For this assignment, first carefully review the required background materials. Make sure you are highly familiar with the main steps involved in action research and organizational development discussed in the readings. When you are finished reviewing the background materials, take a close look at the four scenarios below.
For each scenario below, think about the reasons why things did not work out well for the company in question. More specifically, think about which standard action research or organizational development step was not taken.
Your task for this assignment is not to explain what steps the organization should take—you would need to go into the company and do some lengthy action research in order to do this! Instead just review the standard action research and organizational development steps covered in the background materials and try to assess which key step was missing in the scenarios below.
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Then write a 4- to 5-page paper addressing the following for each scenario:
- What action research or organizational step was missing and
- Why missing this step might have led to failure.
Make sure to discuss at least one of the required readings in your discussion of each scenario, and to cite all three of the required readings in your paper.
- Sales have gone down at the XYZ Widget Corporation and nobody in the organization, including the CEO, seems to know why. They decide to hire an organizational development consultant to do some action research. The consultant and the CEO spend a lot of time discussing how to proceed. It is agreed that the consultant will look at many different types of data, including sales data and interviews with most employees. After interviewing a few employees, the consultant decides that the problem faced by this company is almost the same as one of his previous clients who underpaid its sales staff. The consultant writes up a report recommending a large pay increase for the sales staff, which is immediately implemented. However, six months later sales are still down.
- HN Motors is a large manufacturer of both cars and motorcycles. Given the new demand for high mileage vehicles, the company has decided to develop a car/motorcycle hybrid that has three wheels and looks like a tiny race car. However, neither the car department nor the motorcycle department wants to take the lead and the project keeps getting stalled.
HN Motors decides to hire a consultant to mediate the differences between the car and motorcycle departments. During interviews with both departments, the consultant finds that the car department doesn’t want to work on the hybrid vehicle because of safety concerns.
The consultant recommends that they “split the difference” between the two departments and that a cross-functional team be created with an equal number of employees from both departments working on the project.
HN Motors’ management likes this recommendation and pay the consultant, but say that they can take it from here and don’t need the consultant’s services anymore. A few months later the project is still stalled and they don’t know why. They call up the consultant to try to get him to come back, but by now he is busy working with other clients.
- Dr. Joseph Hotshot is a leading management consultant who charges huge fees for his Extra Special Action Research System®. His patented system involves conducting a survey, using a standard set of questions, of every employee of any company that hires him. Then he conducts a special seminar to motivate the employees, modifying his motivational speeches for each client slightly based on the answers to the survey.
One day the CEO of Ace Carpet Cleaning runs across Dr. Hotshot’s website and sees that he has a special 50% discount on his consulting services this month. Not wanting to miss out on this bargain, the CEO decides to hire him. All of the employees become very motivated by Dr. Hotshot’s speech and work very hard for a few weeks. But after a few months nothing has really changed and the CEO starts to wonder if the large consulting fee was worth it even with the 50% discount.
- The Kooltrendy Internet software company has recently purchased Hardwrk, a competing Internet software company. Kooltrendy wants the merger to go through as smoothly as possible with minimal conflicts between employees of the two companies, so they have hired an organizational development consultant to look at ways to help ease this transition for all employees.
Kooltrendy interviews several consultants, but settles on one consultant who has a lot of experience with these types of mergers. The consultant conducts extensive one-on-one interviews with employees as well as a large-scale survey that assesses employee values and attitudes. After carefully reviewing the survey and interview data, the consultant concludes that Kooltrendy has a very fun and laid-back corporate culture, whereas Hardwrk has a more competitive and serious corporate culture.
Satisfied that it knows how to fix the problem, Kooltrendy immediately decides to implement “Fun Fridays” for Hardwrk employees that involve water gun fights, costume contests, or other activities every Friday in order to bring Hardwrk’s culture more in line with the laid-back culture of Kooltrendy. However, they are puzzled to see that every Friday more and more Hardwrk employees quit and they are unsure why the “Fun Friday” solution did not work.