Berkeley Haas Case Series

Best Case Award 2017: Patagonia

We are pleased to announce that "Patagonia: Driving Sustainable Innovation by Embracing Tensions," by Dara O'Rourke and Robert Strand, is the winner of the 2017 Best Case Award.

Now in its fifth year, the Berkeley-Haas Best Case Award recognizes the case study published during the preceding year (2016) that has made the most important contribution to management education.

This case was the basis of the inaugural Patagonia Case Competition, an annual event organized by the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business. In April 2016, ten qualifying teams from top schools around the country gathered in Berkeley to present to panel of Patagonia representatives, including CEO Rose Marcario.

The competitors sought to find a solution to Patagonia's Durable Water Repellent (DWR) problem. The company faced a dilemma: on the one hand, Patagonia's DWR allowed high quality garments to be used for many years. On the other hand, the chemical process used to create the repellant also created toxic by-products. They knew that a better solution was necessary to align with Patagonia's mission to "build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, [and] use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

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Former Award Winners

Back to the Roots Ventures (2016)
This case study follows the entrepreneurial journey of two Berkeley-Haas alumni, Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez, who founded a startup that allows customers to purchase kits and sustainably grow their own produce at home. (more)

Castlight Health: Disrupting the Health Care
This award-winning case study examines SF-based Castlight Health, a company that aims to boost transparency and efficiency within the health care industry through the use of innovative reference-based pricing tools. (more)

People Operations at Mozilla Corporation (2014)
This case describes Mozilla Corporation's human resource initiatives. VP Debbie Cohen created a system of distributed decision-making and delegated leadership to manage the company's diverse community of contributors. (more)


Alphabet Energy (2013)
This case examines one company's development of a novel thermoelectric technology and its subsequent selection of a relevant target market. (more)