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Harvard courses focus on India cases

India-focused cases are in demand as MBA and executive education faculty seek to add content from emerging markets

M Saraswathy & Kalpana Pathak  |  Mumbai 

(HBS) is expanding its presence in India through adoption of more India-based cases and new offerings in The base of Indian case studies at HBS has risen to 90 in the last one year, and will see more additions in the coming time, says the school. “There are a lot more new India-focussed cases coming up in the next few years. We are still concentrating on building this up, gathering and creating more teaching material. It will take some time as it is a long process, and a lot of work goes into it,” said Stefan H Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Faculty Chair for HBS in India.

Over the last five years since HBS opened its India Research Centre housed at Mahindra Towers, Mumbai, around 15 cases related to India have been published each year. Prior to that, there were fewer cases being written on India. This is reflective of a broader trend in business education around the world. Before the year 2000, business schools and curricula did not have significant global content. Today, given the global macroeconomic scenario and the importance of understanding how to do business in emerging economies, there is greater need to create global content.

These cases are taught at (MBA and Executive Education). They are also taught in business schools around the world, as well as in other Executive Education programmes and company training programmes around the world. The largest consumer of India-Focused cases are US B-schools, as faculty in MBA and Executive Education programmes seek to add more content from emerging markets like India into their curriculum. 

  • HBS has done 90 Indian case studies till date
  • Over the last five years, about 15 India-focussed cases have been published each year
  • Harvard Business Publishing India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Publishing Corporation, last year signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore to source 24 case studies from the institute every year
  • Globally, the cases priced at $3 per student for use in MBA programmes and $6.95 per student for use in Executive Education
  • There will be a total of seven executive education programmes of HBS this year, which are tweaked to meet local needs

Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, last year signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Bangalore (IIM-B) to source 24 case studies from the institute every year. HBP publishes content for academics, students, and professionals. is the only institute from India and fourth from Asia that supplies case studies to HBP.

“Our agreement is that we will supply about 24 cases to HBP every year. We are putting only new cases written by faculty. We started this last year,” said Professor Dinesh Kumar, Chairperson, Research and Publications, IIM-Bangalore. Kumar added had gone through a process where it received a lot of tips on how to style the case, etc. Harvard hand-holded IIM-B for about a year. HBP distributes the cases to B-schools and corporates globally, including over 75 B-schools in India which use the cases extensively in their curriculum. Globally, these are priced at $3 per student for use in MBA programmes and $6.95 per student for use in Executive Education. However, Indian schools are charged a lot less in an effort to make the content more accessible to the faculty and students.

Executive Education offerings is another area where HBS is striving to expand its presence in the country. The institute began its Executive Education in India in 2006-07 with few programmes, but has expanded the portfolio gradually. This year, there will be a total of seven Executive Education programmes in India. “HBS has broadened its portfolio in India in terms of research and cases, and executive education will play a crucial part in this endeavour. Our programme portfolio folder has been increasing gradually, and we hope to keep it on a steady rise. So, you will have this and more in the future,” Thomke said

All the HBS programmes have been tweaked to cater to the Indian executives. The teaching methodology in particular, has been tweaked to be relevant to the local context. For example, HBS used the Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) ‘Sactor’ innovation case study in ITS Executive Education programme on innovation, to help executives understand equipment sector innovation. The case study involved analysis of the project at M&M to produce a tractor with an in-built trolley that could be used for non-farm purposes.

“The questions you get in such focussed case-based discussions are also very different from what we see in other countries. For example, we invited M&M executives to answer questions related to this particular case, so that the participants could understand the subject better. Overall, there has been a healthy mix of India-focussed cases and global cases, because this is what the executives want,” Thomke added.

He said management innovation would be one topic that will be taught every year in India. He said HBS has put more of marketing aspects to the course, that makes it unique to India. HBP is also looking for different channels to cater to the Indian leadership.

First Published: Thu, August 30 2012. 00:54 IST