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An Interview with Co-Founder Dr. Michael Sheppard

Recently, I sat down with my F.C. Manning School of Business colleague Michael Sheppard to talk about his ongoing research exploring the effectiveness of multimedia cases.

What does the research say?

Our findings to date indicate that students prefer multimedia over text-based cases and that the quality of the content, rather than skills developed or the quality of the technology platform, explains the students’ preference for multimedia cases. Despite our results, we do not yet know why multimedia cases, in general, are not getting more traction in business schools. This question guides our current research to delve deeper for possible explanations and on the practical side, what we find will allow us to improve the user experience and content presentation in a way that motivates students to learn.

What is your favourite case and why.

The Rounds. Why? It is a great example of activities surrounding a well-funded high technology start up.

Where do you want to head in terms of new case development?

Well, I’d like to tie this into another stream of research that I am actively engaged in. I am continuing work started in 2008 with Dr. Rod McNaughton at the University of Waterloo in studying the antecedents of high-growth and gazelle firms, as well as the growth of born global companies that pursue opportunities to internationalize within a few years of founding. High growth firms are important for a number of reasons.

  • High-growth firms are rare but have a disproportionally large impact on the economy, (Birch and Medoff; 1994).

  • This group of firms generate wealth, and they were the source of approximately 45 percent of new jobs in Canada between 1993 and 2003 (Parsley and Halabisky, 2008).

  • They tend to be more profitable, produce greater numbers of new products, and have spawned entirely new industries, particularly in high-technology (Fischer et al., 1999; Barringer et al., 2005; Lentz and Mortensen, 2008).

  • They are an important source of knowledge through research and development, innovation and technology spill-over (e.g. Schreyer, 2000; OECD, 2007).

Interestingly, few studies have focused on explaining their origin or how they arise. In pursuit of an explanation, I would like to record and analyze video interviews with managers and executives of Canada’s most promising startup firms. These videos would also serve a dual role as content for new teaching cases.

Innovative Undergraduate Business School

Conor Vibert PhD. is an innovative user and researcher of new educational technologies, a practitioner of flipped classroom teaching methods, a developer of evidence based instructional techniques, and a creator of streaming video multimedia cases available through He trains individuals to use online information sources to understand company behavior and has published a number of books on the topic. Over 600 video interviews with entrepreneurs, managers and executives around the world positions him as a unique source of knowledge of business behavior.

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