Ivey Publishing
U-Haul: Reputation Management
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15 pages (11 pages of text)
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Case (Field)
In 2014, U-Haul International Ltd. (U-Haul) was the biggest North American company in do-it-yourself moving and storage. A publicly-traded but family-controlled firm, U-Haul's corporate performance was very strong. However, the company continued to be plagued by reputation-related challenges stemming from long-ago family feuds that had been made public. Just when the feuds were settling, the company’s executive vice-president learned that a television series planned to air an episode profiling the murder of a member of the family. The murder took place in 1990, and the killer was arrested, but the case was controversial. Such a program detailing the murder might create new challenges for U-Haul's reputation. How should the company respond to this planned television episode? How much of the past still affected U-Haul’s reputation, and how much of the reputation still affected U-Haul's relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and investors? Should the company hope the renewed attention would blow over or should it set out to influence its public relationships?
Learning Objective:
This case can be used in courses on strategic management, family business, or entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It explores the effect of reputation on a company’s stakeholders and financial performance and considers the dynamics of publicly-traded, family-controlled businesses. The case also provides an opportunity for a nuanced view of strategy formulation and implementation that includes reputation management and explores the nature of reputation as a critical, intangible asset for the firm. The case is best used by students who are familiar with the fundamentals of strategic analyses. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
  • Achieve a more nuanced view of the nature of corporate reputation, including the idea that a company can have different reputations with different audiences
  • Arrive at a deeper understanding of the importance of corporate reputation by exploring its impact on a company’s stakeholders (e.g., employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, local communities) and its financial performance
  • Develop appreciation for the role of reputation management as part of a company’s strategy formulation
  • Further understand dynamics that may be particular to family-owned and controlled businesses
General Management/Strategy
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United States, Large, 2014
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