Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2011

Founder-CEO Succession at Acer

by Noam T. Wasserman, Michael Shih-ta Chen and Keith Chi-ho Wong


Stan Shih, founder-CEO of Acer, Inc., had proactively chosen and transitioned the "perfect" successor as CEO, but was now faced with major problems. Over the last two years, his heir apparent, Leonard Liu, had made the changes he had been hired to make, including revamping the organization structure and instilling a new corporate culture that emphasized accountability. However, such changes had caused numerous clashes between him and other cofounders of the company, in particular, Shih's wife, Carolyn. Liu had now suggested that "Carolyn should retire into her kitchen." Faced with office infighting and increasing clashes between the markedly different Western and Chinese styles of management, Shih needed Liu to manage the increasing complexity of global competition. However, Shih was now wondering if he had made the right decision to appoint Liu as his successor.

Keywords: Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Management Style; Management Succession; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Organizational Structure; Conflict Management;


Wasserman, Noam T., Michael Shih-ta Chen, and Keith Chi-ho Wong. "Founder-CEO Succession at Acer." Harvard Business School Case 811-062, January 2011.