Case Study 4: The Collapse of Nokia’s Mobile Phone Business

  • Tuomo Peltonen


This chapter provides a wisdom-oriented reading of one of the most spectacular business failures of recent times: the collapse of Nokia mobile phones between 2007 and 2015. Using executive biographies and other published accounts of Nokia’s organisational patterns, the chapter attempts to offer a more balanced explanation of the processes behind Nokia’s inability to respond to the changing industry circumstances. The following analysis pays attention to the shaping of Nokia’s organisational culture. Company and its new leadership adopted a professional, no-nonsense approach in the aftermath of the problems of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The new generation of managers believed in a rational mindset supported by a bureaucratic organisational form. Leaning on a superior technological competence within the mobile phone sector, Nokia was capable of ultimately becoming the market leader. However, in 2007, with two major players, Apple and Google, joining the business, the established rules of competitive dynamics were irrevocably changed. Focus shifted to software and applications. Nokia’s risk-aversive and closed organisational culture could not respond in a situation where an open search for new innovations and a cooperative internal working mode were needed. An analysis of the development of Nokia’s organisational psyche following the emergence of a new generation of managers and executives highlights the role of local beliefs in using philosophical wisdom in critical circumstances. Nokia and its leadership were not able to abandon the outmoded habits and structures, as these had become integrated with the very identity of the company.


Nokia Failure Organisational culture Industry transformation 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tuomo Peltonen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BusinessAalto UniversityHelsinkiFinland

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