Case Study 22.1 Its tough at the top: managing conflict in the Wakewood organisation Mullins L…

Case Study 22.1

Its tough at the top: managing conflict in the Wakewood organisation

Mullins L 2005, Management & Organisational Behaviour –Prentice Hall, 7th Edition

The Wakewood organisation comprises seven units, each of which has been managed autonomously over the last five years. Each unit is managed by a General Manager and comprises one or more product/service departments and other staff departments. Each unit is, in effect, an autonomous division of Wakewood.

The chief executive has managed the Organisa-

tion from a small headquarters building using a participative style. He has become increasingly concerned about the performance of one of the seven units. The unit employs 700 people and accounts for 20 per cent of Wakewood’s activities. He perceives the following internal and external pressures on this unit and believes that the general manager responsible for it cannot deal with the problem. The chief executive has been unable to devote much time to this unit during the last years because of other pressures on his time. During the last four years, he has achieved significant changes and improvements in other units within the organisation. This has absorbed much of his time but has created a very positive reputation for him throughout Wakewood. He is seen as up-to-date and concerned for his employees.

External pressures

Increasing client/customer dissatisfaction

New technology

Increasing competition in the provision of the products/services provided

Rapidly increasing costs

Internal pressures

– Fear of change

– Limited management skills in the introduction of change

– Lack of experience with new technology

– Low productivity and quality

– Poor staff morale

The unit is managed by a general manager with functional managers responsible to the general manager for three product/service departments, an administration department, finance and a small personnel department.

The general manager has worked with Wakewood for 18 years now. His approach to

managing the unit has been always to control costs and activities fairly tightly and to concentrate on developing an efficient and professional team working for him. He has paid little or no attention to the needs of clients. There has been a growing number of complaints from clients about the service provided by the unit. Long waits are often involved and staff are said not to handle clients too well.

New computer technology is being deployed by Wakewood. However, progress in this unit has been slow. The general manager seems largely disinterested and the staff reluctant to adapt. However, the pressure to introduce the technology is strong. Staff costs are high and many routine tasks seem likely to be capable of computerisation.

The chief executive wishes to introduce marketing and quality audit ideas into the unit as a means of responding to some of the pressures identified above. Moreover, he believes that new technology must be introduced over the next few years, particularly in the product/service departments. To do so he has concluded that three major problems must be faced, as follows:

§ attitudes to change and the organisation must be changed;

§ attitudes to, and knowledge of new technology, must be improved dramatically;

§ the organisation structure must be reviewed in order to introduce marketing and quality audit ideas into the unit.


You have been asked to advise on how to proceed.

Outline a strategy for change designed to achieve the following objectives:

a) to prepare people for change, convincing them that significant organisational changes are needed;

b) to plan and monitor a programme of organisational change;

c) to help people at all levels in the unit cope with the problems of change;

d) to achieve improvement in the units performance.

e) Please read the attached Case study,taking into consideration key objectives highlighted.

f) Prepare a 6 slide presentation including notes (notes should not exceed 1000 words), to highlight

a. Key issues within Wakewood

b. Strategy to move the organisation forward.

c. Include relevant academic underpinning

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