THE HAWTHORNE ORGANIZATION by ProQuest

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                THE HAWTHORNE ORGANIZATION

                     Shelley Morrisette, Shippensburg University
                      Louise Hatfield, Shippensburg University

                                     CASE DESCRIPTION

        This case can be seen from many different angles -- pure strategy, small business
management (including financing and cost accounting), family owned businesses, succession
planning, international operations, leadership, entrepreneurship, or organizational change. The
case traces the growth and progress of two entrepreneurial firms from creation to merger and
beyond. This case would be most appropriate for undergraduate courses in entrepreneurship, small
business management, and strategic management, as a written assignment -- and graduate courses
as a class discussion. The case is designed to be discussed in one to one and one-half hours and
should take students no more than three hours of outside preparation.

                                        CASE SYNOPSIS

        John Jones has been CEO of The Hawthorne Organization since 1990. During this time the
firm has been on a roller coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. The marketing research
industry is savagely competitive and requires huge investments in technology, human resources, and
sales and marketing. Unfortunately, The Hawthorne Organization has made a few bad bets along
the way, for which it has paid a huge price. While The Hawthorne Organization is respected and
considered one of the leaders in the industry, John has not been able to substantially differentiate
its brand or products, or increase margins or profits. The numerous strategy and organizational
changes have wrecked havoc on Hawthorne employees and operations. Now John Jones must
decide what he should do next with his family-owned business.

                                       INTRODUCTION

        James Collins founded Hawthorne Research Company in 1939 in a small town along the
soon to be constructed commuter train corridor between Princeton, NJ and New York City. This
track has become known as “Research Row” because it is home to many of the nation’s oldest and
most recognized marketing research firms. Today Research Row is to survey research as Detroit
is to automobiles, Hollywood is to movies, and Silicon Valley is to high tech. Jim migrated to
Research Row after completing his graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1933. This
area was to become the research, public opinion polling, and household survey hothouse for


             Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, Volume 15, Number 7, 2009
104

advertising and PR industries concentrated in New York City during the pre-war years. Many young
and talented social scientists gravitated to this area to take advantage of this new growth industry,
which was on the cusp of a massive expansion, and Jim Collins would help shape and mold the
growth and composition of the industry.
        During the war years (i.e., 1941-1945) Hawthorne Research and the new industry “treaded
water” as the United States and al
								
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