You are required to answer all FIVE (5) questions based on the following case study.
Answers for each response should be approximately 1 to 1½ pages in length.
Each response is worth a possible twenty (20) marks with a total of one-hundred (100) marks.
Please record your answers in the examination answer booklet provided.
Wong Manufacturing Company (WMC) ©
WMC is a 55 year old company founded by Sofea Wong (with financial assistance and business guidance from her parents) in the early 1960s in Malaysia. The principle business is in manufacturing and selling wholesale cotton and wool fabric to local retailers and buyers, including designers in Malaysia. Before setting up her manufacturing business, Sofea had travelled the world and spent about 10 years in Australia studying and working in the Australian textile industry in Sydney and rural New South Wales. It is from this experience that Sofea developed relationships with cotton and wool growers and saw an opportunity to source high quality cotton and wool raw materials from Australia and use these to create a high quality fabric manufacturing business in Malaysia. Despite taking advantage of Malaysia’s lower cost wages, Sofea had always paid her staff above the local wage regulations which quickly earned her respect from her employees. She also gained respect and admiration from local retailers and designers. Sofea had established a highly successful local company based on strong family values that had always been well respected.
Sofea’s employees always enjoyed working for her and she had created and implemented many employment reward systems that were ahead of her time. She implemented sick leave, holiday pay, rostered days off and child minding facilities as her workers were from poorer working families. Tradition and tales about the company were perpetuated over the years to the extent that Sofea became a larger-than-life personality and everyone knew about her early years and beginnings of the company. Everyone knew how she worked hard and how she treated all staff like family members. There were many media articles and events that favoured Sofea and her successful business. The WMC factory in Kuala Lumpur had grown to a workforce of over 1000 workers throughout the 1970s. However, by the mid-2000s staff numbers had been substantially reduced to about 600 employees. It was at this time that Sofea was suffering ill-health and was forced to hand over her business to her daughter Hana.
Hana had grown up in this business and knew all aspects of manufacturing. Both Sofea and Hana made business decisions together and they employed the same business practices. Like her mother, Hana had the respect of all employees, suppliers, retailers and designers. During this time, the common business characteristics were high quality manufactured fabrics using unique fabric processing in manufacturing of high quality wool and cotton from rural New South Wales Australia. All of WMC’s sales were to local industry retailers and local designers with consistent employee and customer loyalty and with relatively slow but consistent growth. Since, the mid 2000s WMC has been challenged by increasing low-cost – high polluting suppliers from other countries exporting poor quality and low cost fabrics and garments in high volumes into Malaysia. All of this has had an impact on the perception of quality, manufacturing, excessive pollution and reduced safety and employee standards - both in Malaysia and from importing countries. The high pollution and environmental impacts of all manufacturing was being discussed at industry level and in the media.
To assist Hana operate the business she employed her two children: her daughter Mira and son Ryan. Both siblings had been educated in Malaysia and at Sofea’s insistence - they completed Masters of Business Administration degrees in Australia. In addition to their formal education, Ryan had also completed a post graduate degree in fashion design in Sydney. In more recent times, Mira had been more vocal for change at WMC and Ryan had supported a move to increase the value-added component of design, customer reach and product depth from essentially large-batch production of cloth to making designer clothing for larger international markets. This meant forward integration by not only manufacturing the textile cloth, but also moving to a new manufacturing stage of making and supplying retail firms with designer garments. To accommodate this change in manufacture, the siblings decided that a more environmentally efficient production that will reduce energy and water consumption, reduce waste, and implement recycling of products was the key to improving efficiencies at WMC. Mira and Ryan were very keen to be socially and environmentally responsible and increase awareness through their actions. Mira had introduced to the Board Members the idea of exporting to China, Japan and Indonesia the large-batch production output while simultaneously supplying designer and retail outlets across the world. In this discussion, they portrayed their idea of a new and revised manufacturing plant with improved technology that would reduce their environmental ‘footprint’ and promote environmentally sustainable outcomes at WMC.
This conflicted somewhat with the view that cheap imports would hold sway and that customers wanted low-cost products from China and Bangladesh with the Board often pointing to low-cost retailers such as Cotton-On in Australia and JC Penny in the United States of America (USA). Mira and Ryan were persistent in pointing out the opportunities for WMC to sell directly to customers via the web and to implement business to Business (B2B) relationships with quality seeking buyers and the opportunity to provide products that considered the environment in its production.
Ryan had also highlighted the increasing need for more visibility at Malaysian Fashion Week attracting up to 50,000 clients. Increasingly, Mira had identified problems with manufacturing safety and control issues and pollution in countries like Bangladesh with major brands such as Benetton in Italy, H&M from Sweden, Nike, JC Penny and Walmart in the USA, David Jones and Myer in Australia seeking alternative suppliers. According to Mira, WMC could take advantage of their name by building new relationships with retailers and designers since many were looking for long-term relationships of quality suppliers and the reliability that comes with large volume fabric and garment production. Mira and Ryan were also wanting to influence their suppliers to assist them to consider their environmental impact as well. Basically, Mira and Ryan were trying to drive growth and increase spending (in the short term) to implement environmentally sound production practices and this has led to disagreement with Board members. At stake was WMC’s traditional approach to manufacturing positioned around large-batch production in cotton and wool textiles and fabrics to making designer and retail garments - without consideration of the natural environment! This promoted many Board members to comment privately that Mira and Ryan were trying to be “too smart too soon” arguing the company would not cope. Similarly, product and manufacturing change needed to be supported by dramatic staff decreases and management restructuring to stream-line cost and efficiency, manage two-way product stretches between the old and new production, improve their environmental impact while tackling competition from other suppliers.
While Hana and Sofea were immensely proud of their children and grandchildren, in a short period of time they had created mayhem in the management ranks prompting local analysts to downgrade the value of company stock and medium to long-term outlook.
© Jane Boeske USQ School of Management and Enterprise
Problem Statement (100 marks total)
You need to consider how you will identify the range of issues and problems in the following problem statement:
Based on less than perfect information supplied about the WMC in the case study above, you are required to act as an external change consultant to assist WMC addressing the issues and challenges that they currently face.
We would like to know your understanding of different concepts/theories in the course, in particular how to apply them to the case study. You need to identify theories that will assist with change intervention ideas to solve WMC's range of change issues. Please note that there is no one way to answer the questions. It is important that you try and incorporate the concepts and support your answers with valid arguments. Some concepts/theories (as in most management subjects) are integrated and thus answers may be found across different chapters in your text or modules. However, to make things a little easier for you, we have provided the following guidelines to assist your exam preparation. Please note that these are not the model answers as it is not possible to have model answers to a course like this but this will help you to focus and prepare your exam. You are to answer the questions based on less than perfect information supplied about the WMC in the case study. As you may already notice that we focus on the integration and application of your understanding rather than memorising the concepts/theories in the exam. We trust the following guidelines will assist your exam preparation.
For Q1: You are expected to discuss the relationship between change readiness and change agents at WMC. The concepts of change agents and readiness can be mostly found in Module 3. You are to apply your understanding of the concepts to the case study. In this case as an external change consultant, is it better to have insider over an outsider as a change agent (or vice versa; or both) based on WMC's change readiness. As you should already know, change readiness is important in organisations. An example to answer the question could be a change agent is more effective in terms of providing the knowledge and skills to solve the WMC’s range of change issues but employees must be ready for change. To simulate your thinking and study, you may like to ask yourself ... To what extent you believe the employees at WMC hold positive views about the need for change and believe that the change will yield positive outcomes for themselves and for the organisation? In other words, what is the relationship between change readiness and change agents? What evidence can you find in the case? What assumptions you are to make? What examples can you provide to support your answers?
For Q2: You are to identify appropriate leadership approaches and competencies when implementing planned organisational change at WMC. Leadership is widely regarded as the key enabler of the change process and can be defined as a process that involves influencing others to achieve desired goals (Hayes 2014, p. 167). We would suggest you to read through Chapter 9 of your text but Module 3 can also provide you with some key ideas for this question. An example to answer the question could be the new management team could apply the charismatic leadership approach as it highlights the power of the emotional interaction between leaders and followers, which is what WMC is missing in the case. Again, you may like to ask yourself ... What is/are the appropriate leadership approach(es) you believe WMC has? What competencies WMC has already got? What evidence do you have? What assumptions you are to make?
For Q3: You are to discuss the possible culture that may help to explain the impediments to organisational learning at WMC. An organisation is a learning organisation if it continuously strives to solve problems through learning and motivates employees to innovate new ways of doing things. When it comes to learning new ways of doing things, it is about identifying the underlying problems first. We suggest you to start with Module 3, but also powerpoint slide 10 of Lectures 10 and 11 for a good understanding of what culture that helps to explain resistance in organisations, and then Lecture 12,which will give you an idea of how organisational learning occurs or should occur. An example to answer the question could be when there is a constant paradox at WMC, it is difficult to implement organisational learning. You may like to ask yourself ... What culture that helps to explain resistance, in particular organisational learning at WMC? Do they sing the same tune? Do they have a shared understanding? What examples can you find to support your answers in the WMC?
For Q4: You are to suggest the types of interventions that will assist and improve organisational effectiveness at WMC. Intervention can be found in a number of lectures. But to make it easier for you, we recommend that you look at Powerpoint Slide 9 from Lecture 10 & 11. An example to answer the question could be 'cultural change' as one of the interventions for assisting and improving organisational effectiveness as there is a new management team in WMC. Also, you may refer to Chapter 24 from your text and lecture slides 1-17 from lecture 6, which will provide you details of the types of intervention for your reference. What examples can you provide to support your answers?
For Q5: You are to discuss how WMC can sustain change and how strategies will be identified and problems addressed at WMC. A sustainable change process starts from the stage of diagnosis. If we have identified the right person/team as a change agent, if the need for change is diagnosed appropriately, if right strategies are in place, if the problems are addressed, then the chances are high that the change will be sustainable. You may like to refer to Module 2 and Chapter 27for more information on sustaining the change. An example to answer the question could be to reduce the tension between the new and old management; to promote psychological ownership of the problems at WMC, to gain commitment to the problem-solving process; and to reduce the restraining forces and create more of the pull effect that will result in a more permanent change at WMC. You may also like to ask yourself ... what strategies can be identified and problems may be addressed when sustaining change at WMC?
1) change readiness and change agents;
2) leadership approaches and competencies in implementing change;
3) culture and organisational learning
5) sustainable change and change strategies.
Please Note: The problem statement above is fictional. Any resemblance to actual names and places is purely coincidental. The case problem is for the advanced study of MBA and Masters Students studying Leading Organisational Change.
END OF EXAMINATION