Selected IESE Publications


For more information please visit IESE Insight, our Business Knowledge Portal.


Below a list of our recent Research & Cases:

1. Strategies That Go the Distance in AfricaAriño, Africa.  IESE Insight, March, 2015

What do you need to know to expand your operations across the African continent? Quantitative data and statistical analyses are meaningless unless they go hand-in-hand with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the non-traditional factors that make growing a business there possible. This article shares the collective wisdom of African … Read Insight Review article

2. Five Pillars for Doing Business in AfricaMudida, Robert; Lago, Alejandro. IESE Insight, March, 2015

Companies around the world are setting their sights on Africa as a new frontier for business. However, as with other emerging economies, African ones are tricky to navigate for the uninitiated. This article introduces the five pillars that companies need to consider in the African context. First the authors highlight the main macroeconomic … Read Insight Review article

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Innovis Telecom: Entrepreneurial Internationalization

Date: 06/05/2016
Author(s): Ariño, Africa; Tatarinov, Katherine
Document type: Case
Department: Strategic Management
Sector: Telecommunications (Telephone, TV, Cable…)
Languages: English
Year of the events: 2015
Geographic area: India and several African countries

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Innovis was a telecom services start-up founded in 2010 in India. Due to certain government regulations banning the import of telecom equipment from China, Innovis managers saw that the survival of the company was at risk and that it would have a greater competitive advantage if it were to provide its services in countries outside India. Within the first five years of its existence, and with limited resources, the company had already expanded to eight countries in Asia and Africa. Each new market meant that Innovis’ already limited resources became more stretched and some operations in other countries even had to be wound down. The company offered two types of service – managed services (centered on network infrastructure planning and maintenance) and consulting services. While consulting services often provided greater margins, these projects were short-term in nature and did not provide business continuity planning. So beyond just picking new geographical areas, the managers strategically wanted to expand only when managed service projects came up. This made it difficult when, in 2015, three new managed service opportunities presented themselves at the same time in three new countries – Ghana, Tanzania and the Philippines. The managers in the leadership team outlined the details of each opportunity and had one week to present the Board with their decision on where to expand next since limited resources meant that only one project could be taken on.

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M-Pesa – Mobile Banking in Kenya

Date: 09/04/2014
Author(s): Sieber, Sandra; Lago, Alejandro; GO, Timothy
Document type: Case
Sector: Telecommunications (Telephone, TV, Cable…)

Department: Information Systems

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M-Pesa is an innovative mobile-phone-based money transfer service from Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya. M-Pesa allows users with a national ID card or passport to deposit, withdraw and transfer money to other users easily via SMS. Originating from the idea of using mobile technology to help customers make payments to microfinance institutions, M-Pesa had transformed itself into a nationwide money transfer service used by millions of people in Kenya, with total transfers amounting to three times the national GDP of the country. Given its early and rapid success in Kenya, the company is now considering expanding to other neighboring countries, including Tanzania and South Africa. Unfortunately, success is not easily replicable. The case describes the main elements of the M-Pesa system in Kenya, placing special emphasis on its design and implementation. It allows students to reflect on how business model innovation must be clearly aligned with operations and technology. It also allows for discussion on which marketing and operational aspects – i.e., branding, pricing schemes, channel management and distributors’ policies – are key for the successful implementation of a business model in an emerging economy in which most of the population is at the “bottom of the pyramid.” Based on an understanding of the M-Pesa model, discussion can be expanded to analyze whether the different elements of the business model can be replicated in other countries considering the different cultural, socio-demographic and competitive landscapes.

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Kiva (A): The power of microlending

Kiva (B)

Kiva (C): Responses to a legitimacy threat

Date: 14/10/2013
Author(s): Vaccaro, Antonino
Document type: Case
Sector: Commercial and saving banks
Department: Business Ethics

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Kiva is a 501(3) nonprofit organization founded in late 2004 by two Stanford graduates, Matt Flannery and his wife Jessica Jackley. Inspired by a lecture given by the Nobel prize Muhammad Yunus, Matt and Jessica decided to use their spare time to create a micro-lending organization capable of leveraging the potential of Internet-based technologies. The original idea associated with KIVA’s business model is pretty simple: small entrepreneurs in emerging countries find very difficult to get the micro-loans they need to support their entrepreneurial initiatives. Most of them fail due to the impossibility of obtaining financial support. On the other hand, Internet technologies can easily, quickly and efficiently create a link, at virtually zero cost, between these entrepreneurs and small lenders located in richer countries.

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Dowry: A Price for a Bride?

Date: 11/10/2013
Author(s): Olale, Esther; Ribera Azorín, Alberto
Document type: Case
Department: Managing People in Organizations
Geographic area: Kenya

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While studying for an MBA in Washington, D.C., a Kenyan woman falls in love with a classmate from the United States. Eventually they get engaged and decide to marry and live in Nairobi, where she plans to take over her father’s business. When the groom arrives in Nairobi to meet her fiancée’s family, she explains to him that her family expects to receive a dowry, consisting of some gifts and cash, in keeping with the tradition of their tribe.
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Uwa Ode

Date: 23/05/2013
Author(s): Lee, Yih-Teen; Reiche, B. Sebastian
Document type: Case
Department: Managing People in Organizations
Sector: Industry and Manufacturing
Geographic area: United States; United Kingdom; Nigeria

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The case traces the personal and professional career of Uwa Ode, a bicultural individual who was born in Nigeria and has lived the second half of her life in the United Kingdom and the United States. Having completed her executive MBA, Uwa is faced with deciding whether to continue to pursue her current career with an oilfield services company headquartered in the United States. The company would most likely relocate her every two to three years within and across different countries in order for her to achieve the career success that matches her ambition. Alternatively, Uwa could also make a career change that would allow her to move to a place that she could identify with, a place that would feel like home, where she would have the opportunity to finally start building a permanent residence. Uwa has also considered starting her own business to take what she has learned from her international experiences and contribute to the business landscape in Africa by moving back to a continent where she has not lived for almost 17 years. Uwa would be excited to return the place of her birth and contribute to the social and economic development of the African continent. At the same time, she is under no illusion as to the cultural dilemma this might pose because she really is not the typical Nigerian that people might expect her to be. Uwa’s dilemma brings the identity struggles she is facing to the forefront, and highlights the various benefits and challenges she encounters as a bicultural individual and global frequent flyer.

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Vodafone Ghana

Date: 08/11/2012
Author(s): Nueno, Pedro; Akua Afful-Kwaw, Patricia
Document type: Case
Department: Entrepreneurship
Sector: Telecommunications (Telephone, TV, Cable…)

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Ghana is a small but politically stable English-speaking country. Its economy showed the highest worldwide growth for 2011. The country is considered a hub given that it is surrounded by very important markets, such as Nigeria, with which it maintains good relations. Vodafone decided to make an important investment in Ghana with a view to extending to neighboring countries, considering aspects such as infrastructure (landlines) and innovation (applying telecommunications in areas such as health care), as well as the awareness of consumers and their relationship with telecommunications. Vodafone pondered how to use its experience in Ghana to design a future strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Mara Tower in Nairobi, Kenya

Date: 23/10/2012
Author(s): Vergara Alert, Carles; Gutés, Joan D.
Document type: Case
Department: Financial Management
Sector: Real Estate

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Fran J. Tasnes was the international managing director of IBNIS, a major real estate developer headquartered in Andorra, Europe. In February 2012, Fran was working on a proposal to invest $5 million in Parklands Tower, a real estate project in Nairobi, Kenya. The project was a state-of-the-art, grade A, 10,000 m2 office building close to Nairobi’s central business district (CBD). IBNIS had no experience in real estate investments in Africa. Its activity had traditionally been based in Andorra, northern Spain and southern France. However, the real estate crisis in southern Europe that started in 2008 drove IBNIS to consider investments outside its area of influence. IBNIS had one month for a preliminary analysis in order to present a formal letter of intent. The proposal had to be subject to formal technical due diligence and proper valuation. What should Fran recommend to the IBNIS Board about the Parklands Tower investment?
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Voltium, Inc.

Date: 25/07/2012
Author(s): del Potro, Eloy; Stein Martínez, Guido; Pin Arboledas, José Ramón; Vázquez-Dodero de Bonifaz, Juan Carlos
Document type: Case
Sector: Employers´associations

Department: Business Ethics

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 The manager at Voltium,a European company that was installing electricity in various parts of an African country, pondered whether it was justifiable to yield to the extortion of a local public official of the Dambo region, just as the company was about to finalize the project for the electrification of the area. This case was recognized by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) as the best publication in the 2012 Case Writing Competition in the category of “Responsible Leadership.”
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CFWshops

Date: 29/05/2012
Author(s): Friedman, Jared; Mungai, Edward; Rosenmöller, Magda
Document type: Case
Department: Production, Technology and Operations Management
Sector: NGO’s
Geographic area: Kenya

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CFWshops is a network of pharmacy franchises in Kenya, managed by the Sustainable Healthcare Foundation (SHF). The parent company of SHF is the Healthstore Foundation based in Minnesota, US. The non-profit HealthStore Foundation (HS) (formerly Sustainable Healthcare Enterprise Foundation) was founded in 1997 by Scott Hillstrom to ¿prevent needless death and illness by improving access to essential medicines in a sustainable way¿. Based on the basic concept of franchising, the outlets are for-profit, managed by nurses, who provide basic medications and basic care services, additional to basic hygiene products. While growth has been somewhat stagnant in Kenya, expansion into Rwanda has been successful. A series of interesting challenges need to be addressed: supply chain, information system, financial sustainability and growth.

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The Flower and the Volcano: How Eyajafjallajökull Disrupted Kenya’s Flower Industry

Date: 23/06/2011
Author(s): Chaturvedi, Aadhaar; Martínez de Albéniz Margalef, Víctor
Document type: Case
Department: Production, Technology and Operations Management
Sector: Distribution

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On the morning of April 19, 2010, Mr. Eduard Ngugi, the manager of the Uraidi rose farm, was considering what to do with the roses that had filled the cold storage for the past 2 days. By this time, the roses, sitting in the cold storage room on the shore of Lake Naivasha, Kenya, should have found their way into the homes of western European customers. However, the explosive eruption in Iceland of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on April 14 had grounded all the flights leaving from Nairobi to Europe. This meant that Mr. Ngugi could no longer air freight the roses from his farm to the flower auction market at Aalsmeer, Netherlands, from which the roses where distributed across Europe. With a cultivated surface of 20 hectares, the Uraidi rose farm had the capacity to harvest 160,000 to 180,000 rose stems daily. Hearing the news of the closure of air space over Europe, Mr. Ngugi had stopped all the harvesting related work on his farm for the past two days. However, it was about time that he cleared the cold storage to make room for the fresh lot of roses from the farm. Mr. Ngugi had been promised a flight from Nairobi to Vitoria in Spain on the morning of April 19. This meant that he could send the batch of roses waiting in the cold storage first to Vitoria, and then through refrigerated vans to Aalsmeer by mid-day of April 20. The roses would not be auctioned before the morning of April 21. Mr. Ngugi was worried that by the time the flowers reach the auction market, they would be wilted and would fetch very low price. This would also involve the additional cost of transportation. But there were not many alternatives available to him: either he took the flight or dumped the roses for cattle fodder.
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Gallina Blanca Star – Africa

Date: 01/07/2010
Author(s): Szecowka, Bianca; Renart, Lluís
Document type: Case
Sector: Industry and Manufacturing

Department: Marketing

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Since the 1970s Spanish company Gallina Blanca has had a substantial competitive presence in the African market, where it sells Jumbo bouillon tablets, competing mainly with Nestlé’s “Maggi” line of products. In October 2007 managers at Gallina Blanca must decide whether or not to launch a JUMBO bouillon tablet fortified with vitamin A in Africa. If they decide to go ahead, they will have to determine the details of the launch plan and the foreseeable commercial and financial results of the operation.

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Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (A)

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (B)

Date: 17/09/2003
Author(s): Velamuri, Rama
Document type: Case
Department: Entrepreneurship
Sector: Telecommunications (Telephone, TV, Cable…)
Year of the events: 1993-1998
Geographic area: Zimbabwe

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Case A outlines the difficulties faced by Strive Masiyiwa in his quest to operate a mobile telecommunications network in Zimbabwe. He refuses to indulge in corrupt practices to get the license to operate the network. He fights the government in the High Court and Supreme Court when it places obstacles in his path. The case highlights the support he receives from many people who are attracted by his ethical values.

Case B documents the events after the Zimbabwean government is ordered by the High Court to issue a license to Econet to set up a mobile telecommunications network. Econet achieves market leadership based largely on 1) the goodwill accumulated with stakeholders over the previous five years during which it has fought a bitter battle with the government for a license; and 2) a series of innovations it introduces.