Published 01 Jul 2003
Reference 5118
Topic Strategy
Region Europe
Length 23 page(s)
Language English

GSI is a computer services company, the leader in payroll outsourcing in France. The company founder sees the value in selling computer services to create a recurring revenue stream. His years in the French public administration prompt him to create a decentralized and non-bureaucratic company, taking to an extreme the values of empowerment, trust and respect for the individual. Success in the 1970s and 1980s allows the company to grow by acquisition, resulting in a multi-business company with pan-European reach. The founder’s ideals play a large part in achieving an employee leveraged buyout in 1987, resulting in much sought-after independence from the large French conglomerate that had given GSI its start. By the early 1990s, several factors pressure results. An economic downturn crimps sales. Huge outlays to develop software and implement a quality program pressure profitability. The plethora of business units, with totally different business models becomes unwieldy. Impatient and angered financial investors from the 1987 leveraged buyout distract top management with petitions to exit. The management team becomes increasingly dysfunctional. At the end of 1994, the founder and Chairman respond abruptly by firing half of his top managers. The Abridged version can be used as an introduction to the ADP-GSI case series on M and A.

Teaching objectives

1. Understand trade-offs in leadership style based on decentralization and empowerment. 2. Identify limits to growth in scope and geographies. 3. Evaluate positive and negative impact of LBOs.

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Computer services
  • Leadership
  • Growth
  • Empowerment