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Leadership challenges at Fritz Publishing

Linda Ronnie (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)

Publication date: 24 July 2017


Subject area

Human Resource Management

Study level/applicability

Postgraduate business students, particularly MBA students.

Case overview

This case examines the working environment of Fritz Publishing, a small independent South African publishing company. Fritz Publishing was established in 1960 by Nick Fritz. After his retirement, ownership passed to his son, Martin. In 2011, Martin Fritz decided to sell the company to the Prys Group, an international publishing house headquartered in Germany. February 2011 saw the arrival of a newly appointed CEO for Fritz Publishing, Vadim Arshavin, who had already experienced excellent financial results as the head of another publishing house. In the wake of his arrival, the company experienced several changes. The case highlights the challenges at Fritz Publishing that have resulted in a growing sense of dissatisfaction. After Martin Fritz sold Fritz Publishing, the organisational culture shifted quite drastically which created challenges for managers, employees and customers alike. Employees, including some members of management, are de-motivated, disengaged and frustrated because of the leadership style and behaviour of the new CEO Vadim Arshavin and consider their psychological contracts to have been breached. The case explores factors that have helped create this situation. It considers challenges to the sustainability of the organisation given recent events including an internal employee engagement survey and feedback from key customers. The case further examines the potential dangers that toxic leadership creates within organisations and encourages discussion on ways this form of destructive leadership can be handled.

Expected learning outcomes

The learning objectives to be drawn from the case are: to assess the impact of leadership on organisational culture; to analyse how leadership impacts the psychological contract; to identify the cross-cultural factors at play in an emerging market organisation and to understand the way a toxic leadership style can detrimentally affect a high-performance workplace. In addition, there are further learning objectives that can be explored. These are: to examine the change process and associated challenges with the introduction of new leadership into a family-type organisational culture; to understand how breach can be avoided and/or how the psychological contract can be reconstructed.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 6: Human Resource Management.



Ronnie, L. (2017), "Leadership challenges at Fritz Publishing", , Vol. 7 No. 3.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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