Henry Ford - A Great Innovator

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN025
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1903
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Ford Motor Corporation 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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"I will build a motor car for the multitude. It shall be large enough for the family, but small enough for the unskilled individual to operate easily and care for, and it shall be light in weight and it may be economical in maintenance. It will be built of honest materials, by the best workmen that money can hire, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it shall be so low in price that the man of moderate means may own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of happy hours spent in God's great open spaces."1

- Vision of Henry Ford (1903).

"Ford's action transformed American industrial society."2

- Peter Drucker, economist and management guru.

"There was no way to escape the fact that Henry Ford was the great business impresario of his era - or any era for that matter."3

- Douglas Brinkley, author, Wheels for the World.


In November 1999, Fortune magazine named Henry Ford (Ford), founder of the Ford Motor Company (Ford Co.)4 as the 'Businessman of the 20th Century.' Ford was accorded this honor for transforming the lives of billions of people and revolutionizing the automobile world by creating a car which was affordable to the common working middle class. Ford was chosen ahead of three other finalists - Alfred Sloan Jr. (General Motors), Thomas Watson (IBM), and Bill Gates (Microsoft) - as the 20th century business leader. Sheryl James (James), Detroit Free Press, reporter, feature writer, and winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing (journalism), said, "Ford Motor Co.'s founder was a charismatic risk-taker who relentlessly pursued his vision."5 

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

In December 1999, Ford was named the 'Automotive Entrepreneur of the Century' by the Car of the Century (COTC) International panel of journalists and historians for his invaluable contributions to the world and in particular to the field of automobile manufacturing.

Dick Holzhaus, founder, COTC International (Netherlands), commented, "The twentieth century can, in retrospect, be regarded as the 'century of the car' - a revolution of technology and lifestyle. In this revolution, Ford Motor Company paved the way both as a manufacturer and as an industry leader. It was Henry Ford's vision to give people unprecedented mobility that changed the lives of millions throughout the world."6 These awards and recognitions were in recognition of Ford's invaluable contributions to the automobile industry. Ford was credited with enhancing the standards of living of people with his inventions like the quadricycle and the Ford Model T, and his use of the assembly-line production approach in the early 1900s...

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1]  As quoted in the article, "Henry Had the Dream," by Sheryl James, Detroit Free Press, March 27, 2003.

2]  As quoted in the article, "Ford At 100: 5 Ideas Shaped Industrial America," by Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, May 29, 2003.

3]  As quoted in the article, "Ford at 100: A Century of Audacious Tinkering," by Douglas Brinkley, Detroit Free Press, June 12, 2003.

4]  Ford Co. is the second largest automobile company in the world and ranked fourth in 2003 Fortune 500 list with revenues of $163.63 billion for fiscal 2003. It has approximately 13,000 dealers globally and operates in 137 countries.

5]  As quoted in the article, "Henry Had the Dream," by Sheryl James, Detroit Free Press, March 27, 2003.

6]  As quoted in the article, "Model T, Mini Win Centennial Awards," by Jack Nerad, posted on www.netscape.drivingtoday.com, December 31, 1999.


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