2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition Winners Interview Series: Family Business

EFMD encourages and rewards innovative and impactful cases in management development each year. This year brought an exceptional variety of winning cases across various industries. EFMD decided to interview the winners to find out more about their motivation, inspiration and significant challenges.

The following interview is with K B S Kumar and Indu Perepu, the winning authors from the ICFAI Business School, from the category “Family Business”.

The 2021 edition of the EFMD Case Writing Competition is now open for submissions. Find out more on the webpage and submit your case

Family Feud at Aldi Nord

Germany-based Albrecht family owned and operated the Aldi discount supermarket chain in several countries across the world. The Case deals with succession, ownership and governance in family-run companies.

Could you share with us what the greatest inspiration for your case was?

Aldi is a retailer which is highly popular for its business practices and deep discount retailing. Our interest in Aldi was piqued when we visited a store in Germany and experienced how they functioned. This made us read up on Aldi to get to know more about the retailer. Though this happened a decade ago, we continued to cite examples of Aldi’s ways of doing business in our classes.

During the course, to know more about Aldi, we read about the Albrecht brothers and the way they maintained their highly reclusive lifestyle. Like Aldi’s distinct business practices, the Albrecht brothers also formed a part of our discussions, not only because they were among the richest but also because of how they controlled, maintained, and expanded their business.

What were the major challenges in designing the case?

When we started teaching the family business courses, we thought that Aldi would be an interesting case in this genre. We started developing the case in 2018 but were unable to bring out the right discussion points. We tested the case with a small group of students and decided that we needed more information and insights before going any further. Once we started getting more information with the turn of events in the Aldi Nord family, the case took a better shape.

In what ways, according to you, could the case impact society and business in the near future?

Family business students from across the world can identify with the points being discussed, though it is based on a German retailer. It brings out that family disputes, if not addressed properly and at the right time, can impact the future of businesses.

This case shows a unique aspect where though strict controls and governance structures were in place, the business was still impacted as the values were not transferred to the younger generation.

We have seen many cases where disputes in a family business are attributed to an absence of proper controls and governance structures. But this case shows a unique aspect where though strict controls and governance structures were in place, the business was still impacted as the values were not transferred to the younger generation.

The Sponsor’s Commentary

The category “Family Business” is kindly sponsored by Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut (AUB). EFMD greatly values the sponsorship, the expertise and the effort of the sponsor to contribute to the Case Writing Competition.

Yusuf Sidani and Marina Apaydin from AUB’s Suliman S. Olayan ​​​School of Business (OSB) share more information about sponsoring the category.

Why is case writing & teaching on the topic of “Family Business” important?

Family businesses comprise the backbone of many economies. Family businesses account for about two-thirds or more of all businesses at a global level. Organizational dynamics differ in family businesses compared to other types of businesses, and it is important to have the breadth of learning materials that focuses on this type of business.

Family businesses bring to learning a host of interesting topics pertaining to leadership, governance, business ethics, and finance. By affirming the particularities of family businesses, we help develop proper understandings and solutions to problems that uniquely face family businesses.

What are the reasons that Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut (AUB) is encouraging case writing on the topic by sponsoring the category?

AUB case competition judges have selected “Family Feud at Aldi Nord (Germany)” as the winning case in the family business category for its well written, fascinating story with interesting details and relevant topics to be addressed in the family business. This case will provide students with an interesting set of issues to ponder upon. But most importantly, the instructor material (teaching notes), were particularly rich and well developed and provided several ways for the instructors to manage the class discussion.

The instructor material (teaching notes), were particularly rich and well developed and provided several ways for the instructors to manage the class discussion.

Case study teaching has, for a very long time, proven to be transformative in business school education. Our faculty at the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at AUB has been at the forefront on both fronts. We believe it is imperative to extend this support and culture beyond our school at the global level. It is vital that we contribute to creating contexts and mechanisms to make this part of every business school’s culture.

We want to congratulate the winners who competed with a great pool of submitted cases. Supporting case teaching and case writing contributes to our mission of enabling world-class business research, learning, and knowledge transfer from our authoritative anchor point within the MENA region to the whole world.

About Sponsorship

Each year, more than 17 institutions sponsor categories in the EFMD Case Writing Competition. The choice of category, its exact definition and any specific conditions are the privileges of the sponsor. Sponsorships for the following categories are currently available – Bringing Technology to Market, Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence, and MENA Business Cases. If you are interested in sponsoring the mentioned categories or launching a new category relevant to case writing and teaching, please contact Hansol Park at hansol.park@efmdglobal.org.

More information about the 2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition can be found on the EFMD Global Case Writing Competition page.

Please visit the Case Centre’s webpage to access the collection of the winning cases.