Leadership Development at IBM

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Case Details:

Case Code: HROB147
Case Length: 17 Pages
Period: 1992-2011
Organization: IBM
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Not Available
Countries: Global
Industry: Information Technology

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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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Background Note

IBM, an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in New York, USA, manufactured and sold computer software and hardware and offered consulting services in diverse areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology2. As of September 2011, it was the second-largest publicly traded technology company in the world by market capitalization. The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR) Corporation through the merger of four small companies: the Tabulating Machine Company3,the International Time Recording Company4, the Computing Scale Corporation5, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company.6 In the initial years, it had a broad and unrelated range of products, offering everything from scales and cheese slicers to clocks and typewriters.

Thomas J. Watson was appointed as its first CEO in 1914 and he held the title for nearly four decades. He saw the company's future in tabulators rather than scales and clocks. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924. Its distinctive culture and product branding gave it the epithet 'Big Blue'. In 1956, Tom Watson Jr, succeeded his father as CEO and under his leadership, oversaw the digital computer age7 in IBM. He predicted the role computers would play in business, and gradually led IBM's transformation from makers of tabulating equipments / typewriters into a computer industry leader. In 1964, 'System/360' , the first large computers to use interchangeable software and peripheral equipment, were introduced. Over half-a-century of Watson family leadership came to an end in 1971 when Thomas J. Watson, Jr., stepped down and T. Vincent Learson took over as CEO for the next two years...

Excerpts - Next Pages >>

2] IBM's nanotechnology brought out new atomic- and molecular-scale structures for enhancing information technology and discovered their scientific foundations.
3] The Tabulating Machine Company founded by Herman Hollerith was formed in 1902. It manufactured and sold data-processing equipments.
4] The International Time Recording Company's product line was mechanical time recorders which were invented and patented by Willard L. Bundy in 1888.
5] Computing Scale Corporation incorporated in 1891 was formed by Edward Canby and Orange O. Ozias.
6] Willard Bundy invented the first time clock on November 20, 1888. In 1889, the Bundy Manufacturing Company was formed as the first time recorder company.
7] In 1951, large scale electronic computers were put to commercial use. This period was popularly known as the Digital Computer Age.


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