Corporate Culture: Harley Davidson the SWOT Analysis Thesis

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Corporate Culture: Harley Davidson

The SWOT analysis has long been a tool that is used to determine how well a company is performing, what it might need to change in the future in order to continue to grow and be profitable, and whether it should or should not be concerned about specific issues and ideas, both internal and external, that might affect it at a later point in time. That's why it's so very important for determining the corporate culture of a company like Harley Davidson. This type of analysis examines the Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats that a company is encountering so that decisions can be made as to how to expand on the first two and minimize the last two, respectively. Usually, a SWOT analysis provides all of the information that is needed for a company to think about these things and work on long-term and short-term goals, which is very important in today's rapidly changing and growing society.

Presented here is the SWOT analysis for Harley Davidson and a discussion of corporate culture. Once these things have been examined the remainder of the paper will address issues that this company might have and in an effort to determine its true strengths and weaknesses as well as where it is going in the future. Even large companies are not safe from competitors, weaknesses, poor market share, and other problems. Good examples of this would be automakers, airlines, and other large companies that have filed for bankruptcy, laid off workers, and encountered many other problems in recent years. Unlike small businesses, most of these larger businesses are able to regroup, restructure, and continue operating, but this does not mean that the problems they encounter are not hurtful to them in many ways.

This is unfortunate and harms not only their profits but the profits of their shareholders as well. Performing a SWOT analysis and then acting on what is seen there can help to avoid serious problems. It can also show a company what kind of corporate culture it has and what can be done to make that culture even better and improve upon it. The corporate culture of any large company affects so many things in that company, and when the employees -- especially those high up in the rankings -- do not realize that, the company can suffer over something that could have been very easily fixed.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Strong involvement from the employees.

A continuous desire to improve the company in every way.

Management closely watches company operations.

Weaknesses

Too much focus on a product line unaffordable to many people.

Generally only a U.S. customer base and following.

No clear differentiation of the target market.

Internal struggles with the corporate culture of the company.

Opportunities

Strong innovation in the motorcycle industry.

More demand for motorcycles in developing countries.

Improving economy means more people can afford their products.

Threats

Japanese motorcycle companies.

Companies in other world areas can produce products more cheaply.

Inability to be adaptable to what customers need as attitudes change.

Corporate Culture

The culture of the Harley Davidson company is one that has been changing in recent years, but it has not yet changed enough to really help the company move forward. Some changes were seen when Harley began to make motorcycles that were sportier and designed for a younger crowd, but these did not really catch on the way that was hoped. They were not comparable enough to the sport bikes that the Japanese makers offer, and they still cost more than their foreign counterparts, stopping a lot of people from wanting to purchase them. The corporate culture of Harley Davidson is such that the company operates under the assumption that staying the same is what customers want. When a company stays the same for too long, it can become stale and it is harder at that point to change the corporate culture.

Playing office politics does not sound like something that would be necessary from a motorcycle company, but any large company requires a certain level of politics within their corporate culture.

While it is unfortunate that this takes place, Harley Davidson is not an exception just because of what the company manufactures. People who feel as though a large company is immune because of its product line will often find out that they are mistaken once they get a better understanding of the internal workings of the company. Every company is different, but yet in many ways they are all the same, and the corporate culture of Harley Davidson has long been one where men manufacture cruising-style motorcycles for other men and where they do not want to make changes.

They fear that making changes will cause them to lose the customer base that they already have, and that there are no guarantees that they will be able to acquire new customers who like the changes because their motorcycles are still traditionally more expensive and not as sleek as the Japanese-made sport bikes. That fear is certainly not unfounded, but yet the company must be realistic in the fact that its sales are slipping and that something needs to be done in order to improve those sales, before they slide any further. Bickering and arguing about which direction to take has become part of the corporate culture at Harley Davidson, and it is time that is changed so that the company can start moving forward again with products that will please the older crowd and products that will also please the younger generation and create a newer, more modern opinion of the company as a whole.

Analysis of SWOT and Corporate Culture

Financially, Harley Davidson is not doing as well as it could in the market. For a while persistent quality problems plagued their bikes. Even once this was resolved, there have been market-share problems appearing. Profits for Harley Davidson are continuing to rise, but most of the people who ride Harleys are getting older, and the younger generation clearly prefers the Japanese-made motorcycles. The other problem for Harley Davidson is that the economy is not doing well now, and Harleys are mainly viewed as 'toys' for the upper-middle class. The lack of disposable income in conjunction with the high price of Harley Davidson motorcycles as compared with Japanese models is putting a crimp on the number of Harleys that are being sold in the U.S. today.

The goal of Harley Davidson in the near future is to increase its market share. Right now the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have cornered the market on the sleeker, faster bikes, and Harley Davidson is trying to get a piece of that pie. New models, geared toward a younger crowd, have been developed, but they are not selling as well as expected, and are still higher priced than their Japanese competitors.

As for the longer-term goal of Harley Davidson and its corporate culture, it is the use of it to help create a larger customer base and increase the production of their motorcycles.

They also expect it to cut costs from both production and inventory. Even though the technology is out there for the dealers and the customers, only one-tenth of dealers are taking advantage of it, which is not helping Harley Davidson to meet its long-range goals.

Among the challenges that Harley Davidson must face in the future is the Japanese market, and it is most likely the largest of the challenges for the company. Younger riders are buying the cheaper, sleeker Japanese bikes much more than they are buying Harleys. Without getting the younger generation interested in Harley Davidson, the rider base they have now will fade away as the riders get older and eventually give up their motorcycles. They also risk losing their current customers if they make too many changes to their bikes. This is preventing them from making changes that would appeal to younger riders.

In researching the organization, it is easy to see that Harley Davidson's main challenge with its corporate culture is getting younger riders to take an interest in the large cruising bikes they offer. If this cannot be accomplished, they will have to make enough modifications to their existing bikes that younger riders will like them as well as they like the Japanese models. The problem with this is the resistance within the company and from the older crowd of Harley Davidson owners. Older Harley Davidson riders, as well as company executives, are very concerned about what would happen to Harley Davidson if they change the way their bikes look and sound. The cruising style and loud roar have always been associated with Harleys, and if these things are changed, Harley Davidson could easily get swept under the mat as being 'like all the rest, only more expensive'.

While Harley Davidson wrestles with internal issues in the form of stubborn executives, and external issues in the form of threatening customers and heavy competition, the economy is also causing them some problems. A decline in the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Corporate Culture: Harley Davidson the SWOT Analysis."  Essaytown.com.  August 7, 2009.  Accessed January 18, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/corporate-culture-harley-davidson/8684800.