Ursula Burns at Xerox Corporation: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

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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 : LDEN074 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Leadership / Entrepreneurship / General Management

Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2000-2011
Pub Date : 2011
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Xerox Corporation.
Industry : Document management
Countries : US, Global


This case study is about Ursula M. Burns (Burns), CEO of US-based Xerox Corporation, one of the largest business process and document management companies in the world. Burns is the first African American woman to lead such a large publicly traded company and also features in the list of world's most influential woman CEOs. The case focuses on Burns's journey and her ascent to the top post at Xerox. Analysts noted that Burns had not only broken the glass ceiling but also proved herself as a good role model due to her leadership style. According to the Xerox veteran of 30 years, her perspective came from being an engineer and a New York black woman. Over the years, Burns developed a reputation at the

company as a technologically focused, customer-oriented change agent. The case discusses how Burns steered Xerox through turbulent times and changed the course of the company. According to experts, she responded to a crisis and led Xerox through many stages of transition. She turned Xerox around to meet revenue goals and restructured parts of the business to boost sales.

The case looks at the host of challenges that Burns could face as the CEO of the company. According to analysts, her biggest task would be to reinvent and guide Xerox amidst a volatile global economy and improve its dwindling stock price.


Understand the issues and challenges faced by women business executives
Examine the growth and success of Ursula Burns.
Study the leadership qualities and management skills of Ursula Burns.
Discuss the leadership lessons that can be learnt from Ursula Burns.
Analyze the challenges faced by Ursula Burns in her new role and explore ways in which she could overcome these.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Early Years 2
Turning Around Xerox 3
Leading Xerox 6
Breaking The Glass Ceiling 8
Challenges 10
The Road Ahead 11
Exhibits 17


Leadership, Leadership style, Servant leadership, Intrepreneurship, General Management, Management Style, Strategy, Change management, Glass ceiling, Vision, Communication, Power, Culture, Turnaround, Xerox

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