COVID-19 Inspires New Case Studies at Top B-Schools

By - Jan 17, 23:28 PM Comments [0]


The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, but it’s fast becoming part of the curriculum at top business schools. 

Schools like University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Stanford Graduate School of Business were among the first to introduce courses focused on COVID-19’s impact when the pandemic hit the US in early 2020. 

At that time, Wharton launched a course on business leadership during epidemics and natural disasters while Stanford debuted no less than three separate courses dealing with the pandemic from different angles.

Now, as students head into a new semester, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights how top MBA programs are increasingly introducing courses and case studies looking at business decisions during the pandemic. 

At Wharton, a new course called Leadership During Challenging Times will bring in CEOs from companies like Johnson & Johnson and Progressive Insurance as guest speakers. 

The course description references “the coronavirus, economic challenges, racial inequity, natural disasters, and technology disruptions” and poses a central question: “How do the most effective leaders guide their people and organizations through challenging times?”

Other schools are incorporating pandemic-related case studies into already existing courses.

According to the WSJ article, new case studies at Harvard Business School explore how companies like Zoom and Airbnb adapted to the unexpected changes to their business models that came with COVID-19.

Another HBS case study created by professor Willy Shih prompts students to consider the pros and cons of pharmaceutical companies taking public money for vaccine development.

The WSJ article also details how a case study from Kathryn Harrigan at Columbia Business School considers Smithfield Foods’s response to the pandemic. In April, a high-profile coronavirus outbreak occurred at the company’s South Dakota meatpacking plant.

Although these new courses and case studies address different facets of COVID-19’s effects, they all circle back to the overarching theme of leadership in the face of unpredictable events. Many prompt students to explore this theme in conversation with industry leaders or faculty.

That type of opportunity for learning about management is one of the advantages that top MBA programs like Stanford, Wharton, Harvard and Columbia offer. 

If you’re wondering what it takes to gain admission to those programs, we can help you evaluate what B-schools are a good fit to your profile and what you can do to build a compelling personal brand as an applicant. Contact us and ask for a free MBA application assessment

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