Starbucks Case Study

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Continuing Case: Starbucks – Introduction

Discussion Questions

1. What management skills do you think would be most important for Howard Schultz to have? Why? What skills do you think would be most important for a Starbucks store manager to have? Why?

2. How might the following management theories/approaches be useful to Starbucks: scientific management, organizational behavior, quantitative approach, systems approach?

3. Choose three of the current trends and issues facing managers and explain how Starbucks might be impacted. What might be the implications for first-line managers? Middle managers? Top managers?

4. Give examples of how Howard Schultz might perform the interpersonal roles, the informational roles, and the decisional roles.

5. Look at Howard Schultz’s philosophy of Starbucks. How will this affect the way the company is managed?

6. Go to the company’s Web site ( and find the list of senior officers. Pick one of those positions and describe what you think that job might involve. Try to envision what types of planning, organizing, leading and controlling this person would have to do.


← Management Skills

As we studied before, there are three kinds of skills that are essential for managers: conceptual skills, human skills and technical skills. Conceptual skills are most important for top managers, they help managers to think and conceptualize about abstract and complex situation. Human skills are, generally, very important for all managers, but especially for middle managers, because they need to lead, inspire and motivate other workers and communicate with top and first-line managers. Finally, technical skills represent job-specific knowledge and techniques needed to proficiently perform specific tasks.

In this case we have Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, man who created biggest coffee retailer in the world. Schultz's adventure started in 1981, when he traveled from New York to Seattle to check out a popular coffee bean store called Starbucks that had been buying many of the Hammarplast Swedish drip coffeemakers he was selling. That was the first time he had ever seen one of the Starbucks stores and he was very impressed. In 1982, he started working for Starbucks as director of marketing and operations. After his trip to Italy, he realized that coffee bars can be more than just a place where you get a cup of coffee – they can be meeting places and public squares. Unfortunately, the Starbucks’ owners did not share the same point of view as Schultz, so he decided to quit. Howard Schultz started his own coffee-bar business, and it was very successful. Two years later, Starbucks’ owners wanted to sell, Schultz bought Starbucks for $3.8 million.

Question No.1: What management skills do you think would be most important for Howard Schultz to have? Why? What skills do you think would be most important for a Starbucks store manager to have? Why?

Howard Schultz is the chairman and CEO of Starbucks, meaning he is responsible for making organization-wide decisions and establishing plans and goals that affect the entire organization. That means that for him, conceptual skills are most important, he needs to use information to solve business problems, have a vision were is his company going and how to improve situation in the whole company. Also, human skills are very important for Howard Schultz because he is the president of the company, he has a lot of people working for and with him, so he needs to know how to manage all of his employees, how to motivate them and enable successful completion of the tasks. 2

For a Starbucks store manager, technical skills are most important, because he is one of the first-line managers, he is directly involved with servicing customers. Store manager is mostly working with nonmanagerial employees, so human skills are...
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