Case Study

GSK Consumer Healthcare: Building communities of practice to drive post merger innovation

10 pages
March 2022
Reference: IMD-7-2329

The GSK Consumer Healthcare (GSK CH) case study deals with building a community of practice (CoP) in a merged, complex organization and a virtual environment. The case focuses on the introduction of a CoP by Marcus Chambers, a GSK senior executive, to address the need for greater alignment, collaboration and learning amongst the global Research and Development (R&D) Project Managers to drive the innovation pipeline in the new venture. GSK Consumer Health was created through the merger of the consumer healthcare divisions of Pfizer and GSK in August 2019 to create the world’s largest consumer healthcare company. As the merger was announced, so too was the announcement of the intention to spin off the newly created 25,000 persons organization within three years, adding pressure to deliver on the anticipated value of the joint venture. The case focuses on the global R&D Project Management organization, which has primary responsibility for leading cross-functional innovation projects to drive growth. Their role is complex requiring foresight to plan and steward projects and flexibility to deal with the inevitable firefighting of innovation amongst diverse and multiple stakeholders. In addition to the inherent complexity of the role was the need to co-ordinate efforts of 78 project managers from GSK (45%), Pfizer (35%) and new hires (20%) across three regional hubs and four category hubs globally – against the backdrop of the pandemic. This topical case covers the 2-year period from August 1, 2019, when the joint venture was announced to August 2021. It recounts how the newly created GSK Consumer Health addressed the need to build capability, reduce inconsistencies and deal with frustrations to realize the promise of new innovations through the introduction of a community of practice during the pandemic.

Learning Objective
  • Building capability in a newly merged organization in a virtual environment
  • The introduction, implementation and impact of communities of practice (CoPs)
  • The design criteria and tensions to be managed that contribute to successful CoPs
Organizational Learning, Joint Venture, Joint Venture Management, Integration, Challenge, Learning, Development, Community of Practice, Culture, Project Management, Volunteering, Continuous Improvement, Support, Core Team, Peer Network
GlaxoSmithKline, Health Care, Health and Medical Services
August 1, 2019-August 1, 2021
Field Research
© 2022
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note, Video
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