Research proposal of “Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by Goldman Sachs”

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Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by Goldman Sachs[1]


1.        Introduction


There were five major independent investment banks on Wall Street before the most recent financial crisis, but only two of them survived: Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Though forced to become commercial banks, the survival of these two investment banks deserve some explanations (Lasher 2011, p.228). In concluding the reasons for the successful survival of Goldman Sachs, the Fortune magazine’s assessment pointed out that “the firm’s culture has kept it as nimble as a start-up” (Griffin 2011, p.94); some believe that it is the long established enterprise-wide internal risk management system that saved the company (Diebold, Doherty & Herring 2010, p.76); Grimshaw and Baron (2010, p.94) believed that it is the leadership behaviors, high ethical standard and management decisions that ensure the company is focusing on the long-term greedy strategy.


2.        Statement of research question


The research will explore the topic of “How Goldman Sachs survived the financial crisis and keeps leading the financial services industry” by analyzing the following hypotheses:


Firms with high ethical standard are likely to survive the major changes such as the global financial crisis, and this hypothesis is based on the assumption that ethical practices correlate long-term business success.


Firms could credit business success to the company culture with the special core values.


Flexible and opportunistic business model and organizational structure contribute to the companies’ competency to be able to get adapted to the fast changing business environment.


3.        Objectives of the project


Identify major impacts of the global financial crisis on the global financial service industry & individual company of Goldman Sachs


Identify the major management issues (ethical dilemma, leadership failure and etc.) reflected in the crisis


Conclude several major reasons for Goldman Sachs’s successful survival


Provide recommendations for Goldman Sachs to enhance the business success and further avoid financial uncertainties based on the analysis of the ongoing trends in the post crisis industrial and economy environment


4.        Literature review


4.1    Company culture & business success


Kotter and Heskett (1992) suggested that an adaptive corporate is a facilitator of good organizational performance. An adaptive culture encourages employees to trust each other, to take risks, to act pro-actively and to continuously seek for opportunities, improvement and change (Alvesson 2002).


4.2    Leadership & successful crisis management


The old assumptions about the distribution of power are no longer valid. An emphasis on control and rigidity serves to squelch motivation, innovation and morale is more effective and leaders share power to increase the brain power of the organizations (Daft & Lane 2007, p.7).


4.3    Business ethics & long term business success


Business may sustain greater profits in the short term without a high standard ethics code, but long- term financial performance demands an ethical image for the well-being of customers, employees, lenders, shareholders and the public (Cleveland 2002, p.242).


5.        Research methodology


Primary data collection: interview with Goldman Sachs staffs (to investigate corporate culture); email contact with management from Goldman Sachs


Secondary data collection: books, online websites, thesis, researches and surveys, data released by government and other authoritative institutions, company financial reports and other statements




6.        Anticipated structure of the project


Executive summary

Background of the study (both company background and financial crisis introduction)

Problem definition

Literature review

Case analysis

–          Impacts of financial crisis on the company

–          Management response to the crisis

–          Employee response to the crisis (interview with Goldman Sachs staffs)

–          Comparing Goldman Sachs with another investment bank


Challenges in the changing environment


–          Recommendations on company structuring

–          Recommendations on leadership

–          Recommendations on company culture




7.        Project management plan


Event Time line
Submission of project proposal 25 Aug 2011
Confirmation of supervisor 8 Sep 2011
Talk with supervisor To be confirmed with supervisor
Initial mass reading 8 Sep 2011 to 20 Sep 2011
Focus reading, data collection 21 Sep 2011 to 1 Oct 2011
Second talk with supervisor To be confirmed with supervisor
Interview and summary of the findings 2 Oct 2011 to 10 Oct 2011
Analyzing data 11 Oct 2011 to 25 Oct 2011
Writing 25 Oct 2011 to 10 Oct 2011
Third talk with supervisor To be confirmed with supervisor
Rewriting 16 Oct 2011 to 10 Nov 2011
Undefined event 11 Nov 2011 to 20 Nov 2011
Submission 30 Nov 2011






Alvesson, M. 2002, Understanding Organizational Culture, London: Sage Publications


Cleveland, P. M. 2002, 50 steps to business success: entrepreneurial leadership in manageable bites. Toronto: ECW Press, p.242


Daft, R. L. & Lane, P. G. 2007, The leadership experience. Mason: Thomson Higher Education, p.7


Diebold, F. X., Doherty, N. A. & Herring, R. 2010, The known, the unknown, and the unknowable in financial risk management: Measurement and Theory Advancing Practice. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p.76


Griffin, R. W. 2011, Management, 10th edition, Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.94


Grimshaw & Baron 2010, Leadership Without Excuses: How to Lead Accountable, Performance-driven Teams that Deliver Results, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. p.94


Kotter, J. P. & Heskett, J. L. 1992, Corporate culture and performance. New York: Free Press


Lasher, W. 2011, Practical Financial Management. 6th edition, Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.228



[1] The subtitle will be “How it survived and keeps leading the financial services industry” if allowed.