Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The slow economy forced many businesses to trim staff to bare-bones levels. Remaining employees wanted their usual end-of-summer vacation time and this left companies shorthanded. Two companies – Quality Buildings in Norman, Oklahoma, and David’s Soundview Catering in Stamford, Connecticut – handled the shortages through job shifting and overtime. The strategy worked but was not very effective. Many companies are turning to temporary agencies for help covering employee vacations.


M1. Could small companies, like the ones profiled in the article, suspend vacation while staffing is reduced? What about the practice of bringing in temporary workers to cover for vacationing employees? What are the relevant legal issues?

M2. If you were advising these companies, what is one way to help a lean staff be better prepared for short staffing associated with vacations?

M3. Consider what you read about vacation and work coverage at companies with lean staffing. What are the implications for work-life balance? Are there options with respect to work schedule flexibility that might help companies get the work done while allowing employees some time off?

SOURCE: J. Walker, “Summer Vacations Bring Strain to Trimmed Staffs,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon would like to retire next year. Yet a series of recent product quality problems has him concerned. Insiders say Mr. Weldon is very competitive and would not leave the company with lingering problems. So Weldon is working on plans to take corrective action. Johnson & Johnson’s board of directors might ask him to stay a little longer and see these plans through. The company’s customer relationships are good and its financial performance has not taken much of a hit because of the recalls. However, there are now questions about the successor to Weldon. One thing is certain – the focus, for now, is more on manufacturing than who will run the company in the near future.


M1. CEO William Weldon recently presented plans to Johnson & Johnson employees for dealing with manufacturing problems. Of the key benefits associated with planning, which do you believe Mr. Weldon hopes to realize? Why? Can you make an argument for all three?

M2. Is the planning needed to respond to these manufacturing problems short- or long-range? Strategic/tactical or operational? State your reasons for both choices.

M3. Johnson & Johnson is obviously very concerned about quality and the shadow that recalls casts on its image. Put yourself in the shoes of CEO Weldon. Using the example in Figure 7.2 develop a hierarchy of objectives to guide implementation of plans to correct manufacturing problems.

SOURCE: J. S. Lublin & J. D. Rockoff, “J&J Chief Tends Corporate Wounds,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Volkwagen recently revealed an aggressive strategy to become the top automobile manufacturer in the world. Currently, the company is third behind Toyota and General Motors. Volkswagen executives believe they can sell 1 million vehicles per year by 2018, but industry analysts see the company selling considerably less even under the best projections. The company’s strategy hinges on widespread acceptance of a vehicle it is not currently producing, dramatically increased sales of a crossover vehicle that is being outsold 8-1 by two other models, and reintroduction of a luxury vehicle that previously failed in the United States.


M1. In what ways does Volkwagen’s strategy reflect multi-dimensional thinking? What role should strategic opportunism play?
M2. In what type of decision environment is Volkswagen operating? Given widely different interpretations about the company’s capabilities, what should VW executives do to improve their decision making?
M3. What decision-making error might explain why Volkswagen has an optimistic view of the chances to become #1 while industry analysts are less confident? The decision to reintroduce the Phaeton could reflect what decision-making trap? [Read the final section of the article for a hint.]

IB1. Consider the characteristics associated with globalization in the introductory section of Chapter 9. Why is the United States important to a company like Volkswagen? Is Volkwagen’s strategy, as outlined in the article, multi-domestic or true globalization?
IB2. What are some of the factors you believe to be driving Volkswagen’s “ramped up” strategy?
IB3. What type of competitive strategy is Volkswagen pursuing?

SOURCE: J. Healey, “VW Plans to Be No. 1 Car Seller in the World By 2018,” USA Today (Retrievable online at

Posted by & filed under Communication.

This article provides a somewhat humorous, yet real, look at the effect of communication technology on human interactions. Volunteers at the Memorial Golf Tournament in Dublin, Ohio ask each spectator whether they have cellular telephones upon entrance to the course. PGA rules prohibit cell phones on courses during tournaments to prevent golfers from being distracted. Increasingly, spectators are seen in possession of phones around the greens. The article provides an excellent backdrop for helping individuals realize how technology can intrude and inhibit effective interactions.


M1. When volunteer John Massara says, “Everyone lies,” it is a serious indictment on human behavior. Discuss the general importance of credibility in communication and talk about the factors (even in the article) that might lead Mr. Massara to be skeptical.

M2. What communication barrier does a ringing cell phone represent when two (or more) people are interacting? Why is this a problem?

M3. Although not a problem related to the article, technology is changing the way we communicate in positive and negative ways. Consider the implications of cell phones. Discuss this issue in the general sense of how texting is affecting communication and in terms of how the choice of channel influences communication effectiveness.

    SOURCE: K. L. Gray, “No Phone? Sure,” Columbus Dispatch (Retrievable online at

    Related video clip:

    Posted by & filed under Leadership.

    When John Wooden died June 4, 2010 at the age of 99, the basketball community lost a living legend. As coach of the UCLA Bruins, Coach Wooden experienced unprecedented (and unduplicated) success. As a player, he won a national championship at Purdue University. He was a three-time All-American. As a coach, he won 10 national championships in 12 years (including 7 in a row). From 1971-74, his teams won an NCAA basketball record 88 consecutive games. He accomplished this, in some cases, with superstar players and, in others, with brilliant teamwork. In 40 seasons of coaching, he had only one losing season (his first). He is the only person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.


    M1. Read the full article. As you do, develop a list of traits that made John Wooden an effective leader. What are the top three traits that you believe would generalize to any leader in any situation?

    M2. Coach Wooden definitely had a dominant leadership style. What was it (i.e., task-motivated or relationship-motivated)? Examine Fiedler’s Contingency Theory and identify the things Wooden did that ultimately translated into success.

    M3. In what ways did Coach Wooden embody Drucker’s “Old-Fashioned” Leadership?

    M4. Now examine the models of change leadership and Figure 10.2. What are the key factors that moved Coach Wooden from a “status quo manager” to the kind of leader he needed to be to achieve consistent success?

      SOURCE: B. Dwyre & D. Wharton, “John Wooden Dies at 99,” Los Angeles Times (Retrievable online at,0,409375.story)

      See also: D. Wharton & C. Foster, “John Wooden’s Words Live On in the Hearts of His Admirers,” Los Angeles Times (Retrievable online at,0,2447678.story)

      Related video clip:

      Posted by & filed under Leadership.

      A recent poll shows Americans are gaining confidence about economic recovery, but still harbor much anger toward politicians. Many indicate they would prefer to elect individuals without experience in Congress in order to break free from the status quo.


      M1. Examine the Leader-Participation Model and the three rules for making decisions. How should these rules influence the way politicians vote? Are any of these rules contributing to how the public feels about politicians at the moment?

      M2. One could argue that President Barack Obama swept into office on the strength of his vision and charisma. Yet dissatisfaction with politicians suggests that Congress is anything but transformational in terms of leadership. Discuss what our nation’s political leaders must do to be effective transformational leaders.

      M3. Step out of the main portion of the chapter and review the Learning About Yourself feature on integrity. Does integrity have anything to do with the way Americans in general feel about politicians (as leaders)? How?

        SOURCE: S. Page, “Poll Finds Anger Over Country’s Leaders,” USA Today (Retrievable online at

        Posted by & filed under Control.

        We typically think about control in terms of processes. However, control can apply to individual behavior by controlling (constraining) choices. In the case of Ivan Cantera, his mother’s choice of his high school left him in an environment with strict controls that ultimately ensured his success. For former girlfriend Laura Corro, the choice to go the standard route left her with little control and, now, little direction as to her future.


        M1. Take the definition for control and apply it to the present situation. In other words, how does control work in the case of Ivan Cantera?

        M2. What types of controls are utilized by Santa Fe South High School?

        M3. What control mechanism (broad option and specific type) is in place at Santa Fe South? Can you argue that this type of mechanism might influence another control mechanism?

        M4. Discuss how the differences in discipline systems at Santa Fe South and Capitol Hill lead to different results in terms of student performance.

          SOURCE: M. Jordan, “A Tale of Two Students,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

          Posted by & filed under Teams.

          The 2010 Cincinnati Reds are surprising many observers of Major League Baseball. The Reds themselves are not surprised. After starting the season 7-10, the team rebounded to take sole possession of the National League Central Division ahead of the much-heralded St. Louis Cardinals (they are currently in second place). The team is accomplishing this without superstar players and with contributions from utility players and rookies. While the team does not perform well in some statistical categories, they are leading the major leagues in come-from-behind victories and wins in the final at-bat. There is a quiet confidence on the team and they are determined.


          1. “With a roster full of unknowns and unprovens” and players “thankful just to have jobs in the major leagues,” in what ways is the success experienced by the 2010 Reds an indicator of synergy?
          2. The Cincinnati Reds are an organization (in fact, the oldest Major League Baseball franchise). Make an argument that the Reds are a self-managing team and not a traditional work unit. Be sure to examine all the characteristics of self-managing teams.
          3. Examine the open-systems model of teams in your text. Discuss the various elements of this model and apply them to the Reds.
          4. When a team relies on young players like Chris Heisey, veterans such as Scott Rolen and manager Dusty Baker are very important. Discuss the relationship between norms and cohesiveness and the importance of veterans for insuring team effectiveness. Are veterans essential for sports team effectiveness?

          SOURCE: M. Futterman, “Are the Reds This Year’s ‘It’ Team,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

          Posted by & filed under Organizational Structure & Design.

          Continental Airlines and United Airlines plan to merge operations. While the business deal has yet to receive approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, the two entities are already making plans for the transition. This includes developing interim structures and leadership to govern the transition process.


          1. Begin by reviewing the definitions for mechanistic design and organic design. Now think about Continental Airlines and United Airlines. What design do these organizations utilize? Why? Is there anything about the airline industry that might dictate one form over the other?
          2. Now consider the proposed merger of Continental and United. Why is it important to develop a formal structure even before the merger has been approved? What are the benefits of a well-defined formal structure?
          3. The resulting merged company will utilize a functional structure. What functional areas have been identified? What is the common problem associated with a functional structure? How might this be exaggerated after the merger?

          SOURCE: S. Carey, “Continental, United Agree on Merger Integration Leadership Team,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

          Posted by & filed under Communication, Conflict.

          Following a national election dominated by two parties, Conservatives and Labour, Britain’s Liberal Democrats are in a position to accomplish parts of their agenda if they align with the Conservatives to create a working majority in the House of Commons. The two parties do not always see eye to eye on issues, but recognize the overriding need is to fix their country’s ailing economy.


          1. In what ways does the article express the concept of social capital?
          2. Conservative Liam Fox commented on the dynamic that might bring his group together with the Liberal Democrats. What technique for improving communication does his comment represent? What lessons could U.S. political parties take from this? What rules should they follow?
          3. If the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are able to form a working majority, what structural approach to conflict resolution is most likely being used?

          SOURCE: R. Barr, “UK Liberal Democrats Mull Pact With Conservatives,” USA Today (Retrievable online at