Semco: the intriguing anti-corporate company

Business & entrepreneurship, Career, MBA topics

To lighten up my recent spate of posts, I wanted to share a case study about Semco, a Brazilian manufacturing company. Its story is actually not new, and the founder’s son, Richard Semler, wrote a book entitled Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace over a decade ago.

In many ways, Semco represents what many might consider an “ideal” working environment: transparent salaries, a completely flat or non-existent management structure, autonomous working groups, democratic decision-making, etc. Sound a bit anti-capitalistic? Probably the most surprising thing of all is that these radical-sounding ideas have made the company very successful by almost any measure you can choose.

Perhaps part of this is helped somewhat by certain Brazilian employment laws, but I’m sure Semco’s approach could still be easily adapted to other countries. The curious thing is, why aren’t there more examples of companies that run anything like this?

Sadly, we didn’t cover this case in our organizational behavior class when I was at school, but I (originally posted free-of-charge ) that’s worth reading or maybe even sharing with others at work. Who knows, maybe someone else out there might be willing to give Semco’s ideas a try!


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