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Back to Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 01, Feb 2021
Prof. Pierre Chandon
The L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Creativity at INSEAD
Director of the INSEAD Sorbonne University Behavioral Lab

Pierre Chandon is the L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Creativity at INSEAD and the Director of the INSEAD Sorbonne University Behavioral Lab. He was a faculty member or a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School, Wharton, Kellogg, and London Business School. He is an expert in food marketing and in the behavioural science of eating.

He studies innovative marketing solutions to better align business growth with consumer health and wellbeing. Pierre Chandon won the best article award from the Journal of Consumer Research twice and the O’Dell award for the best article published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

He has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals in marketing, psychology and nutrition, which have been cited more than 8800 times. At INSEAD, he received the best teacher award as well as the Dominique Héau Award for Inspiring Education Excellence. His cases have won 10 awards and he won the “Outstanding Contribution to the Case method” and the “Outstanding Case Teacher Competition” from The Case Centre.

CRC: Why, according to you, is the case method of teaching so popular in Management education?

Pierre Chandon: Management is an applied discipline. It is a “doing” problem more than a “knowing” problem. More than what they know, what distinguishes good managers is their ability to advance the interests of their organizations they lead. That is why it is essential to learn how to apply frameworks and methods in situations that are as close as possible to the real life, rather than in archetypal theoretical situations.

CRC: You won the very prestigious Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method, Outstanding Case Teacher, Overall Case Winner awards and so on. What advice would you give to fellow educators who want to be effective case teachers?

Pierre Chandon: The key is to know more than the students, which is not easy when you have a large class of talented students or executives. That is why I always select cases that have a teaching note and which have been written in collaboration with the organization, so that I have insider’s information about what happened and why. It also helps to know what the students think. To do that, I systematically send a survey to the students asking for their recommendation for the case and their rationale. It helps organize the discussion effectively and to show the diversity of answers, which is always instructive. To find out more about my approach to case writing and teaching, read Winning the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method and Solving Your Business Dilemma by Solving Other People’s Dilemmas.

CRC: How important is case writing to effective teaching of Management subjects, particularly Marketing?

Pierre Chandon: I believe that all marketing professors should consider writing at least one case. It provides you with instant credibility and expertise in the eyes of the students. That is why having your own case is particularly important for junior colleagues straight out of PhD, which typically doesn’t prepare well for teaching.

CRC: Please share with us your thoughts on what comprises a good teaching note.

Pierre Chandon: The teaching note is more important than the case. The case should explain the problem, highlight a few potential solutions, and provide the information that will be useful to have a discussion about the pros and cons of each solution, and that’s all. Everything else, from what happened to why, should go to the teaching note. I also believe that a paper teaching note is not enough. All my cases come with the PowerPoint presentation that I use to teach them. Most of my cases also have video interviews of the case protagonists and a video of me teaching the case. Colleagues tell me that it is really helpful to see the questions that students ask and how to respond to them when they are preparing for a new case.

CRC: Do you think the case method will undergo change due to the Covid-19 pandemic? If so (not), how and in what way?

Pierre Chandon: I do not think that the pandemic will have a radical impact on the case method. More than the case method, it is teaching remotely that requires adaptation. Cases can be used very effectively even when teaching remotely.

CRC: Please share your tips on how one can use the case method effectively in the online mode.

Pierre Chandon: The first tip is to realize that you will only be able to cover about 80% of the content that you normally cover in the same amount of time. This is mainly because every interaction takes longer, from finding the “unmute” button, to the inability to quickly interject something in someone else’s monologue. The second is to be ready for the disconcerting lack of feedback from the audience, as it is hard to know if they understand what you are saying or appreciate your sense of humour. On the other hand, there are also advantages. The first is that you can easily see everyone’s name. More seriously, I found the chat box to be invaluable. When it goes well, it allows you to get a better discussion than in the classroom, both qualitatively and quantitatively, as shy students no longer hesitate to speak up, while others do not just voice their opinion but can share links to outside material to justify it. I also use the chat to grade student’s participation. I am ambivalent about recording the session since I believe that everyone, including the professor, should feel safe that what they are saying won’t be divulged to a broader audience or live forever on the internet.

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