Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2013

Bridgewater Associates

by Jeffrey T. Polzer and Heidi K. Gardner

Abstract

Bridgewater Associates was the world's largest hedge fund with approximately $120 billion in assets under management in mid-2012, and its leaders attribute its record-beating performance to the firm's culture of "radical transparency." The founder, Ray Dalio, was instrumental in developing this unique culture, but at the time of the case he was transitioning out of the firm's leadership and attempting to institutionalize the culture. For example, Dalio codified his personal and management principles in a 123-page document that was not only mandatory reading for all employees, but also formed the basis for nightly "homework" assignments that quizzed people on their understanding of the principles. The case offers the opportunity to explore the unusual practices that underpin Bridgewater's culture (e.g., videotaping meetings, publicizing every employee's performance review, interrupting investment meetings to provide personal feedback to individuals in front of dozens of colleagues). Class discussion prompts students to critically examine whether, how and to what extent the practices foster high performance and to debate their associated tradeoffs.

Keywords: Management Style; Motivation and Incentives; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Culture; Performance; Leadership Style; Investment; Financial Services Industry;

Citation:

Polzer, Jeffrey T., and Heidi K. Gardner. "Bridgewater Associates." Harvard Business School Video Case 413-702, May 2013.