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Outstanding Case Teacher

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Anita Elberse won the Outstanding Case Teacher Competition at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2016.
The winning entry

Case teaching legend

Ryan Buell‘Anita Elberse is a case teaching legend at Harvard Business School,’ says Ryan Buell, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Co-Chair with Anita of the START programme for incoming faculty at the school.

‘Her course is beloved by students and perennially oversubscribed,’ he says. Anita’s devotion to her students is palpable. She teaches with a casual intensity, inspiring a culture where students revel in learning. It’s easy to understand why her students love her, and why so many members of our faculty, like me, aspire to be more like her.’

Kristin MugfordSays Kristin Mugford, Melvin Tukman Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School:

‘I am one of many faculty, students, industry leaders, celebrities and alumni that both admire her for her intellect and leadership and secretly wish we were even half as hip and magnetic.’

Wonderful encouragement

classroom anita

‘I am extremely honoured and humbled to have won,’ says Anita. ‘It means a great deal to me. From the first moment I saw the case method in action, I have wanted to be really good at case teaching, and I work hard to get better every day. I see this award as a wonderful encouragement to keep going.’ 

Deep passion

Sir Alex Ferguson

‘I simply love entertainment, media and sports. I also think these industries pose interesting managerial questions, for instance when it comes to managing product portfolios and investing in creative talent in winner-take-all contexts. The creative industries are also important from an economic and cultural perspective on a global scale.

Watch a BBC programme about Sir Alex Ferguson featuring his guest appearance in Anita’s Harvard classroom.

cheering‘Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries is a full-semester course with about 25 case sessions on entities such as NBCUniversal, Spotify, and the NFL, and on personalities such as Maria Sharapova, Lady Gaga, and Sir Alex Ferguson. I launched the course in 2008, and continue to write three or four cases each year to ensure it stays fresh. I try to bring the cases to life by inviting case protagonists and other high-profile industry guests to my classes, and allowing them to be an integral part of the case discussions.’

Broadly applicable

‘Many of my students aspire to work in the entertainment industry, while others take the course because the lessons we learn are broadly applicable. At its core, ‘Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries’ is about big issues such as managing risk, developing talent, and dealing with disruptive innovations that affect countless other sectors, too. It’s just a bit more fun to study those topics in the context of, say, Beyoncé or LeBron James.’

Creative talents

‘I launched an executive education course called The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports two years ago, and from the beginning, creative talents such as NBA basketball star Dwyane Wade and supermodel Karlie Kloss have signed up to take part in the class as participants. Having them there makes our debates especially rich and insightful. As a case teacher, it is amazing to see that play out.’

paparazziThe power of cases

‘I am a huge believer in the power of the case method. It’s not uncommon for alumni during our reunions to be able to recall very specific insights from cases they discussed decades ago – you don’t see that very often when students learn, say, through lectures and textbooks. It’s hard to spend a day at Harvard Business School and still have major doubts about the effectiveness of the case method!’ 

The teacher

Meet our winner, Anita Elberse…

Anita ElberseAnita Elberse is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Anita is one of the youngest female professors to have been promoted to full professor with tenure in Harvard Business School's history.

She develops and teaches an MBA course covering entertainment, media, and sports, called Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, which is among the most sought-after courses in Harvard’s curriculum. 


The course is aimed at understanding what drives success in creative and sporting industries, and how effective marketing strategies can be developed.

Poets & Quants named her one of the world's best business school professors under the age of 40, and she has received teaching awards on multiple occasions from both Harvard Business School and its students.

blockbustersAnita’s book Blockbusters was singled out by Amazon as one of the Best Books of 2013. 

anita interview

Watch an interview with Anita on the Bloomberg site:

We featured one of Anita’s many outstanding cases Futbol Club Barcelona in a recent issue of our newsletter.


What the judges said...

The judges were unanimous in their choice of Anita as the winner of our 2016 Outstanding Case Teacher Competition.

‘For me, Anita Elberse is the clear winner,’ was one typical comment from the judges.  ‘The reason I put her at the top is because of her “innovation in the choice of areas covered or addressed” (to quote one of the required criteria for this award). 

jay-z‘Entertainment, media, and sports represent an underserved area at most business schools.  She has written many cases in the area and her course on the topic is wildly popular. 

Read more about Anita’s star quality in the classroom on the Bloomberg site.

‘Also, she appears to be a masterful case teacher. She teaches incoming HBS faculty how to teach cases.  Now that’s saying something!  What really grabbed me from her submission is the following quote from Ryan Buell (HBS Assistant Professor): “Anita’s work proves that cases can be cool, and every time she debuts a new one, it’s a genuine event.”  I looked at her submitted cases.  They are indeed cool, and very well done.’

Another judge commented: ‘Anita is writing cases prolifically in a new and interesting area. The cases are well written and I can easily imagine how well they would go down in a classroom.’