6 Apr 2022


How Mattel's Barbie lost the war against the Bratz Doll

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Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Case Study

Words: 525

Pages: 2

Downloads: 0

Explain why Mattel’s managers were able to slowly change decision making over time and what kinds of cognitive errors 

The Barbie doll was developed during the 1960s after which it had a successful continuation. However when the toy was incepted, the responsibility of women within the society was significantly different from what it is in the modern time. It has to be noted that during the 1960s, the responsibility of a typical woman in the society was regarded as being a home-maker (Jones, 2013). It is after this traditional image of a woman that the Barbie doll was molded. Mattel did not change the outdated image of the Barbie doll to align it to modern shifts in the environment. The managers of Mattel thought that the Barbie doll, which had initially caused then to have massive success would keep on bringing them the same kind of gains. 

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In this case, therefore, the conservative nature of the top leadership of Mattel was the reason the managers were able to slowly make decision-making changes over time. The leadership failed to notice the fact that the changing cultural views about the role of modern women in the existing much evolved and sophisticated society had also altered the tastes and preferences for the Barbie doll products. A good leader must be able to effective realize shifts in the market and successfully lead the organization in making changes aimed at adapting to these alterations in the industry (Bolman & Deal, 2014). 

In this course, thus, there were a lot of cognitive mistakes that led to this slow change in decision-making by the managers at Mattel. These cognitive errors that Mattel committed include ego-defensiveness, illusion of control and cognitive dissonance (Jones, 2013). According to the top leadership at the company, they had the thought that since they had performed quite well for a long time in the past with the product coupled with their strong competitive edge, there was no reason to change anything about a product that had brought them much success. However, competitors developed their products and aligned them to the new modern tastes and preferences hence winning virtually the entire market of Mattel (Jones, 2013). The disillusion of control over the market coupled with complacence may have caused the slowness in decision-making.

Explain and comment on any factors related to organizational culture and innovation within Mattel’s setting that might have influenced the company in a more positive direction.

The company’s culture of paying attention to the existing level of competition for market share may have influenced its focus on unique innovations, which was the cause of its long success. Moreover, the conservative nature of the managers at the company may have enabled it to hold on the success for a period of close to 50 years for the time there was no significant change in the tastes and preferences of the customers due to the changes in roles of women (Jones, 2013). Moreover, another factor that influenced the company towards a more positive direction was the pressure from the market competitors. The company used its skills to come up with a product that was unprecedented in the market making it rise to a level that even competitors could not match despite their product updates to adapt to the changing tastes and preferences in the industry.


Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2014). Leadership and management.  Christian Youth Work in Theory and Practice: A Handbook , 245.

Jones, G.R. (2013). Organizational Theory, Design and Change . 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). How Mattel's Barbie lost the war against the Bratz Doll.


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