Novo Nordisk (A) - Global Coordination

By Aldo Kamper, Joel Podolny, John Roberts
1999 | Case No. IB20A
In 1997, Novo Nordisk was one of two leading firms globally in the diabetes-care industry, dominating the business outside the United States but struggling to win market share there. It was formed in 1989 from a merger of two Danish firms that had previously competed fiercely. In the early 1990s, communications difficulties between its American operations and headquarters in Denmark led to its failing to adapt to changing U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations. It was forced to withdraw the product it had made for the U.S. market and to inform its customers there that they would have to obtain their needed medicine from its main competitor. This case describes the company’s organizational responses to this crisis. These centered on a reaffirmation of values; a definition of a new “Novo Nordisk Way of Management (NNWoM),” embodying a list of “Fundamentals”; and the creation of a group of facilitators whose role was to ensure that units adhered to the NNWoM. Teaching Purpose: Can be used to examine alternative mechanisms for achieving coordination in a globally dispersed, decentralized organization that values empowerment.
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