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UCD College of Business takes home category win at The Case Centre Awards

  • Date: Mon, Mar 1, 2021

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UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School’s Assistant Professor Ciaran Heavey and Assistant Professor Dorota Piaskowska won the Strategy and General Management Category at The 2021 Case Centre Awards for their study, Ryanair: Flying Too Close to the Sun?

Now in their 31st year, the Case Centre Awards are an annual celebration of excellence in case writing and teaching at schools of business, management and government worldwide. With 11 awards and six competitions, this year’s results are characterised by a record 30 individuals winning their first award or competition, including Heavey and Piaskowska.

Their case explores Ryanair’s growth and challenges in the period 2013 to 2018 following the launch of its “Always Getting Better” programme. Between 2013 and 2018, Ryanair successfully planned and delivered a strategic turnaround, cementing its position as Europe’s number one airline. The “Always Getting Better” programme introduced a host of changes to improve customer experience from online booking, to smoother travel and related services. This helped Ryanair digitally transform towards a travel platform.

Initially, passengers and profits grew as the airline expanded into new routes and services but, by 2017, it faced new challenges. Mishandling of pilot holiday rostering, frequent inabilities to conclude labour agreements, and the UK's withdrawal from the EU was starting to affect customer perception and its profits.

“We developed this case to address a specific learning need among our students, and in light of a gap in the market for a case study showcasing the evolution of a business model and the digital transformation of a firm in a mature industry,” said Heavey and Piaskowska. “The fact that there are few other such cases is probably one of the reasons for its popularity. We also designed the case to be modular so that instructors could use it in ways that best suit their needs. This adds to the versatility of the case.”

The authors continued, “Students find this case study relatable as many of them have first-hand experience flying with low-cost airlines. We benefited tremendously from the feedback of our undergraduate, graduate and executive students when developing this case and would like to thank them for being such enthusiastic learners.”

This unprecedented year of the pandemic, has seen most schools switch to teaching online, bringing the unique challenge of reimagining case pedagogy outside the live classroom, including the core discussion element. This has necessitated fresh thinking, problem solving and courage on the part of faculty worldwide to rapidly adapt case materials and their teaching.

“The 2021 Awards and Competitions reveal a new generation of case method talent emerging across the globe with an astonishing, record breaking, 30 new laureates,” said Richard McCracken, Director of The Case Centre. “Educators have faced challenges during the pandemic, especially to take teaching - including case classes - online. This has highlighted the need for cases to adapt… We anticipate that teaching with cases online will become an enduring norm as part of blended programmes. So, building on our learning from this year’s Awards, we will be encouraging published authors in The Case Centre catalogue to update teaching notes to reflect the new online teaching reality,” concluded McCracken.

Results in full below:


Overall winner
Dollar Shave Club: Disrupting the Shaving Industry Jamie Anderson, Antwerp Management School; Karin Kollenz-Quétard, EDHEC Business School; and Nader Tavassoli, London Business School

Economics, Politics and Business Environment
IKEA in Saudi Arabia (A) Karthik Ramanna, Jérôme Lenhardt and Marc Homsy, Harvard Business School

TikTok's AI Strategy: ByteDance's Global Ambitions Jason Davis, Minh Vo and Anne Yang, INSEAD

Ethics and Social Responsibility
Enel's Innovability: Global Open Innovation and Sustainability Felipe Monteiro and José Miguel García Benavente, INSEAD

Finance, Accounting and Control
Ferrari: The 2015 Initial Public Offering Michael J Schill and Jenny Craddock, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour
Amazon as an Employer An Ivey Publishing case by Jyotsna Bhatnagar and Shweta Jaiswal Thakur, Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon

Knowledge, Information and Communication Systems Management
Disney Enters Streaming Space: Can It Disrupt the Disruptor? Syeda Maseeha Qumer and Debapratim Purkayastha, ICFAI Business School (IBS)

TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B Steven Sweldens, Stefano Puntoni, Niela Kleinsmith and Tao Yue, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and Matthieu Campion, TomTom Automotive

Production and Operations Management
Ant Financial (A) Feng Zhu, Krishna G Palepu, Anthony K Woo and Nancy Hua Dai, Harvard Business School and Ying Zhang, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Strategy and General Management
Ryanair: Flying Too Close to the Sun? An Ivey Publishing case by Ciaran Heavey and Dorota Piaskowska, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

Free case
Tesla's Entry into the US Auto Industry Donald N Sull and Cate Reavis, MIT Sloan School of Management

Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method
Paul Beamish, Ivey Business School

Outstanding Case Teacher
Mats Urde, Lund University School of Economics and Management

Outstanding Case Writer
Kobe Influencer Marketing: Building Brand Awareness via Social Media Patricia Lui and Lipika Bhattacharya, Singapore Management University

Outstanding Case Writer: Hot Topic ‘UN Sustainable Development Goals’
Barnana: Adventures in Upcycling Jeremy Dann, Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, USC Marshall School of Business

Outstanding Compact Case
Nora Lang: Pay Equity at FTS Matthew Sooy, Lauren Iuliani and W Spencer Ashby, Ivey Business School

Outstanding New Case Writer
The Roy René Confectionery Is 100 years: Celebrating Brand Heritage to Sustain a New Strategy Fabien Pecot, York Management School and Virginie de Barnier, IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management

The Case Centre Awards and Competitions recognise outstanding case writers and teachers from across the globe. These prestigious accolades celebrate worldwide excellence in case writing and teaching and are now considered the case method community's annual 'Oscars'.

Awards for cases are presented for ten management categories plus an Overall Winner Award and a ‘free’ case. Each year, an award is also made to recognise an individual who has made an Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method.

The Outstanding Case Teacher competition recognises an excellent practitioner in the case classroom.

Three case writing competitions are held each year to find an outstanding case writer, an outstanding first-time case writer and to identify the best new case written on a topical ‘Hot topic’, this year, Diversity and Discrimination.

The Awards are in their 31st year. They have been awarded on a global basis since 2011 (previously European Awards).

Management categories, including the ‘free case’ and Overall Winner Award, are presented to those cases that have been used in the largest number of organisations across the globe in the past year. Cases that have been added to The Case Centre’s collection in the past five years are eligible. The Overall Award goes to the most popular case across all categories.

The Case Centre is the independent home of the case method and is dedicated to advancing the case method worldwide, sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience to inspire and transform business education across the globe. It is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity.


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