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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Innovative Learning Strategy for Private Education Institutions in Asia

Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Behavioral Economics to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A prestigious private education institution in Asia is facing strategic challenges stemming from the principles of behavioral economics, as it navigates shifting preferences and decision-making processes among its target demographics.

The institution is contending with a 20% decline in enrollment rates over the past two years, attributed to increased competition from online education platforms and international universities making inroads into the Asian market. Additionally, internal challenges include outdated curriculums and teaching methodologies that fail to engage the modern learner. The primary strategic objective of the organization is to reposition itself as a leader in innovative education in Asia, leveraging cutting-edge teaching methods and curriculums to attract and retain students.

The organization's current predicament can largely be traced back to its slow response to the digital transformation sweeping the education sector and a curriculum that has not kept pace with industry advancements. These factors have contributed to a growing misalignment with prospective students' expectations and career aspirations, leading to a decrease in enrollment.

Environmental Analysis

The education industry, particularly in Asia, is undergoing significant transformation, driven by technological advancements and changing student expectations.

There are several structural forces shaping the competitive landscape of the education sector:

  • Internal Rivalry: High, due to the proliferation of both traditional universities and online education platforms.
  • Supplier Power: Moderate, with educational content creators and technology providers playing a key role.
  • Buyer Power: High, as students and parents have more choices than ever before.
  • Threat of New Entrants: High, given the low barriers to entry for online education providers.
  • Threat of Substitutes: High, with alternative education models and self-learning platforms emerging.

Emergent trends include a shift towards personalized learning experiences, the integration of artificial intelligence in education, and an increasing emphasis on employability post-graduation. These trends signal major changes in the industry dynamics:

  • Increasing demand for online and hybrid learning models, offering the opportunity to reach a broader student base but risking further decline in physical campus enrollments.
  • Greater emphasis on skill-based learning and industry collaboration, presenting the opportunity to enhance curriculum relevance but requiring significant overhaul of existing programs.
  • The rise of micro-credentialing and lifelong learning platforms, posing the risk of diminishing the perceived value of traditional degree programs.

The PESTLE analysis highlights significant political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors influencing the education sector, including regulatory changes, economic shifts affecting funding, and technological advancements that enable new modes of learning.

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Internal Assessment

The organization prides itself on a rich history and strong alumni network, yet struggles with adapting to digital trends and innovating its curriculum.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths include a prestigious reputation and an extensive alumni network. Opportunities lie in harnessing new technologies to offer innovative learning experiences and expanding into online education. Weaknesses encompass outdated teaching methods and a curriculum not aligned with current industry needs. Threats come from the increasing popularity of online courses and international institutions targeting the Asian market.

Value Chain Analysis

Examines the institution’s operations from curriculum development to alumni engagement, identifying inefficiencies in course delivery and opportunities for integrating technology to enhance student learning experiences.

McKinsey 7-S Analysis

Reveals misalignments among strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, style, and staff, particularly highlighting the need for a cultural shift towards innovation and digital transformation.

Learn more about Digital Transformation

Strategic Initiatives

  • Digital Transformation in Learning Delivery: This initiative aims to integrate digital technology into all areas of education, transforming the teaching and learning experience to meet the expectations of today’s students. The strategic goals are to enhance student engagement, improve learning outcomes, and increase enrollment rates. The value creation comes from offering a more flexible and personalized learning experience. This initiative will require investment in digital infrastructure, training for faculty, and development of online courses.
  • Curriculum Innovation Using Behavioral Economics: Employ behavioral economics to redesign the curriculum, making it more aligned with students' career aspirations and decision-making processes. The goal is to increase student enrollment and retention by offering courses that are directly relevant to current market demands and student interests. This initiative will draw on insights from behavioral economics to create courses that motivate and engage students, requiring resources for research and development, as well as faculty training in new teaching methods.
  • Partnership with Industry Leaders: Establish collaborations with businesses and industry leaders to offer practical, hands-on learning experiences. The goal is to enhance employability of graduates and align educational offerings with industry needs. This initiative creates value by increasing the institution’s attractiveness to prospective students and employers, necessitating resources for partnership development and program implementation.

Learn more about Value Creation Behavioral Economics

Behavioral Economics Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.
     – H. James Harrington

  • Enrollment Rate Increase: Measures the success of the strategic initiatives in attracting more students.
  • Student Retention Rate: A critical metric for assessing the effectiveness of curriculum innovations and teaching methods in keeping students engaged.
  • Graduate Employability Rate: Indicates the alignment of the institution’s programs with industry requirements and the overarching goal of enhancing student employability.

These KPIs provide insights into the direct impact of strategic initiatives on the institution’s core objectives of increasing enrollment, improving student engagement and satisfaction, and ensuring graduates are well-prepared for their careers.

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Stakeholder Management

The successful execution of strategic initiatives relies heavily on the engagement and cooperation of key stakeholders, including faculty, students, industry partners, and educational technology providers.

  • Faculty: Key to developing and delivering the updated curriculum and engaging with digital teaching tools.
  • Students: The primary beneficiaries of the enhanced educational offerings, whose feedback will be crucial for iterative improvements.
  • Industry Partners: Vital for providing real-world insights and opportunities for practical learning experiences.
  • Educational Technology Providers: Partners in enabling the digital transformation of learning delivery.
  • Alumni: Can offer support through mentoring, networking, and funding opportunities.
Stakeholder GroupsRACI
Industry Partners
Educational Technology Providers

We've only identified the primary stakeholder groups above. There are also participants and groups involved for various activities in each of the strategic initiatives.

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Behavioral Economics Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Behavioral Economics. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Behavioral Economics subject matter experts.

Behavioral Economics Deliverables

These are a selection of deliverables across all the strategic initiatives.

  • Strategic Plan Document (PPT)
  • Digital Transformation Roadmap (PPT)
  • Curriculum Innovation Framework (PPT)
  • Industry Partnership Strategy (PPT)
  • Implementation Timeline and Milestones (Excel)

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Digital Transformation in Learning Delivery

The organization adopted the Diffusion of Innovations Theory to guide the digital transformation in learning delivery. This theory, developed by Everett Rogers, explains how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. It was chosen for its relevance in understanding the adoption of digital education technologies among faculty and students. The theory's emphasis on innovation attributes (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability) provided a structured approach to implementing digital learning tools.

Following this theory, the organization undertook the following steps:

  • Assessed the relative advantage of new digital tools over traditional teaching methods by conducting pilot programs in select courses.
  • Evaluated the compatibility of proposed digital tools with existing teaching practices and curriculum requirements to ensure a smooth integration.
  • Organized workshops and seminars to reduce the perceived complexity of digital tools among faculty members, fostering an environment of trialability.
  • Implemented a feedback loop to measure the observability of benefits associated with digital tools, such as increased student engagement and satisfaction.

The Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Theory facilitated a successful digital transformation by ensuring the new technologies were well-received by both faculty and students. The strategic initiative resulted in a marked increase in digital tool adoption rates and a significant improvement in student learning outcomes.

Curriculum Innovation Using Behavioral Economics

For the initiative focusing on curriculum innovation using behavioral economics, the organization employed the Choice Architecture framework. This approach, rooted in the field of behavioral economics, involves organizing the context in which people make decisions to influence their outcomes positively. It proved invaluable in redesigning the curriculum to better align with students' career aspirations and decision-making processes.

The implementation of this framework involved:

  • Mapping out decision-making pathways for students within the curriculum, identifying key points where changes could significantly impact their educational journey.
  • Redesigning course selections and pathways to highlight the most beneficial and career-relevant courses, making them more attractive and easier to choose.
  • Introducing nudges in the form of recommended course sequences based on industry trends and future job market forecasts to guide students towards more strategic educational decisions.

The application of the Choice Architecture framework led to a curriculum that not only resonated with the students’ aspirations but also equipped them with the skills and knowledge demanded by the modern job market. Enrollment and retention rates saw a substantial increase as students found the redesigned curriculum more relevant and engaging.

Partnership with Industry Leaders

In developing partnerships with industry leaders, the Resource-Based View (RBV) framework was utilized to identify and leverage the organization's unique resources and capabilities that could be attractive to potential partners. The RBV framework, which focuses on obtaining competitive advantage through the utilization of internal resources, was instrumental in shaping the strategy for engaging with industry leaders.

The organization followed these steps to implement the RBV framework:

  • Conducted an internal audit to identify unique resources, such as faculty expertise and research capabilities, that could offer value to industry partners.
  • Developed value propositions tailored to each potential industry partner, highlighting how the partnership could leverage these unique resources for mutual benefit.
  • Engaged in strategic discussions with industry leaders, focusing on long-term collaborations that would offer practical learning experiences for students and innovative research outcomes for partners.

The strategic partnerships formed as a result of the RBV framework implementation significantly enhanced the institution's curriculum relevance and practical learning opportunities. These partnerships not only improved student employability but also strengthened the institution's position as a leader in innovative education.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Implemented digital transformation initiatives, resulting in a 25% increase in digital tool adoption among faculty and students.
  • Redesigned curriculum using behavioral economics led to a 15% increase in student enrollment and a 10% improvement in retention rates.
  • Established partnerships with industry leaders, enhancing curriculum relevance and increasing graduate employability by 20%.
  • Utilized the Choice Architecture framework to make career-relevant courses more attractive, directly influencing a more strategic selection of courses by students.
  • Conducted an internal audit to identify unique resources for industry partnerships, leading to five new strategic collaborations with leading companies.

The strategic initiatives undertaken by the institution have yielded significant positive outcomes, notably in digital tool adoption, curriculum innovation, and partnership development. The 25% increase in digital tool adoption signifies a successful pivot towards modern teaching methodologies, addressing the previous misalignment with student expectations. The 15% increase in enrollment and 10% improvement in retention rates validate the effectiveness of employing behavioral economics in curriculum design, making it more aligned with student aspirations and market demands. Furthermore, the establishment of strategic industry partnerships has not only enhanced the practical relevance of the curriculum but also improved graduate employability by 20%, directly contributing to the institution's strategic objective of repositioning itself as a leader in innovative education in Asia.

However, the results also highlight areas for improvement. The increase in enrollment and retention rates, while significant, falls short of fully reversing the 20% decline experienced over the past two years. This suggests that while the initiatives are on the right track, their scope or execution may need to be expanded to fully meet the institution's objectives. Additionally, the reliance on digital transformation and industry partnerships may risk sidelining other important aspects of education, such as critical thinking and soft skills development, which are harder to quantify but equally vital for student success.

Recommendations for next steps include doubling down on the integration of soft skills and critical thinking into the curriculum to ensure a well-rounded education. Expanding the scope of digital transformation initiatives to include more advanced technologies, such as AI and machine learning, could further enhance personalized learning experiences. Additionally, conducting a deeper analysis of student feedback and industry trends could provide insights for further curriculum refinement. Finally, increasing the visibility and marketing of the institution's innovative approaches and successes to prospective students and industry partners will be crucial in fully reversing the enrollment decline and solidifying the institution's position as a leader in innovative education.

Source: Innovative Learning Strategy for Private Education Institutions in Asia, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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