Friday, 25 April 2014

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The Turnaround Case Study of Roman Catholic Church Management Masala V K Talithaya
Is the Pope a CEO, and is Vatican the headquarters of a multinational corporate? The Economist thinks so. In its latest issue (April 19, 2014), it writes about The Francis Effect, alluding to Pope Francis who as the CEO has done well in his first year, in turning around the battered corporation. In other words, it is a good case study for the likes of Harvard Business School.

Pope Francis who celebrated his first Easter as CEO of RC Global (Roman Catholic Global), which The Economist dubs as the world’s oldest multinational, found to his dismay soon after his appointment that competitors were stealing market-share, including in Brazil which was his home turf, where he was heading the “Argentine office”. “In its traditional markets, scandals were scaring off customers and demoralizing the sales force”. With reputation sinking recruitment was failing despite life-time appointment, finances were in mess. Even the Vatican Bank was in a cesspool of corruption and mismanagement. For the first time in six hundred years a CEO, Benedict XVI resigned. 

The Turnaround Case Study of Roman Catholic Church Management Masala V K Talithaya
Today after his initial turnaround efforts, CEO Francis is popular – 85% of American Catholics approve of him. Footfall in most of the retail outlets has been rising. “The sales force now talks about a ‘Francis Effect’”.

The Economist wonders, “How has septuagenarian Argentine succeeded in galvanizing one of the world’s stodgiest outfits?” and goes on to answer: “Essentially by grasping three management principles”.


  1. Core competence: Francis refocused the organization on one mission: Helping the poor. By his own exemplary conduct and austere living he not only cut costs but also sent the right message down the organization.
  2. Brand positioning: While clearly continuing to do the traditional teaching on abortion and gay marriage, he is less censorious.
  3. Restructuring: He appointed eight cardinals to review the church’s organization with McKinsey and KPMG at hand to look at the administrative machinery and overhauling the Vatican bank.


Skeptics call these measures incense-smoke and mirrors. Others insist on bigger role for women. “Some analysts interpret the absence of plagues of boils and frogs as approbation; others point out that He moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform”.

By V.K.Talithaya (vktalithaya@managementmasala.com)
Management Masala V K Talithaya.jpg
On 4/25/2014

14 comments:

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