Case Study Trailer

A Blue Ocean Shift from Insolvency to Excellence in Higher Education: Turning Around the Universidad Provada Boliviana – A Reflection on My Journey to Blue Ocean

Author(s): KIM, W. Chan, MAUBORGNE, Renée, OLAVE, Manuel, OLENICK, Michael


The Universidad Privada Boliviana (UPB), the Private University of Bolivia, was founded in 1993. Not long after, in the late 1990s, civil unrest erupted with coca growers battling police in the streets outside the campus. Students and faculty fled, the prior President retired, and UPB was functionally insolvent. Manuel Olave was hired as Rector (President) in 1999 to salvage the struggling school.

Olave tasked a group to study strategic alternatives. Their SWOT analysis was dismal: few strengths, weakness that included civil unrest and political uncertainty, and threats from older and more established schools. Also, the school was functionally bankrupt. 

Olave pivoted instead to blue ocean strategy, using the theory, tools and process of Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift to redefine market boundaries.  

The result? In 2019 UPB is at full enrollment with campuses in two Bolivian cities and construction of a third campus underway.     UPB is now ranked as the best business school in their country, and in 2017 rose to number 22 in top business schools in Latin America.  Its alumni hold leadership positions in companies in its country and move up fast in their careers.  In terms of academic strength, the school now has numerous research centers directed by PhDs from prestigious universities and also offers doctorates in business and economics. And the university has more than tripled its student body and moved from financial losses to a sound financial footing.  A joint degree with the University of London is scheduled to go online in 2020. 

How did Olave achieve this blue ocean shift? Find out in the case “A Blue Ocean Shift from Insolvency to Excellence in Higher Education. Turning Around the Universidad Privada Boliviana: A Reflection on My Journey to a Blue Ocean.” Included is a first-hand video interview with Manuel Olave describing his blue ocean shift.

Case Study
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Teaching Materials

Blue ocean pedagogical materials, used in over 2,800 universities and in almost every country in the world, go beyond the standard case-based method. Our multimedia cases and interactive exercises are designed to help you build a deeper​ understanding of key blue ocean strategy concepts, developed by world-renowned professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
Materials available from Harvard Business Publishing
Blue Ocean Shift | Strategy materials available from The Case Centre
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