Case Study of an enterprise

By Flexible MBA

In 1976, two entrepreneurs, Edward Keogh and Ernie Mayne began making low-cost furniture in a small factory in Brisbane, Australia. In subsequent years it grew into a nation-wide retail chain (over 80 stores) that sells its own low-cost/self-assemble products (desks, beds, chairs etc). However, in the past 3 years growth has slowed and even though EKEM is one of the largest manufacturers of budget furniture in Australia it has continually failed to produce innovative new products. There are currently three plants operating in Australia with the head office in Brisbane. The Brisbane plant is representative of the Sydney and Melbourne operations with each employing around 400 people.

Key Things To Note;
Structure of the company. Very likely to be tall structure since it started from entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship likes to have control, which is evidence by the lack of innovation- it fail to produce innovative new products. Everything must be decided and authorized by the two entrepreneurs.
Three plants operating with head office in Brisbane is another indication of centralized control operation. Span of control is too wide as each plant is employing 400 people. Operations is likely to be bureaucratic in style with lots of red tape, thus stiffing the innovation and response of their operations.

The Board of Directors of the company is currently considering either closing down or moving operations offshore where labour is significantly cheaper. However, the Board would prefer to maintain operations in Australia and are prepared to invest another 12 -18 months before going off-shore and downsizing the Australian workforce. You are employed/contracted by the Board to develop a strategy that would allow them to improve operations and keep the plant open.

Key Things To Note
Their operation expenses must be high because of the wide span of control for each plant. They should do an analysis of their expenses and find out which factors contribute to the most expenses or highest expenses. Looking for off shore cheaper labour is one options but with the culture issues and expatriate relocations, the expenses is not small either. Besides you may have to deal with the tradeoffs such as giving shares to the local government of the country you are going into.
Furniture is a labour intensive industry. Down sizing may not be a good options as you may have to invest in heavy capital machinery to replace the human labour.

On arrival you find the factory itself is in very good condition and while some equipment is outdated for the most part these employees enjoy very good conditions. The current management explains that they have an employee bonus scheme based on group-level performance goals (paid weekly). Although they explain that they take it away (or reduce it) if an employee misbehaves. On the whole the performance management system is unimpressive.

Key points
Look at the motivation scheme and suggest alternative motivational incentive scheme for group. Punishing the whole team because of one employee mistakes may be demotivating in the long run.

The management style of this organisation would best be described as very autocratic. Decisions are highly centralised and employees have very little discretion over their work procedures and processes.

Key Points

Autocratic style has many disadvantages. Name them here and explain why they stifled the innovation part of the company.

The environment is Tayloristic. The management explains this is to ensure reliable product quality and allow them to employ cheaper staff with relatively low-level skills. Consequently, high levels of control are imposed on staff and employees are required to clock in and out of work and are punished (by deduction in bonus) when they are late. Work times are strictly monitored and at the lower levels of employment there is almost no commitment to the organisation and it appears that in general most employees are unsatisfied with their jobs. There are problems of absenteeism, turnover, low productivity, poor quality, and injuries and there have been incidents of employees defacing company equipment. There is constant tension and very little trust between management and line workers.

Key Points
Explain the disadvantages of Taylor principles. Taylorism is a bit outdated in today’s high tech environment. It is good for mass production and where production can be standardized. But furniture industry are now changing to customized needs and preferences and there cannot be standardization in this industry any more if they want to compete globally.

They have to look into the job satisfaction factors. This is again the area of motivation and how to keep the workers committed to the work and company.

You also notice that around the factory people are generally tense and cold, there is a strong sense of resentment and you feel the employees as well as other managers are extremely wary of you.
Key points
There is no team work here at all. Change is not welcome here and the management has not introduce much training courses, otherwise, they would not be like this.

You have also found the structure of the organisation difficult to follow; the organisational chart did not bear much relationship to what happened in the company. There are tight spans of control and 4 levels of management between the CEO and the production workers. Consequently, it was difficult to determine who actually had power. You report directly to the CEO of the plant, however other members of the senior management team also had the expectation you should answer to them. Further, you were finding they expected you to take on responsibilities that were not listed in the job description. When you raised the matter with them, they just laughed it off by saying that was just they way things were done in this part of the company.

Key Points
Structure of the company need to be change or revamped. The support of the top management is important here, without their support, this change cannot occur
You should advocate for a flatter structure with more accountability from each manager. Empowerment must be practiced..

It is not long before you become aware of the dysfunctional politics in the organisation. You are responsible for instigating change in the organisation, but staff members are not directly accountable to you so you were having difficulty gaining their support. Further, as a newcomer, you lack the knowledge and relationship base to integrate yourself into this system that seemed to operate through a great deal of informal reporting.

Key points
No proper induction for new employee. HRM need to be improved.
Need new direction, a vision and mission direction must be implemented throughout the organization. The LMX theory of leadership comes into play. You have to identify the supporters of your ‘in’ group and the key leaders of your oppositions. You need to use the participative style of leadership to get the support of your ‘out’ group in order to make the change a success.

You are required to write a “preliminary” report/memorandum to present to the company’s board of directors and CEO. Your report should outline recommendations that include a specific strategy to manage the necessary change to improve this organisation. The strategy should have a timeline that will show results within 12 months. In “real-time” you have about 3 days to complete the assignment.


Company Policy on Public Relationship with Its Stakeholders
The company’s policy on public relations with its stakeholders is to maintain an environmentally friendly procedures.
To maintain a working relationship with the heads of villages where negotiations and discussions are the means of settling problems.
To participate in economic activities that are beneficial for both parties.
To contribute to society by giving back a proportion of the company’s profit to the surrounding villages.

Corporate Social Responsibility
The role of corporate social responsibility of 888 Plantations Sdn.Bhd is to play a proactive role in the protection of the environment in which it operates. The company has set up an environment protection unit to safe guard the trees, rivers and protected animals in the plantations which it operates. Workers are educated not to kill protected species of animals, birds and fishes in its nearby surrounding. Sewage and waste from the plantations are filtered in a waste management system that ensure the rivers and ponds as well as water catchment areas are unpolluted and free from harmful pesticides or chemicals fertilizers. This is to ensure that the livelihood of the villagers are safeguard and protected.
The company also contribute to the building of school facilities, church and mosques as part of its social participations.

Past incidents and cases of conflicts
Past incidents of road damages, when heavy trucks passing through villages roads have damaged the road to the inconvenience of the villages have resulted in bad relationship between the village heads and the company management. The intrusion of our employees into the society of the villages and upsetting the cultures of the villages have been cases that have yet to be settled.


Introduction of a report

By Flexible MBA

888 Plantations Sdn.Bhd is an oil palm plantation company that has 5000 acres of plantations in the Bintulu and Miri region. Close to its proximity are native villages comprises of Penans, Bidayuhs and Dayaks. The company employs workers from the surrounding villages. Transportations often have to pass through the villages roads. It is a realisation of the company to manage the relationships between the head of villages and the company. In recent years, the management of 888 Plantations Sdn.Bhd have organized activities that involved the participation of the villagers and village heads. It plans to do more and the following report are suggestions of the ways and means which the company can carried out its activities more effectively with the villagers.


Table of Contents Page

Company’s Policy on Public Relations
Corporate social responsibility
Past incidents and cases of conflicts
Existing measures in place
Proposals for better relationships with villagers
Benefits and advantages of proposals
Time frame for implementations of proposals
Monitoring measures for effectiveness of proposals
List of References
List of Appendices


Executive summary

This report is a proposal on ways and means of improving the relationships of plantation workers and the villages surrounding the plantations.
The report will discuss past issues of incidents that have resulted in conflicts between plantations workers and villagers. The report will also examine the measures that have been put in place to prevent such conflicts from occurring in the future.
However, it is essential that the plantations management look into a more proactive role of building good public relationships with the villages. In particular, the management should look into ways and means to help the villagers economically and socially. This is an example of a good corporate social responsibility towards society.


Heading page of your report

By Flexible MBA

Institute of Profession Development


Business Communications
Module 2

Report For

Proposals on How to improve the relationships between plantation workers and the villagers in close proximity of the plantations

A Report Paper


Richmand Chong

Submitted: 7th September, 2008


Letter of Transmittal as part of a report

7th September, 2008
Richmand Chong,
Niosh Centre, Jalan Petanak,
93310 Kuching

The Chief Executive Officer,
888 Plantation Sarawak Bhd,
Bintulu. Sarawak

Dear Sir,

This is a report on a proposal on how to improve the public relationship with the residents of the villages that are close to our plantations. Being sensitive to the cultures of the villagers, it is important that we train our employees to be good corporate citizens. It is equally important that we educate our employees to be sensitive to the values and beliefs of the villagers so that good harmony and peace can be maintained between our employees and the villagers.
This report will outline the cases of conflicts that have occurred in the past. It will also outline the lessons that we have learned and the measures that have been taken to prevent such cases from occurring . The final recommendations are what we want the company to be proactive and to take measures to improve the relationship between our employees and the villagers.
We hope that the management of 888 Plantations Berhad will view these proposals seriously and will give us your blessings to implement the measures that we have proposed.
Yours sincerely,

Richmand Chong


Get Yourself Out of Debts

By Flexible MBA

With the increases in oil prices, our transportation costs has also went up. The current increases in fuel has an inflationary effect, resulting in consumer goods being more expensive. Many people who are on fixed salary are finding it difficult to cope with the daily expenses. Many have resorted to using credit cards. Some have resorted to borrowing from banks and other financial institutions. The end results is that many people are going to be caught in these debts and they need some form of debt help. Stress will definitely go up for a lot of people. It is the recognition of this factor that institutions have been set up to assist people in debts. Programs such as debts consolidation is one of them. What is exactly debt consolidation? Debt consolidation help one to gather all the borrowings one has taken up with several institutions and consolidate them into one statement. This way, a total figure can be derived and the grand total can be quite frightening for some. It is the little bit here and there that adds up, which most borrowers forgot to take into account. Once the period is up and it is time to pay back the sum, you will find that these borrowers are in trouble. Debt Consolidation help the borrowers to keep track of what they are paying and how much they should set aside each month to meet the repayments. Debt consolidation also help the financial institutions to enable their clients to stay solvent and not run into bankruptcy.

Both lenders and borrowers will benefit from this debt help given by institutions that offer debt consolidation services. People in desperation of financial help often cannot think rationally and very often get themselves into debts problem. Unless someone offer them debt help, they are going to be in deeper trouble.