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ESMT Case Study

Defining the purpose for Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-713-0134-1
2013 Case Writing Award, Hot Topic
Urs Müller, Ulrich Linnhoff, Bernhard Pellens (2013)
Subject(s)
Ethics and social responsibility
Keyword(s)
corporate social responsibility (CSR), defining the purpose of an organization, shareholder-value maximization versus other purposes, accounting, capitalization of human resources, valuation of assets, especially of human capital, business ethics, the role of human resources in an organization, stakeholders’ interest, legitimacy of stakeholders’ interest
In its 100th year of existence in 2009, Borussia Dortmund (BVB) was the only German soccer club listed on the stock exchange. With three days to go before the annual shareholders’ meeting on November 24 of that year, the club's managing directors, Thomas Treß and Hans-Joachim Watzke, went through the year-end figures one more time. Although the situation had improved since 2005 when the club was on the brink of insolvency, the closing accounts once again showed a negative net income. After nine years as a publicly traded company, the BVB had to report its fifth loss, this time for €5.9 million, which added up to a cumulative loss of more than €145 million. After the passing of a century, many stakeholders were concerned about the way forward. What was the organization’s purpose? What was more important, finally making a profit and meeting shareholders' expectations, or playing for the fans and the club’s honor? What could the managing directors offer to their shareholders, who had seen the value of their shares drop from €11 at the IPO to less than €1 in November 2009?
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