Featured case: ‘Smart Vehicles in a Smart World’:
Can Ford’s New Strategy Help it Fight Disruption?

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The case

Who – the protagonist

James P. Hackett, Ford Motor Company CEO.


Ford is one of the largest automakers in the world, producing six million vehicles alone in 2018.


Hackett, along with some senior executives, came up with a new strategy for Ford called 'Designing Smart Vehicles in a Smart World'. The strategy was designed to narrow down the challenges and make the automaker more competitive.

As part of the new strategy, Hackett streamlined production, cut costs, shifted the product portfolio from passenger cars to SUVs, invested in Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), and planned to launch purer electric vehicles (EVs).


Ford is an American company but it sells vehicles across the world.


Ford had been struggling since 2014 with customer tastes changing, costs rising, and new competition offering more contemporary products.

It was in October 2017 in New York when Hackett addressed investors about plans to go down the autonomous and electric route.

Key quote

“I get up every day feeling like time can be wasted here if we don’t get moving. I feel a real sense of urgency.” – James P. Hackett, Ford Motor Company CEO, addressing investors.

What next?

As Hackett was preparing Ford to wage an all-out battle against high-tech, innovative disruption, analysts wondered: Could Hackett keep the iconic carmaker relevant in a fast-changing automotive landscape? Could Ford be successful in its fight against high-tech, innovative disruption in the auto industry? What could the company do to maintain its short-term profitability while investing in future EVs and self-driving cars?

Interested in finding out more?

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'Smart Vehicles in a Smart World’: Can Ford’s New Strategy Help it Fight Disruption?
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Teaching note
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The authors


Syeda Maseeha Qumer and Geeta Singh

Syeda discusses the need for students to learn about disruption in a smart world, and her preference of producing published sources cases.

Managing disruption

Managing disruptionSyeda said: “We chose to develop this case to highlight the rise of disruptive technologies in the auto industry, and how managers are dealing with the consequences of being disrupted and are adapting to disruption.

“Ford, an iconic company with a legacy spanning more than a century, was waging a battle against disruptive innovation and trying to stay relevant in a fast-changing automotive landscape.

“Through this case, students can learn how to adapt to disruption in a smart world. This can be challenging for future managers as there are many factors, both within a company and in the external environment, that can have a disruptive effect on a business.”

Relating to the subject

Syeda continued: “We observed great enthusiasm among students to learn and explore emerging technologies such as autonomous and electrical vehicles, as they are the future of transportation and a real game changer in the auto and other related sectors.

“While students easily relate to such topics, they are also learning many lessons about energy conservation, environmental pollution and climate change. In addition, such areas have practical implications for students as they may get an opportunity to work in these fields in the future.”

Greater flexibility

She added: “Writing a case from published sources allows independence and objectivity, without any degree of bias. Moreover, we feel that producing a case from published sources allows for greater flexibility on the content and the design of the case to focus on the learning outcomes.”

Where to improveWhere to improve

Syeda concluded: “Although in its current form the case looks ideal for classroom discussion, we would have appreciated a deeper focus on competitor analysis, and supplemented Ford’s comparison with other players in the industry, particularly those with innovative core technologies, so as to guide students to think about the importance of innovation for manufacturing enterprises.”

About the authors

Syeda Maseeha Qumer is an Adjunct Research Faculty at IBS Case Research Center.

Geeta Singh is a Research Scholar at IBS Business School.


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