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Essay #1: Case Study: Restview Hospital
Mary Carter was the accounting manager at Restview Hospital, a large residential health care facility. The facility administrator, Jack Morelli, explained that he wanted to modernize Restview’s system of accounts billing. He asked Mary to investigate available software packages that would be compatible with their computer system. Jack explained that he and the Restview board of directors would like to make a decision about this matter at the board meeting next month.
A week later, Jack asked Mary about her progress, and she reported that she had identified two vendors with appropriate software packages. Jack asked why her list of potential vendors did not include Standard Software Systems, the vendor from which they purchased the software currently used to process Restview’s payroll. Standard had just recently developed a software package for accounts billing as a new addition to their product line, but few hospitals were using it. The preliminary information gathered by Mary suggested that Standard’s software package was less appropriate for Restview than the packages offered by the other vendors. However, Mary knew that the president of Standard Software was a personal friend of Jack, and she agreed to include Standard among the vendors selected for further consideration.
During the next two weeks, sales representatives from each vendor were invited to make a presentation at Restview to demonstrate and explain their product. Mary had planned to invite the board members to these presentations, but Jack said they were too busy to attend. When the presentations were held, Mary and her office staff asked many questions, but Jack looked bored and said very little. Mary also visited some other hospitals that were already using each type of software package to get firsthand opinions about how well they worked and the difficulties experienced in installing them. During the course of her investigation, she learned that Standard’s new software package was less flexible and less user-friendly than the others. All three software packages were about the same price, but the software package from Reliable Computer was clearly the best one for Restview’s needs. She prepared a short report to Jack detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each product and made her recommendation.
The next day Mary met with Jack to give him the written report and summarize her findings in person. She explained the reasons for her recommendation to purchase the software package from Reliable Computers, and she reviewed the evidence supporting it. Mary also offered to present her findings to the board of directors at their next meeting, but Jack said he could handle it himself. The board meeting was held the following week, and afterward, Jack informed Mary that they decided to go with the software package from Standard. He explained that the board wanted to reward Standard for excellent customer service last year when installing their payroll software at Restview. Two years later, after thousands of dollars of unnecessary expense, the accounts billing software was still not operating smoothly for Restview.
- How would you explain the board’s decision to purchase the software package from Standard?
- How much power relative to this decision did Mary, Jack, and the president of Standard Software possess, and what type of power was it?
- What could Mary have done to gain more influence over the decision?
Essay #2: Case Study: Sporting Goods Store
Bill Thompson is the new manager of a retail sporting goods store in Vermont that is part of a national chain. Bill, who is 25 years old, has been working for the company for four years. Before his promotion, he was the assistant manager for two years at a company store in Delaware. Last week his boss, the regional manager, briefly introduced him to the employees.
The profit performance of this store is below average for its location, and Bill is looking forward to the challenge of improving profits. When he was an assistant manager, he was given mostly minor administrative duties and paperwork, so this assignment will be his first opportunity to show he can be an effective manager. The company sets the base salaries of the 20 employees who work in Bill’s store, but appraisal ratings by the store manager influence the size of an employee’s annual merit raise. The regional manager must justify these recommendations, especially if they are not consistent with individual and department sales. Bill can suspend or fire employees with the approval of his boss, but in practice, it is difficult to do so unless the recommendation is supported by a strong case.
The headquarters office sets the store layout and most prices. However, the store manager can affect store performance to a limited extent. One way is to keep the cost of employees low is by making sure they are working efficiently and not taking excessive sick days. Another way is to ensure that employees are providing a high level of customer service so that customers will return to make other purchases rather than going to a different store next time. Customer service depends on knowing the products well, being polite, providing prompt service, and making sure that inventories of popular goods are maintained so that customers can find what they want. Pay is low for this type of retail selling job, turnover is high, and it takes a few months for a new employee to learn the merchandise well enough to be helpful to customers. Thus, it is also desirable to keep competent employees satisfied enough to stay with the company.
Although it is only his first week on the job, Bill believes that he has already discovered some of the problems at this store. Among the various departments in the store, the ski department has the highest potential profits during the winter, because skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports in Vermont. At the current time, the department’s sales are about average for company stores in the Northeast region, with potential for considerable improvement. On several occasions, Bill noticed a line of customers waiting to be served in the ski department, and he overheard some of them grumbling about how long it takes to get served. One customer said he was leaving to go to another store that didn’t make him “wait all day to have the privilege of spending hundreds of dollars on ski equipment.” Bill observed that Sally Jorgenson, the department manager, spends a lot of time socializing with her salespeople and with customers, including friends who drop in to visit and talk about ski conditions, resorts, fashions, equipment, racing, and so forth. Bill, who doesn’t ski, cannot understand what they find so interesting to talk about. He wonders why anybody in their right mind would want to spend a small fortune and risk permanent injury to hurtle down a mountain in blizzard conditions, and then stand in long lines and ride up a freezing chairlift just to do it all over again!
- How much of each type of power does Bill have at this time?
- What influence tactics could be used in this situation to influence Sally? Explain what you would actually say to Sally in the process of using each tactic.
- What should Bill do to improve store performance?
Essay #3: Briefly define the four proactive core tactics. Which proactive tactics are most likely to result in target commitment? How can others use proactive tactics to resist or modify influence attempts? From the Internet identify a case study where proactive tactics have been used.
Essay #4: Briefly compare the following early contingency theories:
- Fiedler’s LPC contingency model
- Fiedler’s cognitive resource theory
- Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory