El Sistema: Vision, Process, Impact   Case Solution & Answer

El Sistema: Vision, Process, Impact Case Solution

Case Reflection:

The case El Sitemap is primarily based on the leadership of Arbeu, in the growth and development of the musical learning school from a garage to an international organization. The growth of the organization was primarily based on the alliances and different approaches adopted by Arbeu, such as: collaboration with the government for funding the military service to travel to other state for a concert, which mainly includes75 musicians flown to Mexico. The leadership approach was clearly evident by the flexibility and freedom given to the employees, followed by the right to manage their own resources based on their convenience. This created a sense of moderate employment security and support to the operational efficiency.

In comparison to other organizations, the leadership approach of Arbeu is entirely different because there were no rules and formulae for the organization as the basis of their business operations.Under the leadership of Abreu, the norms of music education were defined and were associated with the collective approach of passion, commitment and resilience.Similarly, no documentation of the business operations were found. Music education served as the key factor to support the well-being of people in Venezuela. The organizational also lacked any permanent policy either regarding employment, hiring, or targeting children. However, the target customers mainly include children and adolescents, belonging to the low-household income i.e. below poverty line.

The approach to write down particular business actions was not valued, and the organization lacked evaluation of the business processes. Due to this reason, there had been an increased concern over the organization’s financial security of and efficient utilization of available resources in terms of having a sustainable future growth. In contradiction, the most inspiring aspects of the leadership approach, mainly included the working environment with flexible approach, the strategic thinking to empower the children to be saved from poverty, who participated mainly from barrios, generally referred to as poorer neighborhoods, and public investment of each dollar, which yielded $1.68 in return.

Whereas, the least inspiring factors involved the dependency of the organization on source of funding,which contributed to around 91 percent of the budget. Technology is considered as one of the least inspiring factors, because no portion of the funding amount is invested in the development of instruments and improvement of the process to provide an improved learning experience to the children. The core mission was defined by its motto i.e. “to play and to fight”. The system of El Sistema was organized around five key principles, which included: social change, ensembles, frequency, accessibility and connectivity.With the political knowledge and connections with the government; Abreu led the organization of a free concert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thus, the evaluation of the current business approach would allow the organization to better understand the needs of the children and assist in the development of a strategic approach, which would ensure sustainable growth.(Ian C. Woodward, 2015)

Analysis of Underlying Issues/Challenges:


The El Sistema’s– a classical music education program was created in the year 1975 in Venezuela,which is known to exemplify the trans-formative power of music,to bring an improvement in the lives of millions of people in wide-ranging poor communities across the world. Despite the international reputation and success of El Sistema; there had been defied norms of music-education, which requires effective strategic approaches to overcome resource, sustainability and coordination persistent challenges. Such challenges mainly include exposure to an increased political and musical criticism. Due to this reason, there is a need to call for a strong program evaluation.

The concern regarding the maintenance of the quality of experience,has turned out to be another challenge because of the enrollment target of around 1 million children in the program representing the requirement of double capacity as compared to the current capacity of El Sistema. Thus, the determination of the type of resources required has been necessary. Similarly, with the growth of the organization and program, another challenge is associated with the maintenance of a dynamic balance between autonomy and process. Additionally, the age of Abreu requires the evaluation of the dependency of El Sistema on him,for the future growth of the organization. (Ian C. Woodward, 2015)

Theoretical perspectives:



A free national after-school programmer of music was primarily organized around nucleo or learning centers. Jose Antonio Abreu was the founder and the leader of El Sistema in Venezuela. El Sistema was the combination of two passions, i.e. social and music impacts. The extension of El Sistema’s awareness was mainly focused on differences it made in the lives of the people and its growth. Over four decades, the history of El Sistema was based on learning of management and leadership. The birthplace of El Sistema was Caracas – the capital of Venezuela, which is considered as one of the dangerous states across the world.

The primary mission of El Sistema was based on the social transformation of Venezuela,followed by the use of musical excellence. The aim of the organization was associated with the development of not only better musicians but also better people. Thus, the core mission was defined by its motto i.e. “to play and to fight”. The system of El Sistema was organized around five key principles, which include: social change, ensembles, frequency, accessibility and connectivity. (Steele, 2017,)


In terms of customers, the key customers of El Sistema included children and adolescents,because El Sistema’s aim was to provide every child with universally accessible education regarding music. Through the orchestral movement; children were highly motivated to rescue themselves from a deviant, disoriented and empty youth. The participation of the children was mainly from barrios, generally referred to as poorer neighborhoods,in order to save children from poverty. Based on the preferences of the children; teachers adopted their repertories.


Despite the success of music and instrumentation importance;the competition had been significantly increasing. Due to an increased competition and the interest of children and adolescents in music, critics related to legitimate concerns had been increasing. Similarly, the adoption of orchestra as a profession, wasadopted by many of the people at very young age, such as:Edicson Ruiz – who was the youngest member of the Berlin Philharmonic and world renowned musicians like Gustavo Dudamel. Due to this reason, El Sistema had to compete against the established youth ensembles from the United States, Japan, France and Germany.


It was known to develop a link between the community members through the involvement of parents, teachers and children. This was done through transcendental values, cooperation and exchanging positive, influencing the transformation of a child. The key collaborators in this program mainly included the government to support the program through funding i.e. from local government, corporate/private donations, and international institutions;parents to collaborate with their child in different activity areas, such as: attending concerts, looking after the required material to learn music and helping them to do school work and providing encouragement and feedback. Similarly, the extension of El Sistema to the creation of a symphony orchestra behind bars, was supported by the collaboration of FMSB and Ministry of Interior and Justice.


The provision of music learning was supported by the government and other related ministries of the government. The key focus was on the children and adolescents belonging to barrios,to serve as both social and musical endeavor. This was mainly because of an increasing poverty rate of the country that had reached to around 33 percent. The children were getting more interested in music education with time,and young students worked on the basis of giving back i.e. providing help in different forms, such as: painting the building, cleaning the rehearsal spaces and fixing the lights.

SWOT Analysis:


  • The management structure of the organization was primarily based on deep trust in employees, who were provided with high level of flexibility and freedom for the management of resources.
  • El Sistema had won global recognition for the achievements related to music, and was showcased in a documentary by Paul Smaczny internationally.
  • In February 2009, Abreu was provided with TED Prize and the prize money was substantially funded to advance the dream/mission of the organization.
  • The heart of El Sistema – nucleo was the local center for learning and playing music, whichprovided musical instruments and free instructions to the children.
  • Over several years, the unwavering aspirations and mission were communicated and embedded firmly, and each individual was capable of describing them.


  • Around 70 percent of the children came from below the poverty line, which required high funding.
  • The main source of funding was state, which contributed to around 91 percent of the budget. But, the budget had substantially increased from $26 million to around $61 million.
  • The management lacked any fixed rule or formulae to growth, due to which the strategic future growth approach was inefficient and the organization experienced a consistent change.
  • To meet the enrollment target; the organization required double of the current capacity.


  • Partnership with a music instrument manufacturing firm, would allow the organization to provide an updated learning of instruments, to remain competitive and retain their professional position in the industry.
  • Merger with another music learning school, would allow the organization to double its current capacity to meet the enrolment target of around 2 million students or children.
  • Related product diversification would assist in an efficient utilization of available resources in the offering of different services.
  • Evaluation of the current business approach would allow the organization to have a better understanding of the children’s needs and to assist in the development of a strategic approach, which would ensure the sustainable growth.


  • Inability of the organization in meeting the needs and increasing its current working capacity,would badly influence the funding from the government bodies.
  • The dependency of the organization over the financial support from the state, might decrease due to the poor economic state,leading to a declined budget.
  • Despite the effective communication and coordination; the increase in the organizational size would have an influence over the coordination among the teachers and the students.
  • Poor growth probability would badly influence the success and reputation of El Sistema in the industry, leading towards anincreased number of drop outs and low yields on public investment per dollar.

VRIO Analysis:

VRIO analysis is performed to determine the sustainable competitive advantage based on the availability of the resources that an organization possesses. The analysis of the El Sistema resources is analyzed, based on four different factors, i.e. value, rarity, imitability and organization of the resources. Thus, the resources that are analyzed to evaluate the resources of the organization to predict the its possible future growth, mainly include: brand awareness and reputation, financial stability which is a sustainable competitive advantage because of the government’s support and other related institutions, technology – temporary competitive advantage, because no portion of the funding amount is invested in the development of instruments and improvement of the process to provide an improved learning experience to the children.

Similarly, the employees served as the competitive parity, because trained students were provided with an opportunity to teach young students, because of less number of teachers available. Also, the flexibility, freedom and the right to manage their own resources, might exploit organizational reputation in future. Furthermore, communication and coordination are currently a competitive parity, which is expected to be a competitive disadvantage in case of further negligence of the need to develop a strategic approach. The analysis of the resources can be seen in the Appendix B.



A combination of dire economics and deficiencies of public school system in Venezuela, many adults were known to be gravitated in the criminal activities, they got involved in drugs and gangs, which led to the creation of vicious poverty cycle, bleak prospects and social exclusion. With political knowledge and connections with the government; Abreu led the organization of a free concert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite the growth and reputation; El Sistema faced an increasing political as well as musical criticism. The support of Venezuelan government to the orchestra, was based on the help provided by the winning respect and attention from the international community of music. Similarly, the incorporation of orchestra into the Ministry of Youth, assisted in setting a strategic position. This provided El Sistema with an  ability to survive in the volatile political world of Venezuela.


In the beginning of the 21st century; the annual GDP growth of Venezuela was around 10.5 percent. Despite the growth, poverty was in the endemic state, which had grown to nearly 33 percent in the year 2008. A large proportion of children, i.e. 70-75 percent, belonged to low-income households. Similarly, some of the households also lacked basic amenities, such as: sanitation and running water. However, in terms of socio-economic impact;the estimation of the IADB report showed that public investment of every US dollar in the program,yielded around $1.68 in social dividends. This was used as a contribution in bringing reduction in drug abuse and violence in poor community groups. Additionally, the salaries of the administrative employees and teachers were paid by the funds received from the national administration.


Considering the reduction in violence and drug abuse; children who were engaged in the program,represented decline in the number of school dropout and attained academic levels above the average level. The impact of dividend showed an indirect impact overaround 2 million graduates of El Sistema, who did not only become musicians but also adopted professions, such as: civil servants, doctors, teachers and lawyers. However, the population of the country had exceeded to around 29 million,out of which around two million children were involved in the music programme of El Sistema. By the year 2012, there were more than 400000 adults in the program.


Change and innovation tended to be at the core of El Sistema. One of the music innovation of El Sistema was mainly known as: White Hands Choir, which consisted of blind, deaf and otherwise children. Similarly, one of the best examples of innovation included: Paper Orchestra, which was made up of paper mache for children of age four to six years old. The organization represented the key focus on the consistent adoption and recreation of ways to better meet the needs of the children in wide-ranging contexts. Therefore, there is a requirement to specify a particular portion of funds for technological improvement in order to retain the interest of the children………..

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