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Published by: safrasmohamed86 on Apr 12, 2010
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09/23/2010

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[Type text] Page 1
CRITICAL THINKING CASE
NORTHERN INDUSTRIES
 Northern Industries has asked you to help it resolve some racial issues that,according to president Jim Fishers, are ³ festering ³ in their manufacturing plant inSpringfield, Massachusetts. Northern Industries is a family owned enterprise thatmanufactures greeting cards and paper and plastic holiday decorations. It employees125 people full time, including some African - Americans and Asians. About 80percent of the full time work force is females. During the peak production month of September and January (to produce orders primarily for Christmas/Hanukkah andMother¶s Day ) , the company runs a second shift and adds about 50 part-timeworkers , most of whom are also women and minorities.
 All orders are filled with batch runs made to customer specifications. In aperiod of a week, filling seventy different orders requiring different paper stock, inks, plastics, and set ups isn¶t unusual. Since these orders vary greatlyin size. The company has a long term policy of giving priority to high volumecustomers and processing other orders on a first come first serve basis. Half adozen of the company¶s largest customers have been doing business withnorthern for more than twenty years. Having been singed up by Jim Fisher¶sfather (now retired ) to begin your orientation to the company. Fisher asks hisProduction Manager, Walter Beacon, to take you around the plant. Beaconpoints out the production areas responsible for each step in the manufactureof a greeting card, from purchasing to printing to quality control to shipping.The plant is clean, but the two large printing rooms - each of which is theworkplace for about twenty-five workers. ± are quiet noisy. You catchsnatches of employees conversations, but you cant figure out what languagethey are speaking. In the shipping and receiving department you notice thatmost workers are African ± American, Beacon confirms that eight out to ten of the workers in that department are African ± American men, as is their boss, Adam Wright.
Jim fisher had agreed that you could attend a meeting of top management to get afeel for the problems facing the company. The president introduces you and notesthat several of his managers have expressed concerns about certain problems. Hesays that one of these problems is that ³ each of the minority groups sticks together.The African ± Americans and Orientals rarely mix. ³ another recent problem has been³ the theft of finished products , specially on the second shift, and we had to fire aThai worker.´
Then Fisher described what he recently had read about ³self directed teams´and the success of these teams at San Diago Zoo and Kodack,. He statedthat implementing such a concept at Northen would require a lot of employeetraining in different functions. Such as printing, shipping and quality control togive all employee an understanding of how their job affect those of others in
 
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the organization. He also said that flow charts would be needed to track theactivities of employees. From the time and order is received until the order isshipped with flow charts, a team of employees could pinpoint inefficiencies inthe manufacturing process better than managers could. Employees couldthen suggest ways to manufacture cards other products more profitably.
Fisher then turns to his executive team to discuss its daily business, the otherspresent are the General Manager , Human Resources Manager( the only woman),Sales Manager, Quality Control Manager , Production Manager ( Beacon ) ,and theShipping and Receiving Manager ( the only nonwhite manager ) .Soon an angrydebate erupts between the Sales and Shipping /Receiving Managers. Apparentlyorders are not being shipped quickly enough, according to the Sales Manager, andseveral complaints have been received from smaller customers about the quality of the product , the Shipping/Receiving Manager argues that he needs more hands todo the job and that the quality of the incoming supplies is lousy any how. While thisdebate continues the other managers are silent and seemingly uncomfortable. Finallyone of them attempts to break up the argument with a joke. Fisher and the other menlaugh loudly, and the discussion shifts to other topics.
Questions:
1. What are Northern obvious and not so obvious problems? Give reasons fromthe case.2. Which of the management view point helps you most in understandingNorthern¶s problems? Explain.3. What changes would you recommend to Jim Fisher ?4. What problems might you faced in trying to implement your recommendations?5. According to your understanding draw the organizational structure (Chart) of the Northern and name the people who are in the designated placesaccording to the case.6. According to the present situation which theory you would recommend toFisher for a change and you have to justify answer by comparing and statingthe advantages with the present one they are using.7. Refer to the Sales Manager and Shipping /Receiving Manager µs argument:How do you think that they should change their managerial roles not to facethat type of incident again? What type of skills they should improve?
 Assessment Criteria:
y
Analyze the relationship between an organization¶s structure andculture and the effects on business performance.
y
Analyze the factors which influence individual behavior at work
y
Analyze how organizational theory underpins principals and practicesof organizing and of management
y
Compare the different approaches to management and theories of organization used by organizations.
 
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Question 1
Nothern industry is a leading company which is started more than twentyyears before. This is family owned enterprise. According to my view the newmanagement is unconcern. This is the main reason to festering racial issuesand other growing problems. Because this company doesn¶t has this kind of problems with retired president with the same combination of employees.Most of the employees are African-Americans and Asians. These employeesare talking different languages as I saw. Most of them can not communicatewith other minority groups because of the language problem. So they havechoose there unique way. Each minority groups sticks together. Those groupsdo not like to mix and do not like to work together. This is an aggravatingproblem. The production speed is very slow and Nothern not be able toachieve there target between standard time period in this case. Mostemployees of northern are females. Normally females have so many familyproblems and psychological problems rather than males. Nothern do not careabout female employees mentality. Production of northern is depending onfemale employees. Because 80% of the Nothern employees are females. Somentally level of the female employees are very important to the productionvelocity. This will directly affect to the company profit.The theft of finished product also another recent problem of Nothern. Thisseems to be employees are not satisfied. The main reason to happen thiskind of theft is supervisors do not do there duty frankly. I understood thatcompany security is very law in the second shift.I agree with company policy of giving priority high value customers andprocessing other orders on a first come first serve basis. But quality priority of giving high quality for high value customers and law quality for law valuecustomers is harmful. Small customers always complains about the quality of the Nothern products. High value customers receive High quality products. If this policy continues, in future Nothern will lose there small customers. This isnot a good situation.Shipment of Nothern is doctrinaire. Customers expect there orders at thecorrect time. Because most customers target is seasonal business. ButNorthern do not provide a good customer service. This is another problem

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