Madonna Case Study

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case one


The case examines the career and the success of Madonna Ciccone – “the best known woman on the planet.” The central issue is explaining the success of Madonna in the highly competitive, highly volatile world of entertainment, where Madonna has been a megastar since 1984. The case offers students the opportunity to explore the nature and meaning of strategy within a fast-paced business environment and to consider the role of strategy in career success. The case represents an expansion of the illustration provided in the first chapter of Contemporary Strategy Analysis (5th edn, strategy capsule 1.1).

The purpose of the case is to allow students to consider three questions: “What is strategy?”, “What role does strategy play in success?” and “What are the critical ingredients of a successful strategy?” The case forces students to address the meaning of strategy in environments where turbulence renders detailed planning impossible and to consider the notion that strategy can be both implicit and emergent as well as explicit and intended. The case also introduces the idea that strategy exists for both individuals and organizations; indeed, in this case there is some ambiguity as to whether “Madonna” is Madonna the person or Madonna the show-biz organization. This issue is important This note was prepared by Robert M. Grant.


in terms of making the point that strategy is relevant to the future careers of business students. While I have no expectation that students will write a strategic plan for the rest of their lives, one of the most immediate and valuable applications of the principles of strategic analysis is likely to be students’ thinking about their future careers.

The Madonna case is intended to open a core strategy course. It provides a lighthearted context for engaging the interests of students while at the same time introducing a number of...
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