Suzanne De Passe Case Study

Case | HBS Case Collection | August 1996 (Revised October 1996)

Suzanne de Passe at Motown Productions (A1)

by Linda A. Hill and Jaan Elias


Illustrates: 1) the impact of a manager's leadership style on corporate culture, direction, and performance; 2) the concept of fit between leadership style and the requirements of situations in which managers find themselves; and 3) the need for managers to adapt their styles as situational requirements change. More specifically, it provides an opportunity to look at some of the special issues of: 1) being a black woman manager; 2) the advantages and disadvantages associated with a "family corporate culture"; and 3) managing in a creative business. Does not substantially differ from the (A) case, but it does emphasize more strongly Suzanne de Passe's success. Students have misunderstood the standards of the entertainment industry, and this case makes Motown's accomplishments clearer.

Keywords: Management Style; Race; Organizational Culture; Success; Leadership Style; Gender; Management Teams; Change Management; Situation or Environment; Creativity; Relationships; Music Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

She subsequently became President of Motown Productions, her first production as an Executive Producer/writer was the multiple award winning NBC special Motown 25: Yesterday Today Forever garnering her first Emmy Award.  At present Suzanne is Co-Chairman of de Passe Jones Entertainment with her business partner Madison Jones. Her latest projects include a new television series for VH-1 entitled Daytime Divas starring Vanessa Williams, and Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, a study of the last two years of his life based on the book Remember the Time penned by his trusted bodyguards.

Currently, she is producing a limited series on the life of Marvin Gaye to star Jamie Foxx. Also in the works is the life story of the legendary singer, Chaka Khan based on her autobiography Through the Fire. Suzanne is also working with Kerry Washington (Scandal) to develop a film on the life of apartheid activist and world famous singer, Miriam Makeba. Known throughout her career for quality projects including the record-breaking miniseries Lonesome Dove,The Temptations and The Jacksons: An American Dream

Suzanne is the recipient of two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award nomination for co-writing Lady Sings the Blues, five NAACP Image Awards, and two Peabody Awards. The subject of two Harvard Business School case studies and the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Howard University, she also serves on the boards of the Television Academy Foundation and The Debby Allen Dance Academy and The Executive Committee of The Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors. Read Less ^

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