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Harvard Business School Case Study Patagonia

Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2010 (Revised October 2010)


Ramon Casadesus-Masanell, Hyunjin Kim and Forest L. Reinhardt

Patagonia was deeply committed to the environment. This commitment, at times, conflicted with the company's goal to create the most innovative products in its industry. Patagonia's founder and executives welcomed imitation of both its environmental commitment and its culture. The question remained whether Patagonia's model would work well for a wide range of companies. In 2003, Patagonia executives were considering which products and markets would fit best into their portfolio of product lines, which included alpine, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, paddling, rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, and mountain biking. There was a tradeoff between alienating its core customers and achieving growth via entry into new product markets.

Keywords: Business History; Environmental Sustainability; Business Model; Business Strategy; Expansion; Consumer Products Industry;


Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, Hyunjin Kim, and Forest L. Reinhardt. "Patagonia." Harvard Business School Case 711-020, August 2010. (Revised October 2010.)  View Details

Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2017 (Revised January 2018)


Jose Alvarez, Forest Reinhardt and Natalie Kindred

This case describes the business model and workplace philosophy of NatureSweet, a privately owned, vertically integrated greenhouse grower and marketer of fresh tomatoes with sales across the U.S. and $329 million in 2016 revenues. CEO Bryant Ambelang treated NatureSweet more like a consumer-packaged goods manufacturer than an agricultural producer, with a focus on consistency, branding, margin and price stability, and a frontline-worker-centric production model inspired by the Toyota Production System. Workers—who, because of NatureSweet’s year-round greenhouse production model, were employed full time—were empowered with training and productivity incentives, allowing them to earn well above the minimum wage and advance their careers within the company. Indeed, improving the lives of workers was the explicit purpose of NatureSweet’s operations. Through its financial incentives, personal and professional development initiatives, and worker-appreciation programs, NatureSweet had cultivated a truly unique, uplifting workplace culture in its Mexico operations. Ambelang aspired to replicate the model in the U.S. as a way of demonstrating the potential to “transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America.” But in late 2017, the Arizona-based production operations that NatureSweet had acquired in 2014 were still struggling to attain the successes achieved in Mexico. This case describes NatureSweet’s history, achievements in Mexico, and challenges in Arizona, inviting students to evaluate the keys to NatureSweet’s success in Mexico and analyze their potential for replication in the U.S. Will Ambelang succeed in Arizona, and in doing so demonstrate that it is possible to transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America?

Keywords: NatureSweet; tomatoes; Agriculture; greenhouse; Ambelang; cherry tomatoes; organizational culture; incentives; worker empowerment; Empowerment; Toyota production system; leadership; branding; produce; manufacturing; Organizational change; Agribusiness; Business Model; Employee Relationship Management; Working Conditions; Organizational Culture; Success; Problems and Challenges; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States; Mexico; North America;


Alvarez, Jose, Forest Reinhardt, and Natalie Kindred. "NatureSweet." Harvard Business School Case 518-002, December 2017. (Revised January 2018.)  View Details

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