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New Mega-Hit Case Study on Tech Ethics:
Algorithmic Allegories (Version 1.0)
In June 2014, people got emotional about Facebook.
That month, Facebook published the results of its “emotional contagion” study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In conjunction with researchers at Cornell, Facebook experimentally altered the algorithm that populates the News Feed, the primary activity and content list on Facebook. The goal? To explore if emotions can spread through Facebook. In the experiment, the algorithms for a random subset of users were manipulated to display either proportionately more negative emotional content or proportionately more emotional content; a control group saw content according to the current algorithm. The study found that the emotional nature of News Feed content does influence users’ moods, as indicated by their subsequent posts.

This was news to Facebook users, none of whom had volunteered for, opted into, or known about the study. Some found the invisible consequences of the algorithm chilling. Privacy activist Lauren Weinstein said, “I wonder if anyone killed anyone with their emotional manipulation stunt.” This impassioned response is the launching point of a new, free Advanced Problem Solving Workshop case, “Algorithmic Allegories (version 1.0),” spearheaded by HLS Professor Jonathan Zittrain. Read more...
New Case Studies
FREE workshop-based case study: Teacher's Manual for FREE workshop-based case study: Discussion-based case studies: Role play:
Discussion-based case studies on organized crime: Coming soon:
  • Turf Wars and the Ciudad Juarez Cartel
  • Los Zetas and a Strategy Built on Fear
  • America's Most Wanted Informant: The FBI and the Case of Whitey Bulger
  • Liberty Reserve: The Face of Cyber-Laundering
  • Albert Gonzalez: Get Rich or Die Tryin'
  • The Colombia Connection: An International Solution for an International Problem
  • The full suite of Organized Crime Cases
To Save or Not to Save?
High-Stakes Multiparty Role Play on Infectious Disease
Imagine that a deadly infectious disease, the Anthella virus, is spreading throughout the world population. Scientists everywhere are rushing to find a cure. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just developed an antidote. Unfortunately, there are only three doses. Who will be saved? Based on the Ebola outbreak of 2014, a new role play from Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program involves the life-or-death policy decisions of a public health crisis. Written by Professor Robert Bordone, clinical instructor Alonzo Emery, and clinical fellow Sara del Nido, Drug Trial Committee is easy to implement but challenging to negotiate. Read more...
Can We Have Justice in an Imperfect World?
The Fractured Relationship between Justice and the Justice Department
HLS Professor Jeannie Suk repurposed a discussion-based case study, “Cyrus Vance and Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Dilemmas in a High-Profile Prosecution,” to explore the disconnect between justice and the justice system in a foundational 1L course. In her two sections of Criminal Law, Suk paired the case study with analysis of Inmates of Attica Correctional Facility v Rockefeller, 477 F.2d 375 (1973), a case that affirmed discretion in charging and prosecuting. For Suk’s 1Ls, it was important to explore the relationship between discretion and justice. Read more...
Hear from Our Case Writers
Dr. Lisa Rohrer

This case is the second time we’ve collaborated with Kevin Doolan, a guest faculty member in our Executive Education program, on practical challenges facing lawyers in law firms today.  The first case, Three Vignettes on Pricing of Professional Services, dealt with pricing and this latest collaboration is about business development. The case chronicles a managing partner as he debates how to encourage and support his partners in their business development efforts. We also “get into the heads” of two partners who are struggling with these issues. One of them is a very technically proficient and somewhat introverted partner who needs to rebuild his practice after losing several large clients but is not sure where to start. He ends up at a networking event where he feels extremely uncomfortable and leaves early, feeling sorry for himself. The second partner has attended a sales training course and absolutely crashes and burns when she attempts to apply what she learned to a real client prospect. The case also addresses the concept of cross-selling, why it can be so annoying to clients, and how it can be done effectively. Read full article...

Nathan Cisneros

Driving Blind at General Motors (A) and (B)

 In February 2014 General Motors (GM) issued the first in a series of recalls for a serious safety defect that was linked to over a dozen deaths. As the automaker expanded the recall by millions in the ensuing months, many onlookers wondered if anyone had a firm handle on the problem. GM’s new CEO, Mary Barra, was the company’s fourth in five years. She was blindsided by the recall but quickly won praise for her promise to conduct a full and complete investigation. It was a promise she needed to make. Early reports suggested GM had known about the defect since at least 2004; the federal government, victims, car owners, and shareholders all wanted to know why GM waited over a decade to remove unsafe cars from the road. As winter melted into spring and summer we at the Case Development Initiative watched the GM case with increasing interest and horror. Murmurs in the press and on Capitol Hill suggested that GM’s own legal department, the department meant to protect the company from exactly this sort of problem, might actually have contributed to the recall delay.  Read full article...

For more information, or to discuss how to adapt our case studies for your academic or professional education needs, contact Lisa Brem, Case Studies Program Manager, at
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