Peter Browning

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Peter Browning was promoted to the position of Vice-President of Continental White Cap in 1984 after holding the position of Vice President and General Manager of Continental’s Bondware Division where he turned losses into profits. Browning was faced with the daunting task of rejuvenating and repositioning the Chicago division in the face of upcoming competition from other producers of vacuum sealed metal closures for glass jars. In addition, White Cap’s customer base was being influenced by the new emerging plastic-packaging technology (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Below, we discuss the obstacles Peter Browning faced in the wake of one of the biggest challenges of his career. Even Richard Hofmann, Executive Vice President of the parent company Continental Group, acknowledged that Browning’s assignment put him “smack dab between a rock and a hard place” (Jick & Peiperl, page 210). Peter Browning: Macro/Micro - Problem and Causes

Continental White Cap was a very successful company with impressive profits for the last 50 years leading up to 1984. This success caused several major obstacles for Browning with one being that only a few people at White Cap would acknowledge the need for change (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Any financial slumps were blamed on a cyclical and transient market. The second obstacle was the well-known family-style culture and long-term paternalistic management philosophy that founder William P. White and his two brothers instilled since the company’s inception. This paternalistic management philosophy created great loyalty from the employees, long-standing traditions of job security and generous benefits packages. Browning’s attempt to alter these traditions would be met with great resentment. Another obstacle was the burden of systems and processes keeping White Cap from moving forward and continuing as a market leader. Browning’s assignment was to revitalize and reposition the division to remain a market leader (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). In 1984,...
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