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Bob Galvin and Motorola, Inc. Case Study Analysis
At the age of 61 Bob Galvin, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Motorola, Inc., was moved to action from the increasing complaints as he “walked the halls” and the growing threats from Japanese manufacturers. On April 24, 1983 at the biennial meeting of the top 153 officers of Motorola, Inc. themed ‘Managing Change’, Bob Galvin issued a challenge to senior managers to consider structural changes to strengthen the corporation long-term.
Motorola History
Founded in 1928 by Paul V. Galvin, Galvin Manufacturing Company the Chicago-based firm began with alternating electrical current converters and automobile radios. Soon after dubbing the car radio as the “Motorola” in 1947, Paul Galvin changed the name of the company. Paul Gavin along with his brother Joe tried to create a humane and democratic work environment. Part of this process involved the everyone including the Galvins to be addressed on a first-name basis; “the Galvins had replaced the typical time clock in the plant with an employee honor system; and by 1947, Paul Galvin established a profit-sharing program” for it now 2,000 employees. It was decision such as this that allowed Motorola to remain union free (Jick & Peiperl, 2011, p. 121).
From its modest beginnings of less than $1500 in working capital and equipment, Motorola has enjoyed 55 years of growth and success to the tune of “15 percent growth-or half a billion dollars between 1982 and 1983” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011, p. 120). Since its beginning in 1928 Motorola had expanded its product line with home radios, phonographs, televisions, transistors, and semiconductor components. Under Bob Galvin’s leadership the firm had sold many of its consumer electronic businesses and expanded into other markets with the development of new technology. Along with technological strides, the firm was now composed of five geographically dispersed sectors to include: semiconductor products, communication, Information Systems Group (ISG), Automotive and Industrial Electronics Group (AIEG) and the Government Electronics Group (GEG).
In 1944, Bob Galvin, Paul Galvin’s son joined the firm as a stock clerk and after working a variety of positions became executive vice president in 1948. After becoming president in 1956, Bob was appointed chairman/CEO in 1964. During his tenure Bob’s leadership style made him an equitable and accessible leader with values deeply influenced by the lessons he learned from his father Paul. “After taking over the helm of the company, Galvin continued to espouse his father’s philosophy: don’t fear failure, and recognize the signs of problems early” (Leadership, n.d.). Bob said, “I am fortunate to carry some of his reputation, in addition to what I’ve earned myself” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011, p. 121).
Motorola Problems and Causes
Although Motorola was experiencing success in comparison to its competitors, that success was not without its share of problems. The infamous speech given by Bob Galvin on April 24, 1983 to his senior executives was his response to grumblings within the organization from employees and the threat of Japanese competition. It was Bob Galvin’s belief “that the firm’s current inability to respond quickly and flexibly to the changing needs of the customer could prove fatal in the coming global competitive crisis” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011, p. 120). “This would be all the more difficult because many of his managers did not recognize the problems he saw” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). To avert the firm from future disaster Bob wanted to decrease the many layers of management and to bring management closer to the product and market” While Bob Galvin’s speech revealed great vision to address the issues faced by the firm it also created fear and anxiety.
The problems within the organizational structure were in direct response to the multiple layers of management and its centralized structure. The organizational structure of Motorola consisted of nine to twelve layers between the first line managers and the executive level. Within these layers each prospective manger was only responsible for five or fewer people, and 30 percent of managers led three people or less. As for the executive level or the ‘triparitite structure’, this was comprised of Bob Galvin, CEO/Chairman, William Weisz, Vice Chairman, and John Mitchell, President (Jick & Peiperl, 2011).
The threat of rising competition from the Japanese was real. Japan was steadily expanding its technology and sold their product at less than fair market value to increase their strength.
Organizational Systems Affected Centralized organizational system was gradually becoming decentralized.
Employees felt over managed and under directed. Felt fear in light of Bob’s announcement.
Technical systems.
Managerial systems.
Goals and values.
Alternative Solutions
Prior to giving the1983 speech Bob should have met with his executive officers and Human Resources to determine the best way to pursue his goal of restructuring Motorola. To have a more positive outcome all senior leaders would be activated to buy into the new idea of restructuring Motorola.
Instead of surprising the organization with his 1983 speech, Galvin could have talked this over with the other executive officers and employees to come up with ideas for restructuring of the organization. People are more likely to accept the change if they are actively involved in the change. But to surprise everyone and just drop it like a bomb left some doubt and fear with the other executives and employees. Galvin was a successful entrepreneur but could have empowered his employees and ask for their input. For a CEO that was so adamant of its employes dignity and respect, isn’t it strange he didn’t think to respect their input of ideas would be relevant in the change?
Recommendations and Implementations
In effort to keep Motorola on the track of success it is vital the to maintain the appropriate organizational structure and foster a positive work environment. The organizational structure, aside from the vision is the strength of the organization. To stay current amidst economic changes, organizations must know if, when, and how the structure must adjust. For Motorola this means including the executive and senior management in the decision making process that affects the organization. By mirroring the work relationships of ‘family’ as with the origin of the firm, employees stay empowered and alert for the firm to succeed. A happy employee is not only more productive, but their ideas and creativity flows smoother to allow the innovation Motorola has been known for throughout the years. Bob Galvin once said, “at times we must engage an act of faith,” and know “that key things are doable that are not provable” (Leadership, n.d.). Because it Bob Galvin and his ability to see and act on what others could not that made him a man to be remembered through the ages.

Jick, T. D., & Peiperl, M. A. (2011). Managing Change:cases and concepts (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from Galvin Electricity Initiative:

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