The Importance and Impact of Case Writing at Babson College
Babson College faculty across divisions continually infuse real-world examples into the classroom through their own experiences, guest speakers, field work, and especially case studies.
Case writing, in particular, has allowed Babson faculty to extend their research and expertise beyond the classroom. For its excellence, Babson College recently was recognized by The Case Centre Impact Index, a new annual ranking of organizations based on the global reach and impact of their case writing. Babson was ranked No. 14, among the best business schools and organizations in the world.
“The case method has a long history of supporting research, teaching, and academic excellence at Babson College,” Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD said. “Case writing continues to add value to our status as a global leader in entrepreneurship education and thought leadership.”
The Case Centre is the independent home of the case method, which remains an irreplaceable cornerstone of management education. The newly introduced Impact Index, derived from usage data from The Case Centre, shines a light on the global reach and impact of business schools’ case writing during the previous academic year.
“As a longtime case writer, I am thrilled to learn about Babson’s impact globally,” Babson Professor Jay Rao P’21 ’24 said. “I don’t always expect a case to have such a wide impact. Of course, it is very gratifying when a case is used globally.”
Here, Babson faculty members who have written four of the College’s bestselling cases share their thoughts on the new ranking and the importance and impact of case writing on students and the world.
“Content without the context is a commodity and pretty much useless,” said Rao, a professor in the Operations and Information Management Division. “Case studies provide the strong real-world context to all sound principles, methods, and tools in an applied social science like business management. Cases are fantastic vehicles to develop students’ critical-thinking skills and provide a holistic understanding of complex challenges. By examining successful and unsuccessful strategies, students gain valuable insights into the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the real world.
“Moreover, case studies foster collaborative learning. Students get to view each story from diverse perspectives that will prepare them for the tough decision-making demands in their careers.”
“The case method has a long history of supporting research, teaching, and academic excellence at Babson College. Case writing continues to add value to our status as a global leader in entrepreneurship education and thought leadership.”
Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA'92, PhD
Entrepreneurship Professor Andrew “Zach” Zacharakis—author of the bestselling case “Crowdfunding: A Tale of Two Campaigns”—points to the value of cases on early-stage startups in connecting with students in tangible ways.
“We’re fortunate at Babson to have so many of our students and alums pursue entrepreneurial ventures,” said Zacharakis, the John H. Muller Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and the director of the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference since 2006. “While cases on marquee entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and so forth have their place, students often have a hard time relating to these mega entrepreneurs.
“Case studies on early-stage startups as they are happening helps current students put themselves in the entrepreneur’s shoes. Cases on these entrepreneurs are more accessible to our students; they can see themselves creating similar businesses.”
‘Relevant and Practical’
Professor Lidija Polutnik and Associate Professor Megan Way P’26 previously won a prestigious Case Centre Award for their excellence in case writing. The economics professors were recognized in the Economics, Politics and Business Environment category for their case, Apple Watch (A)—The Launch, which examines the market for wearable technology and Apple’s entry into the market with the launch of its Apple Watch.
“We are thrilled that our case, ‘Apple Watch (A)—The Launch’ is reaching the global business education community,” they said. “This is a case that is fun to teach and a topic that is very relatable for students. It is wonderful to have a case that applies the tools of managerial economics being taken up in business classes across the world.”
“We are honored to be recognized by the Case Centre for our cases,” they said. “As finance professors at Babson, we strive to make sure our teaching materials are relevant and practical for students and reflect real-world issues that affect organizations around the world.”
“Case studies foster collaborative learning. Students get to view each story from diverse perspectives that will prepare them for the tough decision-making demands in their careers.”
Babson Professor Jay Rao P’21 ’24
The Case Centre Impact Index factored the number of a school’s cases adopted, the breadth of adoption across organizations and countries, and the number of individual students taught with the cases. Since 2022, The Case Centre has received 16 new cases for distribution from Babson authors. In total, the Babson collection available through The Case Centre tops 570 cases, including 19 prize-winning cases.
Babson’s case collection is split into two elements:
- Entrepreneurial Leader cases and teaching materials incorporate one or more of Entrepreneurial Leadership’s three principles: Cognitive Ambidexterity, Social Environmental and Economic Responsibility and Sustainability (SEERS), and Self and Social Awareness.
- Babson Classic cases teach lessons that stand the test of time, and/or consistently show up on the bestseller list.
Building on its entrepreneurial legacy to advance entrepreneurial thought and action for the world, Babson collaborated with Banco de Chile to immerse 20 faculty members from 10 Chilean universities into the rigorous art of entrepreneurship case writing and teaching. The project has produced 11 Chilean entrepreneurship cases, each with an English and Spanish version.
“Babson faculty not only write and teach innovative cases, but they also have evolved case writing to include simulations, live exercises, and deeper connections to direct application of the lessons being studied,” Spinelli said. “Through this evolved case method, faculty support Babson’s entrepreneurial leadership pedagogy and ensure that our curriculum is rigorous and cutting edge across disciplines.
“Babson remains committed to providing faculty and students with access to the case method as a means to promote experiential learning within the entrepreneurial mindset.”