Case Study Mattel’s Barbie Loss the War against Bratz Doll

CaseStudy: Mattel’s Barbie Loss the War against Bratz Doll

CaseStudy: Mattel’s Barbie Loss the War against Bratz Doll

Formany years the management of Mattel had assumed that the company’smodel and types of toy would remain competitive in the market. Thesemanagers failed to perceive the possibility of the emergence of newmodels that would integrate features meeting the specific needs ofthe new generation. Consequently, the management had stopped makingany significant decision to advance its toys. This paper will explainwhy Mattel was able to change decision making slowly and factorswithin the Mattel’s corporate culture and innovation thatinfluenced it positively.

Whymanagers at Mattel were able to change decision making slowly

However,the Mattel started changing its decision when a new competitor, BratzDoll, joined the market with a product that had features pleasing thecurrent generation. Through inter-organizational learning, Mattellearned about changes in consumer tastes from Bratz. Mattel was ableto make decisions slowly because of the bounded rationality of itsmanagement. From the case study, the management of Mattel had limitedinformation about the interests of the new generation of kids andwomen, which slowed down the process of making decisions. However,the fact that Mattel had applied for a copyright for some of thedrawing made employees who were then hired by MGA is an indicationthat Mattel has a poor knowledge management policy that limited itscapacity to use the limited information held by its employees to makethe necessary decisions. Based on Carnegie Decision Model, boundedrationality occur when one has limited time, information, and mentalcapacity (Firefli, 2009)

Afterobserving that the sales of Barbie and its accessories, whichcontributed about 50 % of the company sales, were falling, Mattel hadno option other than changing its decision making. The management waspressured by circumstances to change its decision making and startthinking about the best ways to prevent the threat of being forcedout of the market. Mattel was influenced by two types of cognitiveerrors. The first type of cognitive error is the generalization,which means that one makes a general conclusion on the basis of asingle piece of incident (Grohol, 2015). In the case of Mattel, themanagement judged the future performance of Barbie on the basis ofits one-time performance, but the management had to review itsdecision making when competition intensified. The second type ofcognitive error that influenced Mattel is the control fallacy wherethe company felt that it was being externally controlled by themarket forces, which rendered it a victim of fate (Grohol, 2015).This explains why Mattel decided to make obvious imitations of toysmade by its competitor in order to get itself out the bad fate.

Factorsrelated to organizational culture and innovation that influencedMattel positively

Mattelmight have been influenced positively by three major factors. First,Mattel had a shared value of consistency where the company producedsimilar products over a long period. Although this later turned to bea weakness when new products were introduced into the market,consistency had helped Mattel remain competitive in the market andacquire brand loyalty (Jones, 2009). Secondly, Mattel’sorganizational culture had facilitated the development of a fightingspirit, which allowed the company to make drastic changes (such asthe advancement of features of Barbie and initiating a litigationagainst MGA) when faced with the threat of a serious decline inrevenues. Third, Mattel had been developing digital toys, even beforethe onset of stiff competition, which confirms that the company hadalready embraced a culture of innovation.


Mattelhad assumed that its main product (Barbie) would remain competitiveforever, but the anticipated entry of an aggressive competitor forcedMattel to change its decision making over time. This was anindication of a generalized conclusion that the present performancecould be used to predict the future performance. Mattel waspositively influenced by its corporate culture’s elements of afighting spirit, innovativeness, and consistency.


Firefli(2009). Carnegie decision model. Firefli.Retrieved October 23, 2015, from

Grohol,M. (2015). Fifteen common cognitive distortions. PsychCentral.Retrieved October 23, 2015, from

Jones,R. (2009). Organizationaltheory, design, and change (6thEd.).Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.