Semco - A 'Maverick' Organization

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB060
Case Length : 10 Pages
Period : 1953-2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Semco
Industry : Diversified
Countries : Brazil

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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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Organizational Structure

Semler started out with a functional organizational structure at Semco. Under this structure, decision-making took a long time and each department took independent decisions that sometimes were not in the interests of other departments. Then, the company shifted to a matrix structure. But, unhappy with its effectiveness, Semler changed the structure of the organization once again...

Organizational Culture

The replication of business units into smaller units as and when the need arose created units small enough to operate with a commonly shared set of values, philosophy and culture. The organization was bound together by the three interdependent core values: Employee Participation, Profit Sharing and Free Flow of Information. These three values stemmed from the belief that participation in design and implementation of work procedures would give employees control over their work; profit sharing would bring in a sense of ownership; and the availability of information as and when needed would help the employees understand to improve their work practices continuously...

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

Leadership and Change Management

Semler can be credited with sustaining the radical changes at Semco.

He nurtured changes that might have been viewed as taking away his power and authority. He created an empowered environment where employees could innovate continuously. An idea he generated would later permeate to the whole workforce.

For example, after seeing a company order file cabinets worth $50,000, which were meant only to keep documents which were hardly ever referred to, Semler said that every person in the company should clear his own file cabinets of documents which were never referred to and keep only those that were necessary. This soon became a biannual exercise at Semco...

Making News

The Semco way of running an organization is slowly but steadily being accepted as a very effective method of business management. The BBC series 'Re-engineering the Business,' included Semco while focusing on the five most successful management structures across the globe. CIO magazine selected Semco (the only Latin American company in its list) among the most successfully re-engineered companies in the world. Fortune magazine referred to Semco as a "lab for creative management."...


Exhibit I: Annual Revenue of Semco SA
Exhibit II: The Semco SA Structure
Exhibit III: Compensation Options at Semco SA


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