Harley-Davidson Organizational Structure

  • Harley-Davidson utilizes a functional organizational structure that separates aspects of its sales and manufacturing business into distinct groups. These groups include Financial Services, Motorcycle Management, Marketing, Digital, and Electric Vehicles.
  • Harley-Davidson is also structured around four key geographic divisions: Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.
  • The company is also characterized by a centralized, global hierarchy. Control and decision-making power are concentrated at company headquarters in Milwaukee, with each functional and divisional head reporting directly to current CEO Jochen Zeitz.

Introduction

Harley-Davidson is a motorcycle manufacturer that was founded in 1903 by William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, Walter Davidson, and William A. Davidson.

The company, which is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was one of only two motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression in the United States. Today, the Harley-Davidson brand boasts a loyal and devoted following with a broad range of merchandise supporting its core motorcycle range.

Harley-Davidson utilizes a functional organizational structure that separates aspects of its sales and manufacturing business into distinct groups. This structure and some additional components are explained in the following sections.

Functional groups

Functional groups are the predominant structure in the Harley-Davidson company. Employees are organized according to their particular skills and knowledge with each group having its own vertical management structure.

Harley-Davidson’s functional departments include:

  • Financial Services.
  • Legal.
  • Commercial.
  • Human Resources.
  • Digital.
  • Electric Vehicles.
  • Product Development and Operations.
  • Apparel and Licensing.
  • Motorcycle Management.
  • Stakeholder Management.
  • Marketing.
  • Chief Executive Officer, and
  • Communications and Corporate Relations.

As a company that sells just a few different types of products, the functional organizational structure is seen as an advantage. Employees who are categorized according to their expertise can contribute to the depth of knowledge within Harley-Davidson that allows it to be an industry leader in motorcycles.

Geographic divisions

Harley-Davidson also focuses its efforts across four geographic divisions:

  1. Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
  2. North America.
  3. Asia Pacific, and
  4. Latin America.

Each division is headed by a Vice President or Director.

Centralization and global hierarchy

Harley-Davidson’s structure is also centralized since control over global operations is maintained by company headquarters in the United States. Centralization also means that each functional group and divisional head reports directly to the current Chairman, President, and CEO Jochen Zeitz. There is also a 10-member Board of Directors with experience at previous companies such as Boeing, Ford, MTV, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The predominant functional structure also contributes to centralization by providing a clear and consistent chain of command. Since employees are not confused about who they should report to, operational efficiency is improved. 

Many companies may find centralization cumbersome when trying to manage global operations. But for Harley-Davidson, it appears to be less of an issue since most sales occur in the United States. In 2021, for example, the company sold 134,400 motorcycles in the North American Market – representing almost 70% of the global total.

Read Also: What Is A Brand Essence.

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