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

In 1921, Harvard Enterprise Faculty created its 1st, single-web page mimeographed situation examine for college students (watch here and base), about the simple dilemmas faced by managers at the Basic Shoe Enterprise. Supposed to prompt course discussions, the circumstance system has because been adopted by educational institutions all over the globe as a core component of training.

These days, Harvard, Ivey Organization School in Canada and The Case Centre are leaders among 50 producers and distributors of thousands of circumstances, of which hundreds of thousands of copies are offered per year. They are prepared by a growing range of institutions, in formats such as online video, describing problems on an at any time broader variety of problems, geographies and protagonists.

Down below is an summary of just one of Harvard’s most recent cases, on the African media firm EbonyLife.


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

One particular unusually tranquil early morning in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and chief government of EbonyLife Media and just one of Africa’s most significant names in the small business, introduced her laptop computer to perform on the rooftop patio of EbonyLife Position, the company’s flagship way of living and entertainment resort.

Founded by Abudu in 2012 with a mission to convey large-top quality African stories to the planet, EbonyLife was the business at the rear of quite a few of Nigeria’s most important motion pictures and tv exhibits. It started with a linear Television channel on the Africa-vast direct broadcast satellite company DStv. By 2020, it had generated a lot more than 5,000 several hours of Television information and Nigeria’s major-3 maximum grossing movies.

With a motivation for larger manage over creation and pursuing the stop of its partnership with DStv, EbonyLife introduced EbonyLife ON (EL ON), an on-need streaming service. Nevertheless, it struggled to expand the range of EL ON subscribers.

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Abudu started off to feel about no matter whether she must continue fighting to improve EL ON. Should EbonyLife target alternatively on co-creation bargains with worldwide media distributors these kinds of as Netflix, Sony and AMC? Abudu, who had been in the media enterprise for almost 20 yrs, needed to make this important final decision for EbonyLife.

Her fascination in the media and leisure field emerged from a wish to appropriate dangerous stereotypes about Africa. Born in London to Nigerian mothers and fathers, she grew up in the Uk and Nigeria. Drawn to African tales, she wished to address the fact that there was so a lot the environment did not know about Africa. “I imagine somewhere deeply buried in my subconscious was a require to notify Africa’s story,” she suggests.

Expanding up in the United kingdom, she routinely encountered misconceptions about Africa and was astonished by how they persisted when she was an grownup. “The exact same thoughts I was being asked in England [40 years ago],” she states, “are the same questions my kids were remaining requested when they went to faculty in England.” Thoughts like, “Do you fellas stay in trees?”

In July 2020, pursuing its exit from DStv, EbonyLife publicly announced EL ON, with designs to make the platform its main distribution channel. Although EbonyLife experienced presently made intensive programming, “a ton of that content material was eaten on a daily basis and had a incredibly small shelf life”, Abudu clarifies.

She commenced to check out the new prospect of co-productions with worldwide companions that would inevitably be distributed by means of Nigerian Tv set channels. She signed a multi-title co-generation offer with Netflix to make a number of flicks and Television series. Partnering with these corporations decreased the upfront money risks of generation. But it was hard to assess the dimensions of the worldwide viewers “Nollywood” (Nigeria’s Hollywood) movies attained for the reason that of the reluctance of the global platforms to share viewership information. Also, Nollywood producers could not interact immediately with these viewers. As a end result, it was tough for them to discover who experienced seen the written content and what aspects of the tales the viewers experienced enjoyed, and then use this perception to prepare their foreseeable future productions.

Further than creating content material, EbonyLife sought to develop its individual media and entertainment ecosystem. It assisted increase the pipeline of neighborhood expertise as a result of a resourceful academy that enabled pupils to go to classes free of charge of charge, funded by the Lagos condition government. Abudu also thought EbonyLife could improve more by investing more in its audience’s ordeals. In December 2019 in Lagos, she opened the multi-intent resort EbonyLife Position, which involved two dining places, a boutique resort, five film theatres, conference rooms and a larger multipurpose perform hall.

A 12 months later, Abudu was at EbonyLife Put to plan for its relaunch after the lifting of pandemic limitations. However, she confronted other pressing problems. She reflected on her solutions all around how EbonyLife would distribute its content. Was it too early to make judgments about EL ON? What modifications must EbonyLife make to EL ON? Equally, she regarded the substitute: could she realistically develop a sustainable media organization just on intercontinental partnerships with streaming companies? Was there a scenario in which she could keep EL ON operational while pursuing these global partnerships? Just after two a long time in the marketplace, pivots were no for a longer time brief or pain-free. Abudu wondered which alternative she must pursue. 

The higher than is an adapted abstract of Harvard Small business School’s teaching circumstance study EbonyLife Media, written by Andy Wu, Feng Zhu, Wale Lawal and Pippa Tubman Armerding

The original 1921 Harvard Business School case study
The authentic 1921 Harvard Business College circumstance analyze, which launched a educating method that would distribute all-around the world