The case deals with issues on the management of values in a family organization when it is growing and undergoing a generational transition. The organization at the center of this study is Aravind Eye Care System (Aravind), a non-profit organization managed as a trust but fully financially self-reliant, both for its current expenses and its expansion needs. It gave about 50% of its services free, and though its medical competence was unquestioned, its executives believed that its main strength was its value system. Though it may not be fully correct to call it a “family organization” (many of its top management people were not from the family at the time of the case events), family members were seen as having a special responsibility in not only managing the organization but also as custodians of its values and legacy. Its founder, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (Dr. V), had passed away in 2006, and his siblings, who were responsible for building the hospital in its early years, had largely dissociated themselves from its day to day operations and even some aspects of its strategic management. The units were run by the second generation, who would themselves be retiring in a few years. The third generation members were already functioning at the lower levels of the organization, and in another five to ten years, the fourth generation would be coming in. The case presents Aravind Eye Care System's situation in this context, with a view to identifying the problems in retaining its legacy, which all of its executives agreed was not only invaluable but also the source of its competitive strength. It describes the different mechanisms employed in the organization to preserve the values and culture, such as recruitment, training, communication as regards the norms of behavior to patients, colleagues and staff and the reflections of its executives. regarding the continuance of the legacy.
The central learning objective of the case is to understand: How does a family organization driven heavily by values ensure that these are maintained and passed on to the next generations?