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C A S E T E A C H I N G N O T E S
Marks & Spencer
Nardine Collier and Gerry Johnson
This case study is about why one of the world’s most famous retails, Marks & Spencer, ran into trouble at the end of the 1990s and how it attempted to manage a programme of change to overcome those problems. It is therefore useful to explore issues concerned with organisational culture, strategic drift, strategic choice and the management of change. The case covers both the history of Marks & Spencer throughout the last century and, in more detail, from 1998 to 2004, the period when it moved from a position of market dominance to one in which it was deemed to be a take-over target. The case charts the attempts by its different chief executives to address the problems during this time and, therefore, the various change initiatives that were mounted.
2. Position of the case
The case study relates, in particular, to the problems and means of managing strategic change in Marks & Spencer. So it is particularly related to the coverage of strategic inertia and strategic drift in chapter 1 and programmatic design and change in chapter
10. With this in mind it might be taught at the end of the strategy course.
However, it could also be used as a case to require students to analyse the reasons for the problems of Marks & Spencer, not only in terms of organisational culture, but also in terms of the market and competitive position of the firm. In this sense it could be used as a strategic analysis case earlier in the course.
It also poses the question of the strategy that should be followed to regain competitive advantage, and is therefore also concerned with strategic choice.
3. Learning objectives
The case study requires an understanding by students of some important concepts and tools. In particular:
• the concept and the causes of