Author: Theroux, John
Source: Harvard Business School
Company Name: Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream, Inc.
Number of pages: 25
Ben & Jerry's is an anti-establishment, values-driven company that has become a successful venture. The dominant founder, Ben Cohen, is not an effective manager, but he brings creative marketing and product skills that have been important to the company's success. He also is controlling shareholder and the force behind the company's socially-minded culture. One of the many policies that have reflected Ben's values but which has created difficulty in managing the organization is the 5 to 1 compensation differential between the top and the bottom of the organization. Up to mid 1990, the company was operating in an explosive growth business with relatively weak competitors; this has changed by the time of the case in September 1990. The case opens as Chuck Lacy is taking over as president. He needs to decide what to do about the 5 to 1 rule and the related issues of Ben's role, and the value of the company's counterculture style. Students must consider the difficulty and importance of the general manager's responsibility in reconciling company values with commercial imperatives and to consider the effect of compensation policy on morale and organizational effectiveness.