Business Managment

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CASE: OB-72 DATE: 3/16/09

KIMBERLY-CLARK ANDEAN REGION: CREATING A WINNING CULTURE
The culture is innocent. It is really difficult when you are a grown-up to be a kid again. —Sandra Benavides, Peru The new generations have different expectations, they have been exposed to new information and trends; they are more inclined to think in terms of people than the generation we grew up in. —Sergio Nacach, Head of Kimberly-Clark, Andean Region Sergio not only has done a terrific job in his own region, he became the evangelist, if you will, the missionary for the remaining countries and sub-regions in Latin American Operations. —Ramiro Garces, Vice President for Human Resources, LAO

In the summer of 2008, Ramiro Garces, vice president of human resources for the Latin American region of Kimberly-Clark, the large consumer products company, was thinking about the many management changes spreading through the company almost like a virus. Less than a decade earlier, Kimberly-Clark had hired an Argentinean, Sergio Nacach, from Unilever. Nacach’s first job had been to run Kimberly-Clark’s operations in the small Central American country of El Salvador. Now, Nacach was running the Andean region for K-C and producing impressive business results. Because of his outstanding results, outgoing personality and willingness to talk to others about what he and his colleagues were doing, his management approach was generating interest throughout the company and particularly influencing its operations in Latin America. Operations in this area already demonstrated an organizational culture and leadership approach that was largely consistent with Nacach’s management style, so he did not have to struggle to implement his ideas. To make this different way of managing sustainable, the company needed to understand the essential elements of the Andean success. There was also the issue, articulated by another Kimberly-Clark executive not working in the Andean region, concerning the extent to which this success was largely a function of the leader’s personality and leadership style, or whether the basic philosophy and management approach could be transferred to other parts of the company―or even to another company in the absence of such a leader. Megan Anderson prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright © 2009 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, e-mail the Case Writing Office at: cwo@gsb.stanford.edu or write: Case Writing Office, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 518 Memorial Way, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means –– electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise –– without the permission of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Purchased by Kavin Kanagasabai (kav1410@hotmail.com) on June 18, 2012

Kimberly-Clark Andean Region: Creating a Winning Culture OB- 72

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Nacach also faced some challenges of his own. First of all, even within the Andean region, there was the question of what his team could do to keep the momentum and energy going—to surmount the so-called “Hawthorne effect,” the idea that almost any positive change would work for a while until its effects diminished as the novelty wore off. Second, Nacach was thinking about whether this specific management style, which was very warm and emotional—Latin in its essence—really would work in other places and parts of the world characterized by more interpersonal reserve. And third, there was the question of what lessons could be drawn from the experience to help others build a winning culture. KIMBERLY-CLARK IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE...
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