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Succession Planning Case Study

Case Title:

Lord John Browne at BP: Leadership and Succession Dilemmas

Publication Year : 2006

Authors:  Anuradha Donepudi, Mercy Mathew

Industry:  Energy

Region: UK

Case Code: SUP0004

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available


Lord John Browne, Britain’s most admired chief executive, has a long-standing career spanning four decades at BP. He joined BP in 1966 as a University apprentice and held various key positions before becoming its CEO in 1995. BP’s success as the world’s second largest oil company is attributed to the efforts of Browne. The 58-year-old CEO is set to retire in 2007 when he turns 60, the retirement age as per the company’s norms.

Speculations are rife that he wants to postpone his retirement date but on the other hand, chairman Sutherland is pressurising Browne to come clean on his retirement plans. Several shareholders are in favour of Browne continuing as the CEO for an extended term, while others want him to make way for new leadership. Amidst this debate, Browne announced that he would want to step down in 2007, which would leave just two years for Browne and BP’s Board to select the next successor and groom him for the job.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the leadership style of Browne
  • To analyse the implications of Browne’s retirement for the company
  • To debate the views and counter views on Browne’s retirement
  • To understand the concept of succession planning initiated by Browne
  • To debate on whether executives should be forced to leave because of long- standing company policy
  • To debate on corporate governance issues with regard to Browne assuming the role of chairman of the company.

Keywords : Leadership Styles; A CEO’s Real Legacy; Mandatory Retirement Age; Succession Battles; Executive Recruitment; Succession Planning Case Study; Role of the Board in Executive Recruitment; Mutant Ninja Turtles Programme; Grooming CEOs; Change Management

Contents : 
Legacy of Lord John Browne
External Roles Held by Lord John Browne
Share Prices of BP under Browne from 1995 to 2006
Retirement Dilemma
Succession Dilemma
UK: New Corporate Governance Rules

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