Overcoming Barriers and Resistance to Change at Starbucks

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The Transformation Agenda announced by CEO Howard Schultz in March 2008 had clearly framed Starbucks’ renewal strategy for restoring the company to profitable, sustainable growth (Schultz, 2011). However, in spite of careful meticulous planning, subsequent implementation of the changes comprising the agenda had met with considerable cultural and environmental resistance (Koehn, Besharov, & Miller, 2008). In retrospect, the leadership team failed to develop effective strategies for coping with the resistance to change, which created unexpected costs in company resources and stakeholder goodwill. This paper highlights key cultural and environmental resistance barriers to implementation of the Transformation Agenda and formulates integrated strategies that would have aided in overcoming the barriers to change.

Cultural and Environmental Resistance Barriers

Underpinned by an updated mission and a compelling new vision, the Transformation Agenda comprised seven strategic change objectives that potentially would have significant impact on the financial and professional well-being of the company’s partners, customers, and shareholders as well as its leaders (Schultz, 2011; Zegler, 2010). Successful implementation of the desired changes, therefore, depended foremost on the acceptance and support of these important constituencies (Koehn et al., 2008). However, given the recent deterioration in company performance amid increasingly desperate economic conditions and the escalating internal stress from store closings and layoffs (“DATAMONITOR: Starbucks Corporation,” 2011), such acceptance and support appeared highly unlikely. Thus, Starbucks leadership team diligently applied their knowledge and skills as well as those of recognized exte...

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...s Corporation SWOT Analysis, 1-12.

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Zegler, J. (2010, June). New initiatives expand Starbuck’s reach. Beverage Industry 101(18), 62. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry.

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