Vlerick case study in The Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling cases

Professor Philippe Haspeslagh’s Electrolux case study is ranked in fourteenth place in the top 40 best-selling cases of The Case Centre, an international not-for-profit organisation that promotes the case teaching method worldwide. To mark its 40th anniversary, The Case Centre compiled a list of the 40 best-selling cases worldwide from its foundation in 1973 to the present day. Philippe is delighted with this recognition: "The fact that my case is on this list means that many other lecturers use my material. It also proves that the management challenge in this case has stood the test of time and continues to be just as relevant today."

The unique approach of case method learning

“Case teaching is a subtle mix of structured discussion and being open to the turn the class takes, so that everyone can identify with the situation and can project his or her own ideas and experience onto the case. The resulting confrontation should foster a broader and deeper understanding among executive education students. There are no real answers, but there are always better questions and insights", explains Philippe Haspeslagh when we ask him what makes case teaching so unique. “Rather than being an application of theory that has already been taught, the actual role of such case studies in a learning experience is to allow students to explore the problems inductively, to situate them, and to understand which decisions are vital and what their impact is. Cases that illustrate a failure as well as cases that describe a success story – like Electrolux Zanussi – are both very useful.”

Cases are therefore an essential part of Vlerick Business School's research strategy, explains Research Manager Eva Cools: “We find it extremely important to turn our knowledge into action. Writing cases for courses is the perfect way to do this, as the theory and insights from research are combined with business community practices. It is one thing to share knowledge through cases, but obviously they also have to be used in classes. The fact that this case is in the top 40 of best-selling cases worldwide shows that our insights are being put into practice."

Case: “Electrolux: the acquisition and integration of Zanussi”

This case describes Electrolux’s acquisition approach. Originally a small vacuum cleaner company from Sweden, it grew into the largest producer of household appliances in the world, mainly through acquisitions. The key question is how to deal with acquisitions within the overarching company strategy. A description of Zanussi's integration and the organisational changes made within the group provides a good insight into which acquisition practices and cultures can be successful. It also highlights which points are important during the various phases of the integration process. The case also illustrates how competition has evolved in many sectors, from fragmented regional competition to a concentrated global battle to achieve market leadership.

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