Business schools: learning through concrete business cases

“Learning by doing”, “pedagogy by experimenting”… These expressions are common in business school curricula. In addition to the foundation courses and internships, they add case studies to the roster, linked to real business problems. Focus on EM Normandie’s CSR initiative.

As you saunter through your grocery store checkout, you come across a “box” card showing two hours of ballooning. Service providers, validity period, locations… everything is on the map. With a new entry: a criterion that indicates the CO2 cost of the service. This could be the next evolution of Smartboxes and it will all start with a handful of EM Normandie students, including Clémence.

From February to April, with six comrades, she worked on the company’s case to submit ideas to accelerate progress in environmental and societal transitions. “It is a more concrete project than the other projects in our course. We were able to meet professionals that we had not had before”, the student laughs.

Involve business students in business issues

In management schools, it has become an essential ingredient of pedagogy: involving students in concrete issues of a company by putting them in the shoes of a junior consultant. Over the past two years, EM Normandie has involved 850 third-year students, divided into 180 groups, on the campuses of Caen, Le Havre, Paris, Oxford and Dublin.

A total of 18 companies were selected. “Companies were interested. It is not necessarily easy to integrate CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and sustainable development in its core business. A young person’s gaze can help to appropriate this dimensionexplains Magvenn Poupart, responsible for sustainable development and CSR missions of the establishment.

Nearly ten groups of students are working on the same structure. “The students do not choose their classmates or their company: they are placed in a professional situation,” says the project manager.

All students are placed in professionalizing situations, which they can then relive in their professional lives. // © Screenshot / EM Normandie

Read also

Support and a lot of autonomy

Based on specifications and their courses, they should stimulate to understand the company, its competitive environment and propose strategic recommendations integrating one or more UN Sustainable Development Goals† With her group, Clémence was first entitled to a question-and-answer session to map the needs of Smartbox. Over time, they were able to ask the company their questions remotely. On the business school side, there is supervision as each group goes through three tutoring sessions.

In the midst of their other courses and projects, students need to find the right work rhythm. What also learn to participate and manage a project† “The division of labor was done according to the specialties, abilities and affinities of each,” says Téo, in the same group as Clémence. “We had a specific goal. But the method depended on us. We chose to prepare competitive intelligence and a survey. We also used company data, with a confidentiality clause. We had to rely on our own resources,” adds his comrade Arnold on.

Read also

Concrete business cases evaluated by business schools

For everyone, the written project is marked: achieving the average is a condition to continue to the next year. “We want them to develop analytical and creative qualities. That they can get their hands dirty by projecting themselves: what does it mean in concrete terms to work on CSR in a company? And the implementation of recommendations? It is not easy to measure the repercussions on an internal service or on the service providers”, analyzes Magvenn Poupart. “This project completes what they are studying. There is an interaction between theory and practice

Another point emerges for Téo: “It is interesting to work with a large company: to make recommendations and to see that the marketing team seems enthusiastic. Our ideas can be implemented. It is rewarding for a student

Read also

A little competitive spirit and a pinch of generosity

And since different groups are working on the same project, the emulation is stronger… Mainly becausethey compete against each other† After selecting the best project for each of the 18 companies, an oral video conference session was held on April 28. Each finalist group presents its work and its recommendations to a jury of the EM Normandie Foundation, which sponsors the Best Project Prize (750 Euros) and the Favorite Prize (250 Euros).

Despite their enthusiasm, the group of Théo, Clémence and Arnault couldn’t figure it out. The defeat is symbolic: the winnings of the winners are donated to an association, outside the school, of their choice. At the end of the ceremony, the jury makes an encore, proving that the path is not over. “There are very few who have really communicated with the companies, either for the diagnosis or to test the feasibility. This will have to be developed. Studies are good; but the concrete on the ground it will be your life tomorrowNoelle Bessin Legrand, Administrator of the EM Normandy Foundation.

Leave a Comment