Dow Chemical Polyolefins and Elastomers R&D: Sustaining High Performance

18 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Alexander Horniman

Alexander Horniman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Tom Cross

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This case is about the highest performing R&D department in the chemical industry. It illustrates how a 650-person group was transformed from a low performing department in a poor performing business about to be sold off to the highest performing technical group in Dow Chemical. It is a superb example of sophisticated change management. The case sets up the question of what next? How can Dow Chemical continue the high performance of this critical group with the possible retirement and promotion of the leaders who made this transformation happen?

Excerpt

UVA-OB-0813

Dow Chemical Polyolefins and Elastomers R&D:

Sustaining High Performance

Dow Chemical Polyolefins and Elastomers (PO&E) had been extremely successful over the past 12 years. Once considered a candidate for divesture, PO&E now set the standard of excellence for new product innovation, having launched an average of one new product line each year, with 10 of the 11 launches being successful. New products were now developed five times faster than they were prior to 1991.

It was the fall of 2003 and Kurt Swogger, vice president of PO&E R&D since 1991, had just been notified that his team had won the Product Development & Management Association's Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award. Last year, Kurt had been awarded the American Chemical Society Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management. Five new products (INSITE* technology polymers, ELITE*enhanced polyethylene resins, INDEX*INTERPOLYMERS, INSPIRE*performance polymers, and DOW XLA* elastic fibers) had received R&D 100 awards by R&D Magazine. Kurt was extremely proud of what his team had accomplished and the recognition they had received. Kurt was highly regarded in Dow Chemical and was one of Dow's top 25 executives:

“Kurt Swogger is clearly an inspired and inspiring promoter of the chemical sciences inside and outside of Dow,” said Rick Gross, corporate vice president of research and development for the Dow Chemical Company. “He turned the phrase, ‘speed to market,' from a nice philosophy into a way of life. We are privileged to have an individual with his ability, intellect, and leadership skills working here at Dow.”

. . .

Keywords: crisis management, communication process, corporate strategy, leadership, public relations/publicity, strategic formulation

Suggested Citation

Horniman, Alexander and Cross, Tom, Dow Chemical Polyolefins and Elastomers R&D: Sustaining High Performance. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0813, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=911125

Alexander Horniman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/direc_detail.aspx?styleid=2&id=4329

Tom Cross (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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