Vlerick – IMD ‘TerraCycle’ teaching case wins 2012 oikos Case Writing Competition

The collaborative work of Vlerick Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy Jan Lepoutre, IMD Professor Stuart Read and IMD Research Associate Philippe Margery on their ‘TerraCycle’ teaching case has been awarded first place in theSocial Entrepreneurship Track of the 2012 oikos Case Writing Competition. This competition bestows one of the most prestigious awards for teaching cases published in the domain of corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship.

The TerraCycle case tells the story of Tom Szaky, an entrepreneur and Princeton University (USA) drop-out, who founded the successful ecological company TerraCycle in 2001 and is still its CEO today. TerraCycle is built on the dream of eliminating waste by creating recycling systems for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste. In other words, the company uses waste as a resource to produce consumer and industrial goods. It all started with a plant fertilizer composed of liquefied worm faeces. Since then, TerraCycle has become one of the fastest-growing green companies in the world.

TerraCycle is a great case for seeing how a passionate individual develops a venture from a dream,” explains Vlerick Professor Jan Lepoutre. “What makes the story so beautiful is that it is a constant stream of setbacks that are overcome by the entrepreneurs and lead to some very interesting dilemmas to be addressed when growing a company. Through the case, students get a real feel for what it means to bring a bold idea into reality.”

About the oikos Case Writing Competition

The annual oikos Case Writing Competition promotes the development of new high-quality case studies in the field of sustainability management, strategy and social entrepreneurship. The oikos Foundation for Economy and Ecology at the University of St. Gallen established the Global Case Writing Competition in 2003 to create a body of knowledge about sustainable management practices that could be used by university professors at business schools around the world. Currently, the competition has two tracks: a Corporate Sustainability Track and a Social Entrepreneurship Track.

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