Case Writing


For use of cases in the classroom, please see the Kellog Case Web catalog,

To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 847-491-5400 or e-mail 

For examples of powerpoint slides that go with each case, please email or

Author(s): Title:
Josh Polhans and Micheline Sabatté and Shane Greenstein MentorMob and the Reinvention of Learning
  There is a new teaching note, written in 2012.

The case examines the earliest stages of growth and formation of MentorMob as a for-profit company. The company, which had been born from a passion for web development and online communities shared by its co-founders, Kris Chinosorn (CEO) and Vince Leung (COO), was more than just an idea, but the website was still in its beta stage. MentorMob had an ambitious goal: to use a crowdsourcing model to reinvent the way people learn and to become the world’s utility for learning about anything. In order to reach their goal, Leung and Chinosorn needed to guide the company to rapid growth and position it for long-term success in the Web 2.0 world.

Rebecca Frazzano and Evan Meagher and Shane Greenstein The Triumph of the Commons: Wikia and the Commercialization of Open Source Communities in 2009
  There is a new teaching note, written in 2009.

Wikia presents an opportunity for classes in technology management and entrepreneurship to contemplate three primary questions:

  1. How can companies monetize open-source or user-generated content?
  2. How can a small startup build an installed user base without the resources of a larger incumbent?
  3. In the Web 2.0 space, should companies attempt to win narrowly defined niche markets or pursue a broader strategy of building a platform to support multiple communities?
Encyclopeadia Britannica
Michelle Devereux and Shane Greenstein The Crisis at Encyclopeadia Britannica

There is a new teaching note, written in 2009.


The leading encyclopedia in the English language, Encyclopædia Britannica, lost half of its sales and revenues in the mid-1990s. The organization had to be sold to a new owner in 1996. Students must consider how a variety of factors produced this outcome. Then they must grapple with the incredibly difficult question: what could management have done differently, if anything? This is an opportunity to look more deeply into settings where new technology creates potential threats to leading firms.
The sales organization at Encyclopædia Britannica plays an especially interesting role in the story. It was among the most successful commission-oriented door-to-door sales organizations in the world as late as the early 1990s. However, it had a difficult time transitioning to selling electronic-based encyclopedias. Upon close examination, that is not the only interesting feature of the Encyclopædia Britannica, which made several attempts to develop an electronic format for its products, and it achieved technical triumphs. However, these did not occur soon enough to compensate for declining book sales.
Microsoft also explored development of a CD-based encyclopedia early, overcoming many challenges before succeeding with a product called Encarta. It too faced numerous technical and business challenges. It is interesting to consider why they managed to succeed commercially as the new entrant.

Michelle Devereux and Shane Greenstein Wikipedia in the Spotlight
  There is a new teaching note, written in 2009.
  There also is an example of a "homework" exercise to go with this case. Please email Greenstein for a copy.

Wikipedia was positioned as the “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” After only five years in existence the site exceeded one million entries in English and the number of entries was growing incredibly fast. Wikipedia had extended its format to more than hundreds of languages, emerging as one of the top ten most visited sites on the Internet. By 2007 it had hired professional management in an attempt to "grow up."
The case discusses the factors that brought Wikipedia attention and success. To motivate case discussion the students are asked to grapple with the issues facing board members governing the Wikimedia Foundation. The situation faced by Wikipedia had no precedent and was far from the norm for profit-oriented electronic commerce. Wikipedia was an open source site, but did not work like most other open source projects devoted to assembling code. The site had grown dramatically, so clearly it had done something well. Should the foundation continue to do the same as it had and hope for the best? Or should it change a few policies in anticipation of accommodating a larger user- and contributor base?


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