Skip to main content
About HEC About HEC Faculty & Research Faculty & Research Master’s programs Master’s programs MBA Programs MBA Programs PhD Program PhD Program Executive Education Executive Education Summer School Summer School HEC Online HEC Online About HEC Overview Overview Who
We Are Who
We Are
Egalité des chances Egalité des chances HEC Talents HEC Talents International International Campus
Life Campus
Sustainability Sustainability Diversity
& Inclusion Diversity
& Inclusion
Stories Stories The HEC
Foundation The HEC
Coronavirus Coronavirus
Faculty & Research Overview Overview Faculty Directory Faculty Directory Departments Departments Centers Centers Chairs Chairs Knowledge@HEC Knowledge@HEC Master’s programs Master in
Management Master in
Programs Master's
Double Degree
Programs Double Degree
Programs Summer
students Exchange
Life Student
MBA Programs MBA MBA Executive MBA Executive MBA TRIUM EMBA TRIUM EMBA PhD Program Overview Overview HEC Difference HEC Difference Program details Program details Research areas Research areas HEC Community HEC Community Placement Placement Job Market Job Market Admissions Admissions Financing Financing Executive Education Executive Masters Executive Masters Executive Certificates Executive Certificates Executive short programs Executive short programs Online Online Companies Companies Executive MBA Executive MBA Infinity Pass Infinity Pass Summer School Youth Programs Youth Programs Summer programs Summer programs HEC Online Overview Overview Degree Program Degree Program Executive certificates Executive certificates MOOCs MOOCs Summer Programs Summer Programs Youth programs Youth programs


Best Buy Case: How Does Purposeful Leadership Impact Performance?

Published on:
3 minutes

The case study “Purposeful Leadership at Best Buy” written by Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris Professor of Strategy and holder of the Joly Family Purposeful Leadership Chair, has just been released on the Case Centre platform. This case study aims to better understand the characteristics of “Purposeful Leadership” and to identify the conditions of success to impact positively the performance of a company.

best buy montain view - adobe stock

Best Buy shop in Mountain View, California. ©Sundry Photography on Adobe Stock

Best Buy, American multinational consumer electronics retailer, was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2012. In contrast, the aggressive online retailer Amazon did not have the expenses associated with brick-and-mortar stores and less overhead. However, Best Buy was able to fend off Amazon successfully. To do so, Best Buy’s CEO, Hubert Joly introduced ‘purposeful leadership’ at the company and in the process, it strived to become an omnichannel retailer. 


A company’s purpose must contribute to the common good. This philosophy has profound implications on how leaders should lead, their role as a leader and who they serve. - Hubert Joly, Best Buy’s CEO


In Joly’s own words on Purposeful Leadership: “I believe that a company is a human organization where individuals collaborate on a project, and that linking the search for meaning of a company’s team members with the purpose of the company is a key priority for the said company and the individuals who work there. Finally, I am convinced that a company’s purpose must contribute to the common good. This philosophy has profound implications on how leaders should lead, their role as a leader and who they serve.” Infusing the organization with purpose also means shifting the perspectives on employees and values. In fact, Purposeful Leadership was pivotal in the turnaround of the company.

Why this case?

The case introduces the principles of Purposerful Leadership and differentiates it from a mission statement. It deepens the reflection on how to translate purpose into actions and how to articulate it with corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices but also with traditional corporate goals (e.g. shareholders’ profit maximization). Traditional tools of management need to be rethought to align the organization with the purpose it intends to pursue. 

A shift of mindset

The case also offers the opportunity to reflect critically on the conditions of success of a turnaround. What are the mechanisms by which purpose may or may not impact performance? Therefore, the case talks to experienced students, who may have known turnarounds and restructuring processes and are in the best position to conduct this analysis. 


What are the mechanisms by which purpose may or may not impact performance?


Both CEOs and lower-rank managers have to overcome organizational resistance or avoid triggering defiance when they can. They have to set the organization into motion while ensuring that Purposeful Leadership is not misinterpreted. For Best Buy, they had to do so, despite the company losing so much money. Leaders at Best Buy had very narrow margins of maneuver and needed to balance short-term survival with long-term prospects. While the actions taken may seem natural, many of them were actually very bold and artful (e.g. resisting the pressure of shareholders) and infused with Joly’s unrelentless optimism.


Find the case and the teaching note. Learn more about the Agreement between HEC Paris and Hubert Joly to Create Purposeful Leadership Chair in this HEC article. Professor Rodolphe Durand was awarded the Outstanding New Case Writer prize by the Case Centre in 2022

Related content on Leadership


Addressing “S” Demands of ESG: What Role the Board Can (and Should) Play

By Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot

Marieke Huysentruyt thumbnail
Social Innovation

Spotlight on the Social Dimension Measurement in ESG

By Marieke Huysentruyt, Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot, Leandro Nardi, Bruce Thomson

Subscribe button for Knowledhe@HEC newsletter

Newsletter knowledge

A monthly brief in your email box and 3 issues of the book per year.

follow us

Insights @HECParis School of #Management

Follow Us

Support Research

Our articles are produced thanks to our reader's support