Culture Club

Team spirit prevails at Rio Grande, long an incubator for innovative styles of managementIn the jewelry trade, few companies boast the reach of Rio Grande, a manufacturer of findings, tools, packaging, supplies, and equipment based in Albuquerque, N.M. The company’s clients are scattered around the globe and include bench jewelers, small-scale designers working in emerging fields such as precious metal clay, and even major corporate players like Tiffany & Co. The breadth of Rio Grande’s customer base is not, however, the most extraordinary thing about the company. That distinction belongs to its intensely idiosyncratic culture. The 325-person-strong manufacturer lacks a corporate hierarchy, reflecting its owners’ devotion to progressive organizational principles such as “participative management,” in which employees belong to self-managing work teams and are expected to exe

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