Donna Dubinsky at Apple

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Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer Inc.

Recommendations and Findings - The Ultimatum

“…Star performers who have been rewarded for their individual contributions and have come to expect wide latitude in how they work, becoming a manager can be a mixed blessing.” These words aptly describe the career of Donna Dubinsky at Apple Computer. As you will find in this paper, Donna’s case highlights key issues in organizational strategic direction and hierarchical structure; it illustrates power and influence, and the emotional effects of change.

Donna Dubinsky was a motivated and hardworking employee but also an elite, who had been accustomed to sole responsibility of the decision-making process in the distribution system. Though she consulted with people but her circle of influence did not extend beyond her immediate boss and her subordinates. Roy Weaver, her boss, had steadily expanded her responsibilities, challenged her, and rewarded her for her contributions to the department. This background of unhindered decision making authority coupled with her personal and relational power and the lack thereof set her up as the protagonist in this epic power tussle at Apple Computer. How would she respond when challenged by a greater positional power in the person of the chairman of the board, Steve Jobs? Ultimately, the ensuing impasse led her to issuing an ultimatum to her boss’s boss, Bill Campbell. Should she withdraw it and ask for more extension in making her presentation? Or should she hand in her resignation letter or perhaps should he fire her? We reasoned that Campbell’s conundrum has multiple solutions. He can accept Dubinsky's resignation and lose a valuable employee, but at the same time embrace change within the organization. He can as well grant her new extension to make a counter-proposal on the need to maintain the status quo. When we considered all the alternatives, we agreed that Campbell should grant her an extension with a 30 day limit under the...
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