Case Study

ABB (A): The Barnevik era (1988-2001)

15 pages
October 2003
Reference: IMD-3-1241

This is the first case of a 4-part case series which examines the evolution of ABB under its four leaders, from the merger to 2002. The A-case describes the history of both companies–Asea AB and Brown Boveri et Cie–, the rationale for the merger, the merger process and the integration and restructuring of the company under Percy Barnevik, the first CEO of ABB. Why was the merger so successful? What were the advantages and disadvantages of Barnevik’s management system, especially the highly decentralized matrix structure? How did this structure serve ABB? At the end of 1996, Barnevik decided to step down as CEO. Who would succeed him? What were the challenges that the new CEO would face?

Field Research
© 2003
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