COM501 Communication Negotiation and Conflict Resolution



Below you will find a small case study. Analyze the situation / problem(s) and come up with a solution. At the end of the case study there are 2 questions that provide you with some hints what you should address in your answer. In your answer refer to concepts, theories and models (from the textbook) as appropriate and also critically reflect on the concept(s) you have utilized.

All of Australian’s marketing activities were directed from the home office by a vice president. Manufacturing operations and certain other departments were under the supervision and control of a senior vice president. For many years the company had operated a centralized functional type of manufacturing organization. No plant had a general manager; each department in a plant reported on a line basis to its functional counterpart at the home office. Top management had begun to question the value of this type of control or manufacturing operations. They decided to test the feasibility of a decentralized operation in the Darwin plant.

Johnson knows that in the opinion of top management the record of Darwin has not been satisfactory. The board approved the construction for a new plant at a location near the old plant and the use of new methods of production. Lower processing costs and a reduced manpower requirement are expected at the new plant, which will be ready for operation shortly after Mr. Johnson officially takes office. Some features of the manufacturing process will be entirely new to the employees of the new plant, almost all of whom will have been employees from the old plant.

In talking to you one evening about his new assignment, Mr. Johnson summarized his view of his problem as follows: “I will be going into a situation with new methods and processes—but most of all I will be dealing with a set of changed relationships. Heretofore all department heads in the plant reported to their functional counterparts in the home office. Now they will report to me. I am a complete stranger and in addition, this is my first assignment in a major ‘line’ job. The men will know this. When I was called into the senior vice president’s office to be informed of my new assignment he asked me to talk with each of the functional members of his staff. The vice presidents in charge of production planning, manufacturing, and industrial relations said they were going to issue all headquarters instruction to me as plant manager and they were going to cut off their connections with their counterparts in my plant. The other home office executives admitted their functional counterparts would report to me in a line capacity. They would obey my orders and I would be responsible for their pay and promotion. But these executives proposed to follow the common practice of many companies of maintaining a dotted line or functional relationship with these men. I realize that these two patterns of home office plant relationships will create real administrative problems for me.”


  1. Use models or theories of motivation, power, and conflict to lay out and analyse the problems that Mr. Johnson should anticipate in Darwin.
  2. Put forward specific behavioral guidelines Mr. Johnson should use as he assumes this new position.
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