Posted by & filed under Global Management.

By the turn of the 20th century, Canadian banks were moving south to keep up with growing business opportunities in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. A century later, only a handful of Canada’s biggest companies are actively engaged in business in the Southern Hemisphere. For its part, the Canadian government recognizes this is not an opportunity to be overlooked in favor of India or China. Calgary is hosting the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank.

QUESTIONS:

  1. The opening paragraph of the article highlights specific reasons for Canadian bank involvement in Central and South America. That was more than a century ago. What are the arguments for greater involvement in those areas today?
  2. The article discusses why Canada is not more involved in Central and South America. Is this a lack of cultural intelligence? The Canadian government has taken steps to remedy the situation. What should Canadian businesses do?
  3. After reading the article, what strategy(ies) would you recommend to a company that wanted to take advantage of the opportunities in Central and South America?

SOURCE: K. Carmichael & T. Grant, “South America: Canada’s Forgotten Continent,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/south-america-canadas-forgotten-continent/article1957537/)

Posted by & filed under Communication.

Companies are embracing social media almost to excess. Communicating via Facebook and Twitter are not that difficult. Blogging, while more effective and richer, is a bit more involved. Tumblr software offers an interface that makes it easier to communicate and gives users more options for getting their message out to others.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Follow the links provided and check out the blogs set up by the five featured businesses. Evaluate the effectiveness, persuasiveness, and credibility of communication for each.
  2. Were you able to note any evidence of poor written expression?
  3. Do the blogs allow for constructive feedback from readers/customers?
  4. Blogs fall in the middle of the channel richness continuum. Now that you reviewed the five businesses profiled in the article, comment on the appropriateness of this channel selection. Was the blog a good or poor choice for communicating?

SOURCE: A. MacArthur, “How Tumblr Is Dominating the Business of Blogging,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/digital-culture/trending-tech/how-tumblr-is-dominating-the-business-of-blogging/article1954693/)

Posted by & filed under Organizational Structure & Design.

In a move reminiscent of Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, Larry Page is about regain control of Google. Page was the founding CEO, but handed over control to Eric Schmidt in 2001. Now Schmidt is retiring and Page is about step back into the former role. He is wasting no time implementing changes he believes are necessary to make Google more “lean and mean.” One noticeable change is making top executives more accessible to all employees. Page is looking to streamline projects and push decision making down the organization.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What type of divisional structure does Google utilize? Upon what do you base your answer? Comment on the effectiveness of this design arrangement.
  2. The opening paragraphs of the article describe Google as a bureaucracy. Just what does this mean? How does a company like Google become a bureaucracy? What are the advantages of such an arrangement? Why, in this case, may it have become a problem?
  3. When incoming CEO Larry Page says he wants the company to “act more like a start-up than an incumbent,” what type of design is he advocating? What changes need to be made?
  4. In what ways does Page appear to be implementing decentralization with centralization?

SOURCE: A. Efrati, “At Google, Page Aims to Clear Red Tape,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703784004576220902706041400.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection)

Posted by & filed under Compensation & Benefits, Human Resource Management.

Pay is the cornerstone of the employment contract. It is difficult to find any worker that is not concerned about their pay to some degree. The first article reports a study conducted by Statistics Canada revealing that black Canadians earn less than white Canadians on average. Although no specific study is cited, in the second article, U.S. President Barack Obama references the historical gender pay gap. While some researchers contend pay is not a primary motivator, pay differentials continue to be an issue – important enough to occupy the attention of some world leaders.

QUESTIONS:

  1. From the standpoint of the human resource management process, why is fair pay important? Identify factors that might elevate the discussion of pay to the level of strategic HRM.
  2. Both articles describe key demographic groups with lower average pay. Is this a clear case of discrimination? Why or why not? Under what circumstances would lower pay associated with one group or the other NOT be considered discrimination? How does comparable worth relate to this issue?
  3. Imagine for a moment that pay differentials are justified. What alternatives (to direct pay) do employers have at their disposal to attract and retain qualified employees? In other words, if you were limited in terms of what you could pay, what else could you do to keep your employees committed to your organization?

SOURCE: T. Grant, “Black Canadians Paid Less on Average Than Whites: Study,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/black-canadians-paid-less-on-average-than-whites-study/article1929847/)

See also: J. Trindle, “Obama Seeks Fair Pay for Women,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704296604576196103820286140.html)

Posted by & filed under Control.

Dealing with employee problems is rarely enjoyable, yet action is often necessary to ensure problems are not repeated. When the National Hockey League gave its toughest suspension of the season to the Pittsburgh Penguin’s Matt Cooke, it was trying to send a clear message that violent hits are unacceptable. Cooke is popular with his teammates and a valuable part of the Penguins organization, but increasingly is becoming known as a “pest” for questionable hits and penalty time. While Penguins management plan to give Cooke another chance when the suspension is served, they were quick to applaud the league’s action to curb violence on the ice.

QUESTIONS:

  1. In what way(s) does the action against Matt Cooke represent control? What type of control is being used?
  2. Refresh your memory by reviewing the reinforcement strategies in the Motivation chapter. If Cooke is a repeat offender, then it could be argued that the National Hockey League has not been reinforcing the right behavior. What strategy does the suspension represent?
  3. It could be argued that the NHL is practicing management by exception. What event made this situation exceptional? Which of the two exception situations exists in this case?
  4. Is the penalty levied against Cooke consistent with progressive discipline?

SOURCE: The Canadian Press, “Cooke Suspended for Rest of Regular Season, First Round of Playoffs,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/cooke-suspended-for-rest-of-regular-season-first-round-of-playoffs/article1950495/)

Posted by & filed under Social Responsibility.

Like many other entities conducting business in Libya, Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin took action to evacuate employees from the country. The company took an additional step of indefinitely removing Libyan projects, representing close to 7 percent of its revenues, from its order backlog.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Review the definition for corporate social responsibility in your text. In what ways do the actions by SNC-Lavalin satisfy this definition?
  2. Look at the criteria for evaluating social performance. By removing the Libyan projects from its agenda, SNC is effectively reducing its profitability. In what ways does this action constitute social performance?
  3. What social responsibility strategy is SNC showing? Defend your position.

SOURCE: C. Wong, “SNC-Lavalin Casts Doubts on Libya Projects,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/snc-lavalin-casts-doubts-on-libya-projects/article1929926/)

Posted by & filed under Management.

On the eve of the company’s 40th anniversary, USA Today’s Bruce Horowitz interviewed Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Topics include the company’s iconic status, its resiliency, plans for the future, as well as an analysis of successes and failures. One thing appears clear – Schultz is deeply committed to the company and plans to be out front leading it into the future.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Between your own personal experience with the company and your reading of the interview, how well has Starbucks responded to the performance criteria identified in the “Working Today” section of your text?
  2. Does CEO Howard Schultz appear to have a solid understanding of the changing nature of organizations? Analyze Starbucks in terms of the trends listed in your text.
  3. What evidence exists in the interview suggesting that Starbucks embraces the concept of the upside-down pyramid?

SOURCE: B. Horovitz, “Starbucks at 40: An Interview with CEO Howard Schultz,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-03-07-starbucks07_CV_N.htm)

Posted by & filed under Ethics.

In the wake of the early retirement of former Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet are charges she failed to carry out her duties and faithfully investigate disclosures against the government. Mum’s the word on Ms. Ouimet’s part because she has been unable to meet with the Public Accounts Committee since her departure. Official word is she is “out of the country.” It is important to note that the appearance of unethical behavior stems entirely from allegations at this point. Until Ms. Ouimet meets with the committee, it may be difficult to establish any of these. What is clear is that her office failed to take any action on an overwhelming majority of the 228 disclosures received. Public dockets show the commissioner’s determination that she did not have jurisdiction over the matters raised, essentially “passing the buck.”

QUESTIONS:

  1. Putting aside the merits of the disclosures made by whistleblowers. Is there an ethics question in regard to the way Christiane Ouimet’s office carried out its duties? Why or why not?
  2. Assume an ethical dilemma exists. Examine the list of ethical dilemmas in your text. Which might apply in this case?
  3. Given the official explanations for the handling of disclosures, where would you classify Ms. Ouimet’s moral development? Why?
  4. Let’s explore one of the reasons why Ms. Ouimet’s office exists – to investigate disclosures provided by whistleblowers. Among the allegations against her (see related article), are claims she met, or tried to meet, with top government officials. Why is this a problem? How might it potentially affect whistleblowing?

SOURCE: L. Martin, “Former Integrity Commissioner Swept Aside Disclosures of Wrongdoing,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/former-integrity-commissioner-swept-aside-disclosures-of-wrongdoing/article1918159/)

See related article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/disgraced-integrity-czars-400000-severance-deal-includes-gag-order/article1930343/

Posted by & filed under Operations Management.

Without question, Google is the leading search engine on the internet. Advertisers flock to the company. Businesses (and other websites) clamor to move up in Google’s rankings. Yet not everyone is satisfied that Google’s results are the best they can be. University of California Visiting Scholar Vivek Wadhwa says a lot of spam makes its way into the rankings. He sees this as a problem with the exponential growth of information available on the world-wide web. For its part, Google is tweaking its algorithms and cracking down on companies that use gimmicks to improve their ratings.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Let’s begin this mini case study by stepping back to Chapter 3 and the general environment. Most current college students do not remember a time when Google was not the dominant internet search engine. Google is the leading search engine because of its superior algorithms. The present article calls that into question. Is Google’s position guaranteed because of these algorithms? What forces might dislodge the giant?
  2. What is the value creation performed by Google? Describe it in detail from your own perspective. Why would some other company spend its advertising money with Google?
  3. Place Google at the center of the value chain shown in Figure 18.1 of your text. Work your way forward and describe how the last two steps take place. Now work backward and describe the first two steps. Where does Google’s crackdown on “cheaters” fit in the model?

SOURCE: A. Efrati, “Google Revamps to Fight Cheaters,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704150604576166390281747136.html)

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Posted by & filed under Decision Making.

The much anticipated annual letter to shareholders from Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is out and the picture is quite rosy. Berkshire reported a 61% increase in earnings for 2010 and net income swelled to $13 billion. The company is poised to make major acquisitions in 2011. The success of 2010 is due largely to the acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe and a dramatic turnaround at NetJets. The company did not outperform the S&P 500 – Buffett says such expectations year in and year out are unrealistic – for the second consecutive year and just the eighth time in the last 46 years.

QUESTIONS:

  1. In terms of usefulness, how would you classify Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders? If you believe it is useful, what criteria does it satisfy?
  2. Try to imagine what goes on when Mr. Buffett makes investing decisions. What type of thinking is involved? Is it possible that a successful investor, like Mr. Buffett, utilizes more than one style?
  3. Investing always involves a certain degree of risk. In 46 years at the helm of Berkshire Hathway, Mr. Buffett has been able to outperform the S&P 500 in all but eight. Scan the article to see if you can identify some of the strategies he uses to minimize risk.
  4. Consider this issue not directly related to decision making. Mr. Buffett currently serves as chairman of the board, CEO, and chief investment officer at Berkshire. What do you think about this?

SOURCE: S. Ng & E. Holm, “Berkshire’s Buffett Eyes More Major Deals as Earnings Surge,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703796504576168160901144564.html)

See also: Associated Press, “Warren Buffett Remains Optimistic About U.S. Economy,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/warren-buffett-remains-optimistic-about-us-economy/article1922176/)