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Branson's Virgin: the coming age of a counter-cultural enterprise

Author: Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. ; Dick, RobertINSEAD Area: Entrepreneurship and Family EnterprisePublisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 1995.Language: EnglishDescription: 23 p.Type of document: INSEAD CaseAbstract: This case follows the development of Richard Branson from his early days as the editor of his own student magazine to his current status as founder and chairman of the Virgin Group. It focuses on the iconoclastic, yet extremely effective, management style and business philosophy of a man who has become one of the world's best-known entrepreneurs. The broad overview of Richard Branson and Virgin given in the case itself is complemented by the personal interview with Richard Branson and the video interview with Branson and his two managing directors, Robert Devereux and Trevor AbbottPedagogical Objectives: Virgin is of particular interest as a case study because of the questions raised about leadership in a creative organization. One of the major issues is that of entrepreneurship and the case allows for full discussion of this topic. However, the company also offers insight into a number of other management topics. Among these are the transition from entrepreneurial to more "systematic" management; the formulation of strategy for, and the management of, rapid growth, particularly expansion into unrelated areas and expansion overseas; a corporate culture centered around youth and informality; a preference for promotion of "insiders" who "fit" rather than outside candidates; the personal characteristics of an entrepreneur; the management of creativity and the transition from a private enterprise to a public company and back again to private.
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Virgin is of particular interest as a case study because of the questions raised about leadership in a creative organization. One of the major issues is that of entrepreneurship and the case allows for full discussion of this topic. However, the company also offers insight into a number of other management topics. Among these are the transition from entrepreneurial to more "systematic" management; the formulation of strategy for, and the management of, rapid growth, particularly expansion into unrelated areas and expansion overseas; a corporate culture centered around youth and informality; a preference for promotion of "insiders" who "fit" rather than outside candidates; the personal characteristics of an entrepreneur; the management of creativity and the transition from a private enterprise to a public company and back again to private.

This case follows the development of Richard Branson from his early days as the editor of his own student magazine to his current status as founder and chairman of the Virgin Group. It focuses on the iconoclastic, yet extremely effective, management style and business philosophy of a man who has become one of the world's best-known entrepreneurs. The broad overview of Richard Branson and Virgin given in the case itself is complemented by the personal interview with Richard Branson and the video interview with Branson and his two managing directors, Robert Devereux and Trevor Abbott

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