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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 3, Number 1 (2003)

Current Management Theory and the Demise of Baldwin Piano: A Case Study 

Kim L. Wangler

Crane School of Music, State University of New York College at Potsdam


Modern corporate culture has historically had little place in the music products industry. Companies like Baldwin Piano and Organ have traditionally been family owned and operated, encouraging employees to develop expertise and cultivate product passion over a long tenure to help best serve its niche markets. From an organizational standpoint, companies like Baldwin tend to prefer an employee-centered management approach, believing that an emphasis on staff well-being strengthens overall company resolve and increases its competitiveness in the marketplace. In 1994, however, Baldwin appointed Karen Hendricks as President and CEO. Hendricks, having no previous experience in the music products industry, favored a production-centric management approach that had proven successful in her previous positions at large corporations like Proctor and Gamble. What Hendricks failed to realize was that the hallmarks of Baldwin’s business practices – accessibility, loyalty, and openness – made it a favorite among customers and vendors alike over the course of its more than 130 years in business. Sadly, Hendricks’ insistence on viewing employees as interchangeable parts of a greater corporate machine would result in unprecedented turnover at Baldwin during her seven-year tenure, culminating in the company’s filing for bankruptcy in 2001.

Keywords: Baldwin Piano and Organ Company, business management, music products industry

Wangler, Kim L. “Current Management Theory and the Demise of Baldwin Piano: A Case Study." Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 3, no. 1 (2003): 23-35. https://doi.org/10.25101/3.2

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