Wins award for Outstanding Case in Corporate Governance at the North American Case Research Association's (NACRA) October 2011 Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The award was made by CMA-Alberta and NACRA

Apple Board's 'Steve Jobs Dilemma'

Apple Board's 'Steve Jobs Dilemma'
Case Code: BECG124
Case Length: 15 Pages
Period: 2009 - 2011
Pub Date: 2013
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Apple, Inc.
Industry: Computers & Consumer Electronics
Countries: Global; US
Themes: CEO Succession Planning, Corporate GovernanceCorporate Governance
Apple Board's 'Steve Jobs Dilemma'
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This award-winning case is about Apple, Inc. (Apple), one of the world’s leading technology companies. Apple and its future were perceived as being very strongly associated with its co-founder and CEO Steven Paul Jobs (Jobs). This being the case, any adverse news on Jobs’s health had become a subject of concern for shareholders.

Since 2009, the company had been at the center of a corporate governance debate with critics claiming that the board had failed to keep the investors adequately informed about Jobs’s health and slamming it for remaining silent on his successor. Jobs decision to opt for indefinite sick leave in early 2011 - for the third time since 2003— reignited this debate.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the role of the board of directors and its relationship with the CEO
  • Understand the significance of CEO succession planning in a company such as Apple and the role of the board in CEO succession planning
  • Understand issues related to the board's obligations and accountability to the Shareholders
  • Discuss and debate whether the board of directors at Apple was too much in the shadow of the CEO Steve Jobs and how this could be rectified
  • Discuss and debate whether Apple should amend its corporate governance guidelines to adopt and disclose a CEO succession planning policy



Corporate governance; Role of the board of directors; Board’s relationship with the CEO; Board's obligations and accountability to the Shareholders; Succession planning; CEO succession planning policy; Power and politics; Secrecy; Full disclosure; Privacy; Competitive advantage; Apple; Steve Jobs

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