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Back to Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 02, May 2021
A Tribute to a Legend
Debapratim Purkayastha, Director of the ICFAI Case Research Center, passed away from COVID-19 on 7 May 2021. Born in Hailakandi, in Assam, India, on 24 May 1976, Debapratim completed his BSc from Cotton College, Guwahati University; MBA from Utkal University; and PhD from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar. After a stint in the pharmaceutical industry, Debapratim joined the IBS Center for Management Research (ICMR) in February 2006. In 2015, he became Associate Dean of the IBS Case Research Center and in 2017, he was promoted to Dean. He was also the Dean for IFHE’s International Affairs and the convenor of IFHE’s Research Committee. In early 2020, Debapratim was promoted to Director of ICFAI Case Research Center and was spearheading the case initiative at the ICFAI Group of institutions since then.

Debapratim was an internationally acclaimed case writer. He topped The Case Centre’s Top 40 Bestselling Case Authors ranking each year since its launch in 2016. He was chosen for the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method award in 2015 by The Case Centre. Since starting his career at ICMR, Debapratim won multiple awards in case writing including the prestigious The Case Centre Awards (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021); AESE Case Writing Competition (2013, 2014); Dark Side Case Writing Competition (2015, 2017, 2018); EFMD Case Writing Competition (2006, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020); John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition (2015, 2019); and oikos Case Writing Competition (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).
As Prof Pierre Chandon of INSEAD says, “To all of us who write and teach cases, Professor Debapratim Purkayastha was a legend”. His legacy will live on and will continue to inspire thousands of case writers, case method practitioners, and researchers across the world.
IBS Case Research Center
On May 8th, before dawn, I read an e-mail announcement about my friend Debapratim Purkayastha’s untimely demise the previous day. I thought it was an e-mail scam and combed through social media posts and was relieved to find nothing. So, it was indeed a phishing attempt! I waited for my trusted source, The Case Center (TCC), to refute this e-mail scammer, but in fact, the unthinkable was confirmed when I saw TCC’s social media posts!

I teetered between grief and confusion as I could not cancel classes at short notice. Students in my online classes could sense something was wrong. I had to confide the shocking news about losing a friend, and co-author, and shared Dr. Purkayastha’s long list of accomplishments, including the no.1 spot he had held in TCC’s “Top 40 Bestselling Case Authors” five years in a row. I also told my students how inspiring this soft-spoken case scholar was.

I recalled how I had met him in 2011. It was a chance event that led me to meet Debapratim Purkayastha in October 2011. Dr. Marlene Reed, President of the North America Case Research Association (NACRA), was trying to reach a case writer from India whose name was Debapratim Purkayastha. I agreed to find him. When I made that first call to Hyderabad from Denver (USA), much to my chagrin, no one responded. So, I left him a voice message: “Mr. Purkayastha, I am Vijaya Narapareddy, VP of Programs of NACRA. Congratulations on winning our inaugural CMA award! I know that Hyderabad is under lockdown, but if you don’t attend the NACRA Annual Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, in just a few weeks, according to our rules, the prize will be awarded to the runner-up case. Hope to see you in San Antonio!” As Debapratim received the award, in person, in San Antonio, I beamed with pride that a fellow Indian was receiving this highly coveted prize. He treated me like a celebrity as he was delighted to find a female academic from his motherland on NACRA’s leadership team.

The rest is history as we began collaborating on writing cases along with Syeda M. Qumer and won prestigious awards over the years. We co-conspired with other prominent colleagues like Harvard-educated Dr. Marilyn Taylor, Richard McCracken (TCC’s Director), and award-winning scholars from several countries and continents, offering professional development case workshops in the US and Europe at leading professional associations like the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society.

Hearing about the unexpected demise of Debapratim, Dr. Anne Lawrence, founder of the Case Research Foundation, remarked, “Deb was a giant in the case community.” Dr. Lawrence is the daughter of the late Harvard Business School professor Dr. Paul R. Lawrence, an early and ardent proponent of the case method, where Debapratim excelled.

Dr. Purkayastha was a case scholar-teacher par excellence, his impact extraordinary, but more importantly, he will be remembered for his compassion and tireless service.

Vijaya Narapareddy Zinnoury, PhD
Associate Professor, Daniels College of Business
University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

It was with shock and sadness that I heard about the loss of Professor Purkayastha. Although I have not met Debapratim, we had come to be long-distance friends and colleagues over the last twenty or so years. Starting with early editions of my textbook with Pearson ("International Management: Managing Across Borders and Cultures), I had sought out relevant cases to include in the books. It did not take me long to find that many of the best cases from any source were written by Debapratim, or co-authored by him, or overseen by him. I started to use them in my book and found that they were well received; indeed, I have several in my current 10th ed (2021). For each edition, Debapratim helped me to find a selection of cases appropriate to the topics. In fact, he often went beyond that in agreeing to update some favorite cases and tailor them to the subject matter. It also became clear to me that he conveyed his excellence in case-writing to colleagues and students. He has left a legacy of excellence and professionalism.

Helen Deresky
Professor Emerita, State University of New York, Plattsburgh, and Stewart R. Miller, Professor of Management, The University of Texas at San Antonio

To all of us who write and teach cases, Professor Debapratim Purkayastha was a legend. His contribution to the field is immense and he will be greatly missed. I had the pleasure of meeting him once at INSEAD and I was impressed by his dedication to his scholarship, his ambition for the IBS Case Research Center, as well as his cordiality. I am very sad to hear of his passing and wish to express my sincere condolences to his family.

Pierre Chandon
The L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing—Innovation and Creativity
Director, INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab

Debapratim was such a buoyant figure, full of vitality and insight. He will be greatly missed by case method practitioners all around the world.

I feel privileged to count him as a friend and am deeply saddened.

Our thoughts are with Somali and Supratim, and with you and all our friends at IBS.

Richard McCracken
Director, The Case Centre, UK

Devastating news! Debapratim will be greatly missed by so many and my heart goes out to his family and colleagues. His legacy will certainly live on and he will always be remembered with fondness and much respect.

Fran Baylis
Content Acquisition and Rights Manager, The Case Centre, UK

Through the years, Debapratim was an influential and important member of the case community. He was a pleasure to work and collaborate with, and I know we all have many wonderful memories of him. It’s so terribly sad that his life has been cut short, but he leaves an amazing legacy behind. Few people have had such an impact on a field of work as Debapratim had on the case method.

Antoinette Mills
Media and Systems Development Manager, The Case Centre, UK

We were very sad to hear of the passing of Debapratim Purkayastha. Dr Purkayastha was an inspirational, creative, and accomplished case researcher and teacher, who was a regular contributor to NACRA and the Case Research Journal. He was an award-winning author, a strong advocate of student-centered learning, and a mentor to many young scholars. His passing is a tragic loss to our community of case researchers. We will miss Debapratim’s friendship, energy, and commitment to the use of cases to develop the next generation of managers around the world. We send our condolences to his family and friends in India and around the world.

Michael M. Goldman
President of the North American Case Research Association

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing away of Professor Purkayastha. We had met about three years ago when “Prof. Deb” was in Paris, and had been in touch since then. He struck me as a passionate and inquisitive mind, that, sadly, will now be missed. My thoughts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Denis Gromb
Antin I.P. Chair Professor of Finance, HEC Paris

Debapratim was an incredibly gifted case writer and mentor to other case writers. His ability to see case writing as both an art and science was wonderful – he even published a graphic novel style case which was one of the most creative and effective cases I have ever seen. His reputation as a case scholar is international and his collaborators span the globe. He was a valued member of the Editorial Board of Case Research Journal for many years. He was always engaging and kind and simply a lovely human being. Deb will be missed by many and his impact on management education will continue in our classrooms across the world.

Gina Grandy
Editor of Case Research Journal (Dean and Professor at University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Prof. Debapratim Purkayastha firstly was a mentor and colleague. A friend too. He went out of his way to support my work and research on the presence (or rather lack of) women in case papers. He encouraged me often. I was so honoured when he invited me to collaborate in writing a case paper together. It went on to win an award. His case writing skill was legendary and I am blessed to have been taught by him. We also worked as judges on Emerald Publishing’s inaugural competition for cases written with women leaders last year. I have a fond memory of spending an afternoon in London together where we walked, taking in the sites such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. I will miss him, his work, and his encouragement greatly. He was a kind and generous man. He has left us a great legacy in his case writing and teaching.

Lesley Symons
Leadership Coach and Group Facilitator

Debapratim made an enormous contribution to the critical case writing community at the United States-based Academy of Management over many years. He was a regular contributor to the Dark Side Case Competition hosted by the Critical Management Studies division, which encourages case writing that addresses the dark side of contemporary capitalism. Debapratim won the competition three times, in 2018 (with Syeda Maseeha Qumer); 2017 (with Syeda Maseeha Qumer and Vijaya Narapareddy); and in 2015. Debapratim was also deeply committed to sharing his case method expertise and was involved in delivering many workshops at the annual meeting on different aspects of case writing and teaching. He leaves a valuable and lasting legacy.

Todd Bridgman
Associate Professor, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, New Zealand

Dr. Debapratim Purkayastha was an accomplished business professor and scholar. More importantly he was a wonderful son, husband and father. His influence, leadership and kindness are cherished by his family and colleagues. Professionally, Debapratim was a gifted writer who used his talents to produce intellectual contributions of the highest quality. He was a prolific case researcher, with his publications being utilized at hundreds of universities. His work will impact the professional careers of business students across the world who will benefit from his scholarly activity.

John E. Gamble. Ph.D.
Dean, College of Business and Professor of Management Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

The world has lost a leading case author and a humble human being at a young age. I had collaborated and coordinated with Prof Debapratim Purkayastha in an online discussion as part of a pre-NACRA conference video last year. I still remember the experiences he shared and his willingness to take on the responsibility of editing the video. The cases he authored will live for long to speak of his glory... May his soul rest in peace.

Sivakumar A
Professor - Marketing, VIT Business School

Dr. Debapratim Purkayastha was a great man, a wonderful intellectual, admired by all. His contributions to making IBS-CRC known globally as one of the top case study publishers will remain forever. His sudden departure to his heavenly abode is a great loss for the ICFAI Family.

Dr. J Mahender Reddy
Vice Chancellor, ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education

I got to know Prof. Debapratim (Deb as I fondly called him) in the year 2008 when I joined ICFAI Business School. Within a very short span of time, I saw Dr Deb grow and mature into a professional case writer, an achievement which many would have found challenging. He was the Top Case author in the world for five consecutive years for which he competed with the Who’s Who of the case writing fraternity. This was due to his intense focus, driven by clearly laid down objectives for himself and his team at the Case Research Center. Dr Deb had the big picture of the context in which he and his team worked. He had the rare gift of being able to foresee the future of a business unfold. As a person, he was affable and always approachable. He worked hard for the team and the organization he represented, could easily connect with his colleagues, and was always ready to lend a helping hand. He leaves behind a big void that will be difficult to fill. May his soul rest in peace.

Dr. Venu Gopal Rao
Professor - Department of Marketing & Strategy, IBS Hyderabad

I find it hard to believe that Dr Debapratim Purkayastha, Director, IBS Case Center, is no longer with us. I had the honor of coworking with him in publishing his Case Folio – The IUP Journal of Management Case Studies. Dr Debapratim was such an entrepreneurial visionary that he developed case studies in different subsets of Management that brought him laurels from all over the world. Working with devotion and scholarship, he carved a niche for the IBS Case Center in the world of Management Case Studies. Despite his remarkable achievements as a case writer and a teacher of case writing, he conducted himself with his trademark simplicity and humility. We at IUP Publications will miss his editorship and companionship. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

GRK Murty
Managing Editor, IUP Publications

It is hard to believe that Debapratim is not among us today. Having been a colleague of his for more than a decade, I have seen his dedication and the kind of hard work he put in that made him a case writer of repute.

As I sit to write this, my mind keeps going back to a poem I learnt during my school days – A Psalm of Life by H W Longfellow. As a young girl, I might not have understood the essence of it, but now, when I recall it, I realize it conveys exactly what I feel about Debapratim.

I’d like to share a few of its lines here,

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Debapratim has left behind a legacy which will be hard for others to match, but it will guide many.

Indu Parepu
Research Faculty, IBS CRC

Prof. Debapratim Purkayastha’s contribution to case writing is tremendous and unparalleled. He was the most salable case writer in the world. Till December 2019, his case studies were used by 1,000+ business schools in 90+ countries, benefiting almost half a million students around the world.

He was a humble person, always ready to share his knowledge and train others in case method pedagogy through his case writing and case teaching workshops. He was instrumental in creating many world-class case writers around the world as well as in the Case Research Center, IBS Hyderabad.

He wrote and co-authored as many as 600 cases in 15 years, which itself shows his commitment to case writing. Since 2016, The Case Centre, U.K., has shared its top 40 bestselling case authors list, and guess what, Purkayastha had topped the bestselling case authors’ list every year.

He dedicated his life to case method pedagogy. In fact, just 11 days before his demise, he took an online case teaching workshop at IBS Hyderabad. At that time, he was suffering from high fever.

He will be remembered by the case research community around the world for his immense contribution to the case method of teaching.

Manish Agarwal
Faculty Associate, IBS CRC

Words cannot convey the loss caused by the sudden demise of our beloved Director, Prof Debapratim Purkayastha. He was truly a great mentor in addition to being a role model, advisor, and brilliant educator. When I started out as a research associate at ICMR in 2008, I was fortunate to be a part of his team of case writers. Under his guidance, I learnt the craft of case writing and thereafter co-authored several award-winning case studies with him. Prof Debapratim’s contribution to the case method is invaluable. He ensured that the case method of teaching was an integral part of the ICFAI group of institutions and beyond. We at CRC will cherish his leadership forever and continue to uphold his legacy and commitment to case-based learning. To quote Terry Pratchett: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”

Syeda Maseeha Qumer
Adjunct Research Faculty, IBS CRC

Prof Debapratim’s name is synonymous with case study research across management institutions in India and abroad. He had exceptional qualities and was the brand ambassador of our organization IFHE. As an award-winning and bestselling author across the world, he made IFHE a name to reckon with in case research methodology. He was a pioneer in developing and popularizing this methodology and was a renowned case teacher. His is an irreparable loss for the whole ICFAI family as well as the CRC team that has lost its guide and guardian. His numerous cases and publications will, however, ensure that he will always remain in our memory. He has left us with a strong legacy in management research, which we can take forward. That will be the greatest tribute we can pay him.

Benudhar Sahu
Research Associate, IBS CRC

I was privileged to start writing cases under the direction of Prof Debapratim Purkayastha when I joined CRC in 2015. I was struck by his dedication to work and his genial mentoring style. He encouraged me to choose good topics and guided me in every aspect of case writing. I am proud to say in association with him, I too won some case awards. Under his stewardship, the CRC became one of the most prolific case research centers in India. The fraternity of Indian management education and ICFAI have lost one of their stalwarts. He will be dearly remembered by his colleagues as a beloved case evangelist and as a person of the highest integrity and sincerity. He will live on through his cases taught around the world.

Koti Vinod Babu
Research Associate, IBS CRC

Prof. Debapratim Purkayastha’s contribution to the case method was not limited to the huge repository of cases that he created; he also took the Case Research Center (CRC) to new heights with his able leadership and the innumerable awards he won. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with him and will always remember the intricacies of case writing that I learnt from him. His absence has created a void in the world of academia that will be difficult to fill.

Munmun Samantarai
Professional Case Writer

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