Andrew Kelly has been employed by the Wearever Tire and Rubber Company for more than twenty-five years. Kelly is, despite his long service, only 43 years of age. He began employment in the mail room right after high school, received several promotions, and was, at the age of 21 transferred to the credit department. Kelly has been there ever since and is now the senior employee in the department of sixty people.
Kelly is the quintessential “valuable employee.” His loyalty to the company has never wavered or been questioned. His attendance and punctuality records are virtually without blemish. He is a consistent worker, though, “no genius,” and has efficient work habits that only years of service bring to a man of his sort. Kelly is friendly but not gregarious. He makes no waves, and when he sees a problem, he takes care of it without comment. Kelly was often portrayed by his supervisors and colleagues as a “good soldier.”
Robert Bennington, who had been credit manager for twenty-six years, has announced his retirement. Management is now faced with the problem of selecting his replacement. This is no easy task since Bennington and Kelly have been good friends for many years. The retiring manager has, as would be expected, recommended that his friend Kelly replace him. Top management, however, long ago pegged Kelly as “not good management material.” While the people who originally rated Kelly have long since retired, the present management simply believes Kelly is not aggressive enough to be the effective leader of fifty-nine other workers.
Moreover, a younger man with five years of experience in credit has caught management’s eye. Mike Fitzmaurice is 30 years old and “looks like management material.” Too, he outclasses Kelly in education with an accounting degree from a prominent school of business, along with some additional work toward an MBA. From the start, Fitzmaurice has been a Wearever “junior executive” in...