Case Detail

Case Summary

Creating a Culture of Empowerment and Accountability at St. Martin de Porres High School (B)

Case Number: 5-410-755(B), Year Published: 2010

HBS Number: KEL515

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Authors: Liz Livingston Howard; Sachin Waikar

Key Concepts

Change Management, Nonprofit Leadership, Organizational Culture, Data-Driven Decision Making, Education, Nonprofit Management


Change is hard for all but perhaps more difficult for school leaders and other nonprofit organizations. The role that culture plays in a mission-driven organization can often be an impediment to change. This case uses a unique education institution, St. Martin dePorres School of the Cristo Rey Network, to illustrate the importance of culture in implementing change. It demonstrates how leaders can articulate a vision and create a strategy to change an organization and move toward success.

The case focuses on the leadership team of Principal Mike Odiotti and Assistant Principal Judy Seiberlich and how they used cultural change as the key driver to school success. That success was defined by improved academic performance, greater accountability for students, teachers and staff and stronger empowerment of constituents. It includes an overview of how the school’s leadership team used data to drive decision making.

This case is ideal for MBA students, executives in nonprofit management or school leadership and can be used to illustrate change management, nonprofit leadership, culture change, mission-driven strategy or school leadership. It addresses critical issues that organizations face and provides tools and tactics that can be applied to mission-driven enterprises.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the role culture plays in creating change in an organization
  • Gain an appreciation and comprehension for the relevance of shaping culture when implementing a vision
  • Recognize norms guide people’s behavior in organizations. Learn to identify the norms that promote positive cultures and those that create toxic environments
  • Learn how to diagnose organizational culture using the "Iceberg Model"
  • Build a repertoire of skills needed to successfully change and shape an organization’s culture
  • Number of Pages: 13

    Extended Case Information

    Teaching Areas: Management, Non Profit, Organizational Behavior

    Teaching Note Available: Yes

    Geographic: Midwest, United States

    Industry: Education

    Organization Name: St. Martin de Porres High School

    Organization Size: Medium

    Decision Maker Position: Principal and Assistant Principal

    Decision Maker Gender: Male and Female

    Year of Case: 2010