New Bedford Whaling Museum

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CASE STUDY. The case describes the leadership of strategic change at the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Anne Brengle, who transformed the Museum from an elitist « Yankee bastion » to an active community partner.

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New Bedford Whaling Museum: Abstract

New Bedford Whaling Museum is a case study by Stephen J.J. McGuire and Kathy P. Kretman.

The case describes the leadership of strategic change at the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Anne Brengle, who transformed the Museum from an elitist « Yankee bastion » to an active community partner. Brengle began to restore the Museum to financial health and initiated a plan to refurbish the facilities. In the midst of these changes, an enormous blue whale washed up on the Cape Cod shore. Brengle mustered support from City Hall, donors and volunteers to include the whale in the Museum’s centennial « grand opening. » Not long after, a nearby maritime museum offered to donate its entire collection to the Museum.

By 2005, the Museum had been transformed. At this critical juncture, Brengle detected a revenue shortfall and moved to streamline operations and reduce staff. The case describes Brengle’s evolution as she leads the change process and concludes with a description of future challenges.

Teaching objectives

Teaching objectives include:

  • Understanding some of the challenges faced by nonprofits
  • Examining a leader as she transforms an organization
  • Looking at the content and process of organizational change
  • Considering retrenchment in a mission-driven organization

Additional information

Teaching notes are available for teachers only. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre for more information.

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