Do(n’t) get on my case

By Rishika Jain

Aug. 23, 2022

Across higher education, nearly all professors are focused on one key challenge: struggling to help students engage in class.  

Faculty at schools and colleges across the country have witnessed low attendance, limited participation and quieter (Zoom or in-person) classrooms. While exacerbated during the pandemic, as students return to the physical classroom in larger numbers, engagement is still lower than it has been in years.  

So how do teachers increase student engagement?  

Neha Mittal, associate professor of statistics, operations and data science at the Fox School, says, “The case study method of teaching is an effective way to enable active engagement from students.” 

The case study method is a discussion-based way of learning where students solve real-world problems by engaging in critical thinking, communication and group dynamics. 

This method of instruction is old but effective. One study found that the case study method improves student performance and enhances the development of written and oral communication skills in students. 

The introduction of case-based competitions at schools and case study interviews at jobs further pushed more and more institutions and professors to adopt this type of teaching in their curricula.  

Mittal, an accomplished case writer who recently won the “Responsible Business” category of the 2021 EFMD Case Writing Competition, outlines a list of cases by the Fox School’s faculty that have served as an effective learning tool over the years. 

Opera Philadelphia: Segmentation Strategies for Changing Markets

By Jean Wilcox and Dennis Paris, assistant professors of marketing; Sheri Lambert, associate professor of marketing; and Amy Lavin, associate professor of management information systems

Short Summary: When Opera Philadelphia experienced a steep decline in household subscribers and single-ticket buyers, the general director’s critical objective for the Opera was to develop a fresh strategy that specifically targeted evolving tastes for opera performance in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. 

Learning Objective: This case is suitable for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses because it emphasizes the value of understanding the customer. It includes topics such as marketing analysis and strategy, marketing management and consumer and buyer behavior. 

Chick-fil-A: International Expansion Challenges

By Bertrand Guillotin, associate professor of management 

Short summary: Although Chick-fil-A became the third largest fast-food chain in the U.S. in 2018, a public relations controversy over the company’s conservative Christian values still dogged the company’s expansion attempts in 2019. How should the company address the backlash from supporters of LGBTQ rights and ensure the success of Chick-fil-A abroad?  

Learning Objective: This case is suitable for students in undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on global strategy, strategic management, leadership, public relations (PR) management or international marketing. 

Tender Greens: Can They Keep the ‘Green’ Promise in Beef Sourcing?

By Neha Mittal, associate professor of statistics, operations and data science, and Marilyn Anthony, adjunct professor of management

Short summary: Tender Greens is looking to expand its operations to the East Coast. As the expansion plans grew closer, the CEO began to address the foreseeable supply chain issues that his company would face with the next level of expansion. The CEO is faced with a dilemma: should the company continue to pay a premium price for sustainably sourced beef, or should it switch to conventionally raised beef to boost profit margins and improve the company’s prospects for national growth? 

Learning Objective: This case can be used in undergraduate-, graduate and executive-level courses on supply chain management, strategic management, social entrepreneurship, ethics and corporate social responsibility, and operations management. 

The Plastilene Group: Sustainable Innovation Strategy

By Michael Rivera, associate professor of management

Short summary: The corporate purchasing and sustainability manager of a plastics producer needs to address sustainability challenges in response to media and legislative attacks and consumer behavior changes regarding the use of plastic products globally. How can the company management enhance not only the sustainable innovation strategy within the organization’s structure but also its spirit of corporate entrepreneurship and innovation? 

Learning Objective: This case is suitable for graduate-level innovation and entrepreneurship management, sustainability or environmental engineering courses. 

These cases make up only a handful of cases published by many other professors at the Fox School.  

Mittal says, “Case studies are important learning tools for students and provide a distinctive opportunity for students to learn from examples.” 

Sheri Lambert, a coauthor of the Opera Philadelphia case and associate professor of marketing, explains that she incorporates casework in 100% of her classes.  

“Case learning happens in a non-threatening space,” she says. “There is no right or wrong answer, so it is a very non-threatening environment to analyze problems and come up with solutions.” 

The Fox School is currently hosting a case writing competition focused on increasing cases with diverse protagonists at the helm. The 2022 Fox International Business Case Competition encourages authors to create business cases that involve business leaders from marginalized backgrounds and underrepresented groups—including but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, religion and ability.  

The competition is co-sponsored by the Fox School’s Translational Research Center, Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture, Temple Center for International Business Education and Research, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute and Ivey Publishing. Submissions are due Oct. 3.