The skills, roles or styles of top leaders who turned around declining organizations: An exploratory case study

by Sturtz, Jonathan L., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2013, 263 pages; 3605436


While the strategic choice theory, the upper echelons theory and the turnaround theory offer some understanding of organizational turnaround, they did not provide sufficient insight into the skills, roles or styles used by top managers who turn around declining organizations. This exploratory case study employed grounded theory traditions to generate new theoretical understanding for a scholarly audience as well as actionable insights for practitioners active in organizational revitalization. Two sources of data were used for the study: interviews and documents. The participants for the interview source of data were turnaround professionals who, as members of the Turnaround Management Association, had experience in turning around declining organizations. Three firms that were widely considered to be among the most successful turnarounds in American corporate history were the source of the document data: Altria, Apple and Chrysler. The findings revealed three main constructs and 19 leadership skills, roles or styles essential to successful organizational turnarounds. These main constructs confirmed the existing theories that indicated organizational turnaround involved implementing emergency measures, taking corrective action and managing stakeholders. This study builds on these theories by outlining the three specific activities involved with each of the phases of organizational turnaround. Additionally, this study extends the existing theories by showing the phases of organizational turnaround that are linear and the phase that is nonlinear.

AdviserJanet Salmons
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsBusiness administration; Management
Publication Number3605436

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