An Exceptional Case

Prof. Ashok Som, Professor in Global Strategy, Management Dept. at ESSEC Business School shares his recent achievement as being nominated among the top 40 bestselling case study authors worldwide in 2018

The man behind the name

Prof. Ashok Som is passionate about case-based research and teaching. And this passion is reflected in his work and many achievements in his academic career. In 2008, he won the EFMD Case Writing Competition in the Indian Management category, going on to win the Case Centre’s Entrepreneurship Award in 2014. Teaching across the world, Ashok has been included from 2008 onwards in the Who’s Who of the World, a gold standard for biographical information, trusted by academic and public libraries. In 2013, Ashok was nominated as one of the 2,000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st century.

His current research interests lie in the role of global strategy in building brands that transcend geographies, with his expertise in organisational design and people practices helping him design the context required to create brands that can sustain themselves in developed, emerging and frontier markets. Prof. Som has also authored and co-authored a number of books on designing organisations and global strategy, including The Road to Luxury: The Evolution, Markets and Strategies of Luxury Brand Management, published by Wiley in March 2015, and translated into Mandarin in 2016.

 The case study: a way to bring the field into the classroom

For Ashok Som, case writing and the case method are important. ‘It’s one of the ways that managerial situations can be brought inside the class-room context,’ he asserts. ‘The participants are given the chance to become the protagonist of a real-life situation and take a necessary decision with the data they have at their disposal.’ As such, the case method ensures that students and participants journey through a learning process that reflects the operational realities they will face in their future careers. ‘They learn how to do a situational analysis, identify the problem, generate options, evaluate those options with specific criteria and develop an action plan – all within a turnaround time of one hour, fifteen minutes,’ explains Ashok Som. ‘This makes them more structured in their decision making process and they come out of it being able to analyse diverse situations at ease.’

 An inner passion that serves a wider purpose

Having reached the prestigious club of the top forty bestselling case authors worldwide, it is interesting to look back at the beginnings of the journey and the spark that sent Ashok Som to the top. ‘I started writing cases due to three very selfish reasons,’ states Prof. Som, with a wry smile. ‘First, I wanted to be free in the classroom situation and discuss what I did myself. Second, when I started teaching in France, I wanted to speak about French companies to my international students, and there were hardly any cases those days of French companies in English even though 40 or so of these were leaders in their respective industry.’ But finally, it is an enriching and rewarding experience for others that provides the motivation for Ashok Som to pen case studies. ‘I’m passionate,’ he says, ‘and find it rewarding nowadays to debate and discuss management issues in collaboration with my students who see the value in their ideas taking shape in engaging teaching materials.’

For him, the methodology of using case studies to analyse situations is here to stay – be it at law school, schools of medicine or in business schools. Moreover, Prof. Ashok Som sees an evolution in learning through cases. ‘In the future, the case method will become more sophisticated and even more engaging for learners than it presently is – we’ll use more technology in solving them.’  This will only add to the hands-on, learning-by-doing experience that the case method will offer.’

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