LBS case study wins top Case Centre prize

Faculty-authored research examines CEO-driven cultural change at Microsoft

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A case study by London Business School (LBS) faculty Professor Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour, and Dr Aneeta Rattan, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, has been named Overall Winner at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2020.

The winning case, ‘Satya Nadella at Microsoft: Instilling a Growth Mindset’, produced with cowriter Anna Johnston, examines Microsoft’s successful shift away from a ‘know it all’ mindset to a ‘learn-it-all’ curiosity, spearheaded by CEO Satya Nadella.

The annual Case Centre awards recognise excellence in the writing and teaching of case studies across business, management and government schools worldwide. The title of Overall Winner is awarded to the most used case study worldwide over the preceding 12-month period.

This latest achievement marks the first time in the award’s 30-year history that a case study authored entirely by women has won across any category, and builds on the School’s strong record at the annual awards: it is the fourth time an LBS-authored case study has been named Overall Winner.

Professor Ibarra highlighted four key reasons for the success of the Satya Nadella case study.

“Microsoft has been such a success story over the past five years, reaching the Number 1 spot as most the valuable company several times – everyone wants to learn how they did it,” she said.

"Secondly, it's a timeless story. A great company lost its way, becoming complacent in the wake of its historical success, and a new leader came in to transform it for the new era.

"Thirdly, there's an inspirational protagonist. Satya Nadella is a great example of the kind of leadership we all talk about, but rarely see.

"And fourthly, there's a clear connection to important academic topics and research, in this case, work on growth mindset, learning organisations and change processes.”

Dr Rattan said that the authors had believed a case that explored growth mindset and its applicability within an organisational setting could be transformative for a wide audience.

Receiving this award shows that our intuition was right – through the lens of Microsoft’s culture change, people can learn what the growth mindset is and how it can be effectively applied to transform organizational culture,” she said.

Richard McCracken, Director of The Case Centre said:

“The 2020 Awards and Competitions mark their 30th anniversary and the 10th year of being global. We see a record number of successful female authors – now in equal numbers to their male counterparts – as well as more new winning institutions and authors than ever before.

“Because the Awards are based on data of actual uptake in education, they provide an annual snapshot of the topics being used to teach business and management, which of this year includes cases, with a record 29% female protagonists.

Herminia Ibarra is academic co-director of the ‘Women in Leadership’ Executive Education programme and academic director of the ‘Essentials of Leadership’ 

Executive Education programme at LBS; Aneeta Rattan is the academic co-director of the ‘LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Programme’ at LBS. ‘Satya Nadella at Microsoft: Instilling a Growth Mindset’ is available for purchase through The Case Centre