2021 EFMD Case Writing Competition winners interview series: Responsible Business

responsible business - tender greens

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

The following interview is with Marilyn Anthony and Neha Mittal of Fox School of Business at Temple University, winning authors from the “Responsible Business” category.

Tender Greens: Keeping the “green” promise in beef sourcing

What was the inspiration for your case?

One of the co-authors was working on a business book about Tender Greens and its innovative business model. Central to the company brand and culture were ethical sourcing, environmental and community social responsibilities. As the company grew rapidly, new stresses on these core values began to emerge. We saw the Tender Greens story as an opportunity for a great teaching case. Students would not only learn about the common supply chain issues that occur when businesses grow, but also face the challenge of understanding how entrepreneurs and business leaders make decisions when there are diverse stakeholders involved in the decision-making process. This case helps students learn how careful balancing of one’s stakeholder perspectives while remaining true to your core values is the key to sustainable success.

What were the major challenges in designing the case?

Initially, the biggest challenge was understanding the scope of the case. At first, our thought was to write a case dealing with supply chain issues (logistics, inventory management, warehousing, and sourcing) because Tender Greens was expanding its operations from the West Coast to the East. But deeper conversations with co-founder Erik Oberholtzer exposed much more than sourcing or logistics issues. The case became richer as a multi-criteria decision-making problem that involved ethics, economics, and business values. It took us a couple of meetings, a few email exchanges, and a lot of reading to understand the problem. In addition, we wanted to explain the complex beef supply chain so that students understood the implications of the available choices. We had to teach ourselves about the complexities of beef sourcing and designations as we were shaping the case.

In what ways do you believe the case could impact society and business in the future?

Today the field of supply chain has grown to include sustainability and CSR (corporate social responsibility) issues. It is more important than ever for business leaders to understand how these values and principles often drive core supply chain decisions, such as sourcing and purchasing (in this case, buying only ethically raised meat) or logistics (Tender Greens determined they will never use frozen meat).

This case discusses the viewpoints of different social groups (farmers, consumers, investors, and animal protection groups) that affect the sourcing decision for Tender Greens. It tries to balance each of their perspectives, such as:

  • Farmers: ensure they produce ethical beef and remain in business
  • Animals: ensure that the animals were humanely and sustainably raised.
  • Consumers: ensure that its customers ate the best-quality beef with the greatest taste and texture.
  • Investor: ensure a long-term shareholder value

An important learning from this case is that every business should consider the different perspectives of all its stakeholders and try to balance them in the most optimal way possible. Increasingly discerning customers want to support responsible businesses. If companies are genuine in their values-driven commitments and actions, they stand to attract and retain loyal customers and employees, contributing to their long-term financial success.

Listen to a podcast by the authors about their case.

The Sponsor’s Commentary

The category “Responsible Business” is kindly sponsored by The American University in Cairo (AUC), School of Business. EFMD greatly values the sponsorship, the expertise and the effort of the sponsor to contribute to the Case Writing Competition.

Why is case writing and teaching on Responsible Business important? And what are the reasons that AUC School of Business encourages case writing on Responsible Business by sponsoring this category?

Business schools have been incorporating responsible business practices into their curriculum as part of their efforts to prepare students as responsible business leaders. One of the ways of incorporating responsible business in the classroom is through the use of case studies, which introduce students to real-world situations and, hence, help develop their problem-solving and analytical skills to enable them in identifying impactful responsible business practices.

The American University in Cairo School of Business is honoured to be sponsoring the responsible business track in order to shed more light on a topic of great importance and one of the School’s main focus areas. This comes in alignment with El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC)’s mission, which aims to promote the development and usage of quality case studies in business education.

About Sponsorship

EFMD Case Writing Competition is proud to have dedicated sponsors who drive management education towards impactful teaching and learning. Sponsoring categories allows you to showcase your institution’s expertise in the specific field of management education in the wide EFMD network. 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 and Continuous Improvement: the Journey to Excellence. If you are interested in sponsoring the mentioned categories or launching a new category relevant to case writing and teaching, please check out our category sponsorship opportunities page or contact Hansol Park at hansol.park@efmdglobal.org.

More information about the 2021 EFMD Case Writing Competition can be found on the EFMD Case Writing Competition page. Please visit The Case Centre’s webpage to access the collection of the winning cases.