Innovation at Whirlpool - Creating a New Competency

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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 : HROB081 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 1999-2006
Pub. Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Whirlpool Corporation
Industry : Electricals and Electronics
Countries : USA, Europe


This case is about the organization development (OD) initiatives undertaken at Whirlpool Corporation (Whirlpool) to create a new core competency in the form of building an innovation culture within the organization. In the late 1990s, Whirlpool was faced with stagnation in revenues, profits, and market share. According to analysts, this was a direct result of the stagnation in its product line due to the lack of innovative products. Whirlpool used the services of Strategos, a consultancy firm, to develop I-consultants and various I-mentors from within the organization, to form a coaching network to coach/mentor the employees and help them develop an innovation mindset.

The case discusses the various steps initiated by the top management at Whirlpool to bring about a change in the company's corporate culture and embed innovation as a core competency. Analysts felt that these efforts had borne fruit, judging by the consistent growth in Whirlpool's revenues since 2002.


Understand the issues and challenges faced by a company in bringing about a change in organization culture

Appreciate the role of the senior management in culture change initiatives

Appreciate the importance of coaching/mentoring in changing the organizational culture and creating a core competency

Appreciate the use of IT for Knowledge Management and Innovation management


  Page No.
Innovation Fuels Growth 1
Background Note 3
Need for a Change in Corporate Culture 5
Innovation as a Core Competency 5
Laying the Foundation 7
Building the Framework 8
Reinventing the Corporate Culture 9
The Results 11
Future Outlook 12
Exhibits 14


Whirlpool Corporation, Organizational Culture, Organization Development, Consumer-driven Innovation Model, Competitive Strategy, Leadership, Gary Hamel, Core Competency, Competitive Advantage, Strategos Consultants, Knowledge Management System, Consumer Appliance Industry, Change Management, Research and Engineering, e-learning

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