A century of MBA case studies: exacting examples from business life

Joseph B. Hash

In 1921, Harvard Small business School manufactured its first, one-page mimeographed scenario study for pupils (perspective here and base), about the useful dilemmas confronted by supervisors at the Basic Shoe Business. Supposed to prompt course discussions, the case approach has due to the fact been adopted by educational facilities around the world as a main portion of teaching.

Now, Harvard, Ivey Enterprise Faculty in Canada and The Situation Centre are leaders among 50 producers and distributors of countless numbers of scenarios, of which hundreds of thousands of copies are sold on a yearly basis. They are prepared by a growing quantity of institutions, in formats together with video, describing problems on an at any time broader variety of challenges, geographies and protagonists.

Down below is an summary of one of Harvard’s most recent situations, on the African media enterprise EbonyLife.


Decision maker: Mosunmola Abudu of EbonyLife Media
Mosunmola Abudu, founder of EbonyLife Media in Nigeria

One particular unusually quiet early morning in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and main govt of EbonyLife Media and 1 of Africa’s most significant names in the business, brought her notebook to do the job on the rooftop patio of EbonyLife Place, the company’s flagship life style and amusement resort.

Established by Abudu in 2012 with a mission to convey substantial-excellent African stories to the planet, EbonyLife was the organization driving a lot of of Nigeria’s most important flicks and television exhibits. It commenced with a linear Television set channel on the Africa-wide immediate broadcast satellite support DStv. By 2020, it had developed far more than 5,000 hrs of Television written content and Nigeria’s best-3 maximum grossing videos.

With a desire for bigger handle around creation and next the stop of its relationship with DStv, EbonyLife launched EbonyLife ON (EL ON), an on-demand streaming service. On the other hand, it struggled to grow the number of EL ON subscribers.

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Abudu started out to consider about regardless of whether she really should keep on preventing to improve EL ON. Should really EbonyLife concentrate in its place on co-production deals with worldwide media distributors such as Netflix, Sony and AMC? Abudu, who had been in the media enterprise for approximately 20 many years, necessary to make this considerable conclusion for EbonyLife.

Her desire in the media and leisure business emerged from a desire to suitable damaging stereotypes about Africa. Born in London to Nigerian dad and mom, she grew up in the United kingdom and Nigeria. Drawn to African stories, she wanted to tackle the actuality that there was so substantially the entire world did not know about Africa. “I imagine someplace deeply buried in my unconscious was a have to have to convey to Africa’s story,” she claims.

Developing up in the Uk, she routinely encountered misconceptions about Africa and was amazed by how they persisted when she was an grownup. “The similar thoughts I was becoming questioned in England [40 years ago],” she claims, “are the same questions my little ones had been getting asked when they went to faculty in England.” Queries like, “Do you fellas are living in trees?”

In July 2020, next its exit from DStv, EbonyLife publicly declared EL ON, with designs to make the system its most important distribution channel. While EbonyLife had by now created intensive programming, “a whole lot of that content was consumed on a each day basis and had a pretty minimal shelf life”, Abudu describes.

She commenced to take a look at the new chance of co-productions with world partners that would finally be dispersed by means of Nigerian Tv set channels. She signed a multi-title co-production deal with Netflix to make numerous motion pictures and Tv collection. Partnering with this kind of organizations diminished the upfront financial hazards of output. But it was challenging to assess the measurement of the world audience “Nollywood” (Nigeria’s Hollywood) films acquired since of the reluctance of the global platforms to share viewership data. Also, Nollywood producers could not interact right with these viewers. As a outcome, it was challenging for them to discover who had seen the articles and what factors of the tales the audience had enjoyed, and then use this perception to prepare their foreseeable future productions.

Outside of generating information, EbonyLife sought to establish its personal media and entertainment ecosystem. It assisted expand the pipeline of nearby talent by a creative academy that enabled college students to show up at classes absolutely free of charge, funded by the Lagos state governing administration. Abudu also thought EbonyLife could mature further by investing far more in its audience’s ordeals. In December 2019 in Lagos, she opened the multi-reason resort EbonyLife Place, which involved two places to eat, a boutique resort, five motion picture theatres, meeting rooms and a greater multipurpose purpose corridor.

A yr later, Abudu was at EbonyLife Place to prepare for its relaunch just after the lifting of pandemic limitations. However, she faced other pressing issues. She reflected on her possibilities about how EbonyLife would distribute its material. Was it much too early to make judgments about EL ON? What modifications need to EbonyLife make to EL ON? Similarly, she regarded the different: could she realistically make a sustainable media business enterprise just on international partnerships with streaming expert services? Was there a circumstance in which she could retain EL ON operational while pursuing these intercontinental partnerships? Soon after two many years in the marketplace, pivots ended up no for a longer time brief or painless. Abudu puzzled which alternative she should pursue. 

The higher than is an adapted summary of Harvard Business enterprise School’s instructing case review EbonyLife Media, composed by Andy Wu, Feng Zhu, Wale Lawal and Pippa Tubman Armerding

The original 1921 Harvard Business School case study
The initial 1921 Harvard Organization University circumstance review, which released a teaching technique that would distribute around the world

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