Robert Dewar

Associate Professor Emeritus of Management & Organizations at Kellogg School of Management

Biography

Kellogg School of Management

Professor Dewar received his MS and PhD from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in Sociology. He is a member of the American Academy of Management and has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal and the Administrative Science Quarterly. From 1980 to 1988, Professor Dewar served as Chairman of the Organizational Behavior Department at the Kellogg School of Management. He has also served as the academic director for both Kellogg's Institute for Management and its Executive Development Program. Most recently, Professor Dewar was director of Kellogg's "Creating the Market Focused Organization" Executive Program.

His areas of expertise include the implementation of strategy through design of organizational systems and delivering customer service. He is currently researching manufacturer’s response to wholesale and retail trade concentration and national account management systems. Professor Dewar designs training programs for middle and senior managers in many types of organizations. He also designs development programs for professional accounting and consulting companies. Professor Dewar frequently consults with major corporations.

Professor Dewar has conducted executive development programs and/or consulted with the following: State Farm Insurance, CCC Information Services, Inc., The Harris Bank, Citicorp, National Association of Independent Insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Cigna, North Pacific Insurance, Deloitt & Touche, Baker and McKenzie, General Telephone and Electronics (GTE), AT&T, Ameritech, Association of Legal Administrators, The American Red Cross, U.S. Gypsum, IBM, British American Tobacco, Nestlé’s, Hoechst, Good Year, General Motors, Mobil Oil, Lee Enterprises, S.C.Johnson, Spiegel Catalog, Abbott, Eli Lilly, G. D. Searle, The Chicago Tribune, BP, The Hearst Corporation, and other organizations and professional groups.

Areas of Expertise Consumer Behavior
Corporate Restructuring
Customer Experience
Customer Service
Leadership
Organizational Change
Organizational Learning
Organizational Structure and Relationships
Strategic Implementation
Strategy

Education PhD, 1976, Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

MS, 1971, Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

BA, 1969, History, Philosophy, Fordham University

Academic Positions Associate Professor, Management & Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1980-present

Department Co-Chairman, Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2011-2012

Department Chair, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1980-1988

Assistant Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1976-1980

Instructor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1974-1976

Guest Lecturer, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, 1975-1975

Instructor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1974-1976

Honors and Awards Sidney J. Levy Teaching Award, Kellogg School of Management, 1995-1996

L.G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award, Kellogg School of Management, 1987

Education Academic Positions Honors and Awards

Courses Taught

Read about executive education

Cases

Dewar, Robert. 2006. Customer Focus at Neiman Marcus. Case 5-405-750 (KEL145).

This case describes the winning formula at Neiman Marcus that has allowed it to achieve a position as the number one luxury retailer in the United States in terms of sales per square foot and profitability. The case highlights Neiman Marcus’s efforts to define who its customers are and are not, and to achieve superior focus on its customers by aligning location, price, service, and merchandise to fulfill these customers’ every need. The case highlights ways in which Neiman Marcus prevents typical silo behavior between merchandising and selling, and how it ensures that the right merchandise gets to the right customer despite the challenge of doing this in thirty-six micro markets.

Dewar, Robert. 2009. Washington Mutual (B): From Forty-Six to Sixteen. Case 5-304-506(B) (KEL433).

In 2004 Washington Mutual (WaMu) was touted by the business press as one of the most customer-focused, innovative, community-friendly, employee-loyal, and shareholder-enriching retail banks in the United States. Its stock reached $46.18 in May 2006, an almost 60% increase since 2001. CEO Kerry Killinger was lionized. By late 2008, however, WaMu’s stock had plummeted to 16 cents as it became infamous as the largest bank failure in U.S. history. Relying on publicly available published sources, the case documents eroding focus on customers, excessive risks in subprime mortgages, alleged unethical pressure on mortgage officers to approve bad loans, attempts by the CEO to retain his job, and the eventual termination of the CEO, sale of the company to Chase, and destruction of all shareholder value. Whereas the (A) case documents WaMu’s formula for success, the (B) case challenges readers to discover the seeds of destruction in the company’s leadership, culture, incentives, and human resource policies and practices. WaMu’s death contains some hard lessons of the danger of success and pride.

Dewar, Robert. 2010. Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan: A Strategy for Winning in the Market through Customer-Focused Service. Case 5-409-750 (KEL436).

Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan (a disguised case of an actual BCBS Plan) is the merged product of three state plans. Initially burdened with a reputation of poor customer service, Key State’s executives decided to invest heavily in service improvement, eventually achieving superior levels. Key State’s high-quality customer service emerged as a true competitive advantage for its customers, who were primarily businesses and health benefits consultants who influenced corporate purchasers of health insurance. The Key State brand came to be synonymous with personal service, security, choice, and dependability.

But the health care insurance market was changing under Key State’s feet. Spiraling costs meant that high-quality service became less of a competitive advantage as employers were lured by low-cost, low-service providers. Many employers cut or dropped health care benefits entirely, swelling the ranks of the under- and uninsured, who in turn were extremely price-sensitive when shopping for health insurance on their own. Finally, the health care insurance market was being revolutionized by financial institutions willing to hold health benefit accounts and pay providers directly, thereby eliminating the need for Key State as a mediator.

Key State executives were aware of these changes but were challenged by the mindset, culture, and organizational design custom-fit to their business accounts. The case asks the reader to consider whether Key State has the right number of target markets, whether it should have one brand or several for its different target markets, what it should do for the uninsured, and how it should improve its brand experience in light of the industry's changing landscape. All of these decisions will have significant implications for the organizational design of Key State.

Dewar, Robert. 2009. The Schneirocksie Corporation. Case 5-109-005 (KEL414).

Schneirocksie Electric is an asset-focused company that has been a successful manufacturer of high-quality electrical components that transmit, control, and monitor electrical power. Management has long considered sales and marketing’s job as selling what the plants make. However, customer demand indicates that this approach will no longer work; lower-cost competitors are now capable of duplicating Schneirocksie’s products and services. The company must transition to providing and selling solutions to its customers, but doing so will involve the creation of an effective strategic account sales position. The current company structure, compensation system, and culture are significant obstacles to this transition and must also be changed. Finally, the company’s management must learn to focus first on the job its customers are hiring it to do and then redesign itself to do this job.

Dewar, Robert, Jeff Schumacher and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. Career Transfer and Development at UPS. Case 5-105-004 (KEL176).

The case describes the career transfer and development system at UPS, showing incentives and policies that move managers across countries and functions and how this movement develops high quality general managers.

Dewar, Robert. 2011. Northlands Ledger (B): Bringing Customer Focus to a Newspaper. Case 5-111-006(B) (KEL537).

Case (A) describes the situation at the Northlands Ledger, a newspaper on its way out of business due in large part to its publisher and editor’s focus on what they do and want to keep doing rather than on what their customers (readers and advertisers) want. The value proposition to the reader is that ‘we deliver the paper reliably and give you the latest national and international news’. The value proposition to the advertisers is that ‘we print your ads accurately and runs them on time’. Both value propositions are outdated, and, even if they were what the customers wanted—which they are not, neither is executed well. The paper’s key performance indicators—circulation, classified ads and commercial advertising are all in decline despite the fact that the community it serves is growing. The senior management of the Paulus chain that owns this paper has forced the publisher, Allison, to retire and brought another publisher, Potter, in from one of its other papers, The Sun Belt City Star, where Potter was highly successful. However, he cannot simply transfer his success formula from the Star to the Ledger.
Case (B) details his efforts and may be used as a classic example of good change management and leadership practices. Potter established a clear cut set of objectives, formulated a new strategy of responsiveness to readers and advertisers more in line with finding out why they hired the paper in the first place. To implement his new strategy he terminated senior managers and others who he did not feel could contribute to the new paper, and made significant changes in key dimensions of implementation: culture, structure, information and decision support systems, incentives and human resources. Throughout he used a mix of both authoritative and participative change management—a mix that may provoke an interesting class discussion.

Dewar, Robert, Jeff Schumacher and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Case 5-205-251 (KEL177).

The case describes how UPS created UPS Supply Chain Solutions, an entirely new business, with carefully selected target market segments for which unique and extensive value offerings were designed. To build this business UPS made numerous acquisitions and subsequently successfully resolved post-acquisition integration challenges in compensation, information systems, personnel policies, and organizational culture.

Dewar, Robert. 2011. Northlands Ledger (A): Management Style, Strategy, and Performance. Case 5-111-006(A) (KEL536).

Case (A) describes the situation at the Northlands Ledger, a newspaper on its way out of business due in large part to its publisher and editor’s focus on what they do and want to keep doing rather than on what their customers (readers and advertisers) want. The value proposition to the reader is that ‘we deliver the paper reliably and give you the latest national and international news’. The value proposition to the advertisers is that ‘we print your ads accurately and runs them on time’. Both value propositions are outdated, and, even if they were what the customers wanted—which they are not, neither is executed well. The paper’s key performance indicators—circulation, classified ads and commercial advertising are all in decline despite the fact that the community it serves is growing. The senior management of the Paulus chain that owns this paper has forced the publisher, Allison, to retire and brought another publisher, Potter, in from one of its other papers, The Sun Belt City Star, where Potter was highly successful. However, he cannot simply transfer his success formula from the Star to the Ledger.
Case (B) details his efforts and may be used as a classic example of good change management and leadership practices. Potter established a clear cut set of objectives, formulated a new strategy of responsiveness to readers and advertisers more in line with finding out why they hired the paper in the first place. To implement his new strategy he terminated senior managers and others who he did not feel could contribute to the new paper, and made significant changes in key dimensions of implementation: culture, structure, information and decision support systems, incentives and human resources. Throughout he used a mix of both authoritative and participative change management—a mix that may provoke an interesting class discussion.

Dewar, Robert and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. Washington Mutual (A): A Very Old Bank Can Grow – A Lot!. Case 5-304-506 (KEL244).

This case describes the ways in which Washington Mutual preserved and reinforced its brand through two phases of expansion, the first based on acquisition and the second based on organic growth. The Washington Mutual brand is shown to be grounded in a well-designed customer experience. This experience was the result of careful attention by Washington Mutual to hiring policies for its staff, incentives that encouraged entrepreneurship, empowerment of both "store" managers and "sales associates," and a strong culture that valued the community, innovation, fairness in treatment of customers, care for its employees, and high-speed implementation.

Dewar, Robert. 2006. Customer Focus at Neiman Marcus. Case 5-405-750 (KEL145).

This case describes the winning formula at Neiman Marcus that has allowed it to achieve a position as the number one luxury retailer in the United States in terms of sales per square foot and profitability. The case highlights Neiman Marcus’s efforts to define who its customers are and are not, and to achieve superior focus on its customers by aligning location, price, service, and merchandise to fulfill these customers’ every need. The case highlights ways in which Neiman Marcus prevents typical silo behavior between merchandising and selling, and how it ensures that the right merchandise gets to the right customer despite the challenge of doing this in thirty-six micro markets.

Dewar, Robert. 2009. Washington Mutual (B): From Forty-Six to Sixteen. Case 5-304-506(B) (KEL433).

In 2004 Washington Mutual (WaMu) was touted by the business press as one of the most customer-focused, innovative, community-friendly, employee-loyal, and shareholder-enriching retail banks in the United States. Its stock reached $46.18 in May 2006, an almost 60% increase since 2001. CEO Kerry Killinger was lionized. By late 2008, however, WaMu’s stock had plummeted to 16 cents as it became infamous as the largest bank failure in U.S. history. Relying on publicly available published sources, the case documents eroding focus on customers, excessive risks in subprime mortgages, alleged unethical pressure on mortgage officers to approve bad loans, attempts by the CEO to retain his job, and the eventual termination of the CEO, sale of the company to Chase, and destruction of all shareholder value. Whereas the (A) case documents WaMu’s formula for success, the (B) case challenges readers to discover the seeds of destruction in the company’s leadership, culture, incentives, and human resource policies and practices. WaMu’s death contains some hard lessons of the danger of success and pride.

Dewar, Robert. 2010. Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan: A Strategy for Winning in the Market through Customer-Focused Service. Case 5-409-750 (KEL436).

Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan (a disguised case of an actual BCBS Plan) is the merged product of three state plans. Initially burdened with a reputation of poor customer service, Key State’s executives decided to invest heavily in service improvement, eventually achieving superior levels. Key State’s high-quality customer service emerged as a true competitive advantage for its customers, who were primarily businesses and health benefits consultants who influenced corporate purchasers of health insurance. The Key State brand came to be synonymous with personal service, security, choice, and dependability.

But the health care insurance market was changing under Key State’s feet. Spiraling costs meant that high-quality service became less of a competitive advantage as employers were lured by low-cost, low-service providers. Many employers cut or dropped health care benefits entirely, swelling the ranks of the under- and uninsured, who in turn were extremely price-sensitive when shopping for health insurance on their own. Finally, the health care insurance market was being revolutionized by financial institutions willing to hold health benefit accounts and pay providers directly, thereby eliminating the need for Key State as a mediator.

Key State executives were aware of these changes but were challenged by the mindset, culture, and organizational design custom-fit to their business accounts. The case asks the reader to consider whether Key State has the right number of target markets, whether it should have one brand or several for its different target markets, what it should do for the uninsured, and how it should improve its brand experience in light of the industry's changing landscape. All of these decisions will have significant implications for the organizational design of Key State.

Dewar, Robert. 2009. The Schneirocksie Corporation. Case 5-109-005 (KEL414).

Schneirocksie Electric is an asset-focused company that has been a successful manufacturer of high-quality electrical components that transmit, control, and monitor electrical power. Management has long considered sales and marketing’s job as selling what the plants make. However, customer demand indicates that this approach will no longer work; lower-cost competitors are now capable of duplicating Schneirocksie’s products and services. The company must transition to providing and selling solutions to its customers, but doing so will involve the creation of an effective strategic account sales position. The current company structure, compensation system, and culture are significant obstacles to this transition and must also be changed. Finally, the company’s management must learn to focus first on the job its customers are hiring it to do and then redesign itself to do this job.

Dewar, Robert, Jeff Schumacher and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. Career Transfer and Development at UPS. Case 5-105-004 (KEL176).

The case describes the career transfer and development system at UPS, showing incentives and policies that move managers across countries and functions and how this movement develops high quality general managers.

Dewar, Robert. 2011. Northlands Ledger (B): Bringing Customer Focus to a Newspaper. Case 5-111-006(B) (KEL537).

Case (A) describes the situation at the Northlands Ledger, a newspaper on its way out of business due in large part to its publisher and editor’s focus on what they do and want to keep doing rather than on what their customers (readers and advertisers) want. The value proposition to the reader is that ‘we deliver the paper reliably and give you the latest national and international news’. The value proposition to the advertisers is that ‘we print your ads accurately and runs them on time’. Both value propositions are outdated, and, even if they were what the customers wanted—which they are not, neither is executed well. The paper’s key performance indicators—circulation, classified ads and commercial advertising are all in decline despite the fact that the community it serves is growing. The senior management of the Paulus chain that owns this paper has forced the publisher, Allison, to retire and brought another publisher, Potter, in from one of its other papers, The Sun Belt City Star, where Potter was highly successful. However, he cannot simply transfer his success formula from the Star to the Ledger.
Case (B) details his efforts and may be used as a classic example of good change management and leadership practices. Potter established a clear cut set of objectives, formulated a new strategy of responsiveness to readers and advertisers more in line with finding out why they hired the paper in the first place. To implement his new strategy he terminated senior managers and others who he did not feel could contribute to the new paper, and made significant changes in key dimensions of implementation: culture, structure, information and decision support systems, incentives and human resources. Throughout he used a mix of both authoritative and participative change management—a mix that may provoke an interesting class discussion.

Dewar, Robert, Jeff Schumacher and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Case 5-205-251 (KEL177).

The case describes how UPS created UPS Supply Chain Solutions, an entirely new business, with carefully selected target market segments for which unique and extensive value offerings were designed. To build this business UPS made numerous acquisitions and subsequently successfully resolved post-acquisition integration challenges in compensation, information systems, personnel policies, and organizational culture.

Dewar, Robert. 2011. Northlands Ledger (A): Management Style, Strategy, and Performance. Case 5-111-006(A) (KEL536).

Case (A) describes the situation at the Northlands Ledger, a newspaper on its way out of business due in large part to its publisher and editor’s focus on what they do and want to keep doing rather than on what their customers (readers and advertisers) want. The value proposition to the reader is that ‘we deliver the paper reliably and give you the latest national and international news’. The value proposition to the advertisers is that ‘we print your ads accurately and runs them on time’. Both value propositions are outdated, and, even if they were what the customers wanted—which they are not, neither is executed well. The paper’s key performance indicators—circulation, classified ads and commercial advertising are all in decline despite the fact that the community it serves is growing. The senior management of the Paulus chain that owns this paper has forced the publisher, Allison, to retire and brought another publisher, Potter, in from one of its other papers, The Sun Belt City Star, where Potter was highly successful. However, he cannot simply transfer his success formula from the Star to the Ledger.
Case (B) details his efforts and may be used as a classic example of good change management and leadership practices. Potter established a clear cut set of objectives, formulated a new strategy of responsiveness to readers and advertisers more in line with finding out why they hired the paper in the first place. To implement his new strategy he terminated senior managers and others who he did not feel could contribute to the new paper, and made significant changes in key dimensions of implementation: culture, structure, information and decision support systems, incentives and human resources. Throughout he used a mix of both authoritative and participative change management—a mix that may provoke an interesting class discussion.

Dewar, Robert and Hayagreeva Rao. 2006. Washington Mutual (A): A Very Old Bank Can Grow – A Lot!. Case 5-304-506 (KEL244).

This case describes the ways in which Washington Mutual preserved and reinforced its brand through two phases of expansion, the first based on acquisition and the second based on organic growth. The Washington Mutual brand is shown to be grounded in a well-designed customer experience. This experience was the result of careful attention by Washington Mutual to hiring policies for its staff, incentives that encouraged entrepreneurship, empowerment of both "store" managers and "sales associates," and a strong culture that valued the community, innovation, fairness in treatment of customers, care for its employees, and high-speed implementation.

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