Gentleman's Furniture Role-Play

3 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2009

See all articles by Ryan W. Quinn

Ryan W. Quinn

affiliation not provided to SSRN


Managers trying to execute strategic change often struggle when their strategic initiatives encounter their organization's culture. Being aware of an organization's culture—the generally unquestioned, shared assumptions people have about "how things should be done around here”—is an ever-present challenge for leaders, to say nothing of trying to change that culture. This fictional role-play case was designed to help students build expertise in understanding fundamentals of organizational culture, strategy development, and change management, group process in a top management team, and negotiation. Grounded in the pedagogy of experiential learning, this case consists of six roles in a single role-play exercise scenario that exemplifies a challenging management situation. Individuals are faced with differences in perspectives and goals, and students must address those differences in order to develop a productive strategy and culture for the organization.




Gentleman's Furniture was a family-run firm stretching across three generations, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. For more than 68 years, the company sold wood-based furniture that was designed primarily for home use. With 56 product lines, 17 of which were considered classic brands, the furniture had sold reliably year after year until recently. Gentleman's sold its products in the United States (with minor market penetration in Canada and Mexico) through wholesalers, mass merchandisers, Internet retailers, and specialty stores. Phillip Gentleman is the current chief executive officer (CEO) and board chair.

Phillip's grandfather, Austin Gentleman, started the firm and made it a regional success in the Midwest. Austin Gentleman instilled a tradition of classic, comfortable and functional furniture that still sells well today.

. . .

Keywords: UVA-OB-0928 corporate culture organizational development unintended consequences group process innovation negotiation strategy leadership change HR

Suggested Citation

Quinn, Ryan W., Gentleman's Furniture Role-Play. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0928. Available at SSRN:

Ryan W. Quinn (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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