Competition winner: Outstanding Case Teacher

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Mats Urde won the Outstanding Case Teacher Competition at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021.

In conversation with... Mats Urde

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we were sadly unable to visit Mats in Sweden to present his award in person.

However, our Director, Richard McCracken, caught up with Mats on Zoom to discuss his Outstanding Case Teacher 2021 win.

The full conversation can be watched on the right, or each section can be viewed separately below:

Do you know someone who has is an outstanding case teacher? Find out more and nominate them here.

The teacher

Meet our winner, Mats Urde…

Mats UrdeMats Urde is an Associate Professor of Strategic Brand Management at Lund University School of Economics and Management (LUSEM). His key research and teaching areas are brand identity and brand orientated leadership. He heads the Lund Brand Management Group.

Mats is a strong proponent of the case method and has promoted a case teaching and learning culture at his university. He is co-founder of Lund University Case Academy and LUSEM Case Academy and heads its case training programme. He also coaches the Lund student teams for international case competitions.

Several of his courses, such as Strategic Brand Management and Corporate Brand Management and Reputation, are wholly case based with Mats embracing the full potential of this method and its impact on research, teaching and learning. He was voted the Lund Teacher of the Year in 2013 and received The Lund University Pedagogical Teaching Award in 2015.

As well as using cases in his teaching and research, Mats has written several cases on topics as varied as Volvo, DuPont, the Swedish Monarchy and the Nobel Prize Foundation. He also has 25 years of experience as a brand strategy advisor for companies and non-profit organisations such as Volvo, Ericsson, IKEA and The Swedish National Symphony Orchestra. 

A privilege

On winning, Mats commented: “Teaching with cases is to place yourself and all participants in action mode, facing and solving challenging real-life situations together. When the learning climate in the room is at its best, all show courage, integrity, and an open mind. It is a privilege to be a case teacher and I am deeply honoured to receive this award.” 

Valued coach and colleague

Anna-Maria OstermannMats was nominated by one of his students, Anna-Maria Ostermann, who was part of his student team for the John Molson MBA International Case Competition. She said: “Mats is a truly engaging professor who challenges your thinking and involves you in the learning process. He makes you go the extra mile and think outside the box, just like he does. In one of Mats’ courses we had to write and solve our own cases. He then organised a case competition event where we solved each other’s cases. Mats is a teacher who wants you to understand the theoretical frameworks, but also know how to use them in real life. I think I personally never learned as much in a class as in his - because he made us apply all those theoretical frameworks.”

Stephen A GreyserHe also has garnered much respect from his colleagues. Co-author Stephen A. Greyser, Harvard Business School, commented: “Mats' skills precede his classroom appearance. He clearly understands what engages students/executives in case topics, case protagonist decisions, and supporting analysis. He uses a range of techniques - role plays, timely votes, group presentations, case-related guests etc. He grasps what a superior case does for student preparation, class discussion and learning. I consider Mats an excellent case teacher - as idea developer, case writer, classroom teacher, case/course developer, advocate for case-based learning, and enhancer of student case experiences.”

Ulf RambergFellow faculty member at LUSEM, Ulf Ramberg adds: “Mats is one of the driving forces behind the Lund University School of Economics and Management (LUSEM) Case Academy. The most significant outcome of Mats’ work is how it is applied and used among both students and faculty. For example, our case faculty now offer pedagogical courses on both case teaching and case writing. Mats' experience as a case writer and case teacher is much appreciated.”

The winning entry

Developing a case culture

Mats’ has built up a case culture at Lund by redesigning his classes to become fully case based. He tasks the students to write cases of their own, present them to each other and solve fellow students’ cases. To engage in friendly competition, judged by their peers, faculty and business representatives, gives the students the full benefit of the whole case cycle. 

The full cycle idea in practice

Over the duration of the course, students are divided into teams and asked to write cases of their own, along with a management decision, a teaching note and material to support a live-case presentation. At the end of the course, three cases are put forward to the case competition where they are discussed by a broader audience and a ‘real-life management decision’ is presented and discussed. The judges then deliberate and conclude the competition by announcing the winning team.

Mats Urde teachingMats has found that the students are engaged and very enthusiastic about the competition. When evaluating the course, one student explained: "we have to switch perspectives from students to teachers, which provided a good practice of listening, taking notes and asking probing questions". Another describes it as a “challenging yet empowering and interesting journey. We did not only learn about the content and implications of theory but also how to apply it to real life situations.” Another student added that “it was completely different to everything else I ever had before”.

Finally, Mats explains: "it is not only the students that benefit from the full cycle method. The interaction between Lund and sponsoring businesses has increased, with judges from partnership companies and organisations exchanging ideas with academia and students. The faculty also benefit, and many have gone on to use the cases written by students on their courses, or as research into writing published case studies. New faculty members also get the experience to coach case teams and build up their teaching practice."

Mats is confident that the full cycle method benefits all who use it and is keen to see it adopted by other schools.

What the judges said...

An exceptional winner

Richard McCracken, Director of The Case Centre and chair of the judging panel, said: “The judges had a difficult task in selecting a winner from an outstanding shortlist of candidates. All were great case teachers, highly valued and respected by their students and colleagues, and having made valuable contributions to case teaching. We commend them all.

Richard McCracken, Jill Avery, Urs Mueller and David Wood

Going the extra mile

“Mats is a case teacher who shows outstanding commitment to his students. He goes the extra mile to support their progress through the most effective pedagogy at his disposal - the case method.

“By involving and supporting students in writing cases, Mats has effectively extended the use of cases in the classroom. The judges were also impressed by his work to support colleagues, and to champion the use of the case method at his school. Comfortable in bringing innovation, both technical and pedagogical, into his teaching, Mats possesses strengths across all elements of the attributes one looks for in an outstanding case teacher.”