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EFMD Case Writing Competition

Category: Hidden Champions

HCI sponsors the yearly EFMD Case Writing Competition in the category "Hidden Champions". This category welcomes cases examining the current and future challenges of hidden champions. Examples of topics include:

  • international growth strategies
  • innovation
  • digital transformation
  • marketing and sales management, 
  • leadership
  • corporate culture

To find out more about the competition, please follow this link.

Winner of the EFMD 2019 Case writing competition

  • And the winner is ...

    The winning case is Digitally-powered Customer-centricity in the Industrial Gas Sector: The Air Liquide-Airgas Merger”, written by David Dubois from INSEAD, Singapore and Jean-Michel Moslonka from Agalio, France.


    Executive Summary:

    The case sets the stage for a vibrant discussion of how Air Liquide, a leading gas supplier to the industrial and healthcare sectors, strategically leverages digital technologies – such as social media, mobile, IoT or robotics – to strengthen customer relationships across its broad portfolio of customers following its acquisition of US company Airgas. Serving an increasingly diverse set of customers implies to select and deploy digital technologies within a multi-segment customer-centric strategy. Readers step into the shoes of top Air Liquide executives and take on the task to articulate the steps and transformation that the company needs to implement to create novel tech-driven customer value after the merger. The case builds a journey tackling which technological features best address small vs. large customer segments and needs as well as how the two companies effectively blended their cultures and approaches to customer centricity, learnt from each other and turned the company into a glocal champion. 

  • Further finalists are ...

    The following cases made it to the TOP 3 in 2019:

    • Bossard Fasteners (A): Fighting B2B Commoditization, BOSSARD Fasteners (B): Developing a Digital Strategy by Refusing a Digital Transformation,” written by Stefan Michel from IMD, Switzerland.

    Executive summary:

    As the market leader in fastening technology Bossard maintained a global network of more than 1,800 employees in 50 countries from its headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. The company focused on the supply of fasteners, a process that included sales, technical and engineering support and inventory management. Its business model also spanned three strategic areas: product solutions, application engineering and logistics. Bossard enjoyed a very strong value proposition if its account managers could only access engineers, quality managers, heads of operations, research and development (R&D) departments and business owners who understood the total cost of ownership (TCO) concept. If it had to submit a quote in response to an RFP (request for proposal) and bid for a given list of parts, the customer's procurement department might simply compare prices, and Bossard typically was not the cheapest provider. Competitors also had copied Bossard's logistic system and claimed that they could offer similar solutions for lower prices. Anecdotal evidence suggested that most competitors' solutions were less reliable and accurate than SmartBins and that their data integration workflows did not work as well.

    Case (A) leads to the strategic questions: In a manufacturing world where global competition, commoditization and strategic procurement puts suppliers under constant margin pressure, how was it possible that a Swiss-based fastening supplier could grow profitably with an EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margin of 12.3%, significantly above industry benchmarks?

    Case (B) starts with introducing CEO David Dean, a long-time Bossard leader, who focused on three strategic pillars: product solutions, engineering and logistics. While enjoying the success of the company, the CEO and the Chairman started a process to focus on new technologies that will impact the industrial fastener market and the production of their main customers, ie OEM manufacturers. 3D-Printing, for example, will not replace the manufacturing of industrial fasteners in the near future. However, if more industrial parts are 3-printed and not assembled, there is no need for fasteners. On the logistics and production front, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, and Robotics will change the factory of the future. Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will also open new frontiers in manufacturing, and finally, 'smart screws' have the potential to serve as sensors for collecting relevant data. Despite all these new technology, Bossard decided that it does not need a 'Digital Transformation', but realized that it had no shared vision for the company's digital future.

    • "FAURECIA Digital Transformation (A), (B), and (C)", written by Carlos Cordon from IMD, Switzerland.

    Executive summary:

    This three-part case series, which is based on a dynamic real-life story, examines how Faurecia decorative division used digital tools and technology, both hardware and software, to first modernize its interior division at the Abrera (Spain) plant in 2015. This eventually transformed the plant from losing €3 million per year since 2003, into a profitable unit. The case series describes the various industry 4.0 options that were available to Faurecia for the digital transformation. Finally, it illustrates the process of successful implementation of the digital transformation strategy in Abrera’s plant by overcoming various challenges, including defining the value proposition, the execution of the plan and the costly pitfalls along the way. The case series covers the real-time experiences of the people involved in the digital transformation, captures the lessons learned and explains how Faurecia was able to transform its manufacturing processes at the plant into a culture of innovation.

    Case A of the series prepares the groundwork for the discussion and analysis, both in the class and in small groups, while Case B supplies the solution to the issues that arise in Case A. Case C describes the outcome.

Winner of the EFMD 2020 Case writing competition

  • And the winner is...

    The winning case is Shandong Moris Chemical Co. Ltd. : A Hidden Champion in the Brine Chemical Industry”, written by Lucas Wang from the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.


    Executive Summary:

    In June 2019, the founder and chairman of Shandong Moris Chemical Co. Ltd. (Moris), a leading chemical production group, had to decide whether Moris should diversify into an unrelated industry. Moris’s main business had been the production and processing of brine chemicals. With several of its chemical products dominating worldwide markets, Moris had become a hidden champion in these industry segments. Through the company’s most recent diversification move into water treatment and land improvement, the founder had stretched Moris’s corporate umbrella beyond purely chemical businesses, hoping to transform the negative corporate image associated with chemical industries. Now, he had to determine whether the cultural and creative industries would fit with this strategic aspiration, especially since a move into this area would be the first unrelated diversification for the company.