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 Imane El Ghazali and Zoulikha Maaroufi, the winning authors from the ESCA Ecole de Management, in the “MENA Business Cases” category.
How Can an African Company Stand Out in the Premium Shoe Market? The Benson shoes case in Morocco
Could you share with us what the greatest inspiration for your case was?
The greatest inspiration for the case was the opportunity to capture the success story of a North African business operating in the premium shoe market. In fact, inspiration came from the company itself, from the nature of its activity, from its origin. We were first surprised to discover that this company was a Moroccan brand since most Moroccan customers assumed it was a foreign one, specifically a British brand.
The sector was also very appealing to us because it is one of the key sectors in Morocco, whose companies faced many constraints and challenges, especially with regard to the big local and international competition. Moreover, we were intrigued by the uniqueness of the company’s model in the North African context, the know-how of a shoemaker with an interesting production process (the British Goodyear welted). So the way a Small and Medium Enterprise, a Moroccan family-owned company with very limited resources and minimal corporate communication, could assert its brand locally and internationally in a market dominated by big international companies was a huge inspiration for our case.
What were the major challenges in designing the case?
We took up several challenges when designing our case. Firstly, we aimed to work on a case that would inspire business educators, students, and managers within the region and worldwide, which could trigger rich classroom discussions. We aimed to create a case study that would provide an added value to both the academic and the business worlds.
We had some minor challenges regarding information and data collection related to the sector and the competition, given the lack of studies and published data.
Producing a case that represents one of the real difficulties and constraints of the region’s companies was also a big challenge we wished to address. Besides, we had some minor challenges regarding information and data collection related to the sector and the competition, given the lack of studies and published data. However, we were very lucky to collaborate closely with the Benson shoe company. Thus the primary resources were easily available.
In what ways, according to you, could the case impact society and business in the near future?
The MENA region has been facing new challenges for many years and therefore overflows with companies that develop interesting business models and innovative practices. Moreover, the request for cases from this region has noticeably increased. So, working on cases like the one we produced can be useful for students and faculty in Moroccan universities and foreign universities to better understand the region’s companies in terms of complexity, practices, specificities, and successes. It will also give managers a clear view of the business environment and the important challenges that other managers face in their markets.
Indeed, our case can help increase the number of quality business cases that cover the MENA region because of the lack of case studies focusing on businesses and corporates in this part of the world. So, with more cases, the students from the region can analyze and discuss, along with international case studies, cases from their own culture and own context. In fact, our case will help prepare future local leaders that can deal with their business environment and consequently better serve their markets progress. It will also provide the world with valuable knowledge about the local companies. And this is what gives enormous satisfaction to our desire to bring out the cases of the region on local and international scales.
How was the peer-review feedback as part of the submission process to The Case Focus Journal valuable?
The peer-review feedback was quite valuable for each submission process, from work on the submission requirements to the final submitted version. The reviewers’ feedback and recommendations enabled us, among other aspects, to reconsider some of the case parts, to reach a better framing of our work and to focalize on the key information regarding the main case issues.
Publishing in the inaugural issue of the Case Focus Journal edited by the Case Centre was such an honour to us.
Publishing in the inaugural issue of the Case Focus Journal edited by the Case Centre was such an honour to us. It is a peer-review journal and therefore attests to the case quality. It is also a journal dedicated to the MEA Region. It covers case studies that share certain specificities and shed light on the various challenges and the different constraints facing the companies in the region; so, it was a great pleasure to be among the published cases.
The peer-review process and the opportunity to publish in the Case Focus Journal enabled us to benefit from the validation of experts. This, in turn, allowed us to submit this quality business case to the prestigious EFMD Case Writing Competition. We were extremely honoured to be the winners of the MENA Business cases category.
Each year, more than 14 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 email@example.com.
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.