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 Syeda Maseeha Qumer of ICFAI, the winner of the “Corporate Social Responsibility” category.
‘Back Market and the Global E-Waste Crisis’
What was the inspiration for your case?
One of the primary reasons for writing this case is to help students understand the problem of electronic waste (e-waste) and the role of refurbished technology in a Circular Economy. E-waste is the fastest-growing and most complex waste stream and a growing environmental problem globally as technology continues to develop at speed. Levels of electronics consumption are high in both developed and developing countries and many consumer electronics are designed with short life spans. By 2030, the e-waste generated per annum will reach 74 million tons per year.
I felt a business case based on this theme would help bring these critical issues to the classroom and help students understand the problem of e-waste and the need for companies to address it. Back Market is an online marketplace that brings refurbished gadgets to a wider consumer market and contributes to the circular economy by adopting the Product Life Extension Model.
What were the major challenges in designing the case?
Developing an intriguing case study can be a challenge. One of the challenges in preparing the case was to write an engaging narrative. Another critical task was to align the case narrative with the learning goals and the teaching plan. When one has vast information on an issue, choosing the appropriate data relevant to your case study and integrating ideas well can be tough.
The challenge was to present all sides of the e-waste issue and link it to a particular concept or theory to enhance learning outcomes for students. For this case, I explored various theoretical sources related to the e-waste value chain, the circular economy, refurbished technology etc.
What would you like to highlight from your case?
The case explores how e-waste is a complex environmental issue and the role companies like Back Market can play in combating it. E-waste is the most toxic waste in landfills – harming humans and the environment. Around 50 million metric tons of e-waste are generated globally every year. One of the primary goals of this case is to help students understand the problem of e-waste and the role of refurbished technology in a Circular Economy.
With e-waste being such a critical challenge for sustainable development, this case helps students relate well to the problem and how businesses can drive change on the ground. The case highlights how Back Market is tackling the problem of e-waste by giving expertly restored devices a second life and offering them at affordable prices. By prolonging the life of millions of consumer electronic devices, Back Market is creating low-cost access to high-quality products and encouraging more consumers to use its refurbished products.
How do you believe your findings could impact society and business in the future?
This case was designed for courses such as Corporate Sustainability/ Corporate Social Responsibility/ Business Ethics. As such, it has the objective of impacting society and how business should be conducted today and in the future. This case illustrates the potential of businesses, through the philosophy of CSR, to assist in reducing the amount and impacts of e-waste. It tackles several concepts such as e-waste, sustainability, responsible business and circularity.
In working with the case, students are led to think about effective solutions to environmental challenges facing our planet. With a focus on the role of refurbished technology in a Circular Economy, this case study encourages students to think and act responsibly in the digital world and what they can do to help tackle issues such as e-waste and climate change. Back Market enhances consumers’ awareness and understanding of refurbishment as a unique and suitable alternative for new products, builds consumer trust in refurbished tech and influences consumer behaviour to make refurbished their first choice for electronic purchases.
This case emphasizes that companies must focus as much on social and environmental concerns as they do on profits and that consumers should change their consumption behaviours.
Delve into a wealth of valuable insights within the remaining Case Writing Competition interviews.
EFMD Case Writing Competition is proud to have dedicated sponsors who drive management education towards impactful teaching and learning. Sponsoring a category 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, Continuous Improvement: the Journey to Excellence, Hidden Champions, Responsible Business, MENA Business Cases, and Responsible Leadership. 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 email@example.com.
More information about the 2022 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. See other interviews from this series.