Teaching Case - Call for expression of interest

Developing teaching cases on governance challenges in foundations

The Erasmus Center for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP) seeks to develop two teaching cases on corporate governance challenge in foundations. Teaching cases are case studies specifically designed for educational purposes, and recount real life situations where executives are faced with a dilemma or uncertain outcome. In a story-telling manner, teaching cases describe the scenario in the context of the events, as well as the people and factors that influence it, which enables students to identify closely with those involved in the dilemma. Case-based teaching was pioneered by the Harvard University and has become the favored teaching method of leading business schools. Through case-based teaching, students develop their analytical thinking and reflective judgment skills and obtain a deeper understanding of management problems and their potential solutions. ECSP considers teaching cases to be an effective way to disseminate academic knowledge, and therefore seeks participation from foundation to develop teaching cases.

Why participate?

Participating in the development of teaching cases is often considered as a very enriching experience. You will get an opportunity to reflect on the events of your foundation and discuss your views and experiences with an external expert researcher. These discussions will help you to learn more about yourself as a decision-maker and your foundation, and enable you to draw valuable lessons for the future. In addition, you will be able to share your experience with others in the field and help them to improve their own foundations. 

What is corporate governance?

Corporate governance deals with the entire orchestration of decision-making and accountability practices within organizations, and it is therefore often understood as the backbone of organizational design. Relevant corporate governance questions include: Who can best decide upon what in an organization? How do you make sure that decision-makers have access to the necessary information to make appropriate decisions? How do you involve weak stakeholders in decision-making? And who has responsibility over these decisions? Although topics such as executive compensation, board composition, and transparency are traditionally central to the corporate governance debate, our research shows that in the philanthropic sector, decision-making may be the most pressing corporate governance challenge.  

What are we looking for?

We are looking for foundations that have recently faced a corporate governance related dilemma. A successful teaching case is one that sparks interest and curiosity among actors in the field, is generalizable to other foundations, and provides an interesting and useful lesson for foundation executives. Some examples of potentially interesting foundations are:

  • Foundations that endured significant reputation damage and adopted an innovate strategy to recover from it.
  • Family foundations that have dealt with specific challenges related to their family structure.
  • Corporate foundations that have dealt with specific challenges related to their corporate involvement.
  • Foundations that have developed and successfully implemented creative ways to involve donors and/or beneficiaries in organizational processes.
  • Foundations that suffered significant financial losses from the banking crisis, and fundamentally restructured and renewed their organization as a result of it.
  • Foundations that realized their mission and were faced with the dilemma of ending or continuing their operations.

Please note that these are just examples, and that we are broadly interested in any corporate governance related issue in foundations.

What do we expect from you?

Once we decide to work with your foundation to develop a teaching case, we will require data and information from your organization. First, a number of onsite interviews will be planned with the main decision-maker or ‘protagonist’ of the teaching case. In addition, we will conduct interviews with other relevant actors to the event, such as board members, managers or employees. All interviews will be recorded and transcribed. Second, where useful and appropriate, we would like to have access to archival data including for example financial data, annual reports, or minutes of meetings. All collected data will be treated confidentially (a formal confidentially agreement will be signed). Depending on the preferences of your foundations, the teaching case may be written up anonymously.

Who will be involved?

The teaching case will be developed in cooperation with the ECSP and the Case Development Center of the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Pushpika Vishwanathan will be the lead author. She is a PhD candidate at RSM and has conducted research on the corporate governance of philanthropic organizations in the past four years. Professor Hans van Oosterhout, full professor in Corporate Governance and Responsibility at RSM, and Michiel de Wilde, Executive Director of ECSP, will oversee the project and also contribute as co-authors. The teaching cases will be published by the Case Development Center and RSM will reserve the copyright.

Next steps?

If you are interested please send an email to Mirjam Locadia locadia@ese.eur.nl, including a brief description of your foundation and the event or dilemma that you believe might be suitable for a teaching case. For questions you may also contact Mirjam Locadia via e-mail or phone +31 (0)10-408 1282.