Chapter 9. West Point and Woodstock: Authoritative Leadership and Democratic Decision Making

Rebel. Outlaw. Individualist.

Is there any company that embodies these images more than motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson? Doubtful.

Since Marlon Brando challenged Harley-riding rivals in the film The Wild One, the company’s bikes have represented freedom, nonconformity, and excitement to millions of enthusiasts around the world. From the unmistakable rumble of its V-twin engine to the counter-culture sneer of its stock symbol (HOG), Harley-Davidson has stood as an American icon for more than 100 years.

Despite the fearsome roar of its bikes, however, Harley-Davidson’s management model once reflected a surprisingly New Age philosophy. “Beneath ...

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