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

In 1921, Harvard Company College made its first, solitary-webpage mimeographed case research for students (look at in this article and base), about the functional dilemmas faced by managers at the Normal Shoe Organization. Meant to prompt class discussions, the case process has due to the fact been adopted by educational facilities about the entire world as a core aspect of teaching.

These days, Harvard, Ivey Small business Faculty in Canada and The Case Centre are leaders amid 50 producers and distributors of countless numbers of scenarios, of which thousands and thousands of copies are marketed annually. They are penned by a expanding selection of institutions, in formats together with video, describing worries on an ever broader range of difficulties, geographies and protagonists.

Beneath is an summary of 1 of Harvard’s most latest cases, on the African media company EbonyLife.


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

One particular unusually tranquil morning in Lagos, Nigeria in December 2020, Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and main government of EbonyLife Media and 1 of Africa’s biggest names in the enterprise, introduced her laptop to work on the rooftop patio of EbonyLife Location, the company’s flagship way of living and leisure resort.

Founded by Abudu in 2012 with a mission to convey substantial-quality African tales to the earth, EbonyLife was the corporation powering a lot of of Nigeria’s greatest movies and television reveals. It commenced with a linear Tv channel on the Africa-huge immediate broadcast satellite assistance DStv. By 2020, it had developed much more than 5,000 several hours of Tv written content and Nigeria’s major-3 optimum grossing motion pictures.

With a motivation for bigger management more than generation and following the close of its relationship with DStv, EbonyLife released EbonyLife ON (EL ON), an on-demand streaming service. However, it struggled to increase the variety of EL ON subscribers.

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Abudu commenced to assume about no matter whether she ought to carry on battling to mature EL ON. Need to EbonyLife concentration as an alternative on co-production promotions with global media distributors these as Netflix, Sony and AMC? Abudu, who experienced been in the media business enterprise for just about 20 a long time, necessary to make this important decision for EbonyLife.

Her fascination in the media and entertainment business emerged from a wish to correct dangerous stereotypes about Africa. Born in London to Nigerian parents, she grew up in the United kingdom and Nigeria. Drawn to African tales, she preferred to address the reality that there was so a great deal the environment did not know about Africa. “I feel somewhere deeply buried in my subconscious was a require to inform Africa’s story,” she states.

Escalating up in the British isles, she routinely encountered misconceptions about Africa and was amazed by how they persisted when she was an grownup. “The very same concerns I was getting questioned in England [40 years ago],” she claims, “are the same questions my children were becoming requested when they went to faculty in England.” Questions like, “Do you men are living in trees?”

In July 2020, following its exit from DStv, EbonyLife publicly introduced EL ON, with options to make the platform its major distribution channel. Even though EbonyLife experienced now produced in depth programming, “a lot of that content material was consumed on a everyday basis and experienced a pretty nominal shelf life”, Abudu points out.

She started to explore the new prospect of co-productions with global partners that would sooner or later be dispersed as a result of Nigerian Television channels. She signed a multi-title co-production offer with Netflix to make numerous flicks and Television collection. Partnering with this sort of providers lowered the upfront money dangers of output. But it was hard to assess the dimensions of the worldwide viewers “Nollywood” (Nigeria’s Hollywood) movies obtained simply because of the reluctance of the international platforms to share viewership details. Also, Nollywood producers could not interact directly with these viewers. As a result, it was complicated for them to understand who experienced considered the articles and what elements of the stories the viewers had appreciated, and then use this perception to plan their upcoming productions.

Over and above producing content, EbonyLife sought to build its possess media and amusement ecosystem. It assisted improve the pipeline of area expertise via a inventive academy that enabled learners to show up at courses free of cost, funded by the Lagos state federal government. Abudu also believed EbonyLife could grow additional by investing more in its audience’s ordeals. In December 2019 in Lagos, she opened the multi-function resort EbonyLife Position, which integrated two places to eat, a boutique resort, 5 motion picture theatres, meeting rooms and a greater multipurpose functionality corridor.

A 12 months later, Abudu was at EbonyLife Spot to prepare for its relaunch immediately after the lifting of pandemic limits. Nevertheless, she faced other pressing concerns. She reflected on her selections around how EbonyLife would distribute its content. Was it also early to make judgments about EL ON? What adjustments should EbonyLife make to EL ON? Equally, she considered the substitute: could she realistically create a sustainable media company just on global partnerships with streaming expert services? Was there a state of affairs in which she could hold EL ON operational though pursuing these worldwide partnerships? Following two a long time in the field, pivots ended up no for a longer time speedy or pain-free. Abudu puzzled which selection she really should go after. 

The over is an adapted summary of Harvard Enterprise School’s training circumstance study EbonyLife Media, published by Andy Wu, Feng Zhu, Wale Lawal and Pippa Tubman Armerding

The original 1921 Harvard Business School case study
The unique 1921 Harvard Business enterprise University scenario research, which launched a instructing approach that would spread about the planet