How is Harvard Business School teaching the pandemic?

Harvard Business School is writing up new case studies on pharma, cruise ships, and other business challenges during COVID.


January 11, 2021

When it comes to an MBA education, the case study method is legendary.

Pioneered by Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1919 — which itself borrowed from Harvard Law School — the approach puts students in the shoes of corporate decision-makers justifying their business choices.

The method is so popular that the sale of these case studies racked up $260m+ in 2019, about ¼ of HBS’s total revenue.

The pandemic provides countless learning opportunities

According to the Wall Street Journal, prominent new HBS cases involve:

  • Operation Warp Speed: Role-playing as Merck pharma execs, students must argue the trade-offs of taking government money.
  • Crisis management: Acting as president of Princess Cruises, students debate how to stay mentally healthy.
  • Booming business: A deep dive on managing Zoom’s explosive growth.

With HBS producing ~350 new cases a year, we can expect a lot more COVID-related themes.

Is an MBA still worth it?

This is what a lot of students are asking themselves.

Even before the pandemic, MBA applications for the top 10 schools were down 6% in 2019 (vs. 2018).

An 6-figure MBA via Zoom followed by a cold job market just isn’t as appealing, per the New York Times.

At the current pace, another HBS case study might be: “How the pandemic crushed MBA programs.”

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