Pacifica Foundation: The Battle over the Airwaves

Pacifica Foundation covers the history of the Pacifica Foundation of California, from the 1940s to the year 2000. It starts with the formative experiences of the founder, Lewis Hill, as a conscientious objector during WWII, then brings us through the formation of the Pacifica Foundation to support the first "alternative" or "community" radio station: KPFA. The case details organization and environmental changes which occurred in 1993, these changes resulted in interpersonal conflicts between 1993 and 2000. The case was largely drawn from secondary sources.

This case has been used with professional masters students (both pre-career and mid-career) since 2003, in a course on managing organizations and people. This case explores the relationship between organizational behavior and organizational design, with a focus on organizational decision making and the relationship between mission and strategy.

Alternatively, the case can be used to discuss influence, power, and politics in organizations, especially in terms of inspirational appeals and coalition tactics. The case can also be used to discuss the management and organizational role of volunteers.

Pacifica Foundation: The Battle over the Airwaves was written by Research Assistant Matthew Sackel, MBA student Jay Morrison, and Professor Matthew Liao-Troth, Western Washington University.