American Univesity of Beirut

Case Studies Through the Lens of Executive Education: An Interview with Fida Kanaan

Rami Suleiman

As case studies become more popularized in the world of graduate and undergraduate education, they remain a staple in the syllabi of executive education programs. Through an interview with Fida Kanaan, Director of Executive Education at the Olayan School of Business, much insights are revealed on the relevance of case study usage in executive education, the reasons for its strong demand, and emerging trends within the region.

With the shift in the MENA region yielding growth of anchor countries including UAE, KSA among others, there has been a growing demand for upskilling, reskilling and leadership development in executive education. On this point, Kanaan points out that the usage of case studies within executive education programs is often the most requested point when designing a program. This strong demand for case studies is due to its superb practicality, as Kanaan says, “[companies and managers] really like it because it starts with their realities and practices and then you move into revealing frameworks and tools, rather than the other way around." Accordingly, the complicated real-life business nuances presented within cases shape them into powerful tools for executives to learn from. Executives learn from other organizations' practices where they further understand calculated and conceptual approaches for facing such challenges.

Much emphasis was placed by Kanaan on the emerging trends within executive education, with case studies being a centerpiece of the executives' learning journey. One important point highlighted is the strong demand for Arab countries business case studies tackling subjects from the perspective of the region rather than the other way around. Companies from the region are forging their own growth pathways on both the regional and global scenes. Most case studies currently available look at doing business in the Middle East from the perspective of market entrants to the region which makes them less relevant to our audiences. This strategic bridge is yet to be built to assure knowledge creation and the learning impact we are seeking. Another related topic, Kanaan points out, is one that is very relevant to Lebanon. The country's particularly unique challenging context is an opportunity to present best practices in dealing with difficult, volatile and uncertain shifting environments. Success business stories are to be closely watched for and documented as they carry unique success formulas to do business in a crisis mode.

The demand for case studies in executive education only seems to grow, and with the deep knowledge provided by Kanaan, there are numerous avenues for growth in both the cultivation of case study material and their creation – ranging from Arab-centric case studies to ones that tackle MENA-specific issues.

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