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The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society


Award-Winning INSEAD Cases on Sustainability among 2023 Best-sellers

case centre awards blog

The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

Award-Winning INSEAD Cases on Sustainability among 2023 Best-sellers

Award-Winning INSEAD Cases on Sustainability among 2023 Best-sellers

INSEAD classrooms are incubators of business leadership, a space for inquisitive minds to explore the future of business with researchers examining the latest challenges. In early 2024, INSEAD professors were recognised by the Case Centre for pathbreaking research at the cutting edge of the latest business trends. Three of these top cases put sustainability in focus. 

The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2024 is the latest accolade that underscores our professors’ thought leadership. Since 1991, the Case Centre Awards are presented to cases used in the largest number of business schools over the previous year. These cases introduce students to the latest and most relevant business challenges. A look at the bestselling cases is a look into the classroom conversations in business schools around the world. In February, INSEAD won three category awards, with the case Does Sustainability Pay? Barry Callebaut's Sustainability Improvement Loan winning the Economics, Politics and Business Environment category.

This comes just after the Case Centre announced in January that INSEAD professors performed exceptionally well in the list of best-selling cases of 2023. The list is based on sales in the preceding calendar year and highlights the top 15 cases in each of 10 major subject areas. Our faculty authored 11 of the most popular cases of 2023 and 12 of the best-selling classic cases, business scenarios that remain relevant over time. INSEAD cases on sustainability were among the best-sellers, including the award-winning case on chocolate-maker Barry Callebaut. These cases are widely used in management education as teaching tools.

To show how INSEAD is transforming business education beyond our own classrooms, the Hoffmann Institute is highlighting our award-winning case and the best-selling cases that focus on sustainability. 

Does Sustainability Pay?

The winning case of the Economics, Politics and Business Environment category explored an important question, Does Sustainability Pay? Barry Callebaut's Sustainability Improvement Loan. Written by Professor of Finance Lucie Tepla and Lisa Simone Duke of INSEAD, the case is focused on Barry Callebaut, the largest B2B cocoa and chocolate company in the world, supplying major chocolate brands such as Nestlé, Hershey, Unilever and Mondelēz. In 2016, the company launched the ‘Forever Chocolate’ programme to achieve four goals by 2025:

  • Eradicate child labour from the supply chain

  • Lift half a million cocoa farmers out of poverty

  • Become carbon and forest-positive

  • Ensure 100% sustainable ingredients in all products

The company also took a bold step and linked their ESG rating with their credit interest rate, tying financial performance to their sustainability mission. When their ESG score fell, the company faced a significant challenge. In the classroom, students discover how the company was able to align ‘Forever Chocolate’ progress with the ESG score before the interest rate increase was triggered. 

VW Emissions Scandal

The case Volkswagen's Emissions Scandal: How Could It Happen? by Craig Smith and Erin McCormick of INSEAD examines the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ scandal. Engineers at VW programmed software in cars to cheat emissions tests and conceal on-the-road emissions of more than 40 times permitted levels. The case explores the origins of internal and external forces behind marketing environmentally sustainable “clean diesel” cars that actually emit far more than claimed. 

Ethics and social responsibility are an important component of the sustainability transformation. Consumer’s need confidence that they are buying responsible goods and services. In the sustainability era., greenwashing and deception are a significant reputational risk. By discussing the consequences of organizational misconduct by a big brand, students better understand responsible business leadership. And in looking at VW’s decisions, they learn about crisis response. 

Financing a Social Enterprise

The Nuru Energy (A): Financing a Social Enterprise case by Professor Filipe Santos and Senior Research Associate Anne-Marie Carrick showed what it takes to bootstrap a social venture aimed at affordable lighting solutions for 800 million people without electricity grid access in sub-Saharan Africa and India. It focuses on financial challenges and different financing options – market-based vs. donor-based – to assess the merits and drawbacks of funding alternatives.

Studying the early stage of Nuru Energy growth opens opportunities to understand social investment from donors to impact investors and the importance of a sustainable business model. It also creates space to discuss the role of the social entrepreneur, how to achieve focus and avoid burn-out. Great lessons for those looking to start ventures that turn profit while making positive impact.

From Concept to Classroom

Each of these award-winning cases showcases an important aspect of sustainability. By exploring how chocolate makers are creating more resilient and equitable supply chains, leaders can chart their own sustainability journey. By examining sustainability scandal, companies can avoid a similar crisis. By seeing the challenges of starting a social venture firsthand, entrepreneurs can see what works. 

INSEAD is founded on rigor and relevance in teaching and research. In these cases, we can see that INSEAD academic excellence is not limited to our campuses and online learning. Our professors enable other institutions to teach leaders the why and how of sustainability action. It is one more way we’re working to make business a force for good. 

Congratulations to all INSEAD case authors recognized in the Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2024. The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society looks forward to supporting more INSEAD cases with sustainability in focus.

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