Marianne Matthee, Amy Moore, and Anthony Wilson-Prangley from the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria in Sandton, South Africa are the winners of the 2022 Fox International Business Case Writing Competition.
Led by the Fox School’s Translational Research Center, the case competition aimed to increase the quantity and quality of international business-focused teaching cases. Undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of backgrounds study in business schools around the world. Despite this diversity of students, the teaching cases from which they learn often include executive protagonists from a small sliver of the population. This lack of representation can impact student learning, students’ ability to relate to the content and the effectiveness of the material.
The 2022 Fox International Business Case Writing Competition sought to close this learning gap by helping authors create teaching case material focused on business cases that involve diverse protagonists from marginalized backgrounds (including but not limited to: race, gender, ethnicity, religion and ability). The competition invited authors from different fields to create business cases with primary protagonists from these underrepresented groups.
The top three winning submissions receive monetary prizes as well as a review for possible publication by Ivey Publishing.
Twenty-one teams, consisting of researchers and professionals from across the globe, entered the case competition this year. The competition was co-sponsored by Ivey Publishing, the Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, and the Temple Center for International Business Education and Research.
Matthee, Moore, and Wilson-Prangley were announced as the first-place winners on Dec. 5.
For their study, “Sasol's Just Transition: Balancing Stakeholder Perspectives to Leave No One Behind” Matthee and co-authors Moore and Wilson-Prangley wanted to create a case that would help students explore the implications for a just energy transition in a developing country, and the variety of considerations for different stakeholder perspectives and needs.
Explaining the background of the study, Moore says, “The case highlights how Sasol, an international energy company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, played a significant role in the South African economy and was significantly invested locally in the production of gas from coal. South Africa, having ratified the Paris Agreement, was committed to addressing the challenge of climate change, but needed to do so amidst a myriad of socio-economic challenges, making a just energy transition complex.”
In addition to understanding the social and political considerations for stakeholders, the case aims to give students the tools they need to interpret net zero strategy statements and targets, identify both market and non-market stakeholders as well as have a clear sense of key elements needed to begin engaging with non-market stakeholders.
Second place in the competition ended in a tie. The winners were Joel Bothello of the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University and Andrew Charman and Leif Petersen of Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation as well as Sheri Lambert and Neha Mittal of the Fox School of Business and Ashley Vestergren of Stitchwheel.
Bothello, Charman and Petersen also focused on overseas business ventures with their case study, “Mattera Motors: How a South African necessity entrepreneur handles poverty and marginalization.” The case discusses how a marginalized, impoverished entrepreneur named Giovanni Mattera built a successful auto repair shop in the township of Delft in Cape Town, withstanding the challenges of gangsterism, violence, corruption and ethnic tension.
The primary objectives, from Bothello’s perspective, are for students to “first of all, understand the external environment, specifically as it pertains to the unique risks and challenges entrepreneurs face when operating as necessity entrepreneurs. Second, they are to Identify the resources (especially intangible resources) that an entrepreneur can use to overcome the obstacles in highly uncertain operating environments. Third, identify to what extent those resources allow for firm stability, and whether they may be compromised by strategies such as growth or diversification. Lastly, they are to evaluate which resources are specific to the entrepreneur him/herself, and which are related to the firm (and hence can be passed down).”
With their case “Stitchwheel: How Can a Unique Start-Up Move to a Sustainable Business?" Lambert and Mittal decided to research a business in the Bermuda islands in Northern Atlantic ocean.
“Stitchwheel, a needlepoint canvas painting studio, had seen immediate success,” says Lambert. “But 18 months after its inception, Stitchwheel was assessing the viability to expand beyond painted needlepoint canvases to achieve substantial growth. In a short timeframe, the company enjoyed strong brand recognition and offered a meaningful USP, but there were still many questions about the company's next steps, including which growth strategy would be the most suitable for Stitchwheel. Did the company have the necessary resources and skilled management team to adequately monitor and support growth? What marketing and operational issues was the company likely to encounter with expansion? Most importantly, did Stitchwheel have the required skills to effectively manage the expansion?”
This case gives students an opportunity to dive deep in the world of supply chain management, with learning objectives such as understanding common operational/supply-chain issues that occur when a business diversifies and expands into new territories and analyzing a company’s key success factors and challenges to determine if the business is suitable for expansion. Students would also discuss the importance of developing strategic partnerships to grow a business and recognize the growth potential for a business when it expands beyond the B2B (business-to-business) market into the B2C market (retail).