Business Case Studies, HRM / OB Case Study, Ricardo Semler, Empowerment Strategies, Semco

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HRM / OB Case Study

Case Title:

Ricardo Semler’s Employee Empowerment Strategies at Semco

Publication Month and Year :  June 2009

Authors:  Bala Kiran & Sumit Kumar Chaudhuri

Industry:  Industrial Machinery Manufacturing

Region: Brazil

Case Code:  OB0018

Teaching Note:  Available

Structured Assignment:  Not Available


Antonio Curt Semler founded Semco in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1953. The company was primarily into the production of marine machinery. After his son, Ricardo Semler, became the Chief Executive Officer, Semco diversified into other businesses like banking, environmental services and e-business. Ricardo desired to change Semco into a democratic organisation for which he adopted the philosophy of employee empowerment. Ricardo was against the autocratic style of management, and was for participative management. Under Ricardo, Semco's revenues rose from $35 million in 1990 to $160 million in 2003. Semco soon came to be known as the 'unusual kind of workplace'.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the role of top management in employee empowerment
  • To discuss how Ricardo Semler's belief in employment empowerment helped him in developing his business and made Semco a preferred place to work.

Keywords :  Employee empowerment, Brazil, Marine machinery, Democratic organisation, HRM Case Study, Ricardo Semler, Leadership, Organisation structure, Autocratic management, Semco, Participative management, Maverick, Matrix organisation, Unusual kind of workplace, Brazilian economy, Organisational change, Organizational Behavior, OB, Organizational Behavior case study, Motivation Case Study, MBA, MBA Program, Course Mapping


  • Ricardo's Strategies
  • Seven Steps of Employee Empowerment
  • Ricardo's Philosophy
  • Empowerment Strategies of Ricardo Semler
  • Semco's Organisational Structure
  • Richard Sennett vs Ricardo’s Approach towards employee Empowerment

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