Singapore Mass Rapid Transit: Going Off Track
(10 pages of text)
In January 2012, Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) Corporation’s chief executive officer resigned after two major breakdowns on the North-South Line in December 2011. SMRT was a public transport operator in Singapore, with a transportation network that comprised buses, trains and taxis. The two breakdowns were arguably the largest public transportation incidents in Singapore’s history, prompting public outrage and heavy criticism of the CEO’s qualifications and personal style. However, it was uncertain whether she, as CEO, bore primary responsibility for the train breakdowns. To what extent did her gender and unconventional style affect the public’s perception of her effectiveness as a leader? How much did the media influence the public’s perception? Could the train breakdowns have been averted if a CEO with an engineering background or industry-specific experience had been in charge?
This case can be used for class discussion on the topics of leadership, gender-role stereotypes, organizational crises and other management-related areas. The case is recommended for class discussion, group presentations or group debate at the undergraduate, MBA and executive levels. The learning objective of the case is to examine issues related to leadership effectiveness. Specifically, the case focuses on the issues of gender, media management and power bases. How should leaders manage their image in public and in the media? How does gender affect people’s perceptions of a leader’s effectiveness? Should leaders have expert knowledge of the industry in which they operate?
Singapore, Large, 2012
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