James Dyson: The Engineer Entrepreneur

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Please note:

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 : LDEN054 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Entrepreneurship/ Identifying opportunity/ Innovation

Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 2000-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Dyson Appliances Ltd.
Industry : Electricals & Electronics
Countries : UK; Europe: USA


This case is about James Dyson (Dyson), a UK-based engineer and founder of Dyson Appliances Ltd (DAL), best known as the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. With sales of over 514.7 million and a presence in 45 countries worldwide as of 2007, DAL had emerged as the market leader in the vacuum cleaner market in UK as well as the USA.

Analysts noted that Dyson's journey from launching the award-winning Ballbarrow (a gardening tool) in the 1970s to building one of the most successful multinational brands (i.e. the vacuum cleaners that are called Dysons) in the 2000s had been anything but easy.

There were plenty of challenging moments that punctuated his career, be it in the initial struggles to get funding for his venture or the patent litigation involving a major rival, which came much later.

Despite all the problems, Dyson managed to build DAL into a market leader in a highly competitive industry dominated by multinational companies.

While analysts hailed him as a great entrepreneur and praised his business acumen and approach towards innovation, Dyson also earned many laurels including receiving the knighthood for his services to the business world on December 2006. Experts felt that Dyson was not only a great inventor but had also shown sound business acumen which helped him build DAL from the ground up to a global company. However, he was also criticized for shifting the company's production base to Malaysia in 2002. Union leaders alleged that this move had affected around 800 workers in the already waning manufacturing industry in the UK.


  Understand the personality traits of an entrepreneur from the life and work of James Dyson.

  Identify the benefits and challenges faced by an entrepreneurial venture with regard to managing its business growth and sustaining its innovation.

  Understand the leadership and management style of James Dyson and his contribution to the success of Dyson Appliances Ltd.

  Appreciate the sources of inspiration for an entrepreneur in the consumer appliances industry.


  Page No.
UK's Greatest Entrepreneur? 1
His Early Years 2
The Bagless Vacuum Cleaner 3
Dyson's 'Brain' and 'Brawn' 5
Conquering The US Market 7
Dyson's Battle over Patent Infringement 8
Dyson - Behind the Success 10
The Dyson School of Design Innovation 13
The Road Ahead 14
Exhibits 16


James Dyson, Entrepreneur, Dyson Appliances Ltd., Innovation, Bagless vacuum cleaner, Market leader, Global expansion, Innovation, Dyson School of Design Innovation, Design, Off-shoring, Technological advantage, Marketing, Advertising, Public relations, Publicity, Intellectual property right, Risk taking, Hoover, Competition

UK's Greatest Entrepreneur? - Next Page>>


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