Case #2135.0

Christine Lagarde (Extended)

Publication Date: August 20, 2018
Current Stock:

Educator Access

A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to this material.

Permission to Reprint

Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use. If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase permission for each individual who will be given access. Learn more about purchasing permission to reprint.

For a modular presentation of the same material, please see Christine Lagarde (A): A French Prime Minister Calls (2136.0), Christine Lagarde (B): Being a Public Servant (2137.0), and Christine Lagarde (C): Managing the IMF (2138.0). These full-length cases describe various stages of Christine Lagarde's career. They are stand-alone cases that can also be used over several classes. The entire series, including its video products, was designed to be modular.

The case covers the youth and career trajectory of Christine Lagarde across her time at Baker & McKenzie, as a minister in the government of France and as the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The case highlights the challenges and opportunities she faced during each phase of her career and how she managed them. Lagarde started her career in 1981 as a lawyer at the global law firm Baker & McKenzie, which employed approximately 2,500 lawyers across 35 countries by 1999, when she became the firm's first non-American and female chairman. In 2005, she became France's Minister for Foreign Trade in President Jacques Chirac's administration and was the EU's de facto finance minister when the financial crises was most acute. In 2011, she was selected to head the IMF. Since 2011, Lagarde worked to build the foundation for the IMF's adaptation to the realities of the 21st century. By 2017, shortly after Lagarde began her second term as the managing director of the IMF, the world faced both opportunities and challenges as a result of the rapidly evolving, hyper-connected global economy, including deeper cross-border integration, the rise of emerging economies, technological change, and growing wealth and income inequality within countries. These interrelated dynamics were playing out alongside heightened anxiety within the populations of some major advanced economies about what these changes meant for them. The concerns manifested themselves in an inward focus, rumblings of protectionism, and questions about the worth of international cooperation and the multilateral system itself. Lagarde believed that the challenges facing the world economy warranted not less but more global cooperation. In this context, she had to determine how the IMF-as the leading advocate of global economic cooperation since its creation-could better demonstrate its effectiveness. She knew that it was a critical moment. 

This case includes a 13-min. video with excerpts from an interview with Christine Lagarde where she talks about her early years in the private sector, her experience with gender discrimination, her particular leadership style, and her relationship to power, among other topics. The video is chapterized and can be used as an assignment or played in class.

Other Details

Case Author:
Julie Battilana; Carin Isabel-Knoop; Vanessa Ampela; Noemie Assenat
Faculty Lead:
Julie Battilana
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Video Producer:
Patricia Garcia-Rios
Harvard Business School