Posted by & filed under Management.

A generation of Baby Boomers is on the cusp of retirement, but some may not. Whether for financial reasons, longevity, or something else, not all Baby Boomers are ready to leave the workplace. One of them is Michael Adams, president of a Toronto-based consulting firm. Mr. Adams says Baby Boomers have a lot to offer and companies that do not take advantage will likely see their competitors seizing the opportunity.


  1. Are Baby Boomers a trend in terms of working today? How should organizations factor them into plans for the future?
  2. Take a look at the figure of the Shamrock Organization. What part(s) might Baby Boomers fulfill?
  3. Management Smarts 1.1 provides tips for the early career. Mr. Adams mentions that Baby Boomers could mentor one another. They might also be able to mentor up-and-coming employees. With what career survival skills could Baby Boomers help?

SOURCE: D. Jermyn, “Boomers Not Ready to Be Shown the Door,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at

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Posted by & filed under Human Resource Management.

It seems everyone is obsessed with measurement these days. In fact, you probably started your course by talking about research that informs current management thinking or the importance of quantitative analysis or quality management. The fact is lots of things are measured. If you haven’t already, you will soon be examining individual behavior. The author contends that individual behavior is difficult to measure and factors that predict performance success over the long haul are often not included in typical measures of performance. These measures – maximum performance measures – are quick, seemingly straightforward, and easily gather data on a large group. But the measures have little value beyond the test conditions themselves.


  1. Let’s begin with a review. In a general sense, why do supermarkets care about the speed of cashiers, NFL teams care about 40-yard dash times, or colleges care about scores on standardized tests? Do these things constitute data, information, or both? What does (or would) make these measurements useful information?
  2. Which major responsibility in the human resource management process is covered by the NFL Scouting Combine? What about the SAT? What about measuring cashier speed? There are two basic criteria associated with employment tests. Which is being called into question in the article when it contrasts maximum versus typical performance?
  3. If typical performance is trustworthy and accurately measured, would you be confident enough to make the decision to hire or reject a job candidate on that alone? If not, what else would you consider? If you are comfortable making the decision based on typical performance, would you be able to defend the practice in a court of law?

SOURCE: J. Lehrer, “Measurements That Mislead,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

Posted by & filed under Individual Behavior.

The author’s recent shopping experience in New York City is chronicled. Suffice it to say, she did not have a positive experience and has advice to offer for improving service to customers. The problems Ms. Barrows encountered speak to the importance of individual behavior in the workplace.


  1. Why is job satisfaction important? If you have retail experience, describe the variety of customers/customer demands that you experience. How might these different interactions influence job satisfaction? What is the best way to ensure employee engagement in jobs that require high levels of customer contact?
  2. Two related, but different, retail stores. One sells lingerie; the other sells men’s hats. Both stores are staffed by male employees. Is there any reason to believe that job involvement might be an issue in either situation? What about organizational commitment? Discuss the reasons for your answers.
  3. What role does emotion play in the way we work? Comment on the emotional intelligence of the two salespeople based on the brief exchange with Ms. Barrows and her companion. What factors might influence their responses? As you imagine possibilities, discuss how you would handle similar situations.

SOURCE: S. Barrows, “Please Don’t Squeeze the Lingerie,” Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at

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.


  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

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.


  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

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.


  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

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.


  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

See also: J. Trindle, “Obama Seeks Fair Pay for Women,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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.


  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

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.


  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

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.


  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