BUS 202 – What happened when a plant manager tried

Subject: Business / General Business

Objective: This exercise asks you to analyze what happened when a plant manager tried to apply the idea of participative decision making in his organization. Be sure to use the tools discussed in the chapter.
Directions: Read the following story and consider the questions at the end of the exercise. These questions will be the starting point for this discussion board.

John Stevens, plant manager of the Fairlee Plant of Lockheed Corporation, attended the advanced management seminar conducted at a large Midwestern university. The seminar of four weeks’ duration was largely devoted to the topic of executive decision making.

Professor Mennon, one of the university staff, particularly impressed John with his lectures on group discussion and group decision making. On the basis of research and experience, Professor Mennon, was convinced that employees, if given the opportunity, could meet together, intelligently consider, and then formulate a quality decision that would be enthusiastically accepted.

Returning to his plant at the conclusion of the seminar, John decided to practice some of the principles he had learned. He called together the 25 employees of department B and told them that production standards established several years previously were no too low in view of the recent installation of automated equipment. He gave the employees the opportunity to discuss the mitigating circumstances and to decide among themselves, as a group, what their standards should be. John, on leaving the room, believed that the employees would doubtlessly establish higher standards than he himself would have dared proposed.

After an hour of discussion, the group summoned John and notified him that, contrary to his opinion, their group decision was that the standards were already too high, since they were given the authority to establish their own standards, they were making a reduction of 10 percent. These standards, John knew, were far too low to provide a fair profit on the owner’s investment. Yet it was clear that hi refusal to accept the group’s decision would be disastrous. Before taking a course of action, John called Professor Mennon at the university to ask for his opinion.

Consider the following questions in formulating a response and posting to the Discussion Board:

1. What went wrong?

2. Was John’s style of participative decision making appropriate for the situation?

3. Was style should he have used?

4. What should John do now regardless of what Professor Mennon says?

Post your answers in short, concise form and post them on the Discussion Board. Once the discussion starts you will have the opportunity to expand on your conclusions. You are to read the postings of other students and comment, question and discuss what went wrong and how to rectify the situation.


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