JC Penney's People Strategy: Setting the Right Climate for Human Resource Development

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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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Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR274 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Business Strategy/ Strategic Human Resource Management/ Organizational Behavior, Corporate coaching, organizational climate and culture, people and culture as competitive advantage
Case Length : 16 pages
Period : 2004-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : JC Penney Corporation, Inc.
Industry : Retail
Countries : USA


The case is about JC Penney's Human Resource Development Strategy and also highlights learning issues related to corporate coaching. Though JCP had been coaching its employees at all levels in the hierarchy since the 1970s, it was still not considered a great place to work in by employees and potential employees.

The more than hundred year old company had got into trouble in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, but made a dramatic comeback by the end of 2004. This was the time Myron E Ullman III (Ullman) joined JCP as the by chairman and CEO. He along with his top management team took various initiatives to change the climate and culture of JCP.

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They also started various people development initiatives. By the end of 2006, JCP was able to attract enough talent. Graduates from premier design and retail schools showed an interest in working for the company. The impact on the bottom line was also visible as JCP posted its 15th consecutive quarter of sales gains at the end of fiscal year 2006. Its share prices too showed significant growth. JCP contended that its engaged employees were making the difference.


The case will help the students to:

Appreciate the importance of human resources and organizational culture as a source of competitive advantage.

Understand the importance of a sound organizational climate and culture in attraction, retention and development of the employees.

Understand the importance of supportive communication (sound organizational climate and culture being a prerequisite for this) to making HRD initiative/ coaching more effective.

To study the various issues involved in enhancing a brand's image

Appreciate the role of the senior management in changing the organizational culture.

Understand how the culture of an organization could be a source of sustainable competitive advantage.


  Page No.
Setting the Right Climate   1
Background Note   3
The Need for a Change in Culture   4
Changing a Century-Old Culture a Big Challenge   5
Intitiatives Taken by JCP   6
Training and Development at JCP   8
The Results   10
Reactions to the Culture Change Initiatives   11
Outlook   12
Exhibits   13


Corporate coaching, JC Penney, Human resource development, People development, Leadership development, Organizational culture, Organizational climate, Competitive advantage, Training and development, Attraction and retention, 'Winning Together' principles, Retail Academy, The Penney Idea, Strategy, Team development, Retail , Every Day Matters, HCSC motto, Associate Engagement Survey, Job satisfaction

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