Leadership and Organizational Behavior

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Assignment 1, Briefing sheet, January 2013

Jeffrey P.Bezos : An entrepreneur leader
Jeff Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and from an early age he showed his mechanical attitude developing intense and varied scientific interests. Considering this fact, his parents sent him to a special program for gifted children, where Jeff could develop his love for gadgets (Byers, 2006). When his family moved to Florida, he discovered his ‘great passion’, computers, so he abandoned his studies in Physics and got a degree on Computer science and Electrical engineering (Sherman, 2001). After his studies, Jeff Bezos started working for Bankers Trust, and at the age of 26 he became the youngest Vice President of the company (Byers, 2006). When he noticed in 1994 that internet usage was increasing by 2300% a year (Hämäläinen & Saarinen, 2007), he started planning his next step, which was Amazon.com. Amazon made his appearance in 1995 with 3 micro stations in Bezos’ garage (Robinson, 2009) and its activity was to sell books. Today Amazon.com is one of the most preferable internet retail platform, where customers can find DVD’s, CD’s, MP3 downloads, books and toys. According to Economist (2000), Amazon.com is the most visited internet retail platform in USA and one of the top 3 in Germany, UK, France and Japan.

The impact of Amazon.com
Amazon.com is today the largest electronic retail worldwide (Anon., 2012). According to J. Bezos (Wired Magazine, December, 2011), Amazon is a cultural pioneer which lives to disrupt even its own business. It is recognized by 55% of conscious population, and it is part of today’s Western culture (Spector, 2002). The company spends almost 40% of its income on brand building (Margolis, 1999), and that is why Amazon.com is a trustable and a well-known brand name (Economist, 2000, Marketing, 1999). 70,000 people work today for Amazon, and the company turnover is 48 billion a year (Warman, 2012). Amazon.com launched in November 2007 Kindle E-book reader and as Bezos notes “Millions of people own now Kindles” (Gonsalves, 2010)). According to Gonsalves (2010), Amazon sells 6 Kindles titles for every 10 hard books, and this strategic move increased profits up to 71%.

Jeff Bezos vision about Amazon.com is to be the most customer-centric company in the world (Mellahi & Johnson, 2000). According to Mellahi and Johnson (2000) the success key of the company is… innovation-innovation & innovation.

J.Bezos’ approach to leading Amazon and his key factors which have contributed to his success. He was named “Man of the year 1999” (Ramo, 2011) and “Business person of the year” (Fortune Magazine, 2012). Jeff Bezos is a visionary entrepreneur leader ( (Dyer, et al., 2009)). According to Moment (2004) the essential traits of an effective entrepreneur are to be singular focus, self-driven, ambitious, achievement oriented, imaginative, independent and versatile. According to Quittner (1999) “Bezos, naturally enough is unmoved by the nay saying”. He asserts some instinctive characteristics, which make him distinctive from other leaders. Can he be described as a “Great Man/ Great leader”? As Huczynski and Buchanan put it (2007) “Great man are born leaders and emerge to take power regardless of social, organizational or historical context”. Other researches on trait theories tried to specify the traits of a great leader and found hundreds of them. However, according to Kilpatrick and Locke (1991) the typical leadership traits are: drive to archive, motivation to lead, self-confidence, ability to withstand setbacks, honesty and integrity, standing firm, cognitive ability, knowledge of business, emotional resilient. When Bezos decided to quit from his work on Wall Street, he had a strong feeling that his new business plan for an internet based retail platform would be his chance to move his ideas one step further (Academy of achievement interview, 2001). According to Stogdill (1948, 1974) a...
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