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Publications

ESMT Berlin publishes in international academic journals, which are first-class in their respective fields. Research also provides cutting-edge and profound insights for the business community as well as the classroom through managerial publications and case studies. This rare integration of research and practice makes ESMT Berlin an outstanding location for generating relevant and ground-breaking knowledge.

ESMT Case Study
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Alana Robertson at Munchia

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-418-0182-1
Nina Ann Walters, Konstantin Korotov (2018)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Personality, person-organization fit, cross-cultural adjustment, MBTI, expatriate assignment, emotions, work-life balance

The case tells a story of young European female manager joining a start-up operating in South-East Asia and facing challenges in adjusting to the work and life in a new environment. The protagonist finds it difficult to cope with a work situation where self-imposed expectations of excellence are difficult to achieve and with a life situation where social support is missing. The case culminates in the protagonist’s breakdown in an office meeting due to perceived failure to deliver on work tasks and to meet the expectations of the boss she respects and admires.

Teaching note Yes
Length 7p
Industry Startup
Geographical setting Southeast Asia
Size 150
Setting period 2015
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ESMT Case Study

Leadership under high pressure

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-318-0178-1
Jan U. Hagen (2018)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Leadership, crisis management, decision making, team interaction

When managers are confronted with a corporate crisis, such as the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil exploration platform, they have to operate under conditions that differ fundamentally from those experienced during normal management processes. Among other things, they may have to work with specialized teams and understand their priorities and decision-making processes, without giving up their own responsibilities. The following case simulation confronts participants with an escalating crisis situation in an unfamiliar environment and requires a series of team decisions to be taken under time pressure. The case is based on real experiences of the German Air Force during its ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan.
The participants are divided into groups of four, each group being responsible for a large military transport aircraft and its mission. Within the groups, each participant assumes the role of a specified flight crew member. Each participant receives individual instructions on their roles and duties as well as background information on the other crew members. Based on this information, the teams must prepare and execute their flight missions. The main objective of the simulation is to highlight the challenges of sharing information within a team and of decision-making under time pressure in an unfamiliar environment.

The case simulation may be used in a leadership course in MBA programs. It may also be used in executive-education programs to support sessions on both group decision-making and crisis management. On the whole, the case may be used to learn:
1. how to cooperate in teams
2. how team decisions may effectively be made
3. how to prioritize tasks under time pressure in a crisis situation
4. how to examine the impact of framing in decision-making processes

Teaching note Yes
Industry Military
Geographical setting Afghanistan
Size 180.000
Setting period 2011
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ESMT Case Study

Andreas Keller in China

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-318-0179-1
Johannes Habel, Zheng Han (2018)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Strategy and general management
Keyword(s): General management, decision making, international business, international marketing, organizational behavior, business strategies, external environment analysis, sales

On the surface, this case study deals with a straightforward sales management issue: The protagonist, Andreas Keller, needs to increase the company’s revenue to get the Chinese business unit out of the red. However, as students dig deeper into the case study, they detect the following underlying, intriguing issues:

  • Setting priorities and making decisions in sales management, especially in times of distress.
  • Understanding intercultural and leadership challenges for a foreign “airborne manager” (空降) in a foreign subsidiary.
  • Comprehending the suitability of premium, service-based business models in China.
  • Understanding the limitations of applying business models from mature markets in Western countries to China.
  • Preparing for expatriate positions in China and elsewhere.

The case study can be taught in both executive education and degree courses. More specifically, the case study is ideally suited for international MBA students with some working experience and international career ambitions. It can be used in both the general management courses and specialized courses on sales, business development, or marketing.

Teaching note Yes
Length 9p
Industry Professional, scientific & technical services
Geographical setting China
Size 751 Mio. €
Setting period 2015
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ESMT Case Study

DeepMind's AlphaGo: The age of the machine?

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-918-0180-1
Abstract:
Subject(s): Information technology and systems
Keyword(s): Machine-based learning, decision making, complex systems

In March 2016, Google machine AlphaGo won against Lee Sedol, arguably the best human Go player of the last decades. This was the first time a Go grandmaster succumbed to a machine. Go was arguably the most complex board game ever invented, and to play the game, Go grandmasters exploited exceptional levels of intuition built through years of practice. Yet, AlphaGo’s victory over human intuition was total.

NOTE: This case does not have a teaching note and is not available via our distributors. If you are interested in this case, please contact either the author or publications@esmt.org.

Teaching note No
Length 7p
Industry Technology
Geographical setting South Korea
Size n/a
Setting period 2016

ESMT Case Study

Ebola: The onset of a deadly outbreak

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-317-0177-1
Abstract:
Subject(s): Strategy and general management
Keyword(s): Decision making, judgement, crisis management, global health, organizational behavior, disaster relief, international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO), intergovernmental organization

The case depicts the first few weeks of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and describes how two organizations, the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, assessed the seriousness of the outbreak. Both organizations have expertise and experience in containing epidemics, and past Ebola outbreaks in particular. These organizations nonetheless reached radically opposite conclusions. The case explores the possible reasons for these differences in predicting the outbreak’s evolution.

Teaching note Yes
Length 8p
Industry Healthcare
Geographical setting Africa
Setting period 2014
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Case

Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design

Los Andes University Case Collection No. AN0046
Eric Quintane, Gianluca Carnabuci, Maria Helena Jaen (2017)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Collaboration, leadership development, networking, organizational culture, organizational structure, organizational change

James Reid, the newly appointed GM of Troubled Spain, has been given a mandate by the CEO of Troubled Inc. to turn the subsidiary around within six months. Troubled Spain has experienced several years of poor performance that cannot be explained by either sluggish demand or lagging technology. The case provides information about interviews that James had with several employees, describing the role of the employee and giving insights into the issues that they see the company facing. These interviews are complemented by three charts prepared by consultants that James hired to conduct an internal audit of collaboration, communication and informal leadership in the organization. James needs to transform the organization within six months; however, this implies changing relationships that have been developed over decades and clarifying roles and boundaries that have been blurred over many years. The case challenges students to take James' position and identify the issues of Troubled Spain to develop an action plan in order to address the challenges facing the company. James needs to address: 1) issues concerning Troubled Spain's formal structure, 2) issues regarding its informal structure, including leadership issues, and 3) issues stemming from the combination of both formal and informal features. Case B provides information about what happened next and may be distributed at the end of the session.

Los Andes University Case Collection

Teaching note Yes
Also available in Spanish
Length 20p
Industry Semiconductor
Size 200 BU
Setting period 2014
Related Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design (B)

Case

Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design (B)

Los Andes University Case Collection No. AN0047
Eric Quintane, Gianluca Carnabuci, Maria Helena Jaen (2017)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Collaboration, leadership development, networking, organizational culture, organizational structure, organizational change

James Reid, the newly appointed GM of Troubled Spain, has been given a mandate by the CEO of Troubled Inc. to turn the subsidiary around within six months. Troubled Spain has experienced several years of poor performance that cannot be explained by either sluggish demand or lagging technology. The case provides information about interviews that James had with several employees, describing the role of the employee and giving insights into the issues that they see the company facing. These interviews are complemented by three charts prepared by consultants that James hired to conduct an internal audit of collaboration, communication and informal leadership in the organization. James needs to transform the organization within six months; however, this implies changing relationships that have been developed over decades and clarifying roles and boundaries that have been blurred over many years. The case challenges students to take James' position and identify the issues of Troubled Spain to develop an action plan in order to address the challenges facing the company. James needs to address: 1) issues concerning Troubled Spain's formal structure, 2) issues regarding its informal structure, including leadership issues, and 3) issues stemming from the combination of both formal and informal features.

Los Andes University Case Collection

Teaching note Yes
Also available in Spanish
Length 2p
Industry Semiconductor
Size 200 BU
Setting period 2014
Related Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design

ESMT Case Study

Turn the ship around! (A)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-317-0175-1
Jan U. Hagen, L. David Marquet (2017)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Empowerment, intend-based leadership, leading teams, participative leadership, directive leadership, command and control leadership, motivation, leader-follower principle

The two-part case study describes two attempts to empower the crews of two nuclear submarines of the US Navy. The case highlights the challenges as well as the weaknesses and strengths of the empowering process. While not against the operational principle of command and control on board a submarine, empowerment is in contrast to the traditional leadership doctrine of the US Navy which relies on the leader-follower principle. The case is based on the personal account of co-author L. David Marquet, Captain, US Navy (Ret.) and former commander of the USS Santa Fe. He authored the bestselling book Turn the Ship Around! that provides a more detailed account of the events described in the A and B cases.

The case may be used in the leadership courses in MBA and executive education programs. Apart from the main objective of highlighting the principle of empowerment, instructors may also explore how to motivate individuals and groups in critical settings. The instructor may ask executives to reflect on their own leadership experiences. On the whole, the case may be used to address the following subjects: (1) empowerment, (2) inquiry, (3) leadership styles, (4) motivation, (5) followership, (6) team management, and (7) situational leadership.

Teaching note Yes
Length 5p
Industry Military
Geographical setting United States of America
Size 2,000,000
Setting period 1989–2009
Related Turn the ship around! (B)
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ESMT Case Study

Turn the ship around! (B)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-317-0176-1
Jan U. Hagen, L. David Marquet (2017)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Empowerment, intend-based leadership, leading teams, participative leadership, directive leadership, command and control leadership, motivation, leader-follower principle

The two-part case study describes two attempts to empower the crews of two nuclear submarines of the US Navy. The case highlights the challenges as well as the weaknesses and strengths of the empowering process. While not against the operational principle of command and control on board a submarine, empowerment is in contrast to the traditional leadership doctrine of the US Navy which relies on the leader-follower principle. The case is based on the personal account of co-author L. David Marquet, Captain, US Navy (Ret.) and former commander of the USS Santa Fe. He authored the bestselling book Turn the Ship Around! that provides a more detailed account of the events described in the A and B cases.

The case may be used in the leadership courses in MBA and executive education programs. Apart from the main objective of highlighting the principle of empowerment, instructors may also explore how to motivate individuals and groups in critical settings. The instructor may ask executives to reflect on their own leadership experiences. On the whole, the case may be used to address the following subjects: (1) empowerment, (2) inquiry, (3) leadership styles, (4) motivation, (5) followership, (6) team management, and (7) situational leadership.

Teaching note Yes
Length 3p
Industry Military
Geographical setting United States of America
Size 2,000,000 employees
Setting period 1989–2009
Related Turn the ship around! (A)
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ESMT Case Study

Heraeus: Mid-size company striving for global market leadership

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-316-0174-1
Abstract:
Subject(s): Strategy and general management
Keyword(s): Solar cells, manufacturing, chemicals, marketing, strategy, Asia, China, Germany, mid-size company, firm structure, hidden champions
JEL Code(s): L65, L10, L22

The case study describes developments at Heraeus, a successful mid-size company from Germany that markets a wide range of high-grade precious metal products worldwide. It presents the developments of the segment that is active on the market for silver pastes for photovoltaic systems. This market had experienced strong shifts in demand since 2011 – firstly from Europe and North America to Asia, particularly China, and secondly from standard products to customized product solutions.
Due to these developments Heraeus had lost its market leadership and recruited Andreas Liebheit as the new head of the segment, who was to get it back on a successful track. The participants will discuss what strategic decisions Andreas Liebheit should make to counter the market developments and what implications these decisions will have in particular on marketing and sales, the global organization structure and leadership culture of the segment. Beyond the strategic aspect, the case can serve to explore what conclusions Heraeus should draw on a company-wide level from the developments of the segment.

  • Analyzing situation and trends on a technology-driven, global B2B market.
  • Understanding challenges and opportunities of small/medium companies (‘hidden champions’) when competing with big corporations in niche markets.
  • Reflecting options of changing business strategy and reviewing their implications, in particular regarding:
    • the global distribution of the internal value chain of a company
    • leadership culture when shifting the business focus from the western hemisphere to Asia
    • HR requirements when moving from product to solution business


NOTE: This case does not have a teaching note and is not available via our distributors. If you are interested in this case, please contact either the author or publications@esmt.org.

Teaching note Yes
Length 8p
Industry Manufacturing, chemicals, solar cells
Geographical setting Germany, Asia, China
Size 4 billion €
Setting period 2005–2015

ESMT Case Study

Global Express

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-616-0173-1
Abstract:
Subject(s): Strategy and general management
Keyword(s): Complex systems, decision making, sustainability, risk assessment, big data, analytics, models, climate change

This case considers the CEO of a logistic company trying to form her own opinion about whether global warming is a real concern or simply a hoax. The case consists of two contradictory reports reviewing the existing evidences for global warming, from two scientific experts holding opposite views on the subject.

The case addresses one of the most fundamental problems of knowledge: How can organizations and leaders understand what cannot be fully observed? The issue is at the heart of managing long-term changes and possible sustainability risks faced by organizations. Changes or risks such as these are difficult to recognize, because they typically emerge from complex systems that are not fully observable. The global warming debate provides a perfect illustration of this issue. The teaching objectives of this case are to explore different approaches to infer changes and sustainability risks such as these, and to determine the role of data and analytics in these processes. In doing so, participants also learn about the main evidence for global warming.

The case has been used in both executive and MBA classes.

Teaching note Yes
Length 8p
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ESMT Case Study

Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (A)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-716-0169-1
Urs Müller (2016)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s): Corporate social responsibility, business ethics, corruption in particular, governance and compliance, intercultural/cross-cultural management, cross-cultural ethics, challenges of internationalization/globalization

This four-part case series can be used to discuss business ethics, compliance/governance, integrity management, reacting to and preparing against corruption in the context of internationalization and allows to also briefly touch upon the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Case (A) describes a challenge IKEA was facing, while trying to enter Russia in 2000. The company was preparing to open its first flagship store on the outskirts of Moscow, only the first of several planned projects. After substantial investments in infrastructure and logistics, IKEA focused on marketing, but quickly faced a sudden complication. Its major ad campaign in the Moscow Metro with the slogan “[e]very 10th European was made in one of our beds” was labeled “tasteless”. IKEA had to stop the campaign because it “couldn’t prove” the claim. Soon Lennart Dahlgren, the first general manager of IKEA in Russia must have realized that the unsuccessful ad campaign was going to be the least of his problems: A few weeks before the planned opening, the local utility company decided not to provide their services for the store if IKEA did not pay a bribe. What should IKEA and Lennart Dahlgren do? Was there any alternative to playing the game the Russian way, and paying? The subsequent cases (B), (C), and (D) describe IKEA’s creative response to the challenges described in case (A), and then report about new challenges with alleged corruption within IKEA and in the legal environment, and finally raise the question whether IKEA can be considered to have a social responsibility to fight corruption on a societal level in order to build the platform for its own operation in Russia.

Teaching note Yes
Length 8p
Industry Retail
Geographical setting Russia
Size Large
Setting period 2000-2010
Related Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (B)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (C)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (D)
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ESMT Case Study

Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (B)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-716-0170-1
Urs Müller (2016)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s): Corporate social responsibility, business ethics, corruption in particular, governance and compliance, intercultural/cross-cultural management, cross-cultural ethics, challenges of internationalization/globalization

This four-part case series can be used to discuss business ethics, compliance/governance, integrity management, reacting to and preparing against corruption in the context of internationalization and allows to also briefly touching upon the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Case (A) describes a challenge IKEA was facing, while trying to enter Russia in 2000. The company was preparing to open its first flagship store on the outskirts of Moscow, only the first of several planned projects. After substantial investments in infrastructure and logistics, IKEA focused on marketing, but quickly faced a sudden complication. Its major ad campaign in the Moscow Metro with the slogan “[e]very 10th European was made in one of our beds” was labeled “tasteless”. IKEA had to stop the campaign because it “couldn’t prove” the claim. Soon Lennart Dahlgren, the first general manager of IKEA in Russia must have realized that the unsuccessful ad campaign was going to be the least of his problems: A few weeks before the planned opening, the local utility company decided not to provide their services for the store if IKEA did not pay a bribe. What should IKEA and Lennart Dahlgren do? Was there any alternative to playing the game the Russian way, and paying? The subsequent cases (B), (C), and (D) describe IKEA’s creative response to the challenges described in case (A), and then report about new challenges with alleged corruption within IKEA and in the legal environment, and finally raise the question whether IKEA can be considered to have a social responsibility to fight corruption on a societal level in order to build the platform for its own operation in Russia.

Teaching note Yes
Length 5p
Industry Retail
Geographical setting Russia
Size Large
Setting period 2000-2010
Related Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (A)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (C)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (D)
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ESMT Case Study

Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (C)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-716-0171-1
Urs Müller (2016)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s): Corporate social responsibility, business ethics, corruption in particular, governance and compliance, intercultural/cross-cultural management, cross-cultural ethics, challenges of internationalization/globalization

This four-part case series can be used to discuss business ethics, compliance/governance, integrity management, reacting to and preparing against corruption in the context of internationalization and allows to also briefly touching upon the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Case (A) describes a challenge IKEA was facing, while trying to enter Russia in 2000. The company was preparing to open its first flagship store on the outskirts of Moscow, only the first of several planned projects. After substantial investments in infrastructure and logistics, IKEA focused on marketing, but quickly faced a sudden complication. Its major ad campaign in the Moscow Metro with the slogan “[e]very 10th European was made in one of our beds” was labeled “tasteless”. IKEA had to stop the campaign because it “couldn’t prove” the claim. Soon Lennart Dahlgren, the first general manager of IKEA in Russia must have realized that the unsuccessful ad campaign was going to be the least of his problems: A few weeks before the planned opening, the local utility company decided not to provide their services for the store if IKEA did not pay a bribe. What should IKEA and Lennart Dahlgren do? Was there any alternative to playing the game the Russian way, and paying? The subsequent cases (B), (C), and (D) describe IKEA’s creative response to the challenges described in case (A), and then report about new challenges with alleged corruption within IKEA and in the legal environment, and finally raise the question whether IKEA can be considered to have a social responsibility to fight corruption on a societal level in order to build the platform for its own operation in Russia.

Teaching note Yes
Length 7p
Industry Retail
Geographical setting Russia
Size Large
Setting period 2000-2010
Related Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (A)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (B)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (D)
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ESMT Case Study

Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (D)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-716-0172-1
Urs Müller (2016)
Abstract:
Subject(s): Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s): Corporate social responsibility, business ethics, corruption in particular, governance and compliance, intercultural/cross-cultural management, cross-cultural ethics, challenges of internationalization/globalization

This four-part case series can be used to discuss business ethics, compliance/governance, integrity management, reacting to and preparing against corruption in the context of internationalization and allows to also briefly touching upon the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Case (A) describes a challenge IKEA was facing, while trying to enter Russia in 2000. The company was preparing to open its first flagship store on the outskirts of Moscow, only the first of several planned projects. After substantial investments in infrastructure and logistics, IKEA focused on marketing, but quickly faced a sudden complication. Its major ad campaign in the Moscow Metro with the slogan “[e]very 10th European was made in one of our beds” was labeled “tasteless”. IKEA had to stop the campaign because it “couldn’t prove” the claim. Soon Lennart Dahlgren, the first general manager of IKEA in Russia must have realized that the unsuccessful ad campaign was going to be the least of his problems: A few weeks before the planned opening, the local utility company decided not to provide their services for the store if IKEA did not pay a bribe. What should IKEA and Lennart Dahlgren do? Was there any alternative to playing the game the Russian way, and paying? The subsequent cases (B), (C), and (D) describe IKEA’s creative response to the challenges described in case (A), and then report about new challenges with alleged corruption within IKEA and in the legal environment, and finally raise the question whether IKEA can be considered to have a social responsibility to fight corruption on a societal level in order to build the platform for its own operation in Russia.

Teaching note Yes
Length 4p
Industry Retail
Geographical setting Russia
Size Large
Setting period 2000-2010
Related Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (A)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (B)
Corruption in Russia: IKEA's expansion to the East (C)
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