The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Learning with Storytelling: A Fairytale Teaching Case for Business Education

Simon Kiesel, École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées Business School (France)

Annette E. Craven, University of the Incarnate Word (United States)


Competencies cannot be acquired passively in theory alone, but require practice [1]. Therefore, university education with the help of teaching cases is becoming increasingly popular at business schools [2], [3]. Real company examples are used to act out circumstances, students learn to analyze business situations, apply tools like the business model canvas [4], prioritize tasks, and develop a strategy. But when studying business administration, more and more young people are deciding to choose an entrepreneurship career rather than join enterprises. Current studies show that 57% of German students can imagine starting their own business instead of taking a corporate job [5]. However, at least two-thirds of all startup attempts are abandoned [6], [7], and most startups fail within the first 24 months [8]. And it is precisely to discuss the initial challenges of a startup that famous names of successful companies are not suitable. Hence, for the authors of this paper, the question arose how to make a teaching case and its experiential learning even easier and more intuitive to use, especially for undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory entrepreneurship course. There already exist very popular teaching cases using legends like Robin Hood [9]. Submission guidelines for journals welcome these ‘fictional cases, especially those with some basis in practice’ [10, p. 1]. Consequently, the authors developed a case that puts a typical startup situation metaphorically into a well-known story: ‘Snow White, the seven dwarves and the prince: A fairytale about startup challenges’ [11]. This short case can be used to introduce students to working with teaching cases. It forces students to think creatively. A fairytale as a base for a teaching case might be a bit uncommon. Nevertheless, this opened great possibilities. First, this case included personal experience out of supporting startup businesses, summarizing challenges several companies faced within the first months. Instead of simply changing names, their situations were embedded in one of the most well-known stories of the world – Snow White. It was an appropriate way to combine and, at the same time, keep everything confidential. Second, a fairytale framework made it more interesting and memorable for students. For example, the introduction of protagonists was much easier. Think of many team members, different names, and backgrounds. Everybody already knew the protagonists and the implications that a Prince is rich and powerful. Finally, in fairytales, everything is possible, even a magic wand for example. Using this teaching case in several classes, the authors were surprised about the creativity students demonstrated, it supported student engagement and attention, and the case was awarded by the IMA Educational Case Journal with the third place in a case writing competition [12].

Keywords: storytelling, undergraduate education, fairytale, teaching case, entrepreneurship.

References (partial list): 

  1. B. Felden, A. Hack, and C. Hoon, Fallstudien zum Management von Familienunternehmen - Teaching Cases für Lehre und praktische Anwendung. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, 2020.
  2. E. Liguori et al., “The Entrepreneurship Education Imperative: Introducing EE&P,” Entrep. Educ. Pedagog., vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 5–7, 2018.
  3. N. T. Sheehan, M. R. Gujarathi, J. C. Jones, and F. Phillips, “Using Design Thinking to Write and Publish Novel Teaching Cases: Tips From Experienced Case Authors,” J. Manag. Educ., vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 135–160, 2018.
  4. A. Osterwalder and Y. Pigneur, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
  5. K. Koch and M. Wegmann, “Der Campusjäger Puls-Check. Studierenden auf den Zahn gefühlt: Wer will gründen?,” Campusjäger, Karlsruhe, pp. 1–19, 2016.

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