Nokia: The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of a Technology Giant

Published 26 Sep 2016
Reference 6160
Region Global
Length 14 page(s)
Language English

The case examines the downward spiral of Nokia, the mobile technology giant that once conquered the world, seen from the perspective of ‘insiders’ – based on interviews with Nokia executives at top and middle management level. They describe the emotional undercurrents of the innovation process that caused temporal myopia – an excessive focus on short-term innovation at the expense of longer-term more beneficial activities. Nokia’s once-stellar performance was undermined by misaligned collective fear: top managers were afraid of competition from rival products, while middle managers were afraid of their bosses and even their peers. It was their reluctance to share negative information with top managers – who thus remained overly optimistic about the organisation’s capabilities – that generated inaccurate feedback and poorly adapted organizational responses that led to the company’s downfall. The case covers the period from the early 2000s to 2010, with a focus on 2007 (the introduction of the iPhone) to 2010, when the CEO left.

Read a related Knowledge article "Who Killed Nokia? Nokia Did" by Quy Huy.

Teaching objectives

After reading and analysing the case, students will understand (i) how emotional dynamics influence hard technological and strategic decisions in organizations as they translate into challenges for innovation, (ii) how emotional dynamics can undermine innovation and performance.

  • Emotion
  • Attention
  • Innovation
  • Top and middle management
  • Strategy
  • Cognition
  • iPhone
  • Nokia
  • Smartphone
  • Mobile phone
  • Radical change
  • Fear
  • Strategic agility
  • Temporal myopia
  • Q11617