CEO as Change Agent

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN052
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 2000-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Miller Brewing Company; JCPenney Corporation, Inc.; Whirlpool Corporation
Industry : Beverage; Retail; Electricals & Electronics
Countries : Europe, USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Caselet 3: Ddavid R. Whitwam and Whirlpool

“[…] Chief Executive David R. Whitwam is fomenting to break from the pack -- and the company's own 90-year past. His thesis is that any one of Whirlpool's 55,000 employees can, with guidance, come up with innovative products or services that will make money and burnish Whirlpool's image.”32

– BusinessWeek33, in 2002.

By the late 1990s, the top management at Whirlpool Corporation34 (Whirlpool) found itself unable to drive growth in its businesses. The company's revenues, profits, and market share were stagnant. And this, despite the fact that Whirlpool had adopted various operational initiatives to cut costs and achieve economies of scale in its operations. The situation was particularly upsetting for David R. Whitwam (Whitwam), the Chairman and CEO of Whirlpool, who had transformed the company into a global company under his decade-long leadership. Whaitwam had joined Whirlpool's marketing management team in 1968, and rose to the position of Vice President of the Whirlpool brand business in 1983.

In 1985, he became the Vice Chairman and became the company's Chief Marketing Officer. In the same year he joined the company's board of directors and from 1987 on, he served as the CEO and Chairman of the company...


Exhibit I: The Three Drivers for Transforming Culture at MBC
Exhibit II: JCP's Winning Together Principles
Exhibit III: Three Year Financial Summary of JCP
Exhibit IV: Flow of Ideas from the Employees to the Decision Makers
Exhibit V: Whirlpool's Revenue (1998-2005)

32]  E“Whirlpool Taps its Inner Entrepreneur,”, February 7, 2002.

33] BusinessWeek is a leading business magazine published by McGraw-Hill.

34] Whirlpool Corporation, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA, is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. In 2006, it had annual sales of approximately US$18 billion, and employed more than 73,000 people around the world. (Source:


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