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Top 40 Bestselling Case Authors 2019/20

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No. 40 Bestselling Case Author 2019/20
Vincent Dessain

Vincent Dessain
Executive Director, Harvard Business School Europe Research Center
Harvard Business School


Vincent's top bestselling cases

Cases Sustainability at IKEA Group
By 2014, IKEA Group was the largest home furnishing company in the world. As well as a dramatic expansion plan, IKEA Group had adopted in 2012 a new sustainability strategy that focused the company's efforts on its entire value chain from its raw materials sourcing to the lifestyle of its end consumers. The plan especially centred on wood, which represented 60% of IKEA Group's total procurement in volume and constituted a key lever for the company to increase its positive impact on sustainability. IKEA Group Management therefore had to decide how to manage its portfolio of wood sustainability initiatives, especially in the context of the company's aggressive growth plan.

Messier's Reign at Vivendi Universal
This case focuses on a crisis in the board at Vivendi, highlighting the difficulties that arise when dramatic pressure from outside the boardroom affects boardroom dynamics. The case looks at two events. The first is an unexpectedly large financial loss and a pending cash flow crisis that forces Vivendi's directors to deal with the issue of dismissing their CEO. Whatever they decide, their actions will be scrutinized by the press and investors and will likely be revisited in a legal environment. The second is the board diagnosing its role in the financial crisis by approving a series of costly acquisitions in recent years that led to the crisis..

Gucci Group: Freedom Within the Framework
CEO Robert Polet joined the high-end fashion Gucci Group in 2004. Since his arrival, the Group had grown both in revenues and profitability. Part of his secret was his decentralized and empowering management style. In 2008, in the midst of the economic downturn following the credit crunch crisis, Polet learned that after four years of growth the Gucci brand-the Group's largest business-would report a slowdown for the year's first semester. He knew that according to his management philosophy he should leave the primary decisions for the Gucci brand to Gucci's CEO. Yet, given the urgency of the situation, Polet wondered if it would be more effective to become directly involved in the brand's decision-making process. The case discusses Polet’s management style, how customer information is used in the creative process and whether it would be beneficial for the group to share customer information across stores, regions, and brands.

Meet Vincent

BiographyVincent is the Executive Director of the Europe Research Center (ERC) of the Harvard Business School. He  has extensive management and business education experience and is a co-author of two books in finance and co-author of a wide variety of articles in academic journals, cases and course development. He is a frequent guest speaker invited by academia, business and government to speak on topics in management and education.

Prior to his appointment at the HBS Europe Research Center, he was Senior Director of Corporate Relationships at INSEAD in Fontainebleau and elected as the representative of the INSEAD administration on the School’s Board of Directors. Earlier in his career, Vincent was active as a management consultant with Booz-Allen & Hamilton in New York and Paris. His field of consulting was international market entry strategies, financial products, strategy, negotiation and implementation of cross-border alliances, financial restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. He was also a Foreign Associate with the law firm Shearman & Sterling in New York and an Advisor to the President of the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

Key quote

“The beauty of the case method is that we can engineer powerful pedagogy woven into real management situations. 

"The best cases offer opportunities for intense debate on concrete issues with long lasting learning impact. This all leads to exciting and fun class dynamics. In several instances, case work has generated research work keeping a nice balance between relevance and rigour.”

~ Vincent Dessain


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