and law,” Alvaro and Farhad explained.

“What we were most interested in at the time was the intersection of these areas, especially in the context of problems faced by future leaders. The answer was clearly corruption – specifically how to detect it and how to carefully extricate yourself from real-life situations in emerging markets where corruption is rife.

“But when it comes to corruption, often there isn’t a clear right or wrong answer. And even in situations where there is a clear answer, the intricacies of cultural nuances and business implications are massive. We wanted students to be able to appreciate these intricacies, not just arrive at the right answer.

“Therefore, we knew we had to present our ideas in the form of a problem to ensure learning through discussion and debate. The case method is an ideal tool for such an enterprise, so we began writing.”

An ongoing battle

The duo added: “There are so many aspects, perspectives, and facets to the issue of bribery and corruption, that it’s hard to imagine a time when the task of shining a bright light on the subject will be complete.

“As the problem of bribery and corruption continues to evolve, either through the methods or the means, so must the tools to tackle it. Our current thoughts include pondering the big-picture effects of cryptocurrencies and blockchain on bribery and corruption. These are issues we hope to integrate into future case studies and teaching.”

dilemmas a plentyDilemmas aplenty

Alvaro and Farhad concluded: “Given the case draws upon real-life experiences, many of its elements can hit particularly close to home for students.

“As written, it is intentionally set up to provide debate about the motivations of individuals, and how to go about making the right decisions at three levels, as each character begins to ascertain the truth of who is and isn’t involved in a potential bribery and corruption conspiracy.

“Those three levels are individual actors, independent of all others; part of a sales team; and an organisation at the board level. Given motivations and morality clashes at each of these levels, and across each as well, in a corporate setting, students often struggle with identifying the right thing to do for each individual at each level under the circumstances.

“Students are almost always divided in their opinions of how they categorise each character in the case, and describe it as a real-life game of Clue (also known as Cluedo).”

About the authors

Alvaro Sandroni is the E.D. Howard Professor in Political Economy at Kellogg School of Management.
e sandroni@kellogg.northwestern.edu

Farhad Aspy Fatakia is a Kellogg School of Management and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law JD-MBA Alumnus, and is now an Internal Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense Associate at Paul Hastings.
e F-Fatakia2015@nlaw.northwestern.edu

 

View all the 2018 winners