Apple, Inc.: Steve Jobs's Strategic Leadership

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN081
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 1998-2011
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Apple Inc.
Industry : Consumer Electronics; Computers
Countries : Global

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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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Apple was strongly associated with its charismatic leader. Analysts felt that Apple's culture was strongly influenced by Jobs. He played a vital role in engineering a regime of secrecy at Apple and was successful in refining the secretive culture at the organization. Jobs was involved in every aspect of the company's business and enforced a strict culture of accountability and secrecy among employees. Experts opined that Jobs had left behind a great legacy in the form of cutting edge technology and products which reformed the technology industry and excited consumers. It would be tough for Apple to continue his legacy, they added. Some analysts felt that, going forward, the challenge before Cook would be to chart his own leadership course for Apple as Jobs' leadership style would be difficult to emulate.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

According to Nancy Koehn4, "[T]he jury is out on whether Cook and Apple have what it takes to pick up the big, hefty gauntlet that Jobs has dropped... While it's crucial for Cook to embody the values Jobs has lived, it's equally important that the new CEO find his own rightful place in the company. Tim Cook cannot be Steve Jobs. He can't walk his path asking, 'What would Steve do?' Instead, Cook needs to ask himself what he can do to further develop Apple with Jobs gone."

Early Years

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco, California. His biological parents, Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, who were unmarried graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, had him adopted soon after birth by a lower middle class couple Paul and Clara Jobs. His father was a machinist while his mother worked as an accountant. Jobs attended Homestead High School in California. As a boy, Jobs worked on electronics with his father in their family garage. Upon graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. But he dropped out of college after one semester. The following year he took classes in calligraphy which later became the basis for the Mac typography. In early 1974, Jobs took up a job at Atari Inc.5 (Atari) as a video game designer. He worked there for some time and then left his job to take a trip to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. In 1974, Jobs returned to California and joined a computer hobbyists' club where he met his childhood friend Stephen Wozniak6 (Wozniak). Wozniak, who was an electronics engineer, had developed a personal computer (PC). He had tried to pitch the product to Hewlett-Packard Company7 where he worked but was turned down...

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Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

4] Nancy Koehn is a professor at Harvard Business School - a graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, USA, and one of the top business schools in the world.
5] A US-based pioneer in electronic arcade creation.
6] Stephen Wozniak, a University of California (Berkeley) dropout was an engineer at HP. He had a passion for building electronic gadgets. He visualized a PC that could be used with ease.
7] Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Hewlett-Packard Company is one of the largest technology corporations in the world and develops and manufactures computing, storage, and networking hardware, software, and services.


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