The concept is simple yet powerful: Introduce EMBA students to the real-life issues of companies in real time. Then watch them go to work.
These live case studies test students in ways that traditional cases cannot: They are working on problems that organizations currently face, as opposed to past situations. They are presenting potential solutions to those organizations, not just reading about the organizations. In fact, the work closely resembles the kind of projects they might be called to resolve in any given week on the job.
Michael Rivera was looking for exactly that type of experience as he developed live case studies.
“To me, it’s all about ensuring that students can take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to the real world,” says Rivera, academic director of the EMBA Program and associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Temple University Fox School of Business.
Rivera taps relationships with organizations and with alumni to identify the live case studies. Participating organizations, such as Foot Locker and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, represent diverse industries.
In particular, live case studies offer the additional benefit of helping keep alumni engaged. “It’s something they can do after they graduate—come back and give back to the program,” says Rivera.
He launched the first live case study four years ago to rave reviews. “I was just blown away from the response I received from students,” he says.
As a starting point, he meets with the CEO or another member of the C-suite to talk about their involvement and works with them to define the business problem and sketch out the case basics. During the live case study session, students receive a template with case information, hear from a speaker, develop solutions in teams, and present their findings.
To build on its impact, Rivera would like to expand the use of live case studies, as well as pull together a package of past live case studies to use again.
The program also incorporates other experiential learning opportunities, such as a capstone. Classes often tap student experiences. “We ask students to bring data and information from their own company into the classroom to work on projects.”
Students also take part in a global immersion, and plans are under way to develop a live in-country case study.
All these experiences add great value for students, says Rivera. “I think it really helps validate the ROI of EMBA.”