- Anand Nandkumar and Ajay Noronha

Perhaps preferences are changing. The era of leisurely reading, once filled with the pleasure of novels, appears to be fading. Content consumption now favours audio and video formats, sometimes conveniently delivered through mobile devices. This paradigm shift in how content is consumed might have spilt over to MBA education, too. It appears that today’s students prefer YouTube-style videos to textbooks. To these students, text-based traditional cases often struggle to maintain student engagement. They are often lengthy and often come up short when it comes to imbibing context or building empathy. As a result, when such cases are mandated as prior reading material, students tend to be underprepared for their classes, which diminishes classroom experience.

Instead, imagine students watching a mini-documentary about a decision before a manager accompanied by relevant stats. Video unlocks something special students see business scenarios in action, feel the highs and lows of people grappling with a business problem. This approach combines the power of video – which contextualizes business problems better and enables students to empathize with a business problem with the rigour of paper cases.

The era of leisurely reading...appears to be fading.

Take the video case of Dabbawallas: Masters of precision but enough to survive? The video case provides a glimpse of a lunch delivery service in Mumbai, India, that delivers home-cooked meals to office workers. The Dabbawalas are known for their efficiency and precision, and have been in operation for over 100 years. They are a complex network of individuals who work together to deliver lunches, picking up dabbas from homes in the morning and delivering them to offices by train. In recent years, the Dabbawalas have faced challenges from COVID-19, the advent of food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato. In response they have innovated in several ways although none of them have successfully diffused to the rest of the Dabbawala organization. There are concerns about the future of the Dabbawala service, as it is also becoming increasingly difficult to recruit young people.

The textbook era fades as video takes center stage in MBA education.

When premiered in the classroom, the video case resulted in richer class discussions partly because the video case study had several benefits over a text-based traditional case. For one the video provided a richer, more dynamic perspective because it utilized visuals, sound, and storytelling techniques to provide students with a better context. Second, the video humanized the story. It showed real people struggling to lug around over 50 kg of weight everyday that too in the crowded Mumbai local train system rather than merely describing it in words. This created an emotional connection with students. Third videos conveyed complex ideas more easily through visual explanations and demonstrations (such as descriptions of the Dabbawala coding system) and made it simpler for them to grasp processes and concepts that are difficult to fully explain with text alone.

However, making video case studies poses unique challenges. Not all organizations willing to sponsor text-based cases may be open to sponsoring video cases. Visuals might require more time commitment from the protagonists themselves which in many cases may not be a no go to many organizations. Additionally, the process of creating a video case differs significantly from traditional case development. The creation of the former at a scale that the latter is made by some of type world’s leading business schools will likely present business schools with a steep learning curve not just to make them in same quantity but also to master the art of visually representing complex business concepts. Furthermore, crafting appealing scripts that combine visual and emotional impact would be essential for these attempts to translate to better student outcomes in the classroom. The ability of business schools to acquire these specialized skills will likely determine the widespread adoption of video cases, despite growing student demand.

Business schools must master the art of the video case to meet the future.


Professor Anand Nandkumar

Professor Anand Nandkumar

Associate Professor, Strategy, ISB; Executive Director, SRITNE, Associate Dean Centre for Learning and Teaching Excellence, ISB

Ajay Noronha

Ajay Noronha

Founding Director, ISB Studios