Educational Resources

Cases Studies

1. Public Sector Cases

Too Many Parents? Part A: Governance of Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway
June 5, 2006
Kirsten Lundberg
Kennedy School of Government Case Program 
This case study examines—through the lens of governance structure—the evolution of the Central Artery (or "Big Dig") in Boston, a public works project of historic proportion which had the potential to create a green oasis of parks in the heart of downtown. It tells the story of the struggle over who would eventually control and finance the maintenance of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway—the name given to land created when an elevated highway was dismantled and the roadway rebuilt underground. Those who wanted control, but not necessarily financial responsibility, included the mayor of Boston, the governor, the legislature and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (a quasi-governmental body). Issues of park design entangled with governance questions, leading to a stalemate of nearly 15 years. But in 2004, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) pushed for a resolution so that the Greenway could be dedicated in connection with Boston’s role as host of the July Democratic Party presidential convention.
Over the years of debate, various models of governance for the Greenway were discussed and dismissed. Some of them involved private sector partners; some did not. Students will have the opportunity to compare and contrast the proposed governance models, judging them on their merits as well as on their political suitability. They will gain insight into the differences in operations and public accountability among a public agency, a foundation, a conservancy or a nonprofit trust.
This case can be used in courses on public-private partnership, on public management, or business-government relations. It will help students explore how political decision makers must consider simultaneously the theoretical coherence of any given solution along with its political expedience.

Privatizing Park Maintenance in Buenos Aires
January 1, 1992
Marc Roberts, Esther Scott 
Kennedy School of Government Case Program
When a new democratic government takes office in Argentina, the administration of Buenos Aires moves to end inefficiency and overstaffing in its public works department by privatizing maintenance of parks. The initiative enjoys early success when corporations agree to take responsibility for maintenance of downtown pocket parks, in exchange for advertising credit, and a major landscaping firm bids to provide maintenance for parklands in more affluent sections of the city. The government receives no private bids, however, for maintenance of the many parks in the poorer parts of Buenos Aires. The city must consider whether there are ways to refashion the ways in which it provides maintenance, notwithstanding the lack of private bidders.

Parks and Partnership in New York City (Part B): The Spectrum of Engagement
October, 1 2004
John Donahue, Susan Rosegrant
Kennedy School of Government Case Program 
In a gradual but profound transition, New York’s park system had become dependent on private partners. The private sector’s involvement was pervasive by 2003, but came in very different forms. This case, a companion to “Adrian Benepe’s Challenge,” highlights specific items to map the spectrum of engagement ranging from contracts where government is clearly in control, to philanthropy where government is mostly passive, to a range of complex collaboration in between. The five points of focus are: •Outsourcing much of the maintenance of the Parks Department’s fleet of vehicles; •The evolution of the Central Park Conservancy from an informal group of volunteers to a sophisticated and well-funded non-profit with full responsibility for managing New York’s flagship park; •Bryant Park’s transformation from a drug market to a glittering landmark, under the auspices of a private corporation subject to only limited Parks Department influence; •The emergence of the Bronx River Alliance, comprising dozens of public and private organizations, as steward for the troubled river and the lands on its banks; •The single-minded (and almost single-handed) campaign of the entertainer Bette Midler to realize her unique vision for a public park in a rough area of Harlem.  

Parks and Partnership in New York City (C): Riverside Park, Soldiers' & Sailors' Plaza
May 1, 2004
Alan M. Trager 
Kennedy School of Government Case Program 
This third in a series of cases detailing the ways and means which New York City’s Parks Department sought to engage private funds to help maintain public properties focuses on Riverside Park, on the west side of Manhattan. It sketches the complex internal and external process involved in identifying private funds, gaining the approval of community groups and other agencies of city government, and even maintaining a continuing of effort with the lead agency, the Parks Department, amidst turnover of key personnel. The effort to renew Riverside Park was particularly complicated by the presence of an important public monument—the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Plaza—the alternation or renovation of which required the approval of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee. Through the discussion of the intricacies of public-private partnership agreements, the case provides a window into the world of competing definitions of civic interest that come to bear as such agreements are designed.

2. Philanthropic Initiative Cases

Financing Biodiversity Conservation by the Global Conservation Fund
Oct 29, 2003
Mihir A. Desai, Julia D. Stevens
Harvard Business School Cases
The Global Conservation Fund is an international nonprofit organization with a $100 million endowment and an exclusive focus on land preservation. The fund and its director must decide which projects to fund over the next year and what financing mechanism to use. Describes the fund's efforts to develop a rating system for projects and various financing options used by conservation organizations, including debt-for-nature swaps, carbon credits, and conservation trust funds. Teaching purpose: To evaluate alternative projects in a nonprofit setting and to consider alternative financial instruments to advance biodiversity conservation.

Sustainable Conservation--Where Next?
Jul 25, 2003
Jane Wei-Skillern, Velina Peneva
Harvard Business School Cases
Sustainable Conservation (SusCon) is an environmental nonprofit in San Francisco that works collaboratively with the private and public sectors to achieve positive environmental change. The organization forms partnerships with industry and government agencies to devise solutions to environmental problems that are both economically viable and environmentally beneficial. After 10 years of work focusing exclusively on California, the organization is considering expanding its reach outside the state as a step toward national expansion. The case explores SusCon's approach to environmental improvement and juxtaposes it to the most common strategies used by other conservation organizations. It also uses one of the organization's most successful projects, the dairy initiative, as an example of how the organization operates. The case touches on the issues and challenges that nonprofit organizations need to consider when determining whether and how to [go to scale.]

Trust for Public Land
May 14, 2003
Christopher Canellos, Gregory J. Scott
Harvard Business School Cases
In April 1999, Will Rogers and Bob McIntyre, the president and chief financial officer of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit organization that acquired private land for transfer to public use, met to discuss the latest internal auditors' report. How could they best analyze the findings to explain to TPL's board why the results may not appear quite as good as they actually were? Total net assets had grown from $93 million to $147 million, a 58% increase from 1998 to 1999. However, for the second year running, TPL had shown an annual deficit in its cash flow from operating activities of roughly $11 million. As TPL continued to build its activities to protect more land, Rogers and McIntyre now had to ask whether there might be pressure to put a temporary no-growth policy in place regarding land acquisitions. But if they did this, would they fail to protect certain key pieces of property and possibly alienate donors, who had been impressed by TPL's aggressive program of land acquisitions? And was it really necessary? Alternatively, could TPL reinvigorate existing revenue streams and quickly bring the cash flow from operating activities into balance as in previous years?

3. Markets and Private Capital Cases

3.1 Markets and Private Capital: Conservation Investment Banking

Corporations, Communities, and Conservation: The Mountain Institute and Antamina Mining Co.
Apr 1, 2001
D. Jane Pratt
Harvard Business School Cases
In the late 1990s, The Mountain Institute (a small, nonprofit environmental organization) began working with the Antamina Mining Co. (one of the world's largest mining companies) to help it revise its plans for a large zinc and copper mine. The collaboration produced a road design that not only protected a fragile ecosystem, but was more cost effective than the firm's original plan. This article explains the important role that financial institutions played in enabling The Mountain Institute to engage Antamina's attention and establish its credibility as a source of objective expertise for and a valuable partner in the mine planning and development process. Raises issues that corporations, government policymakers, and environmental organizations must resolve for such collaborations to succeed over the long term.

3.2 Markets and Private Capital: Ecosystem Service Markets

The Global Conservation Trust: A Foundation for Food Security
Nov 8, 2002
Ray A. Goldberg, Carin-Isabel Knoop
Harvard Business School Cases
Biodiversity is being lost due to the delegation of the ability to store and maintain various types of plants to governments and foundations with no or little financial base. How does one develop the resources to maintain plant diversity for the future benefit of society?

The Cheetah Conservation Fund Bush Project
Dec 14, 2004
Peter Hecht, Judith Walls
Harvard Business School Cases
Laurie Marker, head of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, is trying to form a for-profit institution, the Bush Project, to control the bush encroachment problem in Namibia. Bush encroachment not only destroys the general ecosystem, but it also has a harmful impact on the Cheetah population. Although USAID has provided some initial funding for the project, it will survive in the long run only if it is financially successful. Marker must determine whether the Bush Project is financially viable. This case introduces the reader to the tension between business and the environment in an emerging market.

3.3 Markets and Private Capital: Enhanced Forest and Amenity-Based Economies

3.4 Markets and Private Capital: Limited Development

Windhoek Nature Reserve: Financing a Sustainable Conservation Model in Namibia
Mar 4, 2005
Peter Hecht, Brooke Parry Hecht, Kavita Kapur MacLeod
Harvard Business School Cases
In 2003, a Namibian entrepreneur was deciding how to finance and manage the risks of an ecotourism, nature reserve, venture project. Explores the challenges facing an entrepreneur operating in an emerging market with imperfect local financial and legal institutions. 

Elephant Walk Thru
Dec 2, 2004
William J. Ritchie, Matthew S. Shell, Ravi Corea, Chandeep Corea
Harvard Business School Cases
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society's management team knew that they had conceived a very unique project, Elephant Walk Thru. The success of this innovative ecotourism project hinges on their ability to balance the needs of a diverse group of stakeholders as well as various economic and political-legal forces facing the organization. Their primary task in the ensuing months is to identify salient external opportunities and threats posed by stakeholder groups. Equally important is to evaluate the continually changing political-legal and economic environments prior to constructing the facilities.

                                                                                                                                                               International Paper's Wildlife and Recreation Program
Jan 1, 2001
Terry Anderson, J. Bishop Grewell
Harvard Business School Cases
Chronicles International Paper from 1957 to 2001 in its transition from a company with a unique focus on forest products to one that embraced land management practices and fostered recreational and wildlife uses of forestlands. In 2001, International Paper (IP) was a billion-dollar global paper and forest products company with stewardship over 12 million acres of private forestlands in the United States. IP's foray into land management was spearheaded in 1983 by forester and biologist Tom Bourland. Describes Bourland's first business plan for leasing recreational opportunities (hunting and camping) on IP land, IP's forestry management practices, revenues from recreation and, in 2001, new challenges facing the company: providing support for environmental management programs in the face of declining demand for hunting areas and increased demand for forest products that meet various environmental criteria.

3.5 Markets and Private Capital: Consumer Markets 

Starbucks and Conservation International
Oct 2, 2002
James E. Austin, Cate Reavis
Harvard Business School Cases
Starbucks, the world's leading specialty coffee company, developed a strategic alliance with Conservation International, a major international environmental nonprofit organization. The purpose of the alliance was to promote coffee-growing practices of small farms that would protect endangered habitats. The collaboration emerged from the company's corporate social responsibility policies and its coffee procurement strategy. The initial project was in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and resulted in the incorporation of shade-grown coffee into the Starbucks product line, providing an attractive alternative market for the farmer cooperatives at a time when coffee producers were in economic crisis due to plummeting world prices. Simultaneously, the company had to deal with growing pressures from nonprofit organizations in the Fair Trade movement, demanding higher prices for farmers. Starbucks was reviewing the future of its alliance with Conservation International and its new coffee procurement guidelines aimed at promoting environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable coffee production. The nature of the industry puts the case in the global context from both the supply and demand sides.

Starbucks Corporation: Building a Sustainable Supply Chain
May 1, 2007
Hau Lee, Stacy Duda, LaShawn James, Zeryn Mackwani, Raul Munoz, David Volk Harvard Business School Cases
Starbucks Corporation was the world's largest specialty coffee retailer, with 2005 annual revenue of $6.4 billion. Despite gigantic growth in specialty coffee in the 1990s, a worldwide oversupply of lower-grade coffee had depressed market prices in the previous few years, making it difficult for coffee farmers to earn enough revenue to cover the cost of production. By the end of 2005, Starbucks was at a challenging point in its history. It boasted more than 10,000 stores--up from 676 a decade before--and roasted 2.3% of the world's coffee. Each day it opened an average of four stores and hired 200 employees. To support such a high growth rate, the company's future success depended on a secure supply of high-quality coffee beans to meet increased demand--Starbucks had to ensure a sustainable supply of this key commodity. The company decided to partner with Conservation International, an environmental nonprofit organization, to develop C.A.F.E. Practices (Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices). The goal was to contribute to the livelihood of coffee farmers and to ensure high-quality coffee for the long term. If Starbucks were able to overcome the issues it faced with a widespread implementation of C.A.F.E., the initiative could go a long way towards improving the sustainability of its coffee supply chain while at the same time improving Starbucks' image as a socially responsible corporation.

The Convention on Biological Diversity: Engaging the Private Sector
Dec 12, 2006
David E. Bell, Mary Shelman 
Harvard Business School Cases
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was a U.N. treaty that by 2006 had been signed by virtually every country in the world except for the United States. The treaty established three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Although the treaty had been in effect for almost 15 years, progress was slow. CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf needed to increase the participation of the private sector in order to meet the treaty's "2010 Target," which called for a significant reduction in the loss of biodiversity at all levels (global, regional, and national). Provides background on the relationship between biodiversity and agriculture.

Plum Creek Timber (A)
Aug 8, 2000
Max H. Bazerman, Hannah Riley, Dov Brachfeld, John G. Troast Jr.
Harvard Business School Cases
Plum Creek Timber Co., the nation's sixth largest private timberland owner and forest products company, must decide whether to enter negotiations with the U.S. government to establish a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) on its Pacific Northwest properties for a threatened fish species, the bull trout. Under the Endangered Species Act, Plum Creek could voluntarily create an HCP in exchange for long-term regulatory assurances from the U.S. government. The company has to weigh several factors in its decision to proceed with the negotiations: whether it can replicate the success of a recent HCP for spotted owls, the likelihood of government or third-party lawsuits against the company, the costs of coordinating with multiple state and federal environmental agencies, and the value of regulatory predictability.

Plum Creek Timber (B)
Jun 5, 2001
Max H. Bazerman, Hannah Riley, John G. Troast Jr., Nicole Nasser
Harvard Business School Cases
Plum Creek Timber Co. decides to go ahead with negotiations for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) on its Pacific Northwest properties. HCP represents a new form of public-private-sector collaboration and innovation to improve upon command-and-control environmental policy solution. Throughout the negotiation process, the company must manage several factors: identifying which native fish species to include beyond the bull trout, matching "best science" standards with cost-efficient conservation commitments, minimizing the regulatory burden while enhancing species protection, and fostering support and avoiding conflict with a range of interested stakeholders, from environmental activists to forest products executives.

Walden Woods
Feb 24, 1997
William J. Poorvu, Arthur I. Segel
Harvard Business School Cases
In 1984, Mortimer Zuckerman and Ed Linde, through their firm, Boston Properties (BP), acquired land in Concord, MA to build a 147,000-square-foot, first-class suburban office building. BP proceeded to go through the permitting and approval process with the town and was ready to commence construction when in August 1988, the state, after considerable lobbying from historic and environmental groups, delayed the project by requiring an environmental impact statement. Environmental groups from around the country continued to organize against BP's development along with a nearby affordable housing development. While the project was delayed, the real estate market collapsed. But by the spring of 1993, the market was beginning to recover and BP had received all necessary permits. Zuckerman and Linde had to decide whether to proceed with the development or sell to the environmental group opposing them, and if they were to sell, at what price.

Natura-Ekos: From the Forest to Cajamar
Jul 29, 2003
Rosa Maria Fischer, Tania Casado
Harvard Business School Cases
By 2000, Natura was a leader in the Brazilian cosmetics and personal care industry. The company had participated in social projects developed in communities surrounding its plants and offices. However, when it launched the Ekos product line, Natura drove social responsibility to the core of its business. Ekos' distinctive feature was its rooting in Brazilian biodiversity. The new product line incorporated several substances that had been used only by traditional indigenous communities in the hinterlands. Instead of simply buying the raw materials from them, Natura built a partnership with these communities to share with them the economic benefits resulting from responsible resource exploration. These communities had the key expertise needed to develop Ekos products and lived in extremely primitive conditions at remote locations. Thus, Ekos' success would potentially affect their living conditions dramatically. The civil society organization Imaflora also participated in the alliance to ensure that this natural resource exploration was socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Other Educational Resources

Conservation Finance Camp at Yale. This first ever conservation finance "boot camp" was hosted at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in June 2007. A session for June 2008 is  being planned. See: http://research.yale.edu/cbey/index.php?page=conferences

Course in Conservation Finance offered online by the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. The course was developed in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land Conservation Finance Program. For access to the course, see:  http://efc.muskie.usm.maine.edu/conservation_finance/HOME.htm .

Community Forests: A Community Investment Strategy. The Northern Forest Center, 2007. See case studies of community forests.


CFI Network Search