HBR Launches Virtual Case Studies Around Reader Community

20 07 2007

Earlier this summer the Harvard Business Review launched a new feature online called a virtual case study that delves into issues of values in leadership. As you may know, HBR has offered a very popular management case study for many years which always presents a fictional management challenge and asks some expert business commentators to respond with what they might do as a counter to what happened to the protagonists in the case study.

Thanks to the Internet, HBR is taking this format further by giving readers in their community a chance to share their own views too.  And boy did they get an earful.  Over 200 readers responded.

Cultivating Community by Extending the Customer Experience

This approach offers a number of useful lessons:

  1. It builds value added experiences on an already popular feature making it even more valuable and potentially far more compelling for Word of Mouth Marketing.
  2. Creating community around the case study by inviting reader commentary gives the impression that reader comments and interaction are important to HBR, and in some ways, equal to the expert commentary of the past.
  3. It offers a chance for people to challenge themselves and gain from the opinions of others.
  4. Readers become  more accustom to  wanting to join in and stop lurking which can improve reader participation in other ways  on the site.
  5. HBR trusted their readers enough to give them the floor.  This is a critical first step in building community by overcoming the “not invented here” viewpoint.
  6. This cost very little for HBR to produce.

I am sure they plan further enhancements.  For instance why not create a prediction market where readers can “bet” using HBR virtual currency on what the expert panel determine the prevailing action should be.

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