Case Study

Rethinking Rethink Robotics

8 pages
April 2023
Reference: IMD-7-2386

The case outlines the development of Boston-based start-up Rethink Robotics Inc., a leader in a rapidly growing part of the booming robotics market: collaborative robots (cobots), which work side by side with humans. This case also traces the moves of a mid-sized German hardware engineering company, HAHN Automation, a leader in integrated automation systems. With a keen interest in cobots, HAHN Automation had invested in the start-up and acquired the rights to distribute, sell and service Rethink Robotics’ products globally. This had made HAHN Automation a leader in the growing global market for cobots. When Rethink Robotics suddenly announced that it was liquidating, HAHN’s leaders needed to act. They saw three options: acquire, develop IP in-house or find another solution.

Learning Objective
  • Highlight the importance of business fundamentals, even for firms that are well aligned with macro trends.
  • Show the limitations of classic concepts, such as growth strategies, when a more nuanced and integrative approach is called for.
  • Illustrate the difference between organic and inorganic growth and between technological expertise and market knowledge.
  • Discover how a company manages an organizational transformation that involves the acquisition of external assets.
  • Illustrate how progressive changes in technologies and markets affect companies.
Business to Business, Global Business, Growth Strategy, Post-merger Integration, Mergers and Acquisitions
Rethink Robotics, Manufacturing, Industrial Automation
Field Research
© 2023
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note, Video
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