An Inspired Model: Oprah Winfrey Case Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

An Inspired Model or a Misguided One?

Oprah Winfrey’s Dream School for Impoverished South African Girls

Summary of the case

The case study is based on building a dream by Oprah Winfrey about building a leadership school for the disadvantaged girls in South Africa. There were two basic motives behind the creation of Oprah’s dream school for African girls. These motives were to use the power of education to help impoverished young girls with exceptional promise. She wants African girls to identify and realize their potential and understand that their lives are important for the society. She wanted to make girls understand that they need to transform their lives and get their selves out from the circle which a male chauvinist society has made for them. The second motive was to make some sort of contribution in terms of charity to post-Apartheid South Africa. Oprah Winfrey is a host, producer and a media superstar with an aim for doing many things for the girls around the world. By the end of 2000, Oprah decided to build a high quality boarding school in South Africa. Oprah herself was a victim of poverty, child assault, homelessness and teenage pregnancy. She gave a birth to a child when she was only 14 but her baby died in immaturity.

In order to do something for the African girls, Oprah made a personal as well as strategic decision to build a school as she believed, educating girls are extremely vital for the country’s growth and development. Another reason behind building school in South Africa was to increase the literacy rate among girls in Africa. The educational standards in Africa were hilarious as teachers were poorly trained, violence, gang activity and sexual abuse was common in the school. In addition to that, there was a lot of gender inequality existing in Africa and the ratio of girl’s dropout is higher than the boys. Her dream was to build a school that can be considered a safe haven for girls with full safety and ample learning opportunities. She has put her maximum efforts in terms of leadership and resources to build the school and invested $40 million in the construction. She enrolled 150 girls based on the criteria of having exceptional leadership potential.

Oprah Winfrey faced several criticisms from opponents on making such a huge investment for the country like South Africa. However, she confronted with all the criticism and fight for the girls benefits. In addition to that, she aroused a feeling of philanthropy among other celebrities as well. She and the defenders know that this initiative will bring ample opportunities to the youth in South Africa that in turn will add growth and development for the country.

Critical Issues

Whilst making her dream come true, Oprah Winfrey faced several critical issues that were the hurdle for her success, but she motivated herself to build a school for the disadvantaged girls and successfully dealt with all the criticisms and issues. With respect to marketing, the basic problem confronted was the lack of awareness about education among the people in Africa. There were less aware about the importance of education and its impact on overall growth and development of the country. In addition to that, there were no such problems related to the overall management as she hired Joan countryman who was an American-African educator as most important advisor in designing the school and as temporary head to appoint personnel, set up program and to overview the operations. However, Oprah faced problems with respect to the operational side as the overall infrastructure of the country was weak in terms of infrastructure, thus, the management of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy faced difficulty in allocating resources. Despite having abundant financial resources, the management faced problems with respect to criticism by many people (Mair & George 2001)

One of the biggest issues faced by Winfrey’s school was related to the high-class nature and the lavishness of the school. Many of the critiques believed that spending $40 million on building a boarding school that is so much lavish in nature was worthless. They believed spending and investing such a big amount on few African girls was exaggerated thing. In addition to that, a country with a bucket full of economic problems and poverty, it made nonsense to spend that much amount to only a few girls in the country who are not even treated equally to men. One of the reporters commented, rather spending $40 million on one project, it would be more intelligent to spend this amount in the overall betterment of the schools in Africa in terms of quality and standards.

Along with that, other critiques believed that vision by Oprah Winfrey was based only on the fulfillment of her own dream and not from a community’s perspective. They believed that vision by Winfrey was just based on her personal motivation...................

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