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ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-421-0191-1
Bianca Schmitz, Ulf Schäfer
Subject(s)
Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s)
Culture, organizational culture, organizational structure and design, leadership styles
At the end of 2008, the founder and employees of MEG - an insurance brokerage firm active in the market since 2003 - were looking forward to a promising future. Having achieved sales of €33 million in 2007 and just short of €54 million in 2008, the company was aiming to hit the €100 million mark in the next financial year. Within a very short time, the firm founded by Mehmet E. Göker as “insurance specialists” had established itself as the second-most successful insurance broker in Germany. Its rapid rise to the top was thanks to a business model that consistently identified and supported customers interested in insurance products - and also thanks to a particular corporate culture at MEG.
Key teaching/learning objectives:
- Introduction to corporate culture
- What is a corporate culture?
- How to establish and change corporate culture?

ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-421-0190-1
Urs Müller, Ulf Schäfer, Nora Grasselli
Subject(s)
Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s)
Initiating change, implementing change, change management, communication of change, lateral change, leading change from the middle, influencing, persuading, stakeholder management, power and politics in organizations, change in a global matrix organization, digital strategy, Generation Y
Lea Block has tried to initiate digital transformation at Seuzach AG, a large global provider of medical devices for the health care industry. As marketing director, she has identified major shifts in German health care that demand that Seuzach changes its ways of approaching customers. Instead of targeting the specific needs of doctors in hospitals, Seuzach should rather address the new decision makers: the CEOs, CFOs, or CIOs of hospitals, who have a different buying logic. Seuzach should also leap into the future players in the industry through the application of digital innovations which allow for data driven, cloud-based digital services and business models that integrate data across the whole product range. In Seuzach's matrix organization (global product responsibility, supported by regional sales) Lea wants to convince the heads of marketing for the different product businesses to change. She seems to be able to quickly convince her colleagues of what she calls 'digital C-level marketing.' However, as soon as work is supposed to start, she realizes that commitments were less strong than she assumed. A few weeks later, Lea is clearly told that there will be no support for her. The short case study is set when Lea realizes the failure of her digital transformation initiative.
The case discussion allows analyzing and discussing various mistakes in the areas of: (1) defining an attractive vision and strategy; (2) reading and playing the organizational culture, power and politics; (3) leading from a peer-position, with a diversity profile (gender and age); (4) communicating a digital transformation initiative successfully; and (5) managing the stakeholders.

Key teaching/learning objectives:
(1) defining an attractive vision and strategy for a digital transformation initiative
(2) reading and playing the organizational culture, power and politics
(3) leading from a peer-position, with a diversity profile (gender and age)
(4) communicating a digital transformation initiative successfully
(5) managing stakeholders
This case is an update of the case Anna Frisch at Aesch AG: Initiating lateral change, a sanitized case that was set in 2007, in response to demands from students to have more up-to-date case as a basis for classroom discussions. As compared to the original case, this case provides an update of the developments in the German healthcare sector and puts stronger emphasis on the technology-related aspects of the proposed changes.

ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-820-0186-1
Nagola Re
Jens Weinmann, Martin Kupp, Hans Rüdiger Lange (2020)
Subject(s)
Entrepreneurship; Ethics and social responsibility; Health and environment
Keyword(s)
Ecosystems, environmental protection, economic development, family businesses, small & medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, entrepreneurs, green marketing, green business, business-to-business, sales strategy, business model innovation, business plans, product change
The case “Wild Herbs Grow Tall – Mastering Structural Change in Lusatia” describes how entrepreneur Christina Grätz carves out a niche in the re-cultivation of landscapes in post-mining areas in her native region of Lusatia in Eastern Germany. After having established a thriving B2B business with wild herbs, she explores the possibility of entering the B2C market with a new business line. After several iterations and pivoting, she and her partners set up an online platform for direct web-based sales of organic herbal salts. However, the new company shows a lackluster performance – potentially due to the lack of experience in the online B2B marketing strategy.
Key teaching/learning objectives:

The case illustrates how it is possible for a new business to emerge against the backdrop of macroeconomic decline and structural changes in the economy. It provides insights on the complex endeavor by a fledgling company to transit from the B2B to the B2C market. The case details up-to-date methodologies for classroom discussions, including Saras Sarawathi's effectuation, Jake Knapp's Google Design Sprint, as well as the basic principles of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup.
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ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-820-0187-1
Lusiza
Jens Weinmann, Martin Kupp, Hans Rüdiger Lange (2020)
Subject(s)
Entrepreneurship; Ethics and social responsibility; Health and environment
Keyword(s)
Ecosystems, environmental protection, economic development, family businesses, small & medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, entrepreneurs, green marketing, green business, business-to-business, sales strategy, business model innovation, business plans, product change
The case “Wild Herbs Grow Tall – Mastering Structural Change in Lusatia” describes how entrepreneur Christina Grätz carves out a niche in the re-cultivation of landscapes in post-mining areas in her native region of Lusatia in Eastern Germany. After having established a thriving B2B business with wild herbs, she explores the possibility of entering the B2C market with a new business line. After several iterations and pivoting, she and her partners set up an online platform for direct web-based sales of organic herbal salts. However, the new company shows a lackluster performance – potentially due to the lack of experience in the online B2B marketing strategy.
Key teaching/learning objectives:

The case illustrates how it is possible for a new business to emerge against the backdrop of macroeconomic decline and structural changes in the economy. It provides insights on the complex endeavor by a fledgling company to transit from the B2B to the B2C market. The case details up-to-date methodologies for classroom discussions, including Saras Sarawathi's effectuation, Jake Knapp's Google Design Sprint, as well as the basic principles of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup.
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ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-420-0188-1
Christian Röttjer, Konstantin Korotov (2020)
Subject(s)
Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s)
Perception, communication, leadership, digital transformation, change management
This compact case describes an incident between an aspiring manager and an employee, related to an interpretation of expected engagement of the latter in a planned Agile Boot Camp—an event designed to bolster the transfer of the organization towards new ways of working. Alexander, the main case protagonist, overhears Victor, his employee, say that he will take only a passive part in the event since it is classified by Human Resources (HR) as training, and not as a workshop, in terms of how working time for such an activity is accounted for. Alexander, for whom the Boot Camp is very important, feels the urge to engage in the conversation (which he does in part B of the case).
Key teaching/learning objectives
1. Explore the influence of perception, cognitive dissonance, and communication on employee choices
2. Explore students' reactions to situations where their authority and intent are challenged (overtly or covertly)
3. Discuss resistance and reluctance to change
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ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-420-0189-1
Christian Röttjer, Konstantin Korotov (2020)
Subject(s)
Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s)
Perception, communication, leadership, digital transformation, change management
This compact case describes an incident between an aspiring manager and an employee, related to an interpretation of expected engagement of the latter in a planned Agile Boot Camp—an event designed to bolster the transfer of the organization towards new ways of working. Alexander, the main case protagonist, overhears Victor, his employee, say that he will take only a passive part in the event since it is classified by Human Resources (HR) as training, and not as a workshop, in terms of how working time for such an activity is accounted for. Alexander, for whom the Boot Camp is very important, feels the urge to engage in the conversation (which he does in part B of the case).
Key teaching/learning objectives
1. Explore the influence of perception, cognitive dissonance, and communication on employee choices
2. Explore students' reactions to situations where their authority and intent are challenged (overtly or covertly)
3. Discuss resistance and reluctance to change
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ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-319-0185-1
Bianca Schmitz, Olaf Plötner, Johannes Habel (2020)
Subject(s)
Strategy and general management
Keyword(s)
Corporate strategy, crisis management (internally), market analysis, performance evaluation of business units, strategic change management, hidden champions

Basler is one of those lesser-known midsize companies (the so-called hidden champions), which, despite their moderate scale of operation, enjoy worldwide leadership in several niche markets. Basler primarily comprises two business segments: one, quality control systems for industrial goods production; and, two, cameras for diverse industries. The 2008/2009 global financial crisis, however, spelled trouble for Basler. With the company’s very survival at stake, Basler’s CEO had to make a strategic decision, namely, cut back on critical resources (human, financial, and material); this would include slashing as many as 50 jobs, which represented a fifth of its workforce. While so doing, some key questions remained unanswered in his mind:


  • In which of the company's two business segments should he reduce resources and cut those 50 jobs?

  • At the same time, regardless of the financial crisis, in which area, if any, should he consider investing resources in order to drive the company’s growth in the next 5- 10 years?

The case study provides the student with the crucial inputs required to answer the above questions convincingly. To arrive at an optimal solution, the student would need to think through the various options before the CEO during one of the worst financial crises in global history and weigh up their pros and cons.

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Case
Independently published No. 520-0003-1
Christoph Burger, Johannes Habel (2020)
Subject(s)
Marketing
Keyword(s)
Analytics, predictive analytics, decision making, lead management, sales, sales management, logistic regression, data science, machine learning
This is part of a case series. ZachSoft is a UK-based provider of software solutions. In its B2B software solutions business, ZachSoft had posted appreciable growth for 10 years in a row, but over the last five years, growth has stagnated. With increased competition and cost pressures on customers, the success rate of pitches had declined. Could a forecasting tool identifying key drivers of pitch success help ZachSoft enter a phase of growth again? Amy, in charge of the unit B2B software solutions at ZachSoft, had hired Phil, a young data analyst to set up a model and decided to implement it. While case A deals with the setup of the model, case B puts the learners in the situation of Fred, trying to apply the model in his pitch situation.
This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.
Case
Independently published No. 520-0003-1B
Christoph Burger, Johannes Habel (2020)
Subject(s)
Marketing
Keyword(s)
Analytics, predictive analytics, decision making, lead management, sales, sales management, logistic regression, data science, machine learning
This is part of a case series. ZachSoft is a UK-based provider of software solutions. In its B2B software solutions business, ZachSoft had posted appreciable growth for 10 years in a row, but over the last five years, growth has stagnated. With increased competition and cost pressures on customers, the success rate of pitches had declined. Could a forecasting tool identifying key drivers of pitch success help ZachSoft enter a phase of growth again? Amy, in charge of the unit B2B software solutions at ZachSoft, had hired Phil, a young data analyst to set up a model and decided to implement it. While case A deals with the setup of the model, case B puts the learners in the situation of Fred, trying to apply the model in his pitch situation.
This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.
ESMT Case Study
ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-719-0184-1
Urs Müller (2019)
Subject(s)
Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s)
Organizational behavior, business ethics, leadership, power and influence, values-based leadership, authority, managing uncertainty, contracts
In April 1520, Gaspar de Quesada and other Spanish Captains mutinied against their Portuguese admiral Ferdinand Magellan. After being retired by the Portuguese King, Magellan approached the Spanish King, Charles I, claiming to know a passage through the newly found continent to South-East-Asia. The king promised Magellan significant personal gain and full authority over an armada of five ships. When leaving Spain in 1519, Magellan did not reveal the details of his plans to the mostly Spanish captains of the other ships, but rather ordered them to just follow his boat. A minor signal of disobedience by Magellan’s deputy was met with immediate force and the expedition continued until Magellan ordered to stay in a natural harbor during Winter season and drastically rationed supplies. The case study describes a meeting between the Spanish Captains under the command of Gaspar de Quesada during which they debate their options, namely a mutiny to get control of the largest ship, San Antonio.
Using a historical case and setting, the case allows to discuss multiple issues of contemporary interest in the domains of leadership and (business) ethics, namely loyalty, authority, power, (dis-)obedience, psychological contracts (and their violations), organizational success, and triple bottom line thinking.
    The overall learning objectives include discussing and understanding:
  • the role of power and authority for leadership behaviors—including their respective benefits and potential drawbacks,

  • the particular leadership challenges and behaviors when acting in VUCA settings, and

  • the importance and limitations of loyalty, obedience and followership—including the potential need to demonstrate (or react to) different forms of disobedience (incl. mutiny).


    In particular, the immediate issues that can be addressed by using the case are:
  • Mutiny at the workplace:

    • As a subordinate: When, why and how to do it?

    • As a superior: How to react to it?

  • (Dis-)obedience and authority (in professional settings)


    The subsequent case discussion will then also allow addressing the following underlying issues:
  • Authority and power

  • Achieving follower buy-in

  • Leadership in a VUCA world

  • Loyalty (esp. from a middle-management perspective)

  • Giving voice to values

  • Psychological contract violations


    Dependent upon the educational objectives of the instructor, the case can also be used to address the following additional/alternative underlying issues:
  • Triple bottom line

  • Stakeholder management

  • Cross-cultural differences

  • Law versus ethics

  • Normative ethical theories
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