Remaking JC Penney’s Organizational Culture

Remaking JC Penney’s Organizational Culture

Appreciate the importance of HR/organizational culture in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees

This case is about the initiatives taken by the top management of department store chain JC Penney (JCP), under the leadership of Mike Ullman (Ullman), to remake its century-old organizational culture. The initiatives were taken just after JCP had achieved a remarkable turnaround in the mid 2000s. After taking charge as the CEO and chairman of JCP in December 2004, Ullman realized that the existing culture at JCP was too formal and was contributing to employee turnover and inability of the company to attract enough talent. He also felt that the culture and mood prevalent at JCP was not conducive to the achievement of the aggressive growth objectives set by the company. To inspire the employees and project JCP as a great place to work in, Ullman and his team initiated various symbolic changes. They followed up these symbolic changes with various training and development initiatives.                                                                      

Within two years of starting the culture change initiatives, results pertaining to job satisfaction, attracting talent, and the bottom line were visible. Analysts were of the view that the focus of culture change initiatives have changed as companies were focusing on culture change that would result in a competitive advantage rather than wait for the situation to worsen and then bring about such changes.


  1. Appreciate the importance of HR/organizational culture in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees

  2. Understand the importance of organizational culture in creating a competitive advantage

  3. Understand the issues and challenges faced by JCP in changing a more-than-100 years-old culture

  4. Understand the role of top managers in setting the culture of an organization

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