IMD family business faculty have developed case studies for over 25 years to serve as a basis for classroom discussions. Renowned for their international focus, IMD cases are used in schools all over the world and have proven to be highly effective in developing the necessary capabilities of all members of business owning families at every stage of their lives. The following is a non-exhaustive list of IMD family business cases.
LARSENS CAMP: CRISIS IN KENYA'S ELEPHANT PARADISE
Rohan Patel was looking at the building site outside the window of his third-floor office in Westlands, the upmarket business district of Nairobi, Kenya. Although the construction work would be finished in a few weeks' time, it had taken a total of 18 months to complete and was seriously behind schedule. In early 2009, time was definitely money for Rohan's family firm, Grenadier Limited. The building was to be the first of a chain of contemporary five star hotels catering to the needs of business travelers in urban centers in Africa. The chain would be the latest addition to Grenadier's portfolio. Rohan hoped it would not be plagued by the occupancy problems that Larsens Camp was experiencing - one of the three properties that made up Wilderness Lodges, the company's other luxury hospitality business. The tourist trade in Kenya had been hit by the double whammy of political violence followed by the credit crunch and global recession, both of which had been nothing short of disastrous for the hospitality business.
WATES GROUP (A): A NEW CEO
The Wates family is considering hiring a non-family CEO. They have done this previously, and the experience was not particularly successful. What should they be looking for, and how much space should they give the new CEO to operate as he sees fit? Conversely, as the potential CEO, would you take this job? Learning objectives: To consider the question of when a family company should appoint a non- family CEO.
CORONILLA (A): CHANGE DILEMMAS FOR THE WILLE FAMILY
In the colonial-style house built by the Wille family on the edge of the factory lands, Marta Wille sat facing her fellow shareholders in the family business. It was a warm Sunday afternoon in December 2000, and the pasta plant was silent. After an hour of intense and, at times, acrimonious deliberations, which had been preceded by months of informal discussions, they could still not agree on the future of Fideos Coronilla. Three generations of the German-origin Wille family built the company in Bolivia's Andes Valley, with Marta the current managing director and two of her grown-up children also involved. Coronilla was Wille, and the Wille family lived for Coronilla. The pride was easy to feel, and so was the family's sense of responsibility toward the employees. But the 4% gross profit margin on their pasta sales was no longer even covering operating costs.
AOKANG: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Aokang was one of China's largest shoe manufacturers. In the early period, it was a typical family-run business, with many of the company's high-level posts held by relatives. After two major adjustments, Aokang became a company mainly run by professionals. But Wang Zhentao, the founder of the company still owned 100% of Aokang and had firm control over the company.
STELTON (A): BUYOUT OPPORTUNITY?
March 2004. Michael Ring took a deep breath. He had a momentous decision to make: Should he acquire Stelton? Ever since he had lost his position as managing director at Georg Jensen, he had been searching for that special opportunity to continue doing what he enjoyed most - working with great designers, passionate handcrafters and a well-known brand. Only this time, he wanted to be in charge. But did that mean taking out a huge mortgage on his house and risking everything he and his family owned? The hurdles were not insignificant.
KWS (A): THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENCE
KWS SAAT AG (KWS) was a leader in sugar beet, corn and cereal seed breeding, operating in 70 countries, employing over 2,700 people and reporting revenues of $724 million in FY 2006/07. It had traveled far from its founding in eastern Germany by two friends in 1856. Through the years, the two families operated the business together and moved through successive generations of hands-on management. The company prided itself on its scientific and innovative prowess. Staying on the cutting edge of the seed breeding business required a consistent and dedicated approach to research. Any short-term curtailment of investment in developing seed varieties that responded to customers' specific needs regarding climate, pests or other concerns meant falling behind competitors, perhaps irretrievably.
VAN OORD (A): WHERE LAND AND WATER MEET
Van Oord is a large, global player in the highly competitive marine construction business that has been involved in well-known projects such as "The Palm" in Dubai. From its founding in 1868 in a small town in the Netherlands, Van Oord has focused on organic growth based on independence and entrepreneurship. Good, pro-active family governance and the process of developing a vision and sense of mission have been crucial precedents of Van Oord company strategy. This firm stands as a shining example that developing governance structures, a family constitution and clarifying succession and a shareholder structure into the future is a vital first step in setting corporate direction and achieving family and company objectives.
ERIS (A): BUILDING A COSMETICS BRAND IN POLAND
Irena Eris and Henryk Orfinger established their cosmetics company in 1983 in Poland, then still a communist country. Just 19 years later, in 2002, their business had grown from one employee and one product to 218 employees and 300 products. However it was still a small company in a highly competitive market, exposed to multinationals attacking from above and Polish low-cost producers from below.
PATRIK BERNSTEIN (A): FROM SUIT TO JEANS
At the age of 35 Patrik Bernstein, currently the marketing manager for Unilever's skin division in Indonesia, starts to feel that something is missing in his life. He had a great family, received invitations to fancy dinners, had a nice house and car and enough money in the bank. But all this no longer motivated or excited him. He needed something else. He was on the fast track at Unilever and had a career path ahead of him. But everything was changing very quickly - too quickly. And then there was the corporate politics...
LEE KUM KEE CO. LTD (A): THE FAMILY RECIPE
This two-part case series starts with the accidental discovery of an important condiment in Chinese cuisine in 1888. The company, Lee Kum Kee Ltd., was born as a result and over the intervening years grew into a large global enterprise. Case A describes the development of the firm and family from the 1st through 4th generations. Development of a values-based corporate culture, facilitation of entrepreneurship and the ramifications of family/business crises are highlighted.
FOUR GENERATIONS OF THE OWENS FAMILY (A)
This case series follows the Richard Owens family through nearly one hundred years of evolution and change. The A-case describes how the family business started with one grocery store in 1906 and, by 1974, had grown into a large private enterprise that included supermarkets, liquor stores and real estate. While competitors could not seem to stop the Owens family business, fractured family relationships and rivalries caused significant problems. In 1974, the conflict came to a head and the firm was split into three, one business line for each sibling.
STRATEGIC FOCUS AND CHANGE ACROSS GENERATIONS: THE RICHARD IVEY FOUNDATION
Philanthropy is an area of growing interest for families in business as well as public companies worldwide. How to "do good well" remains a major challenge to organizations seeking to contribute to problem resolution in their local or global community. This case follows the evolution of The Richard Ivey Foundation, from traditional beginnings through unconventional approaches, all with a pragmatic emphasis on competence, professionalism and results.
BALLARPUR INDUSTRIES LIMITED (A)
Ballarpur Industries Ltd. (BILT) was the flagship company of the Thapar Group--one of India's six major industrial houses. A leading manufacturer of paper and chemicals, the company faced bankruptcy in 1997. Gautam Thapar, a grandson of the founder, was called in to save the company. The case is the first in a two-part case series which includes a video. The (A) case examines the situation, both internal and external, that confronted Gautam when he took over as CFO. The (A) case ends with him contemplating how to rescue the company in a timeline of 18 months.
BATA SHOE ORGANIZATION (A)
This two-part case study examines the implications of organizational structure and control issues on company management and strategy. Effective corporate governance and its role in efficient operations management is the focus of these cases.
TORVALD KLAVENESS GROUP: FROM OLD TRADITIONS TO FUTURE INNOVATIONS
From its beginning in 1947, the Torvald Klaveness Group succeeded in the shipping business through innovation and the vision of one man, Torvald "TK" Klaveness. The company grew and prospered until 1989, when TK handed the reins over to the second generation. His eldest son remained true to his father's principals and business philosophy. As yet another management transition drew closer, the next generation considered changes to the founder's succession plan and the company's strategic approach.