Case, Simulation & Pedagogy

The ISB has constantly endeavoured to facilitate teaching excellence and upgrade pedagogy by bringing real-world knowledge into the classroom. One of the important ways it achieves this is through the development of business cases and simulations that enrich understanding of real-life management challenges at every level. In this pursuit, we have partnered with the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario (Ivey), Canada to develop and promote high-quality case studies specific to India and the emerging markets with the support of ISB faculty as well as faculty from other leading B-schools worldwide.

CasesNavneet Bhatnagar, Kavil Ramachandran, Andrea Calabro, Sougata Ray. "Merck, Darmstadt: Sustaining Legacy Beyond 350 Years", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: General Management
Industry: Chemicals,Advanced materials,Pharmaceuticals
Length: 30p
Subjects covered: Organizational values, Succession issues, Leadership, Stewardship, Corporate governance, Organizational management, Family businesses, Strategy
Publication Date: October 22, 2018
This case is about the business, governance and leadership transformation of Merck - a 13th generation, family-owned, German multinational group operating in the pharmaceuticals, performance materials and life science industries. Established in 1668 as a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck ventured into the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals in 1827. Successfully overcoming several business and family challenges, it continued to grow. By 2017, Merck had a legacy of nearly 350 years of successful business operations, a presence in 66 countries and about 52,000 employees on its rolls. In 2017, Merck was led by Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp (69), an 11th generation member who was the Chairman of the executive board and the family board of E. Merck KG (the group's holding company). With his 70th birthday approaching, Frank wanted to identify an able successor who could help him build the group for the next 100 years and take the Merck legacy forward.

Learning objective:
The case is intended to help the participants understand the essential building blocks of a long-lasting, multi-generational family business and specifically comprehend the role played by
(i) family values,
(ii) strategic vision, and
(iii) the owner family's adherence to their mission in transforming a family business into a long-lasting institution. This case is appropriate for MBA and Executive education programs, in courses like, Family Business Management, Governance and Strategy.

CasesS. Ramnarayan, Sunita Mehta. "Creating and Sustaining a Social Enterprise: The Vittala Story", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Social Enterprise
Industry: Health care services
Length: 17p
Subjects covered: Organizational behavior, Organizational values, Innovation, Leadership, Social enterprise, Organizational culture, Family businesses, Social responsibility
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Vittala International Institute of Ophthalmology (Vittala), a not-for-profit orgnization was involved in providing free/highly subsidized eye care to the rural and the economically underprivileged population in the state of Karnataka, India. The case describes the challenges faced by the founder and his family in building the state-of-the-art institution and sustaining it through its difficult initial years. They had to build awareness of avoidable blindness, make eye care accessible and affordable, and develop the right networks and alliances, all within limited resources. Unlike certain eye care issues such as cataract, Vittala focused on retinal eye care problems that required periodic monitoring and treatment. Diagnosis required sophisticated and expensive equipment, which had to be made available in far-flung small towns and villages, and that posed difficulties. To address the challenges, the organization and its founders executed pioneering innovations in organizational arrangements and processes. The case closes with the dilemma facing Krishna, Director of Vittala, which was to examine how the social enterprise could enhance the revenue streams to increase Vittala's reach in providing eye to the economically disadvantaged citizens. He needs to consider issues like creating the right balance of paying and non-paying patients to ensure sustainable operations, consistent quality of care, keeping technology updated, and attracting and retaining medical staff with right skills and values. The case is significant as it highlights what is required to make healthcare accessible and affordable to the poor, and how policy measures can be executed at the ground level through appropriate organizing efforts. It describes how the founder inculcated a system of values to keep the family members together, thus contributing to the effectiveness and sustainability of the social enterprise.

Learning objective:
To understand the factors influencing the setting up of a not-for-profit enterprise in the health care sector and exposing the students to the realities of present system of health care in India; To explore the process and organizing innovations required to deliver affordable eye care to rural areas; To emphasize the importance of aligning multiple stakeholders to build effective and sustainable operations; To emphasize the importance of values in family run organizations to build togetherness.

CasesVikram Kuriyan, Soumithri Mamudipudi, Geetika Shah, Bitan Chakraborty. "Thomas Cook India: Potential Unleashed - A Journey to Value Creation", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Finance
Industry: Finance
Length: 21p
Subjects covered: Finance, General Management, Strategy
Publication Date: October 24, 2018
The case gives students an opportunity to analyze the ways in which the company's management uses Prem Watsa's value investment philosophy to guide its decisions, both in its core business and in its acquisitions. The case also gives students lessons the value investment philosophy offers to investors and managers of firms. The travel industry is beset by structural changes and new paradigms and owners have to respond to the changing environment.

Learning objective:
The changing fortunes of TCI are most apparent in the increase in its share price after making several acquisitions. The case gives students an opportunity to analyze the ways in which the company's management uses Prem Watsa's value investment philosophy to guide its decisions, both in its core business and in its acquisitions. The case also gives students an idea of how travel companies in India have had to adapt to new paradigms and what lessons the value investment philosophy offers.

CasesRuppal Walia Sharma, Mridula S. Mishra. "Greenco Enterprises India Pvt. Ltd.: Market Strategy for Frozen Snacks", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Marketing,  Entrepreneurship,  International
Industry: Retail Trade
Length: 11p
Subjects covered: Marketing,  Entrepreneurship,  International
Publication Date: November 16, 2018
In November 2016, the two co-founders of the Delhi-based Greenco Enterprises India Pvt. Ltd. were getting ready to launch a range of frozen snacks in the competitive Indian market. Their strategy was to penetrate the already established non-vegetarian frozen snacks market with fast-moving popular products and grow the vegetarian frozen snacks market with differentiated offerings. As the January 2017 launch date approached, they had to get their pricing and distribution strategy in place. For a new brand with a limited budget, securing shelf space was a challenge. The two founders wondered whether the company should focus all of its efforts on building a retail brand in the business-to-consumer segment, or whether it should consider institutional sales in the business-to-business space. How could the initial investment and running costs be balanced with the need to stay competitive in the market?

Learning objective:
This case is best suited to an undergraduate or graduate marketing management course to discuss different aspects of a strategy for launching a new brand. It can also be used in a management course to discuss pricing and distribution channels. Working through the case will give students the opportunity to
  • identify the issues involved in developing a strategy to launch a new brand;
  • determine various pricing strategies for entering a competitive market and recommend one that is most appropriate; and
  • discuss how to manage the distribution challenges faced by a new brand.

CasesShuchi Srinivasan, Akshay Milap, Pearl Malhotra, Harsh Dadhich, Ajay Kathuria. "Lemon Tree Hotels: Opening Doors for Everyone", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: General Management/Strategy, International
Industry: Other Services
Length: 18p
Subjects covered: sustainability, diversity, inclusion, strategy
Publication Date: November 28, 2018
On January 1, 2017, the head of sustainability initiatives at Lemon Tree Hotels (Lemon Tree) in India reflected on the future of the company’s inclusion and diversity initiative. Since the inception of the initiative in 2007, Lemon Tree had become the largest employer of persons with disabilities in the Indian hospitality industry. In 2014, Lemon Tree had set itself an ambitious target of increasing the share of opportunity-deprived individuals, which included mainly persons with disabilities, to 45 per cent of its workforce by the end of financial year 2025.

To remain on course to achieve this goal, the head of sustainability initiatives needed to address key areas of concern in expanding the initiative beyond its current level. For example, where would the company source and recruit persons with disabilities, what costs would be involved, and what specific types of disability would the initiative need to open itself to? While expanding the initiative, how would Lemon Tree preserve its sustainability framework, which was based on the three pillars of the triple bottom line: profit, planet, and people? Should the company instead pursue deeper integration and more gradual growth, which would allow it to consolidate its learning thus far, but would require deeper analysis of training needs and delivery? The head of sustainability initiatives felt the need to discuss these options with the senior leadership team and plan the company’s approach to best operationally and culturally integrate persons with disabilities and other opportunity-deprived individuals into its workforce.

Learning objective:
This case is best suited for management students at the postgraduate level. We recommend using the case in a strategic management, human resource management, or entrepreneurship course. Depending on the course, the case can focus on sustainability and issues of corporate social responsibility, such as integrating sustainability initiatives into business strategy; human resource management, including the management of persons with disabilities; or entrepreneurship, including building organizations that focus on a triple bottom line. After reading and analyzing the case study, students should be able to do the following:
  • Evaluate whether a for-profit organization can profitably operate socially proactive initiatives as part of its business model.
  • Devise various strategies for shifting from tokenism to creating an inclusive workforce and systematically building organizational capabilities toward mainstreaming persons with disabilities.
  • Provide a reasonable course of action that balances factual, emotional, and ethical premises.
  • Understand the role and impact of the leader's vision in framing future strategies.


CasesChandrasekhar Sripada, Geetika Shah. "Building a Great Place to Work: Intuit India", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Human Resource Management
Industry: Human resources,Computers & electronics
Length: 19p
Subjects covered: Work force management, Leadership, Hiring & employment, Human capital, Software development, Managing people
Publication Date: Feb 1, 2019
Intuit India, a fully owned subsidiary of Intuit Inc., a US multinational company, has been in the business of developing financial software for small businesses, accountants and individuals. The case is about how Intuit's India unit got to be recognized as India's no 1 ""great place to work"" through a competitive assessment among 600 of India's employers in 2017. This accomplishment was significant for Intuit India because it had toppled corporate giants like Google and American Express who had held on to the top rank in the previous years. The case narrates the history of Intuit's seven-year journey to the top rank in the Great Place to Work rankings and engages students in learning about what it takes to build a great place to work and sustain it over time. Intuit India was established in 2005, and grew to 1,050 employees on its rolls by 2017. Intuit India had consciously worked towards building a great place to work since 2010. The next seven years had been a roller-coaster ride, full of surprises and ups and downs. In its attempt to break into the top 10 and reduce its variability on the rankings, Intuit did many things that can give us insights into what it takes to build a great place to work. The case raises many questions and offers several insights in how sound HR and People Leadership practices can build a vibrant organizational culture and help build a great place to work.

Learning objective:
The objective of the case analysis and discussion is to help participants address and answer the questions across a wide range of topics in talent management, leadership, people, culture ,employer branding and Great Places to Work. This case can be taught at the MBA level as well in executive education programs. The case can be taught in courses across a range of subject areas, namely, Human Resources Management (HRM), Human Capital Strategies, Talent Management and Employee-centric leadership.

CasesS. Ramnarayan, Sunita Mehta, E.S. Srinivas. "Symphony: Growing Through Internationalization", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Organizational Behavior
Industry: Manufacturing
Length: 16p
Subjects covered: Organizational behavior, International acquisitions, Internationalization, Leadership, Change management, Learning, Execution, Turnarounds
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Symphony Limited, an air cooler company decided to buy International Metal Products Company (IMPCO) in 2009. IMPCO, based in Mexico manufactured industrial coolers that complemented Symphony's product line. Additionally, the acquisition provided Symphony access to the US market. IMPCO, however, was a loss making company and was on the verge of bankruptcy. On taking over IMPCO, Symphony dealt with several issues like financial crisis, operational inefficiencies, low employee productivity, IMPCO's poor brand image, lack of product innovation and weak sales and distribution. This case briefly describes the history of Symphony and outlines the various challenges faced by the organization in turning around IMPCO. The case closes with another opportunity that lands on Symphony's lap - acquisition of Munters Keruilai Air Treatment Equipment Co Ltd (MKE), an air cooler manufacturing company in China. Like IMPCO, MKE was also a loss-making air cooler company. But otherwise, the challenges and the context were starkly different in the two cases. Achal Bakeri, founder and CEO of Symphony wondered how the Symphony team should approach the newest challenge.

Learning objective:
Understand that an entrepreneurial journey often runs into a few setbacks and failures; but these crises also become sources of valuable insights if we're willing to learn from them. Understand the nature of challenges in international acquisition and the importance of managing `hard' and `soft' issues for successful acquisitions. Recognize the elements of effective execution. Gain insight into the nature of turnaround process. Analyze leadership characteristics of Level 5 leaders.

CasesSisir Debnath, Tarun Jain, Dibya Deepta Mishra. "Incentives in the Healthcare System", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Economics
Industry: Health care services,Physicians
Length: 10p
Subjects covered: Asymmetric information, Moral hazard, Economics, Incentives, Motivation, Pay for performance
Publication Date: Jan 25, 2019

This case study illustrates various incentives in the healthcare system using recent research in economics. Healthcare is important but it is difficult to objectively measure it from the perspective of providers, patients and third parties. Hence, incentives are used to motivate behavior in both providers and patients. The design of incentives is an enduring challenge and the case study tries to motivate managers to think through this problem in more detail.

Learning objective:
This case could be taught in courses which introduce incentives in an healthcare context. It could be used to provide examples of how managerial economics could be applied to analyze and drive behavior.

CasesD.V.R. Seshadri, K. Sasidhar. "A Holistic Intervention Towards Sustainable Livelihoods and Coastal Conservation: A DHAN Foundation Case", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: Strategy
Industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting
Length: 19p
Subjects covered: Disaster relief, Disaster planning, Ecosystems, Sustainability, Strategy
Publication Date: Jan 31, 2019

DHAN was a non-government organization with a difference. It was neither a philanthropic organization nor a service organization but a development organization focused on grassroots development aided by professional management. At the same time, it had a clear vision of being only an enabling institution rather than a directing agency. Dedicated to the mission of poverty eradication through grassroots development action, DHAN had made a significant impact on the Indian scene in the years since its inception in 1997. By 2017, it had touched the lives of 1.5 million households and was poised to reach out to another one million households over the next five years. In its mission to combat poverty, DHAN initially employed two major thematic interventions, namely, community banking and water management. However, over a period of time, it forayed into several other domains such as healthcare, education and livelihood generation in response to the dynamic requirements of its community of beneficiaries, specifically, the marginalized and the poorest of the poor in India. This case explores the theme of sustainable livelihoods and how interventions in this sphere need to be viewed and managed in an integrated manner with a conscious focus on the conservation of the larger ecosystem in which they are embedded. The case describes DHAN's various initiatives and interventions in the sustainable livelihoods arena, the challenges it encountered along the way and its innovative responses to those challenges.

Learning objective:
1. To communicate powerfully to the participants the contemporary relevance and criticality of the theme of creating sustainable livelihoods in the world, especially in countries buffeted by endemic poverty, frequent natural disasters and a shrinking natural resource base. 2. To bring out the strong interactions between climate change, global emissions, coastal conservation and livelihoods, and highlight the need to view them in a systemic perspective rather than as independent and isolated problems to be addressed separately. 3. To demonstrate how, sometimes, a fortuitous foray into an uncharted domain can be utilized as an entry point to expand or diversify into a new area where the organization can make a potential and worthwhile contribution, while sticking to its core competencies, principles and broad organizational purpose and mission. 4. To offer the insight that an organization can always find innovative means of identifying and nurturing eco-friendly initiatives in every sphere, provided there is an alert consciousness of and sensitivity to their importance.

CasesKajari Mukherjee, Sanjay Goel. "Sandu Pharmaceuticals: Family Dynamics and Succession", 2019Centre for Learning and Management PracticeRead Description >Close >Discipline: General Management/Strategy, Entrepreneurship, International
Industry: Health Care Services
Length: 10p
Subjects covered: family business, succession, three circle model, unwilling successors
Publication Date: June 28, 2019
Sandu Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Sandu Pharmaceuticals) was a publicly listed company operating in the pharmaceuticals and health care sector. It manufactured Ayurvedic medicines. Incorporated in 1985, the company traced its history back over more than a century. The third generation was at the helm of the firm in September 2016. The company’s director, was thinking about how previous successive generations in the family had handled the challenge of absorbing family members into the business, and in particular about whether he was doing enough to prepare the next generation to take over a business that was bound to grow more rapidly in the future, given the growing concern worldwide about the cost of allopathic health care and demand for less invasive and more holistic treatments.

Learning objective:
The case can be used in a session devoted to succession planning in a family business course, both in graduate and undergraduate programs. It can also be used to understand family dynamics in the context of the confusion between ownership rights and an entitlement mindset among some family members. It effectively illustrates that mere legal succession is not of critical importance in a family firm—more important is the acceptance of the new leader by employees as well as family members. The case would be particularly useful in executive programs or management development programs aimed at experienced and active family business members. After completion of this case, students will be able to


  • Discuss how each generation of a family business must grapple with the challenges of handing over the reins to the next generation; it is a learning process for both generations;
  • Consider issues of succession from the first to the second generation, relationships among siblings and cousins, and the distribution of individual power in a family firm;
  • Understand formal institutions and mechanisms of family governance (e.g., a family constitution); and
  • Use various frameworks and tools to analyze a family business.

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