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Article

"Creative destruction is the root cause of Amazon’s success"

Strategy

Jeremy Ghez, Affiliate Professor of Economics and International Affairs at HEC Paris won with the case 'The Economics of Amazon' in the category 'Economics, Politics and Business Environment ' at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2016.

"Creative destruction is the root cause of Amazon’s success", Prof. Jeremy Ghez, winner of the Case Center Award 2016 - ©Fotolia - enterlinedesign

The Case Centre’s annual Awards and Competitions, now in their 26th year, celebrate excellence in case writing and teaching in business education worldwide. Jeremy Ghez who was stunned by the news of the award said : I didn’t expect this: it was the first case I ever wrote. But I am very happy that it is a successful one. I wrote it for typical MBA and EMBA classes in managerial economics where participants are looking for a concrete, hands-on experience.” Here, he gives some insight about the Amazon case and his top tips for writing successful cases. 

Creative destruction

“What Amazon represents today is significant at two levels. First, in my opinion, it is perhaps one of the most revealing examples of what creative destruction means in a 21st century economy. Creative destruction is the root cause of the company’s success, arguably, and could be the reason for its potential demise, as even its CEO, Jeff Bezos, fears. Second, its role as a market place is becoming so central that it could attract the attention of regulators in the future. In fact, as banks did in the past, Amazon could become the best example of what ‘too big to fail’ actually means.”

Demystifying success

“Ultimately, this case aims to demystify the success of Amazon by making the reasons for the company's rise clear, and also by showing that its success is not the product of coincidence and should not be taken for granted. In the end, Amazon, like any other firm, needs to learn how to reinvent. Enabling participants to tackle this question in class is easier when they think about this from the perspective of a key protagonist – like the CEO of the firm, Jeff Bezos. This is part of the hands-on experience. Sometimes, as part of teaching this case, I also ask participants to place themselves in the shoes of Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba. This pushes them to think about how they could be game-changers themselves.”

Top case writing tips

“Pick a subject you love. Identify the defining equation of the subject, how it relates to theory – and better yet, how it challenges or redefines concepts that we've been teaching in classrooms for ages. In my opinion, this is how a subject comes alive, and lets participants be the heroes of the story. This will undoubtedly give them the hands-on experience they need to hone their own analysis of their business environment.”

Case available on HEC Paris Case Collection on ccmp.fr (Cas disponible sur la centrale de cas d'HEC Paris ccmp.fr) ; Presentation of the case on The Case Centre: "The Economics of Amazon".  

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