978-1319052348 Chapter 10 Part 2

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint 8th Edition
Angela Trethewey, Eric M. Eisenberg, Marianne LeGreco
years and have two children in college.
Administrative Assistant: You work as an assistant to the CEO. You have been asked to
move with the
company to South Carolina. You are a thirty-seven-year-old single parent.
You currently live with your
mother and terminally ill father, who care for your children
while you are at work every day.
Mayor of New Brunswick: E & G has been part of your town for over fifty years. Town
and corporation
have helped each other grow and prosper. E & G has supplied most of the
jobs in the area. Its financial
contributions and partnership efforts have helped New
Brunswick start a major “clean up and restore” effort.
E & G Factory Worker: You have been let go after five years of employment. You have
lived in New
Brunswick your whole life and have a high school equivalency diploma. Your
spouse was diagnosed four
months ago with cancer and is no longer able to work.
Spouse of Operations Supervisor: You are married to the operations supervisor at E & G.
You currently
commute every day from New Brunswick to New York City in order to
attend your second-year law
school classes at Columbia University. Your husband has been
asked to move to South Carolina in order to
keep his job. There are no law schools of this
caliber in South Carolina.
Owner of Security Company: Yours is an independent company that has provided security
for E & G for
fifteen years. This is the largest contract that your company has and
accounts for 68 percent of the company’s earnings. You are not able to provide coverage
outside of the northeast region and will lose the
contract effective three months from now.
Junior in High School: You are sixteen years old and beginning your college application
process. You
have lived in New Brunswick for eight years and are really thriving in
school. You are an “A” student,
play two varsity sports, and are class president. Your father
has been transferred to E & G’s South Carolina
Local Private School Principal: Almost one-third of your students are the children of E &
G employees.
Half of the parents involved in school-support activities, such as the PTA,
are related to E & G in some
E & G Salesperson: This is your first job out of college. Your position has been
downsized after one year
of employment. You are engaged to be married six months
from now, and you rent an apartment.
Account Executive: You have been given the option to move with E & G to South
Carolina. You are married and have two elementary-school-age children. You make 53
percent of your annual household income.
Restaurant Owner: You own a restaurant down the block from E & G. Lunchtime is
your main focus and
brings in the bulk of your income.
Additional Case Studies
The following are all case studies from previous editions of Organizational Communication.
The Case of the Engineering Salad
Dom Valesquez is head systems engineer for an aerospace design firm. He is also a
gourmet cook
who has a passion for Southwestern, Cajun, and Italian dishes and has
prepared many memorable
meals for his friends. For example, he has concocted a
blackened catfish enchilada with fresh cilantro and green onion marinated rice that won
first prize in a local cook-off. Similarly, his “licorice
fish” recipe calling for fresh fennel,
garlic, olive oil, and sardines tossed with linguine is a constant flavor reference among
local gourmands.
But cooking is not Dom’s problem these days. His firm is undergoing a corporate
change and
transformation process that he has been placed in charge of, mostly against his
better judgment. It
isn’t that he disagrees with the change process. In fact, he is one of its
strongest sponsors. Instead,
his objection is based on his belief that what is wrong with his
company is not something that he is
equipped to fix. And what is wrong is communication;
simply put, it doesn’t happen very often, and
when it does, it is usually misunderstood.
Ironically, he was placed in charge of the change effort because of his cooking skills.
Evans, his CEO, told him: “If you can combine so many different ingredients and
come up with an
original, wonderful dish, then surely there is something in that head of
yours that can help us do the
same thing with our company.”
“Yeah, right, Angela,” Dom thought when she told him. “I can cook because when I do
it, I only
have to talk to myself. But this is a different kind of problem.”
Dom’s company consists of five independent divisions: contracts (responsible for gaining
accounting and finance (responsible for bookkeeping and billing), engineering
(responsible for creating designs), technical support (responsible for documentation,
graphics, and specifications), and
clerical support (responsible for secretarial and office
support duties). Each division consists of a
head (Dom is head of engineering) and a
technical or professional staff. There are seventy-two employees in the firm, most of whom
are engineers.
Their company chart looks like this:
Contracts Administration Engineering
Accounting Department Technical Support
Clerical Staff
From Dom’s perspective, even though this chart is relatively flat, it still
misrepresents how the
information necessary to deliver a design actually works. He
sees all the business units as part of a
larger, interrelated system: Without contracts
administration, there is no work to do, but without
engineering there is no work,
period. Similarly, accounting is to contracts what technical support is
to engineering:
part of the whole, not a separate unit. Without accounting, nobody would get paid,
and without technical support, nobody would know what anybody else was doing.
For the company
to work, as Dom has often pointed out, some mechanism is needed
for all the groups to know what
each one of them is up to, what the groups’ needs
are, and a way of providing information and feedback.
Unfortunately, Dom’s views are not widely understood. Cody Anders, head of
contracts administration, believes that if each business unit simply did its job there
wouldn’t be any problems.
Cody, Dom muses, is strictly a meat-and-potatoes kind of
guy; he only eats one thing at a time and
won’t eat anything once it has been
touched by another food. Taylor Mims, head of accounting,
more or less agrees
with Cody, and this forms a kind of contracts and accounting mentality that the
engineers and technical support staff constantly confront. On a more positive note, the
head of technical support, DeAnna Baker, sides with Dom against Taylor and Cody.
In her view, technical support is central to the whole operation, but they need access
to everyone in the various business units
to do their jobs.
Dom’s task is to find a way to improve communication among the five business units.
In his mind he
sees this as akin to making a really fine salad out of distinct
ingredients. But lately he has come to
realize that he is not simply the master chef in
this recipe for corporate success; he is also necessarily
part of the problem. After all,
engineering is the largest business unit, and although he knows the
others are
valuable, he stubbornly clings to the idea that engineering is what the firm does, and
without engineering, there would be no company.
It is at this point in the operation that Dom requests help from a local
organizational communication consulting and training firm. You are his contact.
What would you recommend? How would
you propose Dom and his company adopt
a systems perspective for their work? What could be done
to help them accomplish
better communication? How will what they do affect their change and
transformation process?
Developing a Critical Theory/Postmodern Code of Ethics
WestWear, Inc. is a chain of fashion retail stores located primarily in the U.S. Midwest and
specializes in casual sportswear for women and men. Their chief competitors are The Gap
and Banana Republic. Dedicated to providing stylish clothing at affordable prices,
WestWear also embraces a “customer first” policy that places a premium on high-quality,
customer-specific service. In addition, returns are gladly accepted, regardless of condition or
origin of sale.
The management of WestWear, Inc. prides itself on being a socially conscious retail
Toward this end, they donate 2 percent of their annual profits to various
charitable organizations
worldwide, the names of which are provided by customers.
Donations are made in their customers’
names. They also sponsor plastic-free packaging
for all sales; use only recycled paper for all gift
wrapping, notepads, sales slips, and
correspondence; and sponsor a semiannual glad-rags donation
drive to collect old clothes
for free distribution to homeless shelters.
WestWear, Inc. is also quite profitable. In a highly competitive and somewhat fickle
they attribute their success to their socially conscious efforts as well as to their
customer-first program. To maintain their competitive edge, they have pledged to be the
industry leader in earth-preserving and customer service. None of their business decisions
are made without taking both aspects of their pledge into account.
Recently, the management of WestWear, Inc. has decided to develop a “WestWear Code of
that would serve both as an advertisement and as a management plan. Realizing
from their own research that business codes of ethics need to encourage individual decision
making within a range of
desirable options, and having last year sponsored corporate-wide
empowerment programs, the task
at hand seems both admirable and difficult. Their code
must be both flexible and comprehensive; it
must work within the boundaries of employee
empowerment and customer service; and it must respect their pledge to save the earth as
well as do high-volume business.
Further research has demonstrated that simply developing a code of ethics based on
good deeds
is generally not helpful. Instead, WestWear has bought into the idea of Critical
Incident Technique
(CIT) as a method for generating the ethical parameters of business
decisions. Accomplishing CIT
requires the development of typical business scenarios that
are used to generate as many possible
ethical and unethical frameworks as the context
suggests. The ethical principles are derived from a
discussion of the ethics of specific
interpretations of contexts. From this step should emerge the
statements that may then be
refined into a WestWear Code of Ethics.
You have been retained as a communication consultant to WestWear, Inc. Your task is to
develop a
series of CIT scenarios taken from ordinary business contexts in retail. Using
your experience with
retail outlets as well as your studies of employee-management
communication, develop three or four
scenarios that can be used to guide a group discussion
of ethical issues.
Lead a focus-group discussion to ferret out the ethical principles that the employees and
confront in their daily business practices. Investigate as many possibilities as your
group can generate.
The results of your consulting efforts should be a postmodern, critical theory Code of
Ethics for
WestWear, Inc. that is capable of maximizing empowerment and initiative in
customer service, employee-managerial relations, and public relations while contributing to
the earth-preserving aspect of
their business pledge.
The First Year of Life
The First Year of Life is a venture-capital specialty store located in a medium-size
city. The store is dedicated to acquiring, marketing, and selling a wide
variety of products designed
for children in their first year of life. Some of the goods
and services include:
Clothing designed for “preemies” (prematurely born infants), newborns (1 to 3
months), and
infants (4 to 12 months).
Accessories for children (and their parents) for home care, travel, and emergencies.
These include diaper bags, traveling cribs, strollers, high chairs, thermometers,
medicine, formula,
bottles (reusable and disposable), nipples, cleaning supplies for
bottles and nipples, receiving
blankets, sheets, blankets, comforters, and the like.
Specialty toys for the first year of life, particularly those that focus onlearning.
(Note: This
store is NOT trying to compete with Toys “R” Us or discount stores;
the toys carried by The
First Year of Life are not likely to be found in other outlets.)
Information products, including books about the first year of life; mood”
music to help
soothe, comfort, or accustom the newborn to various sounds;
audiobooks providing various
advisories about child rearing and care that parents
can listen to as they commute to work and
so on; and an on-staff registered nurse
who will answer questions from parents. (Note: A special feature of this store is that
any child in the first year of life can be weighed and measured,
and a Growth
Chart” will be provided and updated free of charge.)
The marketing prospectus is particularly strong. Americans are spending more
money on children than ever before. Middle-class Americans spend approximately
30 percent of their disposable
income on a first child during the first year of life.
The primary marketing target for this store is
“Yuppie Parents,” a segment of the
overall First Year of Life market that has a relatively high level
of disposable income
and desires high-quality information and products that combine substance with
A secondary—but important—market comprises friends, family, and work
acquaintances of
parents who have children in their first year of life.
The store is located across the street from a major shopping mall in a strip mall
with ample parking and lighting. The appearance of the store is clean, inviting, and
bright. Inventory is kept in the
warehouse in the rear of the store; products are
purchased by taking a bar-coded slip to the cash register, and delivery is made after
the purchase.
The owner of the store is a retired couple in their mid-fifties who have reared three
children and (so
far) two grandchildren. The man (Clarence) is an ex-military security
specialist with a strong preference for operating the store as what he calls “a well-run
machine.” The wife (Martha) is the real information specialist on the first year of life,
both from practical experience and from two years spent researching this venture and
available products. She says she wants “everyone who comes into the store
to feel at
home and to develop good relations with the sales staff, the owners, and other
The owners do not plan to be on the premises every day or even year-
round. “We did not retire to go to
work,both of them agree. (It should be noted here
that a substantial part of their venture capital was
acquired by winnings in the state
lottery; their savings have not been put into the business.)
Because they do not plan to be on the premises every day during working hours, they
have hired
a seasoned retail manager (Catherine) to run the operation. Her background is in
retail clothing, and
she has worked for fifteen years for a major fashion chain. Her
educational background includes a
bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in
business administration. (She spent four years
as a registered nurse after graduating from
college and made a career change when she entered
graduate school.) She says that her
management philosophy is based on the work of Karl Weick and
the systems approach to
organizing. “Everything counts,she says with a smile, but you can’t count
By this last statement, she apparently means that the bottom line is not necessarily the
measure of business success.
There are four full-time sales associates. Three of them are women in their mid-fifties
with experience rearing children; one of them is a young male college student pursuing a
career in marketing. Their primary responsibilities are to make the customer feel “at home”
and to answer questions
about the goods and services available. Their secondary
responsibilities are to make sure the store is
always clean and neat and that all the items are
properly displayed and marked. The male marketing
student (Ricardo) sees this new store
as a rare opportunity to “get in on the ground floor of a store
with great potential” and
hopes one day to move into management, preferably as the person who determines
marketing campaigns for the store. The three other sales associates are as different as their
fingerprints. One of them (Clarice) is an ex-elementary school teacher who believes she
will make
better money and experience less stress here; another is a former homemaker
(Fern) who has never
worked outside of the home before; the third is a young grandmother
(Jan) from a farming family
who believes in hard work and Jesus Christ.
There are two inventory/warehouse workers (Bill and Ben) whose job is to process the
once they are received and to keep up with the inventory. These workers were
acquired from Toys
“R” Us. Both of them have about ten years’ experience in stockroom
and inventory control, although
the Toys “R” Us system was computer controlled and
ordering was handled by the managers. Here
they have new responsibilities, and all the
orders come from a phone link to the cash register. They
get along well together and on the
side operate a custom car painting shop (Bill and Ben’s Kustom
Kar Kapers).
There are two registered nurses on staff (Ella and Anne). They occupy a prime space in
the center of the store and have the necessary weighing and measuring devices on display as
well as a good
stock of helpful books and audiobooks giving advice to parents. Both of the
nurses have extensive
experience with children; both were hired from the staff of a private
local physician after he retired.
They know and like each other and seem to work well
together, but clearly miss working with the
kindly old physician whom both of them loved
and respected. One problem is that they don’t always
recommend products to parents,
preferring instead to give free advice.
After the store opened, it enjoyed almost unheard-of business success. For the first
quarter of
operation, sales were exceptional; for the second quarter, they were good. Now
the store is in its
third quarter, and sales have slacked off. Relations among personnel
have similarly suffered. Because of the unprecedented success of this store, a local group
of businesspeople have decided to
open their own operation across town. Clearly, things are
getting more complicated.
Here is what the players say:
Clarence: “Sales are down because things aren’t running smoothly. Stock is down
doesn’t get reported, so orders are made and we don’t always have what we advertise
or what
is on display. (Note: Display items cannot be sold.) We need tighter control of
employees and
stock, more uniformity in how we deal with customers. I don’t like Bill
and Ben parking their
race cars out in front of the store, either. It’s the wrong image. I’m
a little worried about the
new store across town, too. Not much we can do about it right
now, but unless we get our act
together, and fast, well, I dunno. But it won’t be good.”
Martha: “Sales are down because the newness has worn off and because we
didn’t take
enough time with each customer. I think we need more emphasis on
human relationships and
caring, more of a sense of warmth in the store. Busy,
busy, busy—that’s been the problem.
We need to realize that what people get here
is more than productsthey get feelings of security and friendship. We need to
work on that.”
Catherine: “We’ve had some problems communicating due to the unforeseen
traffic in the
store. I had no idea we would become so popular! In retrospect,
there are things we should
have done differently. For example, I should have
encouraged the nurses to understand their
role in sales support; they still think of
themselves as primarily nurses working at a doctor’s
office. The inventory is a real
problem because there is no daily record kept of what we sell,
so we don’t know
we are out of something until it isn’t there in inventory after a sale on the
floor has
been made. And I’m not sure we shouldn’t sell display items, either. But these
problems are only symptomatic of a larger systems problem. We arent coordinating
our activities,
working as an integrated team.”
Bill: Man, the problem is simple. At Toys “R” Us, the computers keep up with
stock and
sales. When the inventory is low, a flag comes up and that signals the
managers that it’s like,
ordering time. Do we do that here? Hell no! Me and my
partner have to do it all. Ben, he
can’t even balance his own checkbook. And me, I
didn’t get into this line of work to be a suit,
you know? I ain’t no manager, I’m a
worker. Out at our shop, there we manage and work.
But here, man, we just make
the minimum wage. Let the owners do their job, and we will do
Clarice: “At first I made good money, real good money. But I’m not making the
money anymore. That’s the problem. And the reason is because we dont always
have what we are supposed to sell, and because the nurses—both of them are real
nice ladies, but . . . — well, they
just dont help us. I don’t know how many times
I’ve overheard them saying that a customer
didn’t need to make a purchase, that a
home remedy would work just as well. See what I
mean? I hear that a new store
like this one is opening up soon. Maybe they will need an experienced person on
their staff.”
Jan: “There really aren’t any problems here that hard work and honest prayer
can’t solve.
These days people are just working for themselves, not for the
company, not for the customers, and not for each other. And you should hear how
those stockroom guys talk! I don’t talk
to them anymore. I’ve heard enough of
taking the Lord’s name in vain. I didn’t come to work
to have to put up with that.
And how Catherine jokes around with that college boy is a little
hard on me—I
know, I know—you think I’m just an old fuddy-duddy. Well, maybe. But telling
sex jokes and gossiping about what people in the store do for fun on the weekends
is not
my idea of what’s right! And I’ll bet he gets the big raises and promotions
because of it, too.”
Fern: Life used to be so simple. You went to work, you did what you were told,
you got paid
at the end of the week. But now it’s not like that. Work overtime,
Fern. Work weekends,
Fern. Can you shorten your lunch, Fern? You know what I
mean. The store comes first, and
we are all supposed to put everything else in
second place. I think Clarence has the right idea:
we need rules, procedures,
boundaries. There is too much asked of us if we don’t have rules.
That’s what I
Ella: “I miss working for Dr. Sidney. There I was a nurse, his nurse. I had the right
to do my
job without interference. I was trusted. I felt needed. Here I don’t. I might
as well be in sales!
Sell, sell, sell, that’s all I hear. I’m a nurse! I’m a professional,
not like some people I know
who work here. If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t.
But my husband died last year, right after Dr. Sidney retired. There was a little
insurance, but not enough. But even if I do make a
little more here than I did in
private practice, I’d go back to it in a skinny minute if I could.”
Anne: “I don’t really think anything is wrong. A business is different than a doctor’s
that’s all. I’m still learning what is expected of me here. Oh, I loved working for
Dr. Sidney,
but this is a lot more fun. The children we see are usually clean and healthy.
And everyone is
so friendly! In a doctor’s office, mostly you see people who are hurting,
bleeding, or suffering from a life-threatening illness. It’s sad, and not much fun. Here we
don’t see that. I
don’t have as much emotional baggage to carry home with me at night.”
You have been retained as a consultant to find ways to improve communication at the
store. What
will you recommend?
The Case of the Lost Camaraderie
General Software (GS) has recently relocated to a new, state-of-the-art corporate
building in the
city’s research park. Previously, GS was housed in small, cramped
rented office space on the other
side of this midsize Midwestern town. The move to
luxurious new offices affords the employees
many new status perks as well as
improved working conditions.
There is a downside to this move, however. One of the great things about GS is
its strong company culture—a culture that was built, in part, by requiring everyone
to pull together to get the job
done back in their old cramped office quarters.
Because people were brought into the company as
contracts expanded, no attempt
was made to segregate office space based on organizational function.
marketing people were found next to software engineers and technical writers, who
were often across the hall from senior management and personnel. This ad hoc
method of organizing work
space helped produce camaraderie and a sense that
everyone was pitching in for the good of the
whole company. Informal
communication was a primary source of new information.
The new building is neatly segregated into four quadrants, referred to as
business units: management (including personnel), marketing, software engineering,
and documentation. Each business
unit has its own budget, staff, and electronic
machinery. Numerically, the business units are broken
down as follows:
Management: 12
Marketing: 17
Software Engineering: 32
Documentation: 11

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