Three Business School Professors Win Case Writing Award

UPDATED: April 2, 2012, at 4:02 a.m.

Three Harvard Business School faculty members won awards in the 2012 ecch Case Awards Competition, which recognizes outstanding case writing from around the world.

Winners came from thirteen schools in seven countries, demonstrating the growing popularity of the case study method of learning that originated at Harvard Business School.

The competition recognized the work of three Business School professors—Christopher A. Bartlett, John A. Deighton, and Hanna W. Halaburda.

Bartlett’s case—which was coauthored by Business School alumna Carole Carlson and examines the European breakfast foods company United Cereal—won in the Economics, Politics and Business Environment category.

Deighton and Halaburda’s cases both explored marketing challenges in a digital age. Halaburda tracked the development of The Lord of the Rings Online game and how its creators sought to differentiate it from competitors such as World of Warcraft in the multi-player online game market.

“Digital markets—markets involving the Internet and other digital technologies—are often characterized by network effects,” Halaburda said. “This case looks at successful entry strategies for new companies in a market that is characterized by these network effects.”

Halaburda’s case, which was co-written with recent Business School alumni Ivan Nausieda, Robert McKeon, and William Collis, won in the Hot Topic competition that focused this year on social media.

Deighton won in the Marketing category for “Dove: Evolution of a Brand,” a case which tracks the spread of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign over television and the Internet. “It’s a case about how a brand shifts from a fairly traditional position to something [Dove] called a brand with a point of view,” Deighton said.

“Dove had seen the opportunity to position itself around a feminist issue...namely the fact that the beauty industry was taunting them with unattainable standards of beauty,” he said.

Deighton added that late-night comedians and YouTube were both instrumental in attracting mainstream attention to the campaign.

Both Halaburda and Deighton said that their approach to case writing emphasized the way business scenarios could be examined in a classroom discussion.

“A good case [is based on] whether it introduces a good enough puzzle that students discover something that they did not know after discussion of the case,” Halaburda said.

The ecch Case Awards Competition, run annually since 1991, announced this year’s winners in February.

—Staff writer Brian C. Zhang can be reached at brianzhang@college.harvard.edu.

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