Disorganization at Semco: Human Resource Practices as a Strategic Advantage|Human Resource|Organization Behavior|Case Study|Case Studies

Disorganization at Semco: Human Resource Practices as a Strategic Advantage

Case Studies | Case Study in Business, Management, Operations, Strategy, Case Study

ICMR HOME | Case Studies Collection

To download Disorganization at Semco: Human Resource Practices as a Strategic Advantage case study (Case Code: HROB152) click on the button below, and select the case from the list of available cases:

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies


Buy Now

Amount to be paid:

Prefer to pay in another currency ?
Select Currency for Payment

Exchange Rates: Click Here
Delivery Details: Click Here

Human Resource, Organization Behavior Case Studies
HRM Short Case Studies
View Detailed Pricing Info
How To Order This Case
Business Case Studies
Area Specific Case Studies
Industry Wise Case Studies
Company Wise Case Studies

Custom Search

Please note:

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.

Chat with us

Strategic Management Formulation, Implementation, & Control, 12e

Please leave your feedback

Leave Your Feedback

ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India RSS Feed

Case Details:


Case Code : HROB152 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Organizing / Organizational Structure and Systems / Organizational Behavior / Competitive Advantage
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1982-2012
Organization : Semco
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : Brazil
Industry : Diversified


This case discusses how Semco, a Brazilian company with a turnover of US$4 million in 1982, which was on the brink of collapse, transformed itself into a more than billion dollar company. The company's transformation was the result of its giving unfettered freedom to its employees to choose the work they wanted to do, where and when they wanted to do it, and, also determining how they got paid for it. The employees were even free to hire and fire their bosses. Semco survived the economic crisis that the Brazilian economy went through in the 1990s by, most importantly, taking the employees into its confidence. The company, as a whole, was run by the employees. The case also discusses the unique organizational structure that was adopted to empower the employees to use the freedom that was bestowed upon them.

It further discusses the checks and balances put in place to discourage the employees from abusing their freedom and to be as productive as possible. The case underscores the philosophy that if an employee is treated as a grown up, he/she will act as one, and, that giving complete autonomy to employees does not necessarily mean compromising on the performance front. The case asks whether a human resource and strategy model akin to Semco’s can be adopted by other organizations. This case is meant for MBA students as a part of the Human Resource Management/ Organizational Behavior curriculum. It can also be used in a Strategy and General Management curriculum.


Study the practices adopted at Semco and how they helped the company achieve superlative performance.
Understand the issues and challenges in organizing people in a company.
Compare and contrast Semco's organization with that of other better known organizational structures.
Discuss the organizational structures that are conducive to achieving maximum employee productivity while simultaneously empowering them.
Discuss the checks and balances that need to be put in place to make employees accountable for their contribution to the organization.
Understand the virtuous cycle generated by the three principles of employee involvement, profit apportionment, and information dissemination - involving employees gives them a grip over their work, sharing profits motivates them to accomplish their tasks better, and information dissemination makes them aware of what delivers results and what does not.
Discuss and debate whether the practices adopted at Semco can be replicated in other organizations.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 1
Organizational Strategy 2
Organizational Structure 3
Human Resources Practices - The Essence of Semco 3
Production Staff - Brothers in Partnership 7
Single-Minded Focus on Performance 7
Lessons in Surviving Economic Crises 8
Impact 8
Constraints to Replication? 9
Exhibits 10

Key Words:

Organizing; Control; 'Corporate opression'; Organizational structure; Competitive advantage; Transformation; Virtuous cycle; Democratic workplace; Autonomy; Empowerment; Leadership; Change management; Human resource practices; Recruiting; Semco

Introduction - Next Pages >>


Case Studies Links:- Case Studies, Short Case Studies, Simplified Case Studies.

Other Case Studies:- Multimedia Case Study, Cases in Other Languages.

Business Reports Link:- Business Reports.

Books:- Textbooks, Workbooks, Case Study Volumes.