SBC Author Profile: Bala Mulloth
Dr. Bala Mulloth is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia. He received a PhD in Technology Management from New York University, and has taught courses on a variety of topics including social entrepreneurship and emerging markets. His research areas include innovation and strategic processes within new ventures, sustainable business models, and social entrepreneurship. He is also a Visiting Faculty Fellow at National Defense University at Fort McNair, in Washington DC. Prior to moving to Charlottesville and joining the Batten School, he was an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary and the Program Director of CEU’s experiential New York City MBA program. Prior to joining Central European University, he was the Senior Manager of New York University’s Office of Innovation Development, Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Mulloth has published articles in several entrepreneurship and management journals, including the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Journal of Business Ethics Education, Impact Business Review, the International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development and the Journal of High Technology Management Research and has contributed chapters in books such as the Entrepreneurial University: Case Studies and Policy (Routledge), Multiple Helix Ecosystems for Sustainable Competitiveness (Springer), and Free Market in Its Twenties: Modern Business Decision Making in Central and Eastern Europe. He has conducted workshops and lecture series on social entrepreneurship in several of the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe.
Cases from Bala on SAGE Business Cases
Q&A with Bala
Q: How do you integrate cases into your classes?
A: The nature of the content of the courses that I teach is dynamic and evolving. Therefore, I try to integrate a variety of instructional techniques and tools to facilitate student learning. All of my courses include lectures, large and small-group discussions, cases, student presentations, guest speakers, and class assignments. By incorporating many of these techniques and tools, students have multiple learning avenues. This can assist them to meet the changing demands of the marketplace and society where complex problems and uncertainty are ever present. To complement my learning by doing approach, I use real-world examples and cases, and emphasize classroom discussions and debate. The case studies help bring the theoretical concepts taught to life through the lens of organizations. Another important aspect of cases is that they inspire students to focus on the "why" question. It helps them understand not only what something is or how something is done, but also to focus on why things are done a particular way. This helps students develop their competencies in both critical and creative thinking.
Q: How do students respond to the cases?
A: Students seem to enjoy and benefit from the active learning component that cases bring. It encourages them to construct new ideas and knowledge within their own personal framework and experiences. I have found that the cases allow the student to make meaningful connections between new information and previously established concepts. It also facilitates a deeper overall understanding and provides a structure for life-long learning.
Q: Do you have any tips for those who are new to cases and want to use them in courses?
A: I would recommend shaping the case studies to meet your objectives. In order to do so it is important to select case studies to suit specific course or project objectives. I would also recommend using contrasting case studies to attain a holistic understanding of an issue. Further, an innovative approach to case studies might be to have students role-play the part of the people involved in the case. This not only actively engages students, but forces them to really understand the perspectives of the case characters. Videos or even field trips showing the venue in which the case is situated can help students to visualize the situation that they need to analyze. Further, I would recommend inviting the founder(s) of the organization being studied to give talks on the day their case studies are discussed. This gives students an opportunity to connect with company management and get direct personal perspectives.
Q: Do you have any case writing advice for those who’d like to get started?
A: It is important for case writers to get support from the top management of the organization they wish to write the case study on. To this end, it is important to have a conversation with company management even before embarking on writing the case. If possible, I would also recommend inviting one of the company executives to co-author the case study with you. This will ensure buy-in and interest in the case study being published. As an academic, you should be able to tie the organizational details and story back with the theoretical frameworks and provide a robust, well rounded and objective case study for discussion.