The Saga of Lee Iacocca - From Ford to Chrysler

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN009
Case Length : 10 Pages
Period : 1924-2001
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Ford, Chrysler
Industry : Automobile
Countries : 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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"Iacocca's speeches are often blunt and humorous; they're always interesting and delivered in a unique style. Iacocca is a master at turning a phrase. He is one of the best communicators on the American scene."

- Douglas Fraser, President Emeritus, United Auto Workers; Professor of Labor Studies, Wayne State University.1

"Iacocca was honest, shared the power and glory of Chrysler's success with the workers and went on to challenge the graduating seniors. He knew his audience and appealed to them. His integrity and values came across loud and clear. He gave inspiration to the graduating seniors to get out there and give it your best shot."

- Stan Kahn.2


In 1982, Lee Iacocca (Iacocca), the then Chairman and CEO of Chrysler was presented with the 'Automotive Industry Leader of the Year' award.3 This award was instituted for the first time in 1982 and Iacocca became its first recipient. Soon after in 1984, Iacocca also won the Ralph Coats Roe Medal.

The medal recognized the exceptional contribution of an engineer towards better public understanding and improving the standard of society. In 1994, Iacocca was inducted into the coveted 'Automotive Hall of Fame'. The Automotive Hall of Fame was the highest place of honor accorded to the achievers in the global automotive industry.

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According to Jeffrey K Leestma, President of the Automotive Hall of Fame, "The honor is bestowed each year to the individual who best exemplifies the image, foresight, leadership, integrity and purpose contributing most to the success of the motor vehicle industry."4  

These awards and recognitions stand testimony to Iacocca's invaluable contribution to the automobile industry. In his 32 year stint at the leading global automobile giant, Ford Motor Company (Ford) and 14 year stint at Chrysler Corporation (Chrysler), Iacocca played a major role in introducing several new innovative products.

He transformed Chrysler into one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the US. Chrysler was facing a severe financial crisis and was on the brink of closure, but Iacocca resurrected the company and turned it into a profit making one in a short span of six years. He was proclaimed as a turnaround specialist, who saved Chrysler from bankruptcy.

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1]  Posted on, Wayne State University Press.

2]  In an article titled "TACOM conducts 3rd Annual Quality Survey" by Stan Kahn posted on dated December 1997.

3]  The Automotive Industry Leader of the Year Award was a mark of honor for those who contributed significantly to the automotive industry. The award was given to those committed, hardworking and determined people who converted their dreams and visions into reality.

4]  In an article titled "The Automotive Hall of Fame," December 11, 2001 posted on


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