Harley-Davidson Circle Organization

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Harley-Davidson Circle Organization

Harley Davidson’s remarkable success and turnaround from a company nearing extinction to a business model of success (James & Graham, 2004; Johan Van & Brian, 2000; Teerlink & Ozley, 2000) is secured by the environment developed at Harley-Davidson through the organizational changes led by former CEO Rich Teerlink. Mr. Teerlink fundamentally changed the structure of Harley-Davidson from a command and control, top down leadership company to one of collaborative organizational design (Teerlink & Ozley, 2000). This paper will describe the organizational structure at Harley-Davidson, how the organizational structure evolved, evaluate how the structure responds to environmental factors, and conclude with this authors opinion on efficacy. The organizational structural change at Harley-Davidson resurrected an American icon to a global leader in motorcycle manufacturing.


Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 by William Harley and Arthur Davidson and continued to grow throughout the First and Second World Wars, before being absorbed by American Machine and Foundry (AMF) in 1969 (James & Graham, 2004; Johan Van & Brian, 2000). Facing stiff completion from Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, AMF sold Harley to a group of executives led by Jeff Bluestein and Vaughn Beal (James & Graham, 2004; Teerlink & Ozley, 2000). A tariff on imported heavyweight motorcycles and a public offering put Harley-Davidson on sound financial footing. Richard Teerlink joined the company in 1987 as President and brought about substantial structural change working with consultant Lee Ozley (Teerlink & Ozley, 2000). Today, Harley-Davidson is a cultural phenomenon consisting of Harley-Davidson Credit and Insurance, ...

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