IMD Patagonia study among winners in The Case Centre Competition 2019
News Stories · Sustainability - Leadership

IMD Patagonia study among winners in The Case Centre Competition 2019

By IMD Adjunct Professor Francisco Szekely and Zahir Dossa, the case examines the company's sustainability strategy
February 2019

The Case Centre has just announced the winners of its 2019 business case writing competition. This year, IMD Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Sustainability Francisco Szekely, and research fellow Zahir Dossa have won in the Economics, Politics and Business Environment category with the case titled Patagonia’s Sustainability Strategy: Don’t Buy Our Products.

Now in their 29th year, The Case Centre’s 11 Awards and five Competitions celebrate excellence in case writing and teaching at schools of business, management and government worldwide.

The Case Centre Awards and Competitions recognize outstanding case writers and teachers from across the globe. These accolades celebrate worldwide excellence in case writing and teaching and are now considered the case method community’s annual ‘Oscars’.

Sharing ideas

Francisco Szekely said: “I am very honored to receive another award from The Case Centre, and to know that through this award our ideas about business sustainability are being shared with many other fellow faculty and students around the world. This is particularly important today in which business must step up its commitment to build a sustainable society.”

A case of sustainability

Francisco continued: “Patagonia is a case of Sustainability Leadership. The vision of the founder of Patagonia is that through his business he can service the needs of his customers, make a profit and protect the planet.”

“But not necessarily through growth…his idea ‘don’t buy my product…unless you really need it’ is innovative and challenging. Mainly because he does not just promote consumption but also smart and ecologically minded-consumption. He is an example to follow.”

Asking the right questions

He added: “A lot has been documented about Patagonia and its founder Yvon Chouinard. What was needed was to write the story in a short and provoking fashion and formulate key questions from which students can think, debate and learn about a different way of thinking. The most important aspect of a successful case is the questions designed for participants. To craft good questions is ‘an art’.”

A different approach

He explained: “The case creates substantial debate.”

“For too long many business students and executives have identified business success with growth. Growth at any cost.”

“Patagonia provides a different approach. They sell a product and reclaim it to improve it, or resell it, instead of suggesting to customers to buy the newest products. And their approach makes economic sense!”

Benefits of the case method

“I believe the case method is a fantastic tool to disseminate ideas and encourage people to learn.”

“The case method also provides faculty with an opportunity to synthesize his/her ideas and to make an effort to communicate clearly and succinctly with the purpose of providing learning opportunities for others.”

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