Change management at Starbucks – conclusion

Organizations are in a constant state of change catalyzed by the increased dynamism in the business environment following globalization. For effective growth in such an environment entities need to have strong change management strategies that avert collapse during the change process. Though various theories have been advanced on change management process, identification of concrete steps to lead organizations undergoing change are largely absent. The purpose of this paper was to assess the change management process through a case study on Starbucks. The paper evaluated aspects such as the organization’s approach to controlling challenges that affected the change and the outcomes of the approach, obstacles faced  in controlling the challenges and what helped the entity overcome the obstacles, and the alternative courses of action that would have a pronounced effect.

Starbucks change need was necessitated by a loss in focus on customer experience following a period of overexpansion. Due to the collapse of its common stock market prices following reduced patronage, the entity replaced its CEO with a former CEO and founder of the entity Howard Schultz. On taking over the entity faced two main challenges – job losses that would arise following closure of some stores needed to achieve cost efficiency, and the re-acquisition and retention of customers who had moved to cheaper providers. In managing the first challenge the leadership team’s role modeling and effective communication with affected employees averted any conflicts that would arise with such job losses. On the second aspect of customer acquisition and retention; the entity’s development of better awareness methods; renewed commitment to quality of products and services and;  continued innovation of products that better customer experience and involvement in the  business has seen the entity improve its financial performance in the 2009 fiscal year.

In managing the challenge the entity faced obstacles mainly related to liabilities of the new leadership team. Liabilities such as those of legitimacy, access to information, managing feedback and failure to share the renewed vision were relevant, though to varying extents. By appointing the founder of the entity to lead the transformation process, the company was however able to overcome these liabilities due to the qualifications, prior experience and commitment of the new CEO. Such appointment however may affect the future transition when the successes of the company become individualized. To ensure investor confidence in future transitions, the entity thus needs to develop a sound corporate strategy informed on both the external and internal environment.


Allison, M 2009, ‘Starbucks will cut 6700 jobs, close 300 more stores’, The Seattle Times, 29 January, viewed 15 September 2010, <>.


Armenakis, AA, Harris, SG 2002, ‘Crafting a change message to create transformational readiness’, Journal of Organizational Change, vol.15, no.2, pp.169-183. doi:10.1108/09534810210423080.


By, RT 2005, ‘Organisational change management: A critical review’, Journal of Change Management, vol.5, no.4, pp.369-380. doi:10.1080/14697010500359250.


Economist 2008, ‘Coffee wars: Starbucks ousts its boss and brings back its founder as a new threat emerges’, 10 January, viewed 12 September 2010, <>.


Gronroos, C 2004, ‘The relationship marketing process: communication, interaction, dialogue, value’, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol.19, no.2, pp.99-113. doi:10.1108/08858620410523981


Leroux, M 2008, ‘Ethical approach of Starbucks is hard to swallow’, TimesOnline 27 November  viewed 14 September 2010, <>.


Moran, JW & Brightman, BK 2000, ‘Leading organizational change’, Journal of workplace Learning: employee counseling today, vol.19, no.2, pp.66-74. doi:10.1108/13665620010316226.


Mosley, RW 2007, ‘Customer experience, organizational culture and the employer brand’, Brand Management, vol.15, no.2, pp.123-134. doi:10.1057/


Pretorious, M 2009, ‘New ideas in leadership practice: leadership liabilities of newly appointed managers – arrive prepared’, Strategy & Leadership, vol. 37, no.4, pp. 37-42. doi: 10.1108/10878570910910971629.


Simola, SK, Barling, J & Turner, N 2010, ‘Transformational leadership and leader moral orientation: contrasting an ethic of justice and an ethic of care’, The Leadership Quarterly, vol.21, no.1, pp.179-188. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.10.013


Starbucks Coffee Company 2010a, Company profile, viewed 12 September 2010, <>.


—– 2010b, Starbucks Company Timeline, viewed 12 September 2010, <>.


Starbucks Corporation 2009, Starbucks corporation fiscal 2009 annual report, viewed 12 September 2010, <>.


—– 2010a, My Starbucks idea, viewed 14 September 2010, <>.


—– 2010b, Starbucks card, viewed 16 September 2010, <>.


‘Starbucks – taking on the world’ 2004, Strategic Direction, vol.20, no.7, pp.13-15.


WetPaint & Altimeter Group 2009, The world’s most valuable brands: who’s the most engaged? Engagementdb ranking the top 100 global brands, viewed 14 September 2010, <>.

find the cost of your paper