Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Leadership Crisis at Algood Press: A Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Leadership Crisis at Algood Press: A Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case is small family business management, specifically developing a strategy for leadership succession in a crisis situation. We also examine shared leadership or family top management teams that involve multiple family members in the top management and ownership of family firms. The case is appropriate for junior and senior level undergraduate courses. The case is designed to be taught in one class hour and is expected to require approximately three hours of outside preparation by students. The events described in this case are based on real world experiences, but all names have been disguised.


Carlton Algood heard the devastating words from his doctor: "With the treatment we currently have available to us, which is among the best in the country, I would say that we are looking at about one year (for you to live)." As a responsible small family business leader, Carlton made plans for Algood Press to survive without him. Carlton laid the groundwork for a management committee, composed of three family members and three non-family managers, to lead the company during his illness. Passing the management and ownership from one generation to the next is a daunting task for small family businesses. Succession is even more difficult when the process is shortened by the illness or death of incumbent family leaders. We trace the story of Algood Press from its beginnings in 1933 through three generations of family owner-managers to the present day. After Carlton's death, the remaining family leaders must decide whether to continue with the management committee, who should become president of the company to replace Carlton, and if they should extend the privilege of stock ownership to other company managers.



This case portrays a small family business weathering the storm of the death of its president and CEO. Although Carlton Algood's death from cancer was premature at age 62, he did have almost two years to prepare the leadership of Algood Press to carry on without him. Recognizing that no one single successor stood out as a clear leader in the company, Carlton formed a management committee, composed of family members and non-family managers. The management committee had the advantage of his presence for two years as the individuals involved learned to manage by consensus.

The purpose of this study is to aid students in their understanding of the complexities of leadership succession in small family businesses. Students should recognize that family business owners typically sacrifice their own immediate gratification for wealth to invest in the long-term welfare of their family. Successors also invest their time in the family business and give up alternative careers. Behavioral aspects of the succession process and management decision-making are emphasized.


The author performed in-depth qualitative interviews with the key actors in the case after the death of Carlton Algood. These tape-recorded interviews were semi-structured in nature and conducted individually. The author transcribed approximately six hours of interviews, which totaled fifty-nine pages of transcripts. The respondents answered numerous follow up questions via telephone and e-mail. The author provided the respondents with an initial case history including all information used in the case. The respondents verified this information. The author also gathered newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, company catalogs, and other documents.


The case's focus on succession issues in a small family business makes it appropriate for use in Entrepreneurship or Small Business Management courses at the undergraduate level. In the case, we describe the decisions facing a group of family business leaders following the death of the company's president and CEO. …

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