Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2009 (Revised September 2011)

Before the Fall: Lehman Brothers 2008

by Clayton S. Rose and Anand Ahuja


This case examines Lehman Brothers in the months preceding its collapse. Following the announcement of a huge and unexpected second quarter loss, the CFO was removed from her post after only seven months in the job. This case explores the challenges faced by a firm leader as she attempts to manage a situation that threatens the firm's survival. In particular, the case allows for an examination of how changes in a firm's performance and position are communicated to key external stakeholders in an effort to retain their confidence, while market conditions worsen, the balance sheet deteriorates, and the firm's credibility is challenged by a short-selling hedge fund.

Keywords: Communication Strategy; Financial Crisis; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Financial Management; Financial Markets; Crisis Management; Trust; Financial Services Industry;


Rose, Clayton S., and Anand Ahuja. "Before the Fall: Lehman Brothers 2008." Harvard Business School Case 309-093, April 2009. (Revised September 2011.)