Case#2 – The Case of the Floundering Expatriate
Argos Europe was facing an opportunity of growth by acquisition. To consolidate European companies effectively, the company needed a person who can effectively combine together and lubricate parts of the organization. Bert Donaldson seemed to be the most suitable candidate for that position. Bill Loun, the CEO of Argos International, admired his international background achieved by working as a professor of American studies in Cairo for 5 years. Also, his skill of forming cross-divisional or cross-functional teams was proven to be outstanding through his career in Argos. Judging by his past achievements and descriptions on his personality in the case, Donaldson has some positive traits that a good leader should have. He is an outgoing person and enthusiastic in his work. His charisma bases on his manners of communicating with others in a familiar way with a sense of humor. In other words, Donaldson has positive traits of Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Agreeablenessi. However, he lacks the ability to adapt himself in his new workplace. Facing the cultural barriers was the biggest challenge, and unfortunately Donaldson was limited at accepting new ideas and was not so creative (lack of openness). Moreover, he was agitated by meeting unfavorable situations, and this led him to carry out his training workshop in an ill-mannered behavior. He failed to conceal his disturbed feelings when facing the situation going different from that he expected (tendency to show neuroticism)ii. After all, these negative traits partially hindered his mission of forming a well-organized cross-corporation team for Argos Europe. Frustration in communication made the situation even worse, and finally the latent problem floated to the surface. The results were not good for the company – Donaldson lost credibility from most of the European managers. Other than his negative traits of personality, there were problems caused by his incompetent behavior. Most of all, the biggest problem is that Donaldson seems to lost his motivation. According to the case, he showed up in the presentation to the European managers unprepared. He didn’t give any notice that the presentation will be shorter than it was planned. On top of that, he didn’t communicate well with Bettina Schweri who organizes his program. Donaldson knew the situation was going quite different from expected. He discussed the problem with his the CEO of Argos Europe, Frank Waterhouse. But he could not get any helpful advices. And what is worse, it seems that he didn’t make enough efforts to overcome the situation. Waterhouse later finds out that there is a family matter that might strongly disturb Donaldson from his work. He heard from Ursula Lindt, his secretary. Lindt also heard about that matter during her phone call with Donaldson’s wife. What matters in this case is that Donaldson has never tried to discuss or ask for advices about his concerns related to his family. Another problem is that he could not culturally fit in his new workplace. Despite his outstanding achievements in his past career, Donaldson’s skills and international experiences were not fully utilized. His understandings and knowhow based on his study in Cairo did not work in the European culture. What made the situation worse is that he did not try to adjust himself to this new culture which he hasn’t experienced before. Firstly, it is Donaldson’s mistake to stick on his old principles and knowledge gained from his career in Cairo and the States. Secondly, it is the CEO Loun’s mistake to put Donaldson in charge of the European operations. Loun should have given this task to someone who has deep understandings in the European culture. Looking in an analytic perspective, Donaldson’s loss of motivation can be explained by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A person is usually motivated after the basic needs...
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