Re-looping the learning: shell's use of case studies to contribute to the company's effectiveness in external affairs practice


  • Jon White,

    Corresponding author
    1. c/o 23A North Hill, London N6 4BS
    • c/o 23A North Hill, London N6 4BS
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    • Jon Whiteis a consultant in management and organisation development, and public affairs. An associate of Henley Management College, and Honorary Professor, Public Affairs, University of Birmingham School of Business, he also teaches public affairs as part of the Executive Master of Science Programme in Communication Management at USI Lugano. He has written a number of cases for management teaching purposes for the European Case Clearing House.

  • Tim Westman

    1. c/o 23A North Hill, London N6 4BS
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    • Tim Westmanis an independent corporate communications consultant. From 1997–2003, he was a senior External Affairs adviser with Shell International Limited, responsible for enhancing functional leadership, knowledge management and the professional development of the Group's 600-plus External Affairs staff worldwide.


Case studies are used in management teaching and executive development. They also have an important use as an aid to practice, to help practitioners learn lessons from the experience of others. For a multinational company such as Shell, case studies from the company's worldwide experience have been developed and made available to members of the company's external affairs community, so that—for example—an external affairs practitioner in the Asia-Pacific region can learn from the experiences of practitioners in the Latin-American region. A short description of one of the cases held in the Shell database of case studies is given. The paper concludes by suggesting how case studies should be used to improve practice, and considering some of the obstacles to the development and use of practice-relevant case studies. Copyright © 2003 Henry Stewart Publications