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 Namratha Prasad of ICFAI Business School, the winner of the “Family Business” category.
‘Pollo Campero, the Taste of Latin America: Can it Capture the US?’
What was the inspiration for your case?
I was fascinated by the fact that Pollo Campero was a family business that originated in a small and relatively unknown Central American country and went on to become one of the most successful “Multilatinas”. Throughout its journey, Pollo Campero kept a family-centric mindset, as it believed that family values were essential to its growth and success. In contrast to most brands in the chicken QSR segment that focused on fast service and a focused menu, Pollo Campero went the extra mile to delight its customers by fostering a feeling of home. The concept of R.E.I.R. (Respect. Excellence. Integrity. Responsibility) was adopted in the way it took care of its customers.
Thus, Pollo Campero showed that family businesses had certain values that were reflected in their commitment to quality, customer service, and interactions with employees/franchisees. It focused on growing by staying true to its roots and keeping its essence, rather than being solely profit-oriented and that was a quality that could be emulated by all organizations.
What were the major challenges in designing the case?
One of the main challenges was the limited availability of information, especially related to Pollo Campero’s international expansion in Asia. It became evident that the company had a major setback in its international expansion plans in those markets and it was simply unwilling to talk about it. Such paucity of information had the potential to adversely affect the flow of the case. But I was able to piece together what happened by going through various blogs and reading between the lines in the company’s strategy talk.
It was also a challenge to get information about the next generation and how the family business that had grown to become the multi-billion dollar conglomerate – CMI – would accommodate members of the Gutiérrez family. Several articles gave hints about family clashes, but the family members never talked to the press about them. As the family business continued to flourish through the years, it became evident that there had been successful efforts to ensure that the family issues did not hurt the business.
What would you like to highlight from your case?
Pollo Campero’s focus on the family and on making the customer feel like they were a part of its family, turned out to be highly profitable for it in Latin America where the family unit was considered the single most important unit. Its family meals to cater to large families were not only a major draw for families but also served to make the average tickets at the company double that of the competition. It enforced the successful business practices of its home market in international markets, which helped its growth. Its average ticket in the US was between US$ 23 and US$ 25, which was more than twice that of the average QSR transaction of US$ 10.99.
In addition, Pollo Campero did not hesitate to take a long and hard look at its strategic business direction from time to time. It carefully studied the external environment of its business and took the necessary corrective action as and when needed. That provides a valuable lesson to management professionals that they have to keep a close watch on a company’s fast-changing environment and steer it effectively, especially in unfamiliar international markets.
How do you believe your findings could impact society and business in the future?
The success of Pollo Campero shows that family businesses can use their family-oriented values and business practices to attract customers, especially in the service industry – where customers craved a homely atmosphere and a sense of belonging. Furthermore, in an increasingly globalized world, it was evident that it was not the country from which a company originates that decides its success, but it is its business values and management competency.
Unlike other companies that have a general risk-averse view of the world and focus on short-term profits, family businesses take a long-term view that allows them to focus on long-term growth, margins, and returns. The long-term outlook means that they are better equipped to look favourably at global opportunities that could take a long time to give back the returns on investments. Likewise, family businesses are better equipped to handle the growth and the transition of becoming a multi-cultural, multi-locational company.
Delve into a wealth of valuable insights within the remaining Case Writing Competition interviews.
The Sponsor’s Commentary
The category “Family Business” is kindly sponsored by Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut. EFMD greatly values the sponsorship, the expertise and the effort of the sponsor to contribute to the Case Writing Competition.
Randa Salamoun, Director of The Case Hub at The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut shares more information about sponsoring this category.
The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business reaffirms its engagement to promote the case method. It launched The Case Hub in 2022 to support case writers, educators, and case adopters in the Arab MENA and beyond.
In the current global context, why is case writing and teaching on Family Business important?
With family businesses accounting for more than 70% of businesses worldwide, it is important to acknowledge their contribution to global economic development. In the current global context, all businesses can benefit from the management philosophies and operational approaches of family businesses. To name a few, many family businesses have managed tradition and innovation side by side and studying how they preserve their core values while adopting new technologies and practices would be of value. Family businesses are often deeply rooted in local communities, supporting community development and engagement, and understanding their process and impact could guide strategies for enhancing community well-being. Family businesses take a long-term view of success, prioritising values over short-term profits, this could provide lessons for other business models seeking sustainable growth.
Studying family businesses is essential for comprehending their multifaceted contributions to the global economy, identifying best practices, and addressing unique challenges they face. Insights gained from such studies could inform policy decisions, business strategies, and academic research to support their continued success.
And what are the reasons Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut encourages case writing on Family Business by sponsoring this category?
The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business and the American University of Beirut are very much rooted within their community. In both Lebanon and the MENA region, family businesses have a substantial economic contribution and a significant role in both the regional and the global economies, they create jobs, ensure employment stability, and are a source of innovation.
With the substantial percentage of family businesses and the decreasing percentage of family businesses that make it through generations, less than 5% making it to the fourth, it is important to learn from existing cases to address strategic issues such as the important interpersonal dimensions and the intersection of complex family dynamics with operations and decision making, the unique governance challenges that derive from the intertwining of family and business interests, and succession planning necessary for successful leadership changes. Exploring challenges, alternatives, and best practices can lead to improved decision-making and better chances to move to the next generation.
Furthermore, case studies could represent a unique tool to train the next-generation leaders of family businesses, offering them an immersive learning experience and firsthand insights into real-world problems and challenges with no risk, as the saying goes: ‘It’s better to learn and make mistakes on someone else’s dime.’ Next-gen leaders would not only learn about the intricacies of family businesses but also develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy skills that they can apply in their own family businesses.
What would you like to highlight from the winning case?
“Pollo Campera, the Taste of Latin America: Can it Capture the US?” is a perfect example of a case study describing the successful trajectory and internationalisation of a family business. The author conveyed the family dynamics and business specifics and described the unique aspects of family-owned businesses that played a part in this success. The case covers multiple interesting aspects of this family business: it describes the family dynamics; it illustrates how family businesses can build on their values and family spirit to differentiate and create a unique customer experience.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.