IIBMS MMS CASE STUDY ANSWER SHEETS – Organizational Behavior – Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.

Organizational Behavior – Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.

Organizational Behavior – Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.


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Organizational Behavior


CASE: V    The Excellent Employee


Emily, who had the reputation of being an excellent worker, was a machine operator in a furniture manufacturing plant that had been growing at a rate of between 15 percent and 20 percent each year for the past decade. New additions were built onto the plant, new plants opened in the region, workers hired, new product lines developed – lots of expansion – but with no significant change in overall approaches to operations, plant layout, ways of managing workers, or design processes. Plant operations as well as organizational culture were rooted in traditional Western management practices and logic, based largely on the notion of mass production and economies of scale. Over the past four years the company had grown in number and variety of products and in market penetration; however, profitability was flattening and showing signs of decline. As a result, managers were beginning to focus on production operations (internal focus) rather than mainly focusing on new market strategies, new products, and new market segments (external focus) in developing their strategic plans. They hoped to reduce manufacturing costs, improving consistency of quality and ability to meet delivery times better while decreasing inventory and increasing flexibility. One of several new programs initiated by managers in this effort to improve flexibility and lower costs was to get workers cross-trained. However, when a representative from Human Resources explained this program to Emily’s supervisor, Jim, he reluctantly agreed to cross-train most of his workers, but not Emily. Jim explained to the Human Resources person that Emily worked on a machine that was very complex and not easy to effectively operate. She had to “babysit” it much of the time. He had tried to train many workers on it, but Emily was the only person who could consistently get products through the machine that were within specifications and still meet production schedules. When anyone else tried to operate the machine, which performed a key function in the manufacturing process, it ended up either being a big bottleneck or producing excessive waste, which create a lot of trouble for Jim. Jim went on to explain that Emily knew this sophisticated and complicated machine inside and out; she had been running it for five years. She liked the challenge, and she said it made the day go by faster, too. She was meticulous in her work-a skilled employee who really cared about the quality of her work. Jim told the HR person that he wished all of his workers were like Emily. In spite of difficulty of running this machine, Emily could run it so well that product piled up at the next workstation in the production process, which couldn’t keep up with her!

Jim was adamant about keeping Emily on this machine and not cross-training her. The HR was frustrated. He could see Jim’s point, but he had to follow executive orders: “Get these people cross-trained.”

Around the same time a University student was doing a field study in the section of the plant where Emily worked, and Emily was one of the workers he interviewed. Emily told the student that in spite of the fact that the plant had some problems with employee morale and excessive employee turn-over, she really liked working there. She liked the piece-rate pay system and hoped she did not have to participate in the recent “program of the month,” which was having operators learn each other’s jobs. She told the student that it would just create more waste if they tried to have other employees run her machine. She told him that other employees had tried to learn how to operate her machine but couldn’t do it as well as she could.

Emily seemed to like the student and began to open up to him. She told him that her machine really didn’t need to be so difficult and touchy to operate: With a couple of minor design changes in the machine and better maintenance, virtually anyone could run it. She had tried to explain this to her supervisor a couple of years ago, but he just told her to “do her work and leave operations to the manufacturing engineers.” She also said that if workers upstream in the process would spend a little more time and care to keep the raw material in slightly tighter specifications, it would go through her machine much more easily; but they were too focused on speed and making more piece-rate pay. She expressed a lack of respect for the managers who couldn’t see this and even joked about how “managers didn’t know anything.”



  1. Identify the sources of resistance to change in this case.

  2. Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.

  3. Recommend ways to minimize resistance to change in this incident or in future incidents.

Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.

Organizational Behavior – Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.


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