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Leadership Case Studies

Here is a sample of three case studies from the book, Leadership Case Studies, that are most instructive and impactful to developing leadership skills.

Leadership Case Studies

For the past 30 years, I have conducted seminars and workshops and taught college classes on leadership.

I used a variety of teaching aids including books, articles, case studies, role-plays, and videos.

I recently created a book, Leadership Case Studies that includes some of the case studies and role-plays that I found to be most instructive and impactful.

Here is a sample of three case studies.

Peter Weaver Case Study

Peter Weaver doesn’t like to follow the crowd. He thinks groupthink is a common problem in many organizations. This former director of marketing for a consumer products company believes differences of opinion should be heard and appreciated. As Weaver states, “I have always believed I should speak for what I believe to be true.”

He demonstrated his belief in being direct and candid throughout his career. On one occasion, he was assigned to market Paul’s spaghetti-sauce products. During the brand review, the company president said, “Our spaghetti sauce is losing out to price-cutting competitors. We need to cut our prices!”

Peter found the courage to say he disagreed with the president. He then explained the product line needed more variety and a larger advertising budget. Prices should not be cut. The president accepted Weaver’s reasoning. Later, his supervisor approached him and said, “I wanted to say that, but I just didn’t have the courage to challenge the president.”

On another occasion, the president sent Weaver and 16 other executives to a weeklong seminar on strategic planning. Weaver soon concluded the consultants were off base and going down the wrong path. Between sessions, most of the other executives indicated they didn’t think the consultants were on the right path. The consultants heard about the dissent and dramatically asked participants whether they were in or out. Those who said “Out” had to leave immediately.

As the consultants went around the room, every executive who privately grumbled about the session said “In.” Weaver was fourth from last. When it was his turn, he said “Out” and left the room.

All leaders spend time in reflection and self-examination to identify what they truly believe and value. Their beliefs are tested and fine-tuned over time. True leaders can tell you, without hesitation, what they believe and why. They don’t need a teleprompter to remind them of their core beliefs. And, they find the courage to speak up even when they know others will disagree.

  • What leadership traits did Weaver exhibit?
  • If you were in Weaver’s shoes, what would you have done?
  • Where does courage come from?
  • List your three most important values.

Dealing with a Crisis Case Study

Assume you are the VP of Sales and Marketing for a large insurance company. Once a year your company rewards and recognizes the top 100 sales agents by taking them to a luxury resort for a four-day conference. Business presentation meetings are held during the morning. Afternoons are free time. Agents and spouses can choose from an assortment of activities including golf, tennis, boating, fishing, shopping, swimming, etc.

On day 2 at 3:00 p.m., you are at the gym working out on the treadmill, when you see Sue your administrative assistant rushing towards you. She says, “I need to talk to you immediately.”

You get off the treadmill and say, “What’s up?” Sue states, “We’ve had a tragedy. Several agents went boating and swimming at the lake. Randy, our agent from California died while swimming.”

(Background information – Randy is 28 years old. His wife did not come on the trip. She is home in California with their three children).

  • Explain what you would communicate to the following people.
  • Your Human Resources Department
  • The local police
  • The attendees at the conference (Would you continue the conference?)
  • How will you notify Randy’s wife?
  • If Randy’s wife and a few family members want to visit the location of Randy’s death, what would you do?
  • What are some “guiding principles” that leaders need to follow in a crisis situation?

 Arsenic and Old Lace Case Study

Review the YouTube video, “ I’ll show them who is boss Arsenic and Old Lace.”   

Background Information

The Vernon Road Bleaching and Dyeing Company is a British lace dyeing business. It was purchased in bankruptcy by the father/son team of Henry and Richard Chaplin. Richard has been acting as “Managing Director” which is the same as a general manager or president of a company.

The company has had 50-to-150 employees with 35-to-100 being shop floor, production employees. The company produces and sells various dyed fabrics to the garment industry.

Gerry Robinson is a consultant who was asked to help transform methods of conducting business to save the company.

Jeff is the factory manager.

  • What are Richard’s strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
  • What could Richard have done to make the problems of quality and unhappy customers more visible to the workforce?
  • What do you think Richard’s top three priorities should be for the next 12 months?
  • What could Richard have done to motivate the workforce?
  • Evaluate Jeff’s approach and effectiveness as a leader.

The book contains 16 case studies, four role-plays, and six articles. I hope you find some of the content useful and helpful in your efforts to teach leadership.

Click for additional leadership case studies and resources .


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Stanford GSB Case Studies

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A collection of short case studies exploring topics, issues, and controversies in corporate governance and executive leadership.
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A compilation of information on teaching cases with an Asian focus collected from resources worldwide.
A collection of management case studies from an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the case method in business education .
A range of collections, including Brief Cases, multimedia cases, , the Premier Case Collection, and recent popular cases with Teaching Notes.
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Top 40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2017

We generated a list of the 40 most popular Yale School of Management case studies in 2017 by combining data from our publishers, Google analytics, and other measures of interest and adoption. In compiling the list, we gave additional weight to usage outside Yale

We generated a list of the 40 most popular Yale School of Management case studies in 2017 by combining data from our publishers, Google analytics, and other measures of interest and adoption. In compiling the list, we gave additional weight to usage outside Yale.

Case topics represented on the list vary widely, but a number are drawn from the case team’s focus on healthcare, asset management, and sustainability. The cases also draw on Yale’s continued emphasis on corporate governance, ethics, and the role of business in state and society. Of note, nearly half of the most popular cases feature a woman as either the main protagonist or, in the case of raw cases where multiple characters take the place of a single protagonist, a major leader within the focal organization. While nearly a fourth of the cases were written in the past year, some of the most popular, including Cadbury and Design at Mayo, date from the early years of our program over a decade ago. Nearly two-thirds of the most popular cases were “raw” cases - Yale’s novel, web-based template which allows for a combination of text, documents, spreadsheets, and videos in a single case website.

Read on to learn more about the top 10 most popular cases followed by a complete list of the top 40 cases of 2017.  A selection of the top 40 cases are available for purchase through our online store . 

#1 - Coffee 2016

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort

Coffee 2016 asks students to consider the coffee supply chain and generate ideas for what can be done to equalize returns across various stakeholders. The case draws a parallel between coffee and wine. Both beverages encourage connoisseurship, but only wine growers reap a premium for their efforts to ensure quality.  The case describes the history of coffee production across the world, the rise of the “third wave” of coffee consumption in the developed world, the efforts of the Illy Company to help coffee growers, and the differences between “fair” trade and direct trade. Faculty have found the case provides a wide canvas to discuss supply chain issues, examine marketing practices, and encourage creative solutions to business problems. 

#2 - AXA: Creating New Corporate Responsibility Metrics

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort and David Bach

The case describes AXA’s corporate responsibility (CR) function. The company, a global leader in insurance and asset management, had distinguished itself in CR since formally establishing a CR unit in 2008. As the case opens, AXA’s CR unit is being moved from the marketing function to the strategy group occasioning a thorough review as to how CR should fit into AXA’s operations and strategy. Students are asked to identify CR issues of particular concern to the company, examine how addressing these issues would add value to the company, and then create metrics that would capture a business unit’s success or failure in addressing the concerns.

#3 - IBM Corporate Service Corps

Faculty Supervision: David Bach in cooperation with University of Ghana Business School and EGADE

The case considers IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC), a program that had become the largest pro bono consulting program in the world. The case describes the program’s triple-benefit: leadership training to the brightest young IBMers, brand recognition for IBM in emerging markets, and community improvement in the areas served by IBM’s host organizations. As the program entered its second decade in 2016, students are asked to consider how the program can be improved. The case allows faculty to lead a discussion about training, marketing in emerging economies, and various ways of providing social benefit. The case highlights the synergies as well as trade-offs between pursuing these triple benefits.

#4 - Cadbury: An Ethical Company Struggles to Insure the Integrity of Its Supply Chain

Faculty Supervision: Ira Millstein

The case describes revelations that the production of cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire involved child slave labor. These stories hit Cadbury especially hard. Cadbury's culture had been deeply rooted in the religious traditions of the company's founders, and the organization had paid close attention to the welfare of its workers and its sourcing practices. The US Congress was considering legislation that would allow chocolate grown on certified plantations to be labeled “slave labor free,” painting the rest of the industry in a bad light. Chocolate producers had asked for time to rectify the situation, but the extension they negotiated was running out. Students are asked whether Cadbury should join with the industry to lobby for more time?  What else could Cadbury do to ensure its supply chain was ethically managed?

#5 - 360 State Real Options

Faculty Supervision: Matthew Spiegel

In 2010 developer Bruce Becker (SOM ‘85) completed 360 State Street, a major new construction project in downtown New Haven. Just west of the apartment building, a 6,000-square-foot pocket of land from the original parcel remained undeveloped. Becker had a number of alternatives to consider in regards to the site. He also had no obligation to build. He could bide his time. But Becker worried about losing out on rents should he wait too long. Students are asked under what set of circumstances and at what time would it be most advantageous to proceed?

#6 - Design at Mayo

Faculty Supervision: Rodrigo Canales and William Drentell

The case describes how the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prominent hospitals in the world, engaged designers and built a research institute, the Center for Innovation (CFI), to study the processes of healthcare provision. The case documents the many incremental innovations the designers were able to implement and the way designers learned to interact with physicians and vice-versa.

In 2010 there were questions about how the CFI would achieve its stated aspiration of “transformational change” in the healthcare field. Students are asked what would a major change in health care delivery look like? How should the CFI's impact be measured? Were the center's structure and processes appropriate for transformational change? Faculty have found this a great case to discuss institutional obstacles to innovation, the importance of culture in organizational change efforts, and the differences in types of innovation.

This case is freely available to the public.

#7 - Ant Financial

Faculty Supervision: K. Sudhir in cooperation with Renmin University of China School of Business

In 2015, Ant Financial’s MYbank (an offshoot of Jack Ma’s Alibaba company) was looking to extend services to rural areas in China by providing small loans to farmers. Microloans have always been costly for financial institutions to offer to the unbanked (though important in development) but MYbank believed that fintech innovations such as using the internet to communicate with loan applicants and judge their credit worthiness would make the program sustainable. Students are asked whether MYbank could operate the program at scale? Would its big data and technical analysis provide an accurate measure of credit risk for loans to small customers? Could MYbank rely on its new credit-scoring system to reduce operating costs to make the program sustainable?

#8 - Business Leadership in South Africa’s 1994 Reforms

Faculty Supervision: Ian Shapiro

This case examines the role of business in South Africa's historic transition away from apartheid to popular sovereignty. The case provides a previously untold oral history of this key moment in world history, presenting extensive video interviews with business leaders who spearheaded behind-the-scenes negotiations between the African National Congress and the government. Faculty teaching the case have used the material to push students to consider business’s role in a divided society and ask: What factors led business leaders to act to push the country's future away from isolation toward a "high road" of participating in an increasingly globalized economy? What techniques and narratives did they use to keep the two sides talking and resolve the political impasse? And, if business leadership played an important role in the events in South Africa, could they take a similar role elsewhere?

#9 - Shake Shack IPO

Faculty Supervision: Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst

From an art project in a New York City park, Shake Shack developed a devoted fan base that greeted new Shake Shack locations with cheers and long lines. When Shake Shack went public on January 30, 2015, investors displayed a similar enthusiasm. Opening day investors bid up the $21 per share offering price by 118% to reach $45.90 at closing bell. By the end of May, investors were paying $92.86 per share. Students are asked if this price represented a realistic valuation of the enterprise and if not, what was Shake Shack truly worth? The case provides extensive information on Shake Shack’s marketing, competitors, operations and financials, allowing instructors to weave a wide variety of factors into a valuation of the company.

#10 - Searching for a Search Fund Structure

Faculty Supervision: AJ Wasserstein

This case considers how young entrepreneurs structure search funds to find businesses to take over. The case describes an MBA student who meets with a number of successful search fund entrepreneurs who have taken alternative routes to raising funds. The case considers the issues of partnering, soliciting funds vs. self-funding a search, and joining an incubator. The case provides a platform from which to discuss the pros and cons of various search fund structures.

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Find ethical case studies on leadership ethics, including scenarios for top management on issues such as downsizing and management responsibilities. (For permission to reprint articles, submit requests to  [email protected] .)

The importance of academic institutions in shaping the societal narrative is increasingly showcased by constant media exposure and continuous requests for social commentary. This case study outlines effective methodologies of leadership, ethics, and change management within an organization, for the purpose of motivating and engaging stakeholders to empathize with and carry out a shared directive.

Extensive teaching note based on interviews with Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz. The teaching note can be used to explore issues around whistleblowing, leadership, the blocks to ethical behavior inside organizations, and board governance.

Case study on the history making GameStop short and stock price surge that occurred during January 2021.

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Case study explores Kevin Johnson's response to an incident where two African Americans were asked to leave a Philadelphia Starbucks.

Three examples of CEOs whose leadership of their firm has been called into question over matters of their personal integrity and behavior.

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In many ways, WorldCom is just another case of failed corporate governance, accounting abuses, and outright greed.

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Change Management Case Study Examples: Lessons from Industry Giants

Explore some transformative journeys with efficient Change Management Case Study examples. Delve into case studies from Coca-Cola, Heinz, Intuit, and many more. Dive in to unearth the strategic wisdom and pivotal lessons gleaned from the experiences of these titans in the industry. Read to learn about and grasp the Change Management art!


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In the fast-paced world of business, staying ahead means being able to adapt. Have you ever wondered how some brands manage to thrive despite huge challenges? This blog dives into a collection of Change Management Case Studies, sharing wisdom from top companies that have faced and conquered adversity. These aren’t just stories; they’re success strategies.  

Each Change Management Case Study reveals the smart choices and creative fixes that helped companies navigate rough waters. How did they turn crises into chances to grow? What can we take away from their successes and mistakes? Keep reading to discover these inspiring stories and learn how they can reshape your approach to change in your own business. 

Table of Contents  

1) What is Change Management in Business? 

2) Top Examples of Case Studies on Change Management 

    a) Coca-Cola 

    b) Adobe 

    c) Heinz  

    d) Intuit  

    e) Kodak 

    f) Barclays Bank 

3) Conclusion

What is Change Management in Business?  

Change management in business refers to the structured process of planning, implementing, and managing changes within an organisation. It involves anticipating, navigating, and adapting to shifts in strategy, technology, processes, or culture to achieve desired outcomes and sustain competitiveness.  

Effective Change Management entails identifying the need for change, engaging stakeholders, communicating effectively, and mitigating resistance to ensure smooth transitions. By embracing Change Management principles, businesses can enhance agility, resilience, and innovation, driving growth and success in dynamic environments. 

Change Management Certification 

Top Examples of Case Studies on Change Management  

Let's explore some transformative journeys of industry leaders through compelling case studies on Change Management: 

1) Coca-Cola  

Coca-Cola, the beverage titan, acknowledged the necessity to evolve with consumer tastes, market shifts, and regulatory changes. The rise of health-conscious consumers prompted Coca-Cola to revamp its offerings and business approach. The company’s proactive Change Management centred on innovation and diversification, leading to the launch of healthier options like Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.  

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar 

Strategic alliances and acquisitions broadened Coca-Cola’s market reach and variety. Notably, Coca-Cola introduced eco-friendly packaging like the PlantBottle and championed sustainability in its marketing, bolstering its brand image. 

Acquire the expertise to facilitate smooth changes and propel your success forward – join our Change Management Practitioner Course now!  

2) Adobe  

Adobe, with its global workforce and significant revenue, faced a shift due to technological advancements and competitive pressures. In 2011, Adobe transitioned from physical software sales to cloud-based services, offering free downloads or subscriptions.  

This shift necessitated a transformation in Adobe’s HR practices, moving from traditional roles to a more human-centric approach, aligning with the company’s innovative and millennial-driven culture. 

3) Heinz  

Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital’s acquisition of Heinz led to immediate, sweeping changes. The new management implemented cost-cutting measures and altered executive perks.  

Products by Heinz

Additionally, it introduced a more insular leadership style, contrasting with 3G’s young, mobile, and bonus-driven executive team. 

Commence on a journey of transformative leadership and achieve measurable outcomes by joining our Change Management Foundation Course today!  

4) Intuit  

Steve Bennett’s leadership at Intuit marked a significant shift. Adopting the McKinsey 7S Model, he restructured the organisation to enhance decision-making, align rewards with strategy, and foster a performance-driven culture. His changes resulted in a notable increase in operating profits. 

5) Kodak  

Kodak, the pioneer of the first digital and megapixel cameras in 1975 and 1986, faced bankruptcy in 2012. Initially, digital technology was costly and had subpar image quality, leading Kodak to predict a decade before it threatened their traditional business. Despite this accurate forecast, Kodak focused on enhancing film quality rather than digital innovation.  

Kodak Megapixel Cameras

Dominating the market in 1976 and peaking with £12,52,16 billion in sales in 1999, Kodak’s reluctance to adopt new technology led to a decline, with revenues falling to £4,85,11,90 billion in 2011.  

Fujifilm Camera 

In contrast, Fuji, Kodak’s competitor, embraced digital transformation and diversified into new ventures. 

Empower your team to manage change effectively through our Managing Change With Agile Methodology Training – sign up now!  

6) Barclays Bank  

The financial sector, particularly hit by the 2008 mortgage crisis, saw Barclays Capital aiming for global leadership under Bob Diamond. However, the London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) scandal led to fines and resignations, prompting a strategic overhaul by new CEO Antony Jenkins in 2012.  

Changes included rebranding, refocusing on core markets, altering the business model away from high-risk lending, fostering a customer-centric culture, downsizing, and embracing technology for efficiency. These reforms aimed to strengthen Barclays, improve shareholder returns, and restore trust. 


The discussed Change Management Case Study examples serve as a testament to the transformative power of adept Change Management. Let these insights from industry leaders motivate and direct you as you navigate your organisation towards a path of continuous innovation and enduring prosperity. 

Enhance your team’s ability to manage uncertainty and achieve impactful results – sign up for our comprehensive Risk Management For Change Training now!  

Frequently Asked Questions

The five key elements of Change Management typically include communication, leadership, stakeholder engagement, training and development, and measurement and evaluation. These elements form the foundation for successfully navigating organisational change and ensuring its effectiveness. 

The seven steps of Change Management involve identifying the need for change, developing a Change Management plan, communicating the change vision, empowering employees, implementing change initiatives, celebrating milestones, and sustaining change through ongoing evaluation and adaptation. 

The Knowledge Academy takes global learning to new heights, offering over 30,000 online courses across 490+ locations in 220 countries. This expansive reach ensures accessibility and convenience for learners worldwide.  

Alongside our diverse Online Course Catalogue, encompassing 17 major categories, we go the extra mile by providing a plethora of free educational Online Resources like News updates, Blogs , videos, webinars, and interview questions. Tailoring learning experiences further, professionals can maximise value with customisable Course Bundles of TKA .

The Knowledge Academy’s Knowledge Pass , a prepaid voucher, adds another layer of flexibility, allowing course bookings over a 12-month period. Join us on a journey where education knows no bounds.  

The Knowledge Academy offers various Change Management Courses , including the Change Management Practitioner Course, Change Management Foundation Training, and Risk Management for Change Training. These courses cater to different skill levels, providing comprehensive insights into Change Management Metrics .   

Our Project Management Blogs cover a range of topics related to Change Management, offering valuable resources, best practices, and industry insights. Whether you are a beginner or looking to advance your Project Management skills, The Knowledge Academy's diverse courses and informative blogs have got you covered.  

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How Natural Winemaker Frank Cornelissen Innovated While Staying True to His Brand

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  • 31 Oct 2023

Checking Your Ethics: Would You Speak Up in These 3 Sticky Situations?

Would you complain about a client who verbally abuses their staff? Would you admit to cutting corners on your work? The answers aren't always clear, says David Fubini, who tackles tricky scenarios in a series of case studies and offers his advice from the field.

leadership in business case study

  • 12 Sep 2023

Can Remote Surgeries Digitally Transform Operating Rooms?

Launched in 2016, Proximie was a platform that enabled clinicians, proctors, and medical device company personnel to be virtually present in operating rooms, where they would use mixed reality and digital audio and visual tools to communicate with, mentor, assist, and observe those performing medical procedures. The goal was to improve patient outcomes. The company had grown quickly, and its technology had been used in tens of thousands of procedures in more than 50 countries and 500 hospitals. It had raised close to $50 million in equity financing and was now entering strategic partnerships to broaden its reach. Nadine Hachach-Haram, founder and CEO of Proximie, aspired for Proximie to become a platform that powered every operating room in the world, but she had to carefully consider the company’s partnership and data strategies in order to scale. What approach would position the company best for the next stage of growth? Harvard Business School associate professor Ariel Stern discusses creating value in health care through a digital transformation of operating rooms in her case, “Proximie: Using XR Technology to Create Borderless Operating Rooms.”

leadership in business case study

  • 28 Aug 2023

The Clock Is Ticking: 3 Ways to Manage Your Time Better

Life is short. Are you using your time wisely? Leslie Perlow, Arthur Brooks, and DJ DiDonna offer time management advice to help you work smarter and live happier.

leadership in business case study

  • 15 Aug 2023

Ryan Serhant: How to Manage Your Time for Happiness

Real estate entrepreneur, television star, husband, and father Ryan Serhant is incredibly busy and successful. He starts his days at 4:00 am and often doesn’t end them until 11:00 pm. But, it wasn’t always like that. In 2020, just a few months after the US began to shut down in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Serhant had time to reflect on his career as a real estate broker in New York City, wondering if the period of selling real estate at record highs was over. He considered whether he should stay at his current real estate brokerage or launch his own brokerage during a pandemic? Each option had very different implications for his time and flexibility. Professor Ashley Whillans and her co-author Hawken Lord (MBA 2023) discuss Serhant’s time management techniques and consider the lessons we can all learn about making time our most valuable commodity in the case, “Ryan Serhant: Time Management for Repeatable Success.”

leadership in business case study

  • 08 Aug 2023

The Rise of Employee Analytics: Productivity Dream or Micromanagement Nightmare?

"People analytics"—using employee data to make management decisions—could soon transform the workplace and hiring, but implementation will be critical, says Jeffrey Polzer. After all, do managers really need to know about employees' every keystroke?

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Teaching DEI Through Case Studies

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In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement took center stage across the United States. At the height of a devastating pandemic and in the wake of several high-profile murders of Black Americans by law enforcement and others, a diverse range of citizens took to the streets to protest systemic racism and the inhumane treatment of African Americans.

Through the lens of bystander Darnella Frazier’s smartphone camera, the world watched in horror as George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer on a street in Minneapolis. On May 25, 2020, officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds as Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe. His death, along with those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery a few months earlier, sparked international protests and drew intense scrutiny about how African Americans are treated by the police, the criminal justice system, and their fellow citizens.

The protests of 2020 prompted many companies, organizations, and educational systems to express their public support of the BLM movement and commit to the goal of achieving racial equity and social justice. While for many companies this was likely a fleeting PR move, others announced that they were taking a hard look at their own systemic issues. Business leaders at companies in many industries began the challenging but necessary work of exposing and addressing the deep biases that have been hardwired into their organizations. The Quaker Oats Company, for example, announced its discontinuation of the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima breakfast foods brand, which had been inspired by a minstrel show song and had long perpetuated a Black stereotype.

Many businesses responded by not only committing to increasing diversity within their workforces, but also examining their supply chains and external partners. Target Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, pledged to “…work with diverse suppliers that are at least 51 percent owned, controlled, and operated by women; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; LGBTQ+; veterans or persons with disabilities.” In 2020, U.S. Bank committed to “doubling its Black-owned suppliers within the next 12 months.”

Further, because of the BLM movement, many major companies are recruiting from historically black colleges and universities more than ever before. Morgan State University in Baltimore reports that its online job portal saw a “263 percent increase in employer logins between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, with major companies like Apple, Bank of America, and Estée Lauder reaching out for the first time ever.”

The Growing Diversity of the Student Body

Against this backdrop of the fight for racial equity and social justice, the U.S. is undergoing a significant change in demographics. In a recent article , The Washington Post shared the following conclusions from newly released 2020 census data:

“The country … passed two more milestones on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in the coming decades: For the first time, the portion of White people dipped below 60 percent, slipping from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 57.8 percent in 2020. And the under-18 population is now majority people of color, at 52.7 percent.”

These statistics apply to our students as well as our future leaders and labor force. Businesses and those in the business of educating students for a future of fulfilling work must respond in kind to a changing college campus. Some schools already are, as shown by these recent examples:

  • The University of California system announced that for the incoming 2021 class, “underrepresented students will comprise 43 percent of the new admits, with Latinx students making up 37 percent and the number of Black students being admitted increasing by 15.6 percent.”
  • In July, the Governing Board of California Community Colleges (CCC) announced its approval of two new requirements, including one adding ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for students seeking associate’s degrees and another mandating that CCC schools incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism into their employment procedures.
  • Purdue University has created a new Equity Task Force and has committed more than 75 million USD over five years to support Black students. Purdue states that the “goals of the task force are split into three categories that will measure success in making Purdue a better place for Black students, faculty, and staff: Representation, Experience, and Success.”

DEI in the Curriculum

Universities and college campuses have long been at the forefront of a range of social justice movements, codifying these movements into academic programs such as Black studies, women’s studies, disability studies, queer studies, and more. But there remains much work to be done, including in the integration of DEI content into our curricula. As educators, publishers, and academics who create scholarly content, we are all responsible for taking a close look at how we approach teaching the lessons of diversity. We must build and use curricular tools that reflect the world our students will enter and their experiences within it.

We need more case studies in our classrooms that are written by authors from a range of backgrounds and perspectives—not just by those who represent predominately white, privileged, Western viewpoints.

The traditional case study is one such tool we can use to support DEI and the changing face of business. That said, the case study, long a stalwart in business and management education, is ripe for reinvention where DEI is concerned. It’s true that case studies can expose students to the challenges of a wide variety of organizations, from global publicly traded entities to local startups to social enterprises. But it’s just as essential that cases expose students to a range of perspectives and reflect the myriad backgrounds—cultural and economical—of those who work within the featured organizations.

Moreover, the importance of DEI in case studies extends beyond their subject matter to their authorship. We need more case studies in our classrooms that are written by authors from a range of backgrounds and perspectives—not just by those who represent predominately white, privileged, Western viewpoints.

Fortunately, case studies can be developed far more quickly than textbooks or even mass market book titles. Their short format means that professors can use them not only to keep content fresh and current for students, but also to better capture the shifting nature of businesses and the people who help them thrive. Cases also can show real-time examples of companies undergoing successful evolutions in their DEI initiatives, as well as companies that still have a long way to go.

By looking at business through a DEI lens, students can better see the reality of our economic landscape. They can truly connect to, and see themselves in, today’s business environment.

Building a Modern Case Collection

Our SAGE Business Cases collection is a testament to SAGE’s dedication to prioritizing cases that represent a broad and inclusive range of backgrounds and perspectives from around the world. SAGE is committed to developing cases around emerging and underserved topics that accurately reflect the diversity and shifting priorities of the global business landscape, as well as the experiences of those who work within it.

For example, in 2021 we launched a new case series called Immigrant Entrepreneurs . This groundbreaking series is edited by Bala Mulloth, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Virginia and himself an immigrant entrepreneur. It features the stories of founders who started businesses outside their countries of origin.

While there has been a spike of interest in case studies that feature protagonists of a variety of backgrounds, we have also seen a rise of nativist politics across countries and cultures. Part of our vision for this series is to combat the damaging and false political narrative that immigrants harm economies. We want to defuse that narrative with positive and inspiring examples of the value immigrants add to communities around the world.

Our SAGE Business Cases platform enables us to quickly publish brief, news-driven cases. Faculty and students can quickly employ the offerings in our Express Case series for classroom or online discussion. Examples include:

  • How Will BLM Change Corporate Activism?
  • Analyzing Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine PR Strategy

We also offer longer-form cases in our SAGE Originals collection, such as the following:

  • Woke-Washing: The Promise and Risk of Linking Branding With Politics
  • Policing the Police: Privatization as a Means of Oversight
  • Organizational Responses to Athlete Activism Post-Kaepernick: An Exercise in Decision-Making
  • Nike and the Balancing Act Between Social Justice and Selling Products

Tools That Reflect the Reality of Business

For its part, AACSB has shown its deep commitment to diversity and inclusion in its 2020 business accreditation standards , in which it embeds ideals related to diversity and inclusion in six out of nine standards, compared to six out of 15 in the 2013 standards. To align with this commitment, our curricular tools must reflect the varied reality of those engaged in the global business environment, no matter their locations, roles, organization types, gender, race, age, religion, sexuality, or disability status.

As educators, publishers, and business school administrators, we have a responsibility to provide all students with not only access and opportunity, but also exposure to a wide range of perspectives. By exposing them to the true, diverse nature of business, we can prepare them for the world today and enable them to change it for the better.

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Disruptive Technologies Case Studies for Business Leaders

Disruptive Technologies Case Studies for Business Leaders

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Instructor: Haiyan Wang

Google’s CEO has called AI more profound than fire or electricity. We are in the middle of a technology revolution. Today’s digital technologies are emerging at far greater speed and with far greater impact than any other development in history. So, as a business leader, how do you keep up and make informed decisions? In this course, Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang explain some of today’s most powerful disruptive technologies and how organizations are harnessing that power to benefit society. In addition to artificial intelligence, learn about robotics, internet of things, digital twins, and 3D printing. Explore the influence of these developments, as well as ideas on implementing these developments into your own organization. Join Anil and Haiyan on this exciting exploration.

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Business school teaching case study: executive pay and shareholder democracy

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Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.

This is the latest in an FT series of mini case studies on business dilemmas, for exploration in the classroom and beyond. Read the argument and then consider the questions raised in the box below

Across the western world, big pay rises for chief executives have triggered shareholder dissent.

In May, aerospace group Boeing’s outgoing chief executive David Calhoun was awarded a pay rise of 45 per cent to $32.8mn despite shareholder opposition, following a series of recent incidents and accidents .

In March, the board of pharma giant AstraZeneca proposed to pay chief executive Pascal Soriot £18.7mn. Two proxy advisers called the package “ excessive ”, but one major shareholder argued Soriot was “ massively underpaid ” and the package was approved. Also in March, a proposed increase to the fixed salary part of Banco Santander executive chair Ana Bótin’s package drew fire from adviser ISS.

These debates about executive pay, on both sides of the Atlantic, raise questions about the checks and balances on remuneration.

ISS research found that chief executive officers’ pay went up by 9 per cent in the US in the first part of 2024, even when company performance went down. And, in response to a widening pay gap between US CEOs and their European counterparts, many FTSE 100 companies have also proposed significant pay rises this year.

To retain senior executives, the chair of UK-based medical devices maker Smith & Nephew argued it was necessary to raise pay for US executives working at “Brilo” companies: “ British in listing only ”. The head of the London Stock Exchange Group even called on investors to support higher executive pay , to prevent UK-based companies that generate only a “ fraction of their revenue in the UK ” relocating to the US.

Research on the effects of CEO pay on performance is extensive but many questions remain. Some work suggests that long-term stock options most effectively align incentives between shareholders and executives, and that large differences between senior and junior employees may be associated with higher long-term profitability. Other studies warn that high pay and large differentials may undermine the extrinsic motivation of top executives and hurt employee morale.

Executive pay is subject to a company’s governance. In line with the OECD’s principles of corporate governance , the board of directors establishes a remuneration committee, which proposes the components and level of the CEO’s and executive team’s remuneration. Ultimately, shareholders vote on this proposal at the company’s annual general meeting.

Occasionally, a board of directors is criticised for not having done its work properly. In January, the Delaware Court of Chancery turned down a $55.8bn pay deal proposed by the Tesla board for Elon Musk. The judge said the board behaved “like supine servants of an overweening master” and the chair’s objectivity had been compromised by “ life-changing ” sums of money she received when selling Tesla shares worth $280mn in 2021 and 2022. Musk replied that Tesla should move its headquarters from Delaware to Texas.

In theory, when the board fails, shareholder democracy should kick in. But it is rare for an AGM to vote down a remuneration package. One exception was in May 2023, when Unilever shareholders rejected a base salary increase for Hein Schumacher, the incoming CEO.

Sometimes, a large minority will vote against a pay proposal, as happened with the €36.5mn package put forward for carmaker Stellantis’ CEO, Carlos Tavares , in April. However, while such signs of dissent may be embarrassing, they rarely change the outcome.

There are concerns, therefore, that shareholder democracy is not functioning properly.

One explanation for this is that an increasing percentage of shares is owned by passive investors such as BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street. They act on behalf of other financial actors, such as pension funds, but rarely voice opinions on CEO pay. In 2020, BlackRock, the world’s largest passive investor, announced that, by the year-end, “all active portfolios and advisory strategies will be fully ESG integrated” — raising hopes among activists that executive pay would be linked to environment, social and governance standards. But the recent anti-ESG backlash has left some boards uncertain if, and how, to link remuneration to sustainability goals .

A second explanation, as at AstraZeneca and Banco Santander, is that proxy advisers play a growing role. Many institutional investors delegate their voting rights to these specialists. The two largest of them — ISS and Glass Lewis — control most of the proxy advisory market and state opinions on a growing variety of issues . As a result, board members increasingly complain about the influence on pay that these advisers have.

To many critics, then, shareholder democracy is failing in arbitrating on fair executive pay.

Questions for discussion

In your view, has CEO pay become excessive?

Should European CEO pay follow the levels set by US companies?

How credible is the risk that European companies will move their head office to another state or country? How damaging would this be to the original state or country?

How do you evaluate the growing role of passive investors in a corporate governance context?

Have proxy advisers become too powerful?

Should executive pay be based more on ESG criteria?

In your opinion, is shareholder democracy failing us when it comes to executive pay? Why (not)? If so, what should be done to improve it?

Should executive pay be capped? What would be the benefits? What would be the cost?

Read more FT ‘instant caselets’ at ft.com/business-school

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How CEOs Build Confidence in Their Leadership

  • Claudius A. Hildebrand,
  • Jason Baumgarten,
  • Mahesh Madhavan

leadership in business case study

Believing the conventional wisdom that they have roughly 90 days to prove themselves, many new CEOs get into trouble by launching bold initiatives before they’ve won the support and trust they need to effect change. According to a study of nearly 1,400 CEOs, earning people’s confidence actually takes two years. But leaders who focus methodically on gaining it can generate remarkable increases in company value. Drawing on their research and experience, the authors advise incoming CEOs to adopt a patient approach by setting a deliberate pace, picking battles strategically, and engaging stakeholders when the time is right.

It takes longer than you think, but patience pays surprising dividends.

New CEOs frequently face a conundrum. While the people around them publicly express high hopes for what they’ll be able to achieve, in private those same people are skeptical. As a result many new CEOs underestimate how much work it takes to build confidence in their leadership—something that’s crucial to their ability to effectively drive change. Buoyed by outward expressions of support and eager to make their mark, they steam ahead with bold new initiatives before they’ve won the full support and trust of all stakeholders—and that gets them into trouble.

Everybody focuses on what the new boss needs to do. But what the departing one does can make all the difference.

  • Claudius A. Hildebrand is a member of Spencer Stuart’s CEO practice and coauthor of The Life Cycle of a CEO: The Myths and Truths of How Leaders Succeed (PublicAffairs, forthcoming 2024).
  • Jason Baumgarten is the head of Spencer Stuart’s global CEO and boards practice.
  • Mahesh Madhavan is the CEO of Bacardi, the Bermuda-based spirits company.

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    According to a study of nearly 1,400 CEOs, earning people's confidence actually takes two years. But leaders who focus methodically on gaining it can generate remarkable increases in company value.

  30. Quiz & Worksheet

    Take a quick interactive quiz on the concepts in Inclusive Leadership | Theory & Practice or print the worksheet to practice offline. These practice questions will help you master the material and ...