Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2001 (Revised December 2007)

Katharine Graham

by Kathleen L. McGinn, Lisa M. Gunther and Dina R. Pradel


Details the career of Katharine Graham of the Washington Post Co., a pioneer in her field and one of the first high-profile women to lead a major public company. Her story is a unique example of how power and expertise are built over time, and differs from those of other business leaders in that she was unexpectedly thrust into a leadership position. Though Graham could have been a figurehead leader of the Washington Post Co., she gradually became a powerful national player: a publisher and CEO in more than title. Graham's strong values impel many of her decisions throughout the course of her career and help her through times of uncertainty. Her values are a stark contrast to strictly data-based decision making. Explores Graham's ability to master the newspaper business and succeed in a man's world. Additionally, Graham's unique ability to adapt her influence style in different social and career networks is also explored, as the distinction between Graham's employees, mentors, and friends is often blurred.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Values and Beliefs; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Power and Influence; Social and Collaborative Networks; Journalism and News Industry;


McGinn, Kathleen L., Lisa M. Gunther, and Dina R. Pradel. "Katharine Graham." Harvard Business School Case 801-276, March 2001. (Revised December 2007.)