Human Capital Development: The Harley-Davidson Way

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB096
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1992-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Harley-Davidson
Industry : Automobile - Motorcycles
Countries : US

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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.

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The 'Softer' Management Style

According to The Harley-Davidson Employee Involvement Manual published in 1983, the nine "musts" for employee involvement at H-D were:

• Management, with the help of its words and actions, must reveal that continuous improvement of quality and efficiency is a way of life, and not merely another program.
• Management must be firmly committed to the people-building philosophy, which implied the belief that employees are thinking, rational human beings and hence they should be encouraged to develop and grow.
• Management must be strictly committed to the Employee Involvement program and should display that commitment cultivates a mutual trust between the employees and the management.
• Employees should be comprehensively trained in specific problem-solving and methods of quality control...

Human Capital Development Framework

H-D's focus on business growth had compelled the HR function to concentrate more on recruiting. Thus, some of the other important HR practices like performance reviews, career development, and succession planning had taken a back seat. This created a difficult situation for the new employees who were unaware of the culture at H-D. In the absence of processes and programs which would help employees to improve and grow, H-D was confronted with the risk of losing its competitiveness...

The Road Ahead

Though H-D showed some progress on the human capital infrastructure and human capital strategy front, it still had a long way to go. Like H-D, many other companies had implemented HCDF. Though H-D had made significant progress against its internal benchmarks, the results were not so good when compared to its peer group of companies. In some cases, the state of the development of the workforce was just equal to that of these companies, whereas in some other cases, H-D was way behind...


Exhibit I: H-D's Famous 'Bar and Shield Logo'
Exhibit II: Deming's 14 Steps to Total Quality Management
Exhibit III: The Values of H-D
Exhibit IV: Employee Benefits at H-D
Exhibit V: Business Process at H-D
Exhibit VI: The Leadership Circles at H-D
Exhibit VII: An Overview of Self-Directed Work Teams
Exhibit VIII: Accenture's Human Capital Development Framework


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