Where business and academia meet: Two AUC School of Business cases win the 2021 Emerald - AUC School of Business Case Writing Competition

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The realm of business around the globe is becoming increasingly dynamic and complex. This requires persons in business to be agile critical thinkers that take initiative in solving organizational problems that arise due to the dynamic nature of the industry. This makes the use of case studies in academia of utmost importance because they engage university students’ problem-solving skills and create a culture of active learning, critical thinking, and proactivity.

With this in mind, El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC) at the AUC School of Business, in partnership with Emerald Publishing, launched the Emerald - AUC School of Business Case Writing Competition in 2020. The competition primarily aims to inspire a culture of proficient business case writing in and about the MENA region, leading to the creation of excellent case studies to be used by students in the region and elsewhere.

"Launching this case writing competition with such a prominent publisher as Emerald comes in line with KCC’s mission and vision of fostering the culture and promoting the development of high-quality case studies within the MENA region," stated Engy Magdy, director of KCC.

In its second run, a total number of 13 case studies from five countries (Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey and United Arab Emirates) were submitted for the competition. The judges selected short-listed cases, reviewed them, and evaluated them based on the competition criteria.

Winners were announced on March 29, 2022 during a webinar featuring competition judge Virginia Bodolica, Said T. Khoury chair of leadership studies and professor at the School of Business Administration at the American University of Sharjah, and Emerald Cases Publisher James Hobbs. In addition, the speakers showcased the highlights of the 2021 case writing competition and explained the facets of a well-written case study. The webinar was moderated by Nadine Salah, marketing manager for MENA, Pakistan, and Turkey at Emerald Publishing.

Two cases by the AUC School of Business won the first and second places, respectively. The winning case entitled Scarabaeus Sacer: An Iconic Green Brand Advocating Sustainability in the Era of Digital Economy and Connectivity was written by Ayman Ismail, associate professor, Abdul Latif Jameel endowed chair of entrepreneurship and founding director of the AUC Venture Lab, Seham Ghalwash, doctoral researcher at the Technical University in Denmark and senior researcher at AUC, and Mohit Maurya, associate professor at Sharda University in India.

“In this case study we discuss an Egyptian sustainable fashion enterprise called Scarabaeus Sacer,” remarked Ghalwash. “The core mission of Scarabaeus is promoting Egyptian organic cotton textiles with a premium quality globally and their main dilemma, which is what the case revolves around, involves marketing-related challenges faced by the founders at the beginning of 2020 when trying to build their global brand awareness and penetrate new markets,” she explained.

The second winning case by the School and the first runner-up was a case titled The Pharaoh Rises: Z-Generation Startup PIK written by Randa El Bedawy, associate professor and associate chair at the AUC School of Business, and Mayar Farrag El Sayed, assistant professor and head of the marketing department at the Egyptian Chinese University. Their case, as El Bedawy explained, “traces the development of an Egyptian software startup and the challenges faced regarding the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt.”

El Sayed further elaborated on what the case entails by stating that “for many startups, financing is an everlasting struggle, the founder of PIK dealt with this struggle.” El Sayed also added that “another issue faced by PIK was the need to create market awareness for a price-sensitive market and whether the ecosystem of this emerging market was going to support their business, or if they needed to look into other markets to explore instead.”

The second runner-up case entitled The Pandemic: Learning the Way of Continuous Communication with Customers was written by Nilsah Cavdar Aksoy at the Galatasaray University in Turkey and Alev Kocak Alev at Albeka Consulting in Turkey. The case tackles marketing communication challenges faced by businesses in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pro-tip: Writing a successful case study

During the event, Bodolica explained the criteria for successful case study writing. She emphasized the importance of the “five Ps” of effective case writing.

  • “The first is for business problems. A case should be highlighting the dynamics within a specific company, and the challenge that needs to be addressed”, Bodolica elaborated.
  •  “The second is for the protagonists or people. The case study should resemble a living organism, meaning as one reads the case they should be able to feel as though they are experiencing it themselves, tackling the challenges of the main protagonist of the case study first-hand.”
  • The third is for pieces. “We mustn't forget the artistry of language, flow and the importance of guiding the reader through the different pieces of the case and getting them hooked into the story of these case studies,” explained Bodolica.
  • The fourth is for possibilities. “Management related cases should be open-ended, one must never write a case study in a way that leads to only one solution or one correct course of action, however, it should give room for students to come up with several solutions with different logical justifications for each,” she mentioned.
  • Finally, the fifth and last is for paradigm. “We need to ground our case studies in the content and material that’s been taught in a specific class or a specific course. This is important to help the student analyze the case problems by employing different models and theories they have learned through their business courses,” she concluded.

Click here to watch the full webinar and here to watch the winners’ remarks.

For more information about the entry criteria for the 2022 round of the Emerald - AUC School of Business Case Writing Competition as well as the deadline, click here.