Business TrackAuthentic Leadership

Monday, October 8, 2018
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Grand Pacific Ballroom


Case Study: Jean-Claude Biver: The Reemergence of the Swiss Watch Industry


In the early 1980s, the Swiss watch industry was near collapse after failing to adapt to Japanese competition from battery-powered quartz technology. In 1982, Jean-Claude Biver purchased Blancpain, a watch company that had been out of business since 1961 but had once made mechanical watches, for $16,000. After successfully reviving Blancpain, Biver sold the company to Nicolas G. Hayek (Chairman of the Swatch Group) for $43 million a decade later. Hayek agreed to have Biver stay on and gave him responsibility to revive the once venerable, but ailing, watch company Omega. Between 1995 and 1999, Biver led another turnaround effort that increased Omega's revenues from $350 million to $900 million. While it was presumed across the industry that Biver would be the next CEO of Swatch Group, in early 2000 Biver began to sense that he may not receive the top position when Hayek retired. At the end of the case, Biver must decide whether he should leave the Swatch Group and retire himself, or possibly start over yet again and take the reins of a small but struggling watch company, Hublot.



Managing Director, Executive Development

Harvard Business School



David Ager is Senior Fellow within Executive Education at Harvard Business School. Professor Ager's research focuses on the leadership and organizational challenges that firms face as they conduct post-acquisition integration. He recently published a paper entitled "The Emotional Impact and Behavioral Consequences of Post-M&A Integration," which considers the complexities of post-merger integration and demonstrates how social identity, emotions, and coping strategies both motivate and constrain human behavior, leading to perverse unintended consequences that directly impact individual and organization-level goals of integration.