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Harvard Case Study 

Akbank’s success becomes a case study at Harvard​​

Harvard University Kennedy School of Government (Harvard KSG) has turned Akbank’s transformation and growth strategy in the aftermath of the 2001 crisis into a case study.

The management, change and growth strategy implemented throughout Akbank’s “New Horizons Restructuring Program” post-2001 crisis, at a time when Turkish economy and banking industry were struggling to deal with the impact of the crisis, not only outlined Akbank as a bank that managed to grow during the years of crisis but also positioned the Bank as a lecture topic and a reference success story on how to manage through crisis.

‘Akbank Case Study’, prepared by Harvard University, was first presented at an executive education program in August 2009, at Harvard, targeting primarily finance sector professionals and was greatly admired by the participants. The study was also introduced as a sample case at the lecture given by the experienced organizational theory professor Guy Stuart in November 2009. As of January 2010, Akbank Case Study has been formally published in Harvard KSG’s Case Program Catalogue which comprises of case studies that are presented at undergraduate and graduate programs of various universities across the world.

In her assessment of Akbank’s post-crisis growth strategies being lectured as a sample case at Harvard University, Suzan Sabancı, Chairman and Executive Board Member of Akbank emphasized that this study is a source of pride not only for Akbank but also for the entire Turkish banking sector. “Akbank Case Study will continue to be presented to the students of Harvard University each and every year, playing a major role in the education of future leaders. Akbank has become a good example for the robust and well-managed Turkish banking industry to the whole world,” Sabancı said.

Case Study evaluates Akbank’s alternative growth strategies

The first part of the Akbank Case Study, which consists of two sections, covers the effects of the 2001 crisis on the Turkish economy and banking system and alternative strategies the Akbank executive management faced during the crisis years.

The second part of the case reviews the transformation of the Turkish banking system in general and of Akbank in particular between 2002 and 2007. Details of Akbank’s “New Horizons Restructuring Program” were particularly highlighted in the Case Study as one of the most significant drivers behind the rapidly rising performance of Akbank after the crisis, between 2002 and 2007. Akbank’s transformation story reveals significant insights on how to grow whereby effectively managing risks, and how to make radical changes in customer service model, corporate culture, and the way of doing business. The second part, which also discusses alternative growth strategies available to the executive management of Akbank as of 2008, aims to lead students to an analysis of the strategies that should be implemented by Akbank in order to ensure sustainable growth in the highly-competitive banking industry.

Harvard University also prepared a video film to support the printed materials included in the Akbank Case Study. The twenty-minute long film, shot mainly in Istanbul and Ankara and also at various locations in Turkey in 2008, also includes interviews with Akbank executive management and visuals of Akbank Operations Center and Akbank branches in several cities. The interviews conducted with people from all walks of life present a colorful and dynamic picture of Turkey to the whole world from the perspective of American academicians.

Akbank Case Study can be viewed from the web pages of Harvard KSG Case Program Catalogue, ( for a symbolic fee.

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