Dick Spencer Case

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OVERVIEW

Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing. Tony Blair

Spencer was a plant manager of Modrow Company, a Canadian Branch of the Tri-American Corporation. Tri-American was a major producer of primary aluminum with integrated operations ranging from mining of bauxite through the processing to fabrication of aluminum into variety of products. The company had also made and sold refractories and industrial chemicals. The parent company had wholly owned subsidiaries in five separate United States locations and had foreign affiliates in fifteen different countries. Tri-American employed approximately 22,000 employees in the total organization. The company was governed by a board of directors. The board set general policy, which was then interpreted and applied by the various plant managers. This decentralization in organizational structure increased the freedom and authority of the plant managers, but increase the pressure for profitability.

Spencer started his career in Tri-American Corporation as salesman and he succeeded. After two years of successful work as salesman, he became the symbol of what salesman have to be. In his career in Tri-American, he had worked as salesman, troubleshooter, assistant plant manager in English branch in London UK, plant manager in Birmingham in UK and his last position was plant manager of Modrow company in Canada. It was another challenging position in his career and he had faced few problems regarding to management, organization culture, organization conflict and organization innovation.

CURRENT SITUATION

• Spencer was a plant manager of Modrow Company, a Canadian Branch of the Tri-American Corporation. • Tri-American was a major producer of primary aluminum with integrated operations ranging from the mining of bauxite through the processing to fabrication of aluminum into a variety of products. The company had also made and sold refractories and industrial chemicals. The parent company had wholly owned subsidiaries in five separated US locations and had foreign affiliates in 15 different countries. Tri-American employed approximately 22,000 employees in the total organization. The company was governed by a board of directors, which included chairman, vice chairman, president and 12 vice presidents. Subsidiaries and branches are organized as independent companies and decisions are decentralized. • The Modrow Branch was located in a border town in Canada. The total work force in Modrow was 1,000. This Canadian subsidiary was primarily a fabricating unit. Its main products were foil and building products such as roofing and siding.

RESOURCE OF PROBLEMS AND THE RECOMMENDATIONS

Problem:
1. Resistance to change by employees, this problem shows when Dick as the plant manager asked the worker why he was using the saw when the material could easily be bent fifted into the barrels, resulting in saving time and equipment. And then the worker said “We’ve never done it that way, sir. We’ve always cut it”. After all the power saw are removed from the scalp area in order to adjust new method of bending rather than cutting. A few day later Dick find out that workmen using hand shears to cut each strip to cut.

2. Process of Production Problems. In his new position as Plant Manager at Modrow, he found that construction was slower in completion than originally planned; equipment arrived before the building was finished, employees were upset about the extent of change expected in their work routines with the installation of additional machinery, and in general morale was at low ebb.

3. Culture Change Problem; there is the difference between American and British philosophy and performance within the plant. Here, he also found that his power and authority were less than those of his superiors,...
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