Home Depot's Cultural Evolution - A comparison of the Company's Culture Under ITS Founders and BOB Nardelli

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : HROB063 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
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Organization Culture
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1978-2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Home Depot
Industry : Retail
Countries : USA


Home Depot was the biggest retailer of home improvement products in the US in the early 2000s. The company was also well known for its entrepreneurial and laissez-faire culture, a culture fostered by co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, who led the company from 1978 to 2000. In late 2000 however, the board appointed Robert Nardelli, a GE veteran, as CEO. Nardelli was given the task of solving the problems that the company ran into in the late 1990s.

The case discusses the cultural changes at Home Depot under the leadership of Nardelli. Nardelli was responsible for changing Home Depot's culture from an entrepreneurial and informal one, to one that focused on processes.

He also introduced a fair amount of centralization and managed to link the various departments and regions of the company together.


To understand the evolution of a major retail organization from a startup-like culture to a mature industry leader

To analyze the effects of change in leadership on culture, especially when a company moves from the hands of its founders to those of an outsider

To examine the issues surrounding cultural transformation and the challenges faced by company outsiders in adapting to culture and helping change it

To appreciate the importance of cultural evolution for organizations and to understand that cultural evolution must occur simultaneously with growth


  Page No.
Military Connection 1
Background Note 2
Startup Mode for 22 Years 3
The Nardelli Influence 4
Success at a Price 7
Exhibits 9

Key Words:

Home Depot, Bob Nardelli, Operation Career Front, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Organizational culture, Wal-Mart, Dennis Donovan, Change management, Leadership institute, Training and development, Cultural transition, Retail industry and General Electric

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