What frameworks would be helpful to get me in the right frame of mind for a public sector case question?

Public Sector
Recent activity on Dec 29, 2018
2 Answers
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asked on Dec 28, 2018

I was not able to find any suggestions in the Q&A search...

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updated an answer on Dec 29, 2018
BCG | Kellogg MBA |82% Success rate| 450+ case interview| 5+ year consulting | 30+ projects in ~10 countries

Hi Atos,

Public sector cases are one of the trickiest cases. It is important to make required adjustments when you are taking advantage of well-known frameworks when it comes to public sector cases.

It is critical to note that cases can be categorized by 2 main dimensions.

  • by case type (pricing, M&A, profitability, etc.)
  • by industry (Airlines, utilities, government& public)

Frameworks are almost always designed based on case types but not industries as you can see some samples above. Because the public sector is a type of industry but not case type, it is not possible to apply one specific framework to those cases.

To make it clearer, if a case is asking whether should government bank offer a specific new product for farmers, you may want to take advantage of profitability framework whereas you may want to use pricing framework if the case is asking what should be the price for this product.

Up until this part, there was nothing tricky because it is very similar to other industry questions. In other words, you would use the same approach if it was not a government bank but a private bank. Tricky part starts exactly here. Those cases are all about converting those well-known frameworks based on government approach. Let's continue with the same example. If the bank was a private bank, you would focus heavily on profitability but if it is a government bank, then you should consider also other factors, such as:

  • how much farmers can create additional GDP thanks to this product
  • is this product helps to ensure food supply security of the country
  • positive impacts on current account deficit of the country
  • social impacts, e.g. government may want to decrease the poverty of farmers
  • etc...

Bottom line is that there is no golden framework for public cases. It is more about getting more familiar with those kinds of cases and learning the correct way of thinking to be able to consistently perform well in those cases.

PS: I am happy to answer your further questions. Please feel free to reach me.



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replied on Dec 28, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


These cases are rare is that the casebooks (that are in general not a good source of cases).

To provide a bit of structure, there are several types of non-profit cases:

  1. Factors influencing the price (What are the factors influencing the price of oil? Factors influencing the price of real estate?)
  2. Macroeconomic cases (How will you improve life expectancy in a particular city? How will you decrease the unemployment?)
  3. Public sector non-profits (Increasing the revenues of a museum; increasing the revenues from tourism in a city)
  4. Redesigning the processes (How will you develop a new anti-monopoly regulation?)
  5. Non-profit investments (A billionaire is building a new school. What are the factors to look at?)

It is critical to define the objective for these cases to set a proper structure. Two types of questions you should ask:

  1. Could you please clarify the model / business model? E.g. if a billionaire is building a new school, is it a school for talented kids, rich kids or mass segment? Is it going to generate revenues?
  2. What are the main criteria for success? Is it NPV, ROI, share talented kids entering the top Universities?

As you can see there are many types of cases and many frameworks that can be used. I usually give a big homework (10 cases) and then cover them within one session. Feel free to reach me if you need help.


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