Case Studies

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SMRT: Getting Back on Track

by Assoc Prof Thompson S.H. Teo, Mr Cherie Heng (BBA student), Ms Cheryl Lee (Double degree BBA and Computing student), Mr Zhuoran Liu (Statistics student, Minor in Management), Ms Shi Qing Ng (BBA student) and Ms Xinyi Sherry Yuan (BBA student)

Publication Date: 02/03/2018

On July 7, 2015, a power fault during the evening commute led to a system-wide disruption on SMRT, Singapore’s heavily used mass rapid transit lines. Train service on both lines was shut down for more than two hours, affecting more than 413,000 commuters. The public was outraged at the scale of the breakdown and how ineffectively it was handled. Detailed investigations revealed the breakdown to be a result of maintenance lapses, and SMRT was criticized for its failure to provide clear and timely information and instructions to passengers. Following the breakdown, the company embarked on a service recovery process encompassing various new initiatives. This case illustrates the tensions SMRT faced during and after the breakdown, and its journey to recover the public’s confidence in is transit services.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

IOI’s Global Challenge: Moving up the Palm Oil Value Chain

by Assoc Prof Marleen Dieleman

Publication Date: 12/02/2018

Malaysian palm oil company IOI Corporation Berhad (IOI) developed from a plantation company in Malaysia to become a vertically integrated manufacturing company with a range of higher value manufacturing businesses across Asia, Europe, and the United States. The rapid expansion into what the chief executive officer (CEO) called a “mini-multinational” placed greater demands on IOI and its leadership. The CEO had struggled to simultaneously achieve growth, innovation, control, and coordination, and the company had experienced a sustainability crisis in 2016. In early 2017, the CEO needed to decide whether to approve an ambitious growth strategy—proposed by IOI’s specialty oils and fats team, which led most overseas operations and handled IOI’s most innovative products—to be achieved by 2025. While he was eager to expand IOI and strengthen its position as a widely admired Asian family multinational, he also needed to weigh the constraints. He could not risk growing the company faster than the leadership’s ability to control it.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Jiuzhai Valley National Park: Data-Driven Economic Growth and Ecological Preservation

by Assoc Prof H. Brian Hwarng and Mr Jianhua Ran (Manager, Digital Information Center, Jiuzhai Valley National Park)

Publication Date: 26/01/2018

Since 2000, China’s Jiuzhai Valley National Park (Jiuzhai Valley) had been experiencing a sharp increase in the volume of tourists it received. The park contributed significantly to the surrounding area’s economy: in 2015 and 2016, it contributed more than 60 per cent of the total admission income received from the four major scenic parks within the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. However, pollution and noise due to the influx of visitors presented a constant threat to Jiuzhai Valley’s ecosystem and environment. Despite Jiuzhai Valley’s fairly advanced and disciplined approach to park management, there was no easy solution to the problem it faced in trying to balance its economic success and sustainable environmental initiatives. Attempts to manage information using digital and smart technologies and “big data” were still in their early stages, and had yet to yield the expected benefits. How could the park balance conservation and development to attain sustainability?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Caterpillar Inc.: Aftermarket Parts Freight Optimization

by Assoc Prof Singfat Chu and Ms Ramya Subramanian (EMBA student)

Publication Date: 24/01/2018

A key contributor to the business reputation and success of Caterpillar Inc. (Caterpillar) was the company’s reliable aftermarket service. Caterpillar’s Asia Distribution Centre in Singapore processed urgent spare parts orders received from dealers located in 10 Southeast Asian countries. In 2017, the operations team was working to develop a rigorous analytical method for making daily decisions about how to ship the spare parts. Shipments were consolidated by country destination and needed to optimize the interests of three stakeholders: (1) Caterpillar, which wanted to minimize freight costs; (2) dealers, who wanted to receive the spare parts in the shortest time possible; and (3) freight forwarders, who wanted to be rewarded for their on-time delivery performance. 

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
o obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

San Miguel: Succession in the Philippines' Largest Corporation

by Assoc Prof Ruth S.K. Tan and Assoc Prof Yupana Wiwattanakantang

Publication Date: 29/09/2017

In September 2011, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) celebrated its 122nd anniversary. Its chairman had just turned 76. Two years earlier, he had travelled to the United States to receive a cardiac ablation to correct an irregular heart rhythm. Succession-related questions were on his mind. SMC needed a clear plan for the leadership transition. The charismatic chairman spent his life successfully exploiting business opportunities, growing SMC from a small brewery company into a giant business group. By 2011, SMC was the largest corporation in the Philippines in terms of revenue—accounting for about 6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and employing about 17,000 people. The group engaged in a wide range of businesses including mining, oil refining and distribution, power, telecommunications, airlines, airports, and infrastructure. How could the company continue to thrive without its remarkable leader? Finding a path towards a smooth leadership succession would be a difficult task.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

L’Oreal India: Where Beauty Meets Tradition

by Assoc Prof Prem Shamdasani 

Publication Date: 29/09/2017

In 2013, L’Oréal SA had become the largest cosmetics manufacturer in the world by understanding different markets and offering products to those consumers that met needs they may not have realized they even had. In India, L’Oréal spent more than 20 years studying its target consumers and developing products to cater to their specific needs. However, developing localized products was not the only criterion for success in a new market. L’Oréal needed to also localize every aspect of its operations, from research and development to marketing and outreach. As well, the company needed to deal with intensifying competition as global and local players challenged L’Oréal’s efforts to penetrate and dominate the hair-care, skincare, makeup, and professional hair-care segments in the value-conscious and largely unorganized but fast-growing beauty market in India. What localization and market development strategies should L'Oréal implement?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Buy or Rent: Living in Singapore

by Assoc Prof Ruth S.K. Tan, Dr Zsuzsa R. Huszar and Dr Weina Zhang

Publication Date: 31/07/2017

Mr. and Mrs. Wong and their three children had rented a condominium unit in Singapore for the past six years. During that time, they had been watching the property market with the objective of buying a home of their own. A larger unit in the same building finally became available for sale in June 2016. Coincidentally, their rental lease would expire soon after that date. If they decided to buy the larger unit, they would hold it for the next 10 years. Their net gain or loss of the buy versus rent decision would depend on the selling price of the unit at the end of 10 years and the rental payments.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

bKash: Financial Technology Innovation for Emerging Markets

by Assoc Prof Ishtiaq P Mahmood, Assoc Prof Marleen Dieleman and Mrs Narmin Tartila (former MBA student)

Publication Date: 28/06/2017

The founder of bKash Limited (bKash), a successful mobile financial services (MFS) model pioneered in Bangladesh, built the company from scratch, targeting services at the lower socioeconomic segment of society and eventually acquiring 26 million customers. bKash has had a positive impact on the lives of countless poor people and has gained worldwide recognition for its innovative business model. The model required close collaboration with telecommunications operators, banks, non-governmental organizations, and regulators. In particular, the Bangladesh central bank supported the venture, allowing experimentation in MFS to address poverty through financial inclusion. By the end of 2016, the founder was concerned about future regulations and looking to strengthen the foundation of his disruptive business to make it more robust. How could the company continue to grow while maintaining its financial inclusion objective?

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

LUX* Resorts & Hotels: Optimal Room Mix Marketing Decisions

by Assoc Prof Singfat Chu and Mr Nitesh Pandey (EMBA student)

Publication Date: 17/05/2017

In early 2016, LUX* Resorts & Hotels, a hotel group headquartered in Mauritius, needed to determine the room mix to sell to foreign guests to achieve a specific earnings target. The hotel group also intended to sell some of the remaining rooms to local residents at affordable (discounted) prices. The objective was to maximize the revenue stream to finance local corporate social responsibility projects. The case highlights the practical use of Microsoft Excel Solver, an optimization tool, to resolve routine planning challenges faced by a hotel group.

For NUS Business School: (Faculty only)
To obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

Internships and Career Decisions for Talented Young Graduates

by Dr Wu Pei Chuan and Ms Eugenia Lee (BBA Hons student)

Publication Date: 16/05/2017

Three students joined the NUS Business School some years ago with very different backgrounds; as they were about to graduate, they started to reflect on their experiences at the University and how it prepared them for their first jobs. Throughout their student lives, they had taken on a combination of internships, leadership roles and case competitions, and in the process, they had developed different career aspirations. However, the future was still uncertain as they struggled with making momentous decisions regarding their careers. With so many options and possibilities before them, what was the 'best choice' for these individuals?

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