Change at Dupont

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Case Study: Change at Dupont

Plant Manager, Tom Harris greeted everyone by name when he walked through the plant and as far as one could tell, it seemed to be business as usual at DuPont. Most recently, Orion, a DuPont manufacturing operation had been closed, the equipment dismantled and sent to China, but there were no particular concerns regarding this change. When Tom contacted the University of Virginia, he was not looking to solve any particular problem; rather he sought to gather information that would help improve the overall effectiveness of the organization. This was important to him because he was being pressured to do more with less. Tom’s interest was in introducing new ideas to his managers and applying those ideas to improving the plant, change management was not a framework used to explain or accomplish anything. The consultant spent six months interviewing employees and observing the work environment. DuPont’s approach to change very much fits the classic model of OD.

Key Words: Organizational Development, OD, change management, team work, experimental learning.

Key and Underlying Issues
DuPont recently closed their Orion manufacturing operation, dismantled the equipment and shipped it to China. This change appeared to have little impact on the employees, who for the most part, appeared to view the move as routine business for the company. In the meantime, Tom Harris, the plant manager, who “…was under increasing pressure to do more with less” (Palmer, Dunford, and Atkins, 211), contacted the University of Virginia in hopes of obtaining new insights that he could share with his managers to help improve plant operations. After six months of interviews and observations, the consultant provided Tom with the results of his study.

Tom’s leadership team was instructed to introduce change to their employees as an experiment in such a way that ideas should be tried, monitored for a period of time, and stopped if they...
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