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Alison Bourne: leading at Bergmann engineering works (SA)

Linda Ronnie (School of Management Studies, University of Cape Town , Cape Town, South Africa)
Sarah Boyd (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town , Cape Town, South Africa)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 4 November 2019


Learning outcomes

The learning objectives to be drawn from the case are to evaluate the various biases that women face in organisational life, understand the challenges facing women at all organisational levels, understand the importance of adopting a proactive approach to change perceptions and discriminatory behaviours and processes and appreciate the role that an inclusive culture within an organisation can play in advancing and championing women’s progression to senior management roles.

Case overview/synopsis

The case highlights the challenges facing women in leadership positions in emerging economies and societies in transition like South Africa and explores the role that gender plays in the world of work. It focuses on the dilemmas faced by Alison Bourne, newly promoted to the CEO role at Bergmann Engineering Works (SA).The case shows that, despite the positive contribution resulting from the inclusion of women in organisations, women experience a multitude of obstacles. Some of the limitations highlight that women must work even harder to be perceived as legitimate leaders. These challenges come about despite research showing that the inclusion of women in the workforce improves company performance, enriches the knowledge base and improves the decision-making quality of company boards.

Complexity academic level

Postgraduate business students at the master’s level.

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



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognisable information to protect confidentiality.


Ronnie, L. and Boyd, S. (2019), "Alison Bourne: leading at Bergmann engineering works (SA)", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 9 No. 3.



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