Strategic Leadership in the Entrepreneurial Firm – the Challenges of the Lululemon group

Author: Arthur Kearney & Denis Harrington
Publisher: International Journal of Instructional Cases


IJIC, Volume 2 (2018)


The Lululemon Group has been a lead innovator in the athleisure business. The company successfully managed the transition from an entrepreneurial growth company through to large corporate by anticipating market trends and retaining a sense of deep relationships with existing customers, primarily athletic focused women. In 2013, the company reached a transition point. The challenges emerged from how the strategic leadership of the firm could continue to encourage growth, manifest necessary organisational controls adequate to a stock exchange funded business, and yet simultaneously develop the business further, especially in the international context. Over the period of the case the company underwent three leadership changes, with notable contrast in the strategic leadership of the original owner and CEO, Chip Wilson and the present CEO Laurent Potdevin.

The case will be used to enable students to understand the nature of industry change and strategic leadership in an entrepreneurial growth company. The case provides students with an opportunity to critically examine the importance of change in organisations. Within the case, students will then critically examine the role and importance of strategic leadership.


Strategic leadership; industry change; athleisure industry; culture.

Target Audience and Usage

The case study can be used for an exploration of the factors that underpin strategic leadership in entrepreneurial growth firms. It can be used within a strategy or entrepreneurship course allowing for evaluation of industry change and strategy dynamics. This case may be used for class discussions with undergraduate students studying entrepreneurship, strategy and international business as well as post graduate students, such as Executive MBAs, Masters in Management practice or specialist MBS programmes. It will also have value in being used as a case for analysis on executive programmes concerning strategic leadership and change. Each audience will bring unique experiences facilitating interaction with the case.

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