Ricardo Semler Teaching Notes

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Ricardo Semler:
A Revolutionary Model of
Leadership
TEACHING NOTE

04/2014-5982
This teaching note was written by William W. Maddux, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, and Roderick I. Swaab, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, in conjunction with Betania
Tanure, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at PUC / BTA, and case writer Elin Williams, as an aid to instructors in the classroom use of the case “Ricardo Semler: A Revolutionary Model of Leadership”.
Financial support from INSEAD Alumni Fund is gratefully acknowledged.
Instructors can register and login at cases.insead.edu to access instructor-only material supporting INSEAD case studies (e.g., videos, handouts, spreadsheets, links).
Copyright © 2014 INSEAD
COPIES MAY NOT BE MADE WITHOUT PERMISSION. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE COPIED, STORED, TRANSMITTED, REPRODUCED OR DISTRIBUTED
IN ANY FORM OR MEDIUM WHATSOEVER WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNER.
This complimentary copy is for the authors’ use only.
Copying or posting online is a copyright infringement.

The Story
The case follows the story of Brazilian business leader Ricardo Semler, who took the family marine-pump business to multi-national, multi-sector success. However, this is no typical business success story. First, Semler dramatically changed his own leadership style by relinquishing control and working less hard. Next, he set about transforming Semco, the company founded by his immigrant father, through a radical process of workplace democratisation. Starting in the 1980s with details like dress codes and parking spaces, Semler gradually created an organisation where the workers recruited their own bosses, managers set their own salaries, and anyone could attend any meeting (though meetings were kept to a minimum). By the early 2000s, Semler had more or less…...

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