Desautels researchers win oikos Case Writing Competition 2014


Published: 4Jun2014

Professor Dror Etzion and BCom 2012 alumni, Benjamin Gruber and James Povitz (along with Raymond Paquin of Concordia University) have won 1st place in the Social Entrepreneurship track at the 11th annual oikos Case Writing Competition for their case entitled "Communauto: A Big Idea for a Big Market".

The annual oikos Case Writing Competition promotes the development of new high quality case studies on sustainability in management, entrepreneurship and finance. An international panel of more than 30 leading faculty evaluates the cases in a double-blind review process and gives written feedback to all authors. Since the competition’s launch in 2003, more than 40 cases written by scholars of 15 different countries have been submitted.

Find out more about the competition and results
Read full press release: Oikos International

“Communauto: A Big Idea for a Big Market” case synopsis:

The Communauto case examines a carsharing company headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The case focuses primarily on Communauto’s CEO, Benoit Robert, and covers the company’s evolution and emergence as a standard-bearer for the carsharing concept in North America.  Whereas many social entrepreneurship cases focus on translating a ‘concept’ into a sustainable enterprise, this case is different in that Communauto is already established and financially viable.  Thus, students examine how the founder can build on his success and continue to pursue his ambitious goal of significantly reducing private car ownership in order to minimize the environmental burden of personal transportation.

At the center of the analysis is the tension that underlies this successful carsharing venture.  On the one hand, like any other entrepreneur, Benoit wants to grow his organization and increase its membership.  On the other, he is a social entrepreneur steadfastly committed to reducing the environmental impact of individual transportation by changing driving behavior through carsharing.  Meeting these objectives is challenging because, even though many North Americans are aware of carsharing as a phenomenon, the majority misunderstand the concept, and in particular, its economic appeal for many urban car owners. 

In this case, students assess an organization’s accomplishments using not just economic criteria but also the normative aspirations of its founder, which are more social in nature. In doing so, students will analyze how Communauto is faring and address the founder’s core concern: how to position Communauto to continue attracting and retaining members while simultaneously leading them towards environmentally preferable transportation choices?