Toxic Leader Transition (A Mini-Case Study of Yahoo!)

Author(s): Michael Campbell, M.S.

Originally posted: February 28, 2015

This case examines how one person at the top can make a difference, and how toxic leadership is often to blame when a company has persistent organizational culture issues.

"Technology is a fast-paced industry and it can be a very difficult pace to maintain even for those who seem to be able to take giant steps, like Yahoo. As one of the original dot-coms, established in 1994, Yahoo has struggled with problems some would say stem from their organizational culture ever since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. At that time the company became filled with anxiety and fear, hemorrhaging executives, as leadership attempted to cope with collapsed stock prices (Catalano & O’Reilly, 2004). The company never quite seemed to find its footing after that, with no strong culture emerging like observed in successful internet-based companies such as Google, Amazon, and Zappos. As recently as 2011 you could hear louder rumblings about the company being ‘unfixable’, with mentions of CEO problems, board issues, and public opinion saying users had moved on because the company couldn’t adapt to their needs (Jackson, 2012). Today Yahoo is a shrunken version of the internet giant it once was, but it’s still around, and some would say it is finally thriving again thanks to the hire of Marissa Mayer as both President and CEO..."

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