Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2012 (Revised November 2015)

The National Geographic Society (A) (Abridged)

by David A. Garvin and Annelena Lobb


In January 2010, John Fahey, president, CEO, and chairman of the board of trustees' executive committee of the Washington, D.C.–based National Geographic Society (NGS), must decide how best to organize the 121-year old mission-driven organization for a world of accelerating digital convergence and decreasing magazine sales. Historically a proponent of evolutionary change, he is considering a radical move: creating a senior management position responsible for e-commerce to coordinate web-based offerings and outreach across the Society's various departments, transition NGS from its many disparate and independent direct mail efforts to a more integrated and strategic e-commerce strategy, and leverage the NGS relationship with its members—currently defined as magazine subscribers, since a subscription comes with Society membership. Putting the final touches on the position and its reporting arrangements has led to significant debate within the organization, and Fahey is torn about how to proceed.

Keywords: general management; change management; media and publishing; digital convergence; strategy development; business models; organizational structure; Information Publishing; Online Technology; Business Model; Organizational Structure; Business Strategy; Publishing Industry;


Garvin, David A., and Annelena Lobb. "The National Geographic Society (A) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 312-120, May 2012. (Revised November 2015.)