Apple, Inc.: Steve Jobs's Strategic Leadership

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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 : LDEN081 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Leadership / Strategic Leadership / Corporate Strategy / Organizational

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


On October 5, 2011, just weeks after he resigned as the CEO of technology major Apple Inc. (Apple), Steve Jobs (Jobs) passed away. The case study is about Jobs and his strategic leadership at technology major Apple Inc. (Apple). It discusses how Jobs founded Apple and developed the company subsequently. Following his ouster and upon his return as CEO, Jobs began rebuilding Apple that was on the verge of collapse. Jobs transformed Apple from a struggling unit into one of the most successful and profitable companies in the world. His vision to build "insanely great" products made Apple a market leader in the technology industry. Jobs was considered the architect of major shifts in the music, the smartphone, and the PC industry.

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He focused heavily on innovation and combined his technical vision with the expectations of customers to create products that became a benchmark for the industry such as the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. The case describes how Apple was strongly associated with its leader Jobs and also discusses his leadership style. According to industry observers, Jobs was a visionary leader who had the ability to perceive opportunities, see the invisible, and think differently. The case goes on to discuss whether Apple will continue to break new ground and prosper under the new CEO, Tim Cook. Jobs will be a tough act to follow. This case is designed for MBA/MS level students, and is intended to be a part of their General Management/ Strategic Management/Organizational Behavior curriculum.


  • Understand the role of a leader in changing the fortunes of a company.
  • Examine Jobs's role as the chief innovator at Appl.
  • Study the leadership and management style of Jobs.
  • Study the personal characteristics and traits of Jobs that contributed to his success.
  • Discuss and debate what leadership approach Tim Cook should adopt in order to continue Apple's success story.
  • Contents:

      Page No.
    Introduction 1
    Early Years 2
    Exile from Apple 3
    The 'Next' Step 4
    Second Coming: Reinventing Apple 5
    Jobs's Leadership Style 7
    Where's Apple Headed? 10
    Exhibits 12


    Leadership, Strategic leadership, Leadership style, Management style, Visionary leader, Charismatic leader, Great Man Theory of Leadership, Old-fashioned despot, Culture, Innovation, Disruptive Innovation, American counter-culture, Brand fanaticism, Technology, Apple, Steve Jobs

    Introduction - Next Page >>

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