Innovations at Harley Davidson|Business Strategy|Case Study|Case Studies

Innovations at Harley Davidson

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR093
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 1903 - 2003
Organization : Harley Davidson Inc.
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Automobile

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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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Harley-Davidson - Background Note

H-D was one of the few companies that had been managing its innovation processes even before the days the concept became formally popular. The company's history can be traced back to 1903, when William Harley (Harley) and Arthur Davidson (Davidson) opened a small motor-shed in Milwaukee.

Innovation was an essential part of H-D from the very beginning - the idea behind the business was to find a way that would ease the physical efforts needed to ride a bicycle.

In 1903, they built the first H-D motorcycle (essentially a bicycle with an engine) to make going uphill easier. Needless to add, the motorcycle was an instant success.

By 1905, H-D was regularly producing these bikes nicknamed the 'Silent Gray Fellow.' With money loaned by an uncle, the duo built their first 2,380-squarefoot shop.

Two years later in 1907, H-D was incorporated as a company, producing 150 motorcycles in the first year. Inspired by the success of their initial efforts, the twosome assisted by other family members, developed an upgraded version of the motorcycle in 1909...

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Harley-Davidson: Back to Innovation

Given the above circumstances, US President Ronald Reagan's decision to increase tariffs on Japan's motorcycle imports in 1983 (from 4.4% to 49.4%) to revive the US motorcycle industry, came as a positive development for H-D.

However, the new tariffs were to be effective only for five years and would reduce annually thereafter.

The company had to make considerable improvements in its business processes to sustain itself in the market in the long-run.

The H-D management accepted the challenge and embarked on what analysts called the path of adopting innovation as a tool to improve the company's performance at all levels - marketing and customer relations, organizational changes, product, process and manufacturing...

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