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Harley Davidson Management Case Study

Autor:   •  December 3, 2012  •  Case Study  •  2,551 Words (11 Pages)  •  2,033 Views

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“No business can survive over the longer term if it cannot continually reinvent self.

But this is most difficult to do as it requires working across all layers of the firm.

Essential and difficult, it is the ultimate test of leadership.”- Dr. John Kotter

1. Introduction

In the era of globalization and in a rapidly changing, modern business world, change is inevitable for almost every company. Due to this omnipresent phenomenon, the assignment at hand will deal with the topic of change management. By way of example and to illustrate the topic, the choice has fallen to Harley-Davidson. The consensus of the group members involved in this assignment was that Harley-Davidson is exemplary in that it has been almost destroyed in the past, because it was not able to change quickly enough. However, the company finally managed to change and to learn its lessons from history.

Today, Harley-Davidson is facing again a complicated market situation caused by its dependence on the U.S. market. An opportunity for future growth could be a thrust into development of foreign markets, including the Asian markets. However, if its competition is more forceful in developing global markets, Harley-Davidson may have difficulties competing in these markets. Therefore, the central challenge and goal will be in the beginning to convince the employers of Harley Davidson’s that a fundamental change in the organization's strategy and market orientation is necessary and that independence from the U.S. market is essential to the firm's future. This task is somewhat complicated because there is no generally perceived need to change at this moment.

The memorandum at hand delivers background information on Harley-Davidson and change management in the past, its current state and challenges as well as a plan of action to realize the goal by example of Kotter’s Eight Steps (Kotter, 1995).

2. Background

2.1 Leadership and Changeability

The Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company was founded in 1903 and was soon to become the world´s leading manufacturer of motorcycles (Oosterwa & Dantar, 2010). The first bike was incapable of climbing through the hills of the state, which led to the first challenge, because the founders were forced to cope with the situation and to develop their motor further. History has shown that their development of the motor was successful and grounded the elevating success of the company. In 1969, Harley-Davidson was sold to the American Machine Foundry (AMF) and production was increased by 300 % (Wright, 1993).

However, the new policies of AMF caused an imbalance of the organization resulting in an explicit clash of organizational cultures between the old Harley-Davidson management


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