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Case Research Managers @ Professional Cases: Motivating For Mission

ET Cases, 12 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Vandana Jayakumar and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

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Case Research Managers@Professional Cases: Motivating for Mission


On the morning of June 29th 2014, Dr. Nikhil Kashyap (Kashyap), Vice-President (VP) and Head, Academics, Professional Cases, came to his office at Hyderabad, as usual. After addressing the mails in the inbox, Kashyap sat back in his chair, reflecting on the state of affairs at Professional Cases. Barely a month later, on August 1st 2014, the division (Professional Cases) was slated for a mega pan-India launch. However, by this time, Professional Cases was not prepared for it – neither the website nor the minimum required number of products for the launch was ready. With his team members not around ( being Sunday), Kashyap was all alone, thinking of his journey with Professional Cases so far and trying to figure out ways in which he could motivate his Case Research Managers for the organizational mission.

Professional Cases, a case research division, started just 10 months back, within Centre for Learning Ltd. (CLL), a newly formed academic subsidiary of one of the leading media houses of India. Kashyap was brought in to head the new division, given his rich experience in academics.

Kashyap faced a series of dilemmas after accepting the position at Professional Cases. While he successfully confronted the various problems and dilemmas as and when they cropped up, one of his toughest challenges was to keep his team motivated for the mission called Professional Cases. How could he maintain their enthusiasm and ensure their commitment amidst all the odds? Kashyap often wondered, do they really share the dream or was he chasing the dream all alone?

Professional Cases: VP’s Forced Mission

Brief about the VP

Kashyap was a refined academician, an avid reader, a storehouse of knowledge and an ardent proponent of case studies in management education. He was himself a case writer, case editor and a case tester for his co-faculty members. He was actively involved in ongoing activities in the field of case methodology in management education. The latest feather in his cap was an invitation to be one of the expert panelists at the CaseFirst’s Silver Global Conference, to be held at the one of the premier management colleges of India in Bangalore in October 2014.........................

Gearing up for the Mission – Professional Cases

Being proactive, Kashyap started working on his new assignment. He drew up the business plan and jotted down the operational requirements of the new division. However, to execute the objectives of the new division, what he needed first was the right set of people..........

The Process of Team Selection

Kashyap started mobilizing his ex-colleagues from ICRC who were working in various companies and shared his new mission with them. He was reluctant to hire anyone without relevant experience as the mandate was huge – a lot had to be achieved in a very short span of time. Obviously, there was no time to train the team members; they had to start delivering from day one. No wonder, he often referred to his team as dream team..............

The Shared Mission: Co-creation and Innovation

With all the team members on board, the Case Research Managers, under Kashyap’s guidance, started working on the first innovative product of Professional Cases – the Case Flyer – that Kashyap had already shared with them. Enthusiastically, they continuously deliberated on the product and kept refining it...............

Case Research Managers: Unitedly Incoherent

Team Composition

Kashyap called his team a dream team with a reason, as he had almost handpicked his team members and he believed that they were the ones who could run with him in achieving the mission of Professional Cases. Most of them were well-employed, but they left their jobs and joined Professional Cases just to be able to work with Kashyap again. Most of them had previously worked with Kashyap and knew that working with him, they could get a chance to do high-end creative work.........

Failure to Achieve the Targets

Each Case Research Manager was expected to develop seven products in a month while they felt that they could at max produce four products in a month. Moreover, the department being in a startup mode, there were several other tasks that team members had to attend to. The department at that juncture could least afford to hire additional workforce. There was always a paucity of time and work was spilling out of the team members’ hands............

Renewed Motivation

The department had lost all vivacity in just 4 months of its existence. However, neither Kashyap nor his team members were ready to let Professional Cases languish. In February 2014, Kashyap called for a meeting to assess the situation and to find the way forward. In the meeting that lasted four hours, Kashyap reiterated his dream for Professional Cases...........

Initial Successes amidst Hurdles

By March 2014, there was a change in team composition. Satish Gupta (Satish) was brought in to join as the department coordinator, with the intention of easing the pressure on the team members. At the same time, Kashyap decided to replace Swathi as she struggled to write case studies and had made hardly any progress in 5 months. The team as a whole was losing a lot of time because of her as someone or the other had to constantly hand-hold her..............

Case Research Managers: Motivational Mandate

While, on the one hand, Kashyap had Professional Cases mandate, on the other he had the motivational mandate for his team of Case Research Managers. The entire team of Professional Cases stood in dilemma as the countdown for the launch began. Kashyap often wondered what more could he do to ensure that the Case Research Managers achieved their KRAs which alone would enable the department to be successful and be able to launch itself on August 1st 2014. He had tried it all to keep his team motivated............

Assignment Questions

I. Why couldn't Professional Cases team deliver what was expected of them despite all of them being seasoned and award winning case authors?

II. What do you think Kashyap should do to motivate his team to be where they should be?



Exhibit I: Profiles of Team Members of Professional Cases (as on November 10th 2013)

Exhibit II: Professional Cases Credo

Exhibit III: Responsibilities of Professional Cases Team Members

Exhibit IV: Profiles of Team Members of Professional Cases (as on June 30th 2014)

Exhibit V: Theories of Motivation for the Case Research Managers at Professional Cases

Teaching Note Preview

Case Research Managers@Professional Cases: Motivating for Mission



This case study was written to understand the concept of motivation, focusing on the various theories of motivation. The case study revolves around the dilemmas that the protagonist of the case study, Dr. Nikhil Kashyap (Kashyap) faces as he steers a fledgling division towards its mission. The biggest dilemma before Kashyap was – how to keep his team motivated for the mission called Professional Cases. His team members failed to live up to his expectation. The case study tries to unravel the reasons behind the Case Research Managers’ inability to achieve their targets. What could Kashyap do to ensure that his team members remained motivated? He tried applying the various theories of motivation. What more can Kashyap do to motivate his team members? The case study also helps to analyze the role of organizational structure, organizational communication and team bonding in motivating the employees.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU) material is the background material that would aid immensely in mapping the decision areas of this case study and bring a synthesis amongst the relevant concepts. The participants/students should be encouraged to read this material to benefit from the broader perspectives outlined in the case study.

  • • Stephen P. Robbins, et al., “Motivation Concepts”, Organizational Behavior, 15th Edition, Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd., 2013 – To develop an understanding on the concept of motivation


The students were asked to read the following theories of motivation:

  • • Hierarchy of Needs Theory
  • • Theory X and Theory Y
  • • Two-Factor Theory
  • • McClelland’s Theory of Needs
  • • B. J. Fogg, “A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design”,, (accessed date: July 12th 2014) –To understand how the three factors – motivation, ability and triggers – shape an individual’s behavior
  • • Frederick Herzberg, “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?”, HBR OnPoint, 2002 – To understand the not so obvious force behind motivation


Suggested Readings for the Faculty

  • • Nitin Nohria, et al., “Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2008 – To understand the four basic drives (Aquire, Bond, Comprehend and Defend) behind motivation
  • • Nigel Nicholson, “How to Motivate Your Problem People”, Harvard Business Review, January 2003 – To identify the ways in which an environment of self-motivation can be created for motivating the problem people


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the end of the case study, the participants should be well-versed with the following:

  • • The concept of motivation in the organizational context
  • • An understanding of the theories of motivation
  • • Applicability of the theories of motivation for the Case Research Managers at Professional Cases
  • • The ways in which employees could be motivated to get them aligned with the organizational mission


Positioning and Setting

This case study can be suitably used to teach the Concept of Motivation in Organizational Behavior Course.

Assignment Questions

  • I. Why couldn’t Professional Cases team deliver what was expected of them despite all of them being seasoned and award winning case authors?
  • II. What do you think Dr. Kashyap should do to motivate his team to be where they should be?
  • III. ...............


Classroom Analysis

The Classroom analysis of this case study was carried out as explained below [Exhibit (TN)-I]..............


Exhibit (TN)-I: Discussion Dashboard

Exhibit (TN)-II:4Ps of Motivation and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Exhibit (TN)-III: Case Research Managers and the 4Ps

Exhibit (TN)-IV: Fogg’s Behavior Model

Exhibit (TN)-V: Probable Theories of Motivation for Professional Cases’ Research Managers

Exhibit (TN)-VI: Four Drives Underlying Motivation

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Product code: OB-1-0030, OB-1-0030A


This case study enables an interesting discussion on the concept of motivation as it captures the story of Dr. Nikhil Kashyap (Kashyap) - the protagonist of the case study - who is faced with the dilemma of 'How to motivate his Case Research Managers?' to achieve their numbers and in turn the organizational mission. While the Case Research Managers have their reasons for not being able to achieve the targets, Kashyap believes that the reason for failure is lack of passion and sense of ownership. Moreover, the team seems to lack the team spirit. Who is right and who is wrong? Given the personality types of each of the Case Research Managers, the case study helps identify the ways in which Kashyap could motivate his team members for the Professional Cases mission. Can the theories of motivation be of help or does Kashyap need to do something else?

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the organizational context and contours of the concept of motivation
  • To examine various theories of motivation and discuss on the desirability of application of the same for Professional Cases' Research Managers
  • To debate on the ways and means to motivate employees to align them with the organizational mission

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