Leadership and HRM: cases
Tilbake for å fortsette



















Case-1:Kurt Lewin 


Kurt Lewin - Field theory
  1. The field theory explains how the human behaviour is determined and influenced by the person and by the environment in which one operates. This means that not only the personal characteristics are the cause of one's behaviour but also the social situation around.
Niklas Luhman - Social theory
  1. The social theory is a "Systemic-universal" theory. It uses Systems Theory to explain organisational life and society.
    Society is communications. Through communication "contingency" is redusced: the world becomes more predictable and the society is seen as a complex of communication.
Ludwig Von Bertalanffy Systems theory
  1. General Systems Theory: systems are open to their environments and evolve in interaction with them. The system is independent from the elements that compose it. The organisation can be seen as the system and people as the elements.

System theory:

Michael Beer applies Systems Theory to visualize the processes of input, throughput, output and outcome in organizational life: the dynamic interrelationships between a number of parts in a bigger whole and the interactions with the surrounding environment. He defines an organisation as several social systems that together form a bigger system. His model is viewed below. Every sub-system in the model is an element that has many dimensions, perspectives and functions depending upon the situation where they are applied. Explain the model and find similar systems.

[Michael Beer]
To be able to manage and develop an organisation one must understand the different dimensions that an organisation processes.

The classic system theory accounts for the dynamic interrelationships between a number of parts in a bigger whole and the interactions with the surrounding environment. Beer defines the organisation as consisting of several social systems that together form a bigger system.

Every sub-system is an element in the model and has many dimensions, perspectives and functions depending much upon the situation and organisation where they are applied.
  • How to use the website?
  • How to read the Study Plan?
  • How to discuss a case or an article?
  • What can you get from the Internet?
  About the term paper and the exam: There is a three-hour written examination. The examination and the term paper account for 50% each of the total grade.
Classical articles
  1. Mintzberg, Henry. The Manager's job: Folklore and Fact
  2. Follett, Mary Parker. Management as a Profession
  3. Pfeffer, J. Understanding the Role of Power in Decision Making
  4. Herzberg, Frederick. One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?
  5. Follett, Mary Parker. The Giving of Orders
  6. Argyris, Chris. Interpersonal Barriers to Decision Making
  7. Hersey, Paul & Kenneth H. Blanchard. Life Cycle Theory of Leadership
The classical articles above are selected from the following books:
  • Matteson, Michael T. & John M. Ivancevich (ed.) (1981). Management Classics. Goodyear Publishin, California. (Newer edition):
  • Steven, Ott: Classic Readings in Organizational Behavior, California, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company,1989, and Shafriz, Jay M. & J.,: Classics of Organization Theory, Cicago, Illinios, The Dorsey Press,1987 or newer:
Modern articles will be selected by from different sources.
Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-2: Questions 


Some questions about organisational culture [E. Schein]
  • How can we understand people's behaviour in organisations?
  • What is the relation between Organizational Culture and leadership?
  • Can cultural analysis completely explain organizational culture?
  • Is culture something still or evolving, and how can a conceptual model explain the evolution of culture?
  • In which way can culture be seen as the experience of a group?
  • How many subcultures can we find in the organisation and why?
  • In which way can the environment be seen as one or as a group of elements that determine culture?
  • How can values and norms determine individual's behaviour inside an organisation and what do we mean by "underlying assumptions", when talking about organisations?
  • What do we mean by physical or tangible manifestations of culture and what other cultural elements are important when creating an organisational culture?
  • Why do we need to embody values in our definition of organisational culture, and what is the difference between basic underlying assumptions and dominant value orientations?
  • What do we mean by "Theory-in-use" and "espoused-theory" and are cultural conflictsunavoidable?

What do you know about leadership?

NGT-techniques (A. L. Delbecq)
Systems theory (Ludwig Von Bertalanffy )
Coplex systems and social theory (Niklas Luhman)
The Octograph (A. Magid Al-Araki (2005) The Octograph and E-Learning by Labyrinth-Cases In: Internatiodnal Journal of E-Learning 4(3), 281-298
Do an internett search to find interesting articles or summaries for the above metnioned tools. The Internet is a jungle of information. You should look for something that is worth reading.
Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-3: An exhausted person


LinksAn exhausted man:

I am a man, aged 45, employed at organisation X in Oslo for more than 20 years. I started as an executive officer in the personnel department. I advanced, and after 5 years I got the overall responsibility for courses and in-service training. 15 years later I moved one step up the ladder, and became personnel manager, responsible for personnel policy, planning, etc. In the meantime, quality control systems and regulations for the working environment, occupational safety and health have entered the stage. The workload has increased manifold, and I had two months' sick leave after my first collapse. After two months at my work-place, I had another breakdown, this time at home. My hearing has become impaired and I suffer from tinnitus.

I see myself as a charismatic person with strong opinions that I like to voice, perhaps to the detriment of others sometimes. I have always had a sufficient basis of power, I have enjoyed working with structured tasks and I have demanded respect from my employees. I am also a very social person, with focus on the human capital, which is apparent in my leadership style.

However, the demands for documentation, annual job appraisal interviews, etc. have also brought conflicts. I have revised the situation, and I now distribute tasks according to the degree of maturity among my staff, both task wise and relation wise. So far it has not brought notable improvement. The responsibility allotted to the leader and the processes at work in an organisation have become too complicated. The aspect of pleasure that came with the job has decreased with my upward mobility.

Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-4: Olsens dilemma


LinksOlsen's dilemma
A. Olsen has been head of internal control in district 30 for about 6 months. He got the position partly because of his positive contributions in the recent organisation development process. His colleagues do in no way doubt that he is good for this position; however, they do not see why their colleague Iversen, the most competent person in the department, became second to an outsider.

One Friday morning, Olsen's boss, E. Berg, is on the line, asking for a hand for one month to assist in building an internal control system for the central administration, starting the following Monday. Olsen reviews his staff and decides that deputy head Iversen is the best man for the job. He invites Iversen to his office the same afternoon. "Iversen, our boss needs a competent person to help out in the central administration. I think you have the best qualifications for the job. He needs you for one month and you are to start Monday.

"Why me?" Iversen responds. "I don't have the time right now. I prefer to finish the job I am presently doing with my colleagues before I take on new tasks somewhere else. Continuity is necessary in this job, and we are soon to present documents for internal control in our urban district. Are you not satisfied with my performance here?" Olsen shakes his head. "Oh yes, I am, but this is important. Sorry, I have to rush to a meeting now, and have no time to discuss this now. So, you see Berg in his office Monday morning."

Monday morning, Berg calls Olsen: "I thought you were going to send Iversen down to assist us. We're in a hurry to get started here, and he hasn't turned up yet. Tell him we need him now." "Well, he's not here - I told him on Friday that he should be in your place this morning. I'll send someone else down immediately". As Olsen prepares to give Iversen a call, his secretary comes in: "Iversen's wife just called. He is sick and he won't be back the first couple of days."

Olsen is heading a staff meeting on Wednesday morning when he has to answer a phone call. As he returns, a colleague with his back to the door says: "Iversen did a great job on the football field yesterday!" Everyone goes quiet as Olsen enters the room, and for the rest of the meeting they avoid meeting his gaze.

Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-5: The technical department


LinksTechnical Department
You are currently employed as head of division in the Technical department in Hoegsletten municipality. The engineers in the division have the same professional background and more or less the same amount of work experience, and you can pick and choose among them for the various projects the division is responsible for.

Yesterday the administration manager asked to see you as he had a request from a municipality further north, engaged in the same inter-municipal network. The municipality needed to "borrow" three engineers for a period of four months.

All your engineers have the knowledge and experience needed for the task. Looking at the current workload in your division, there is not one to be preferred over another.

However, the request is complicated by the fact that the municipality in question is placed in what your staff would call "the bush". No one volunteers.

1) Is the problem you are facing an individual problem or a group problem, and why?

2a) Describe and explain how the decision tree of Vroom and Yetton can be used to reach a decision in this case.

2b) According to Vroom and Yetton, how decisive are criteria such as time, quality and acceptance in making decisions, and how can such normative models be applied?

(See Vroom and Yetton's decision tree and the categories belonging to it.)

Case-6: Høysletten kommune


Conflict in a nursing institution
LinksConflict in a nursing institution
The institution is located in a small town in Trøndelag. It is a private nursing home, owned by a private organisation. The nursing home has two wards with 40 patients in all. The institution also runs an arts and crafts workshop where the healthiest among the patients are active. Here they make carpets, tablecloths, pillows and woodwork that is sold at the local Christmas market, thus providing an extra source of income for the organisation. Two local women manage the arts and crafts room. They have no formal training, but are very good at what they do. Their aim has been to produce as many products as possible, to contribute to the institution's economy and to work for their wages.

The organisation is still the owner of the nursing home, but the municipality has taken over daily operations. Also, an ergonomist has been employed. Her objective is not to keep the arts and crafts room in full production, but to offer a broader scope of activities to as many patients as possible. She wants supplementary tasks on the wards included in the positions of the two local women, such as training the patients in how to dress and eat without assistance. The arts and crafts room should also be open for activities such as reading, conversation and social gatherings, or other practical things to help patients cope with their daily lives.

The two women in the workshop do not agree. They believe this will lead to less products and less income. Ailing patients with fewer resources should not use the arts and crafts room. And being in a ward to help with dressing and meals could prove to be an extra burden for the staff, who are busy enough as it is. The two women know how to run the workshop - haven't they been doing it for years? – and the perspectives of the ergonomist are new and frightening. Also, if they don't master the new tasks they may lose their jobs, with no new job opportunities in their small town.

So, they sabotage the implementation of the new ideas. The consequence is a deadlock situation that is now taking its toll on everyone, patients included. All expect that you as a leader will find a satisfactory solution. You have talked to all parties in the conflict and have formed your own opinion, but you want to make use of the decision tree to look for alternatives.

As you give answers from A to H (see illustration), comment briefly on the basis for your choices towards the final recommendation of the decision tree. Comment also on consequences compared to alternative recommendations.

(See Vroom and Yetton's decision tree and the categories belonging to it.)

Case-7: Høysletten kommune


LinksHøgsletten Municipality

Høgsletten municipality has a centralised and quite large planning department. This is now being downscaled, and some of the employees are transferred to other departments that will now have increased responsibility for planning their own activities. The administration manager has asked the heads of department to evaluate the need for increased staff, and the Department of Health and Social Services is provided with two new staff members. The head of department introduces them to the planning consultant and asks her to bring them up to date on their new tasks. First, she thinks this is a kind of joke, but slowly realises that the two new employees have been transferred without her being informed. It worries her, as she cannot see why they suddenly need three people to do the job she has carried out alone.

Discuss the questions below:

a) How can transfers like this be done differently - and better - in an organisation?

b) Who do you think is responsible for the mistakes made in the situation above?

c) How would you evaluate this decentralisation issue in a loss-gain perspective, short and long-term?

[Below is optional:]
Assignment: Check the Internet to find the model of Vroom & Jago. Vroom, V. H., & Jago, A. G. (1988). The new leadership: Managingparticipation in organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
The Vroom-Yetton-model is a decision making tree used to determine the "approprite" level of involvement. Decision involving only an individual are called "Individual problem", i.e. has consequences only for that individual. Those involving a groupe are called "Group problem", has consequences for the members of the gorups.

V&Y model identifies five styles along a continuum ranging from autocratic to consultative to group-based. The following questions determine the sequence of brainstorming throughout the decision tree:

  1. Quality Requirement (QR): How important is the technical quality of the decision?
  2. Commitment Requirement (CR): How important is subordinate commitment to the decision?
  3. Leader's Information (LI): Do you (the leader) have sufficient information to make a high quality decision on your own?
  4. Problem Structure (ST): Is the problem well structured (e.g., defined, clear, organized, lend itself to solution, time limited, etc.)?
  5. Commitment Probability (CP): If you were to make the decision by yourself, is it reasonably certain that your subordinates would be committed to the decision?
  6. Goal Congruence (GC): Do subordinates share the organizational goals to be attained in solving the problem?
  7. Subordinate conflict (CO): Is conflict among subordinates over preferred solutions likely?
  8. Subordinate information (SI): Do subordinates have sufficient information to make a high quality decision?

Decision Making Style
Autocratic l (Al) Leader solves the problem along using information that is readily available to him/her
Autocratic ll (All) Leader obtains additional information from group members, then makes decision alone. Group members may or may not be informed.
Consultative l (Cl) Leader shares problem with group members individually, and asks for information and evaluation. Group members do not meet collectively, and leader makes decision alone.
Consultative ll (Cll) Leader shares problem with group members collectively, but makes decision alone
Group ll (Gll) Leader meets with group to discuss situation. Leader focuses and directs discussion, but does not impose will. Group makes final decision.

Decision Tree: map of reasoning process.

The following is Vroom & Yetton's decision tree. Read the questions and answer with yes or no along the branches of the tree.

It is wiser to follow the following steps when taking a decision:
  • Take your decision first on the basis of sound reasoning
  • Apply the decision tree on the same problem
  • Compare the two methods
  • Discuss similarities, differences and conseaquences

question_A : If the decision were accepted, would it make an appreciable difference which course of action were adopted?
question_B : Does the Decision Maker have sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision?
question_c : Do team members have vital additional information relevant to the situation? [According to Vroom and Yetton (1973) this question is relevant only when the information available to the leader is deficient. The quality of the decision is likely to exceed the leader's when the answer to this question is yes and the answer to question_D is no.
question_D : Does the Decision Maker know exactly what information is needed, who possesses it and how to collect it?, This question is not relevant when the answer to question_E (involving group execution without control) is yes.
question_E : Is acceptance of the decision by team members critical to effective implementation?
question_F If the Decision Maker made the decision, is it certain that it would be accepted by team members?
question_G : Do team members share organizational goals in this situation?
question_H: Is conflict among team members likely in preferred solutions?



A decision is made along a continuum of five methods:

AI and AII are autocratic styles
GII is democratic; and
CI and CII are consultative

AI:The first autocratic style is described as follows: The leader solves the problem or makes the decision using information available to the leader at the time.
AII; The leader obtains the necessary information from team members, then decides the solution. The team members provide the necessary information to the leader rather than generating or evaluating alternative solutions.

CI: This consultative (collective) leadership style is: The leader shares the problem with the relevant team members individually getting their ideas and suggestions without bringing them together as a group. Then the leader makes the decision that may or may or reflect team member influence.

CII: The leader shares the problem with the relevant team members as a group, obtaining their collective ideas and suggestions. Then the leader makes the decision that may or may not reflect team member influence.

GI The democratic (also called group) leadership style is: The leader shares the problem with the relevant team members as a group. Together they generate and evaluate alternatives and attempt to reach agreement (consensus) on a solution. The leader's role is much like that of chairperson. The leader does not try to influence the group to adopt a solution and is willing to accept and implement any solution that has support of the entire group. The designation gII (instead of g1) is for consistency with the literature regarding leadership.

Discuss the conseqauences of each type of decision in relation to risk, certainty, efficiency and participation.

Vroom &Yetton: repeated
Combinational analysis and Tree Diagrams: In which areas can we use combinational analysis?

Example: A commitee of 3 members is to be formed. It consists of one representative from labor, one from management and one from the public.

There are 3 possible representatives from labor to choose among, 2 from management and 4 from the public. Determine how many DIFFERENT committees can be formed, using a tree diagram.

  1. We can choose a labor representative i 3 different ways and a management representative in 2 different ways. This gives 3.2 = 6 different ways of choosing a labor and management representative. From outside the organization, we can choose a public representative in 4 different ways. Thus the number of different committees which can be formed is 3 . 2 . 4 = 24
  2. Name the 3 labor representatives as L1, L2, L3; the management representatives as M1, M2; and the public representatives as P1, P2, P3, P4.
  3. Then the Tree Diagram below shows that there are 24 different committees in all. From the three diagram below we can list all these different committees, e. g. L1-M1-P1, L1-M1-P2, L1-M1-P3, L1-M1-P4 etc.
Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-8: Fatigue


Fatigue, or the feeling of being burned-out, is defined as a temporary emotional or physical exhaustion. Symptoms are reduced work capacity and cynicism regarding oneself and one's surroundings. It is a form of depression. Warning signals are insomnia, tiredness, and concentration difficulties. Suddenly, you are making mistakes you never used to make. Your desk is cluttered with unfinished tasks and work undone. You lack motivation, you're moody, short-tempered and depressed. Maybe you even need some time off work to recuperate.

"I started feeling uncomfortable. One day, I was just exhausted. I tried to talk to the management, but was turned down, as they saw this as taking sides in a conflict. The person I had a "conflict" with, is a mid-level manager, and in the reference group of the project I was heading. We were on good terms and agreed that participation from down up was a good thing. I fail to see how this can be interpreted as a "conflict". The end of it all was that I was taken off the job as project leader.

I took sick leave, and when I returned to work I applied for a temporary position with less responsibility. When I later returned to my previous position I was met with resistance, supposedly due to my behaviour in the time before I was sick, and the conflict this had created in the department. I was on sick leave again."

One and a half year later, Knut Knutsen is diagnosed with burned-out symptoms and fatigue.

Tilbake for å fortsette


Case-9: Andreas: Something had to be done...

Links Background:

I was working in a temporary position and my efforts were appreciated. Collegial relations were good, says Andreas. However, there was a noticeable change of atmosphere, as it became known that I, and five others in the department, had applied for the vacant position as head of department.

I got the job, and I was happy. I wanted it, as I could see the potential development of the department, and I was looking forward to working out planning documents and creating sustainable systems.

Imagine the shock when I realised there was a group intending to make things difficult for me.They did what they could to avoid me, and moved away during the lunch break. They were aggressive, internally backing each other, and communication was difficult. However, they were qualified people with a good grasp of their jobs.

Then, a rumour surfaced: the previous leader, before he moved to another department, had promised one person in the group a promotion. I sent my credentials and documents back to the head office to have them evaluated again: had someone been passed over? The reply came back that no mistake had been made, and that I had the best qualifications for heading the department.

I told my superior the problems we were experiencing in my department. "I know about the situation", he said, "but there is nothing I can do at present", he added. He felt powerless in the face of this situation, and if I wanted, he could find me a suitable transfer position.

If I'd felt that my performance wasn't good enough, the offer of transfer would have been an option, but I had applied for the position as head of department because I knew I could do it well. I refused the offer, saying no thanks, and insisted that something had to be done about the situation.

Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-10: Y Consulting


LinksXY Consulting
You are the managing director of a well-known public consulting company (XY CONSULTING) specialising in organisational systems. The staff is made up of six consultants who are relatively independent in their work with clients.

Yesterday you received a complaint from one of your biggest customers, expressing discontent about the inefficiency of one of the company's consultants. To restore his confidence in the company, something had to be done.

The consultant with the assignment in question has been with the company for six years. He is an experienced systems analyst, and one of the best in his profession. For the first five years he did a fantastic job, and was a role model for the younger members of the staff. But lately his former enthusiasm seems to have been replaced by indifference, and his negative attitude has been noticed both by colleagues and clients. This complaint is not a first: a former customer reported that the consultant had come to work with an obvious and heavy hangover.

To improve this embarrassing situation is vital, otherwise XY CONSULTING will lose the customer. The consultant does in no way lack the necessary expertise - if he were only willing to use it!

As a manager, how would you handle the situation?

  1. See Vroom and Yetton's Decision Tree.
  2. Which other theories of motivation or of leadership could you apply in this case?
Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-11: Mr. Hans and his new work


LinksThe situation of Hans:
During the first year in his new workplace, Hans makes some blunders that are noticed among his colleagues. He loses the keys to his office, causes important documents to disappear, and he makes different appointments - at the same time. Perhaps the group has thrived on having a muddler in their midst, someone they take their irritation out on. From Hans' perspective, the blunders are a response to high-pitched demands - which he also makes on himself.

After around one year, as Hans started feeling more secure in his position, his behaviour changed. He still made the odd mistake - just like the rest of us. Still, after another three years, the group reacted strongly to even the most trivial mistakes made by Hans. If something occurred, they shook their heads and sighed - what a hopeless case he was! And Hans accepted his role as a scatterbrain. If something went wrong in connection with a task that Hans was involved in, his spontaneous reaction was "oh no, I did it again!" - even when it wasn't his mistake.

His role filled an obvious function. he was an easy target for his colleagues' projection of their own weak points, which they did not have to be responsible for now that Hans was there. If they muddled up, it was just "trifles, compared to Hans' blunders!" - or they simply let him take the blame for their mistakes.

Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-12: What went wrong?


Links A prosepctive reorganisation that went wrong
Mr Stokke, head of the Technical division, finds that the division is in need of a new organisational structure. His motto for this is "Innovation through team spirit".

Employees complain about under-communication and vague authority lines, and call for a review of the internal structure and the contact with other departments and divisions. A planning committee is set up, with Mr Stokke as leader, and both external and internal representatives as members.

During the planning stage, Mr Stokke is active and ensures a swift procedure. He has frequent discussions with the employees. In a short time, the planning committee has drawn up a proposition, but a majority of the employees (outside the planning committee) does not agree with it. In their comment they propose an alternative work schedule and a new organisational structure.

The alternative proposition is based on the original, and states that it does indeed lay the groundwork for a better organisational structure. However, the following issues should be examined closer:

  • More decentralisation
  • A smoother transition to the new structure
  • Improved internal representation in discussions prior to decisions
The proposition is discussed in the planning committee's next meeting, but is rejected on the grounds that it is "unrealistic". This leads to frustration and loud debates. Many feel that Mr Stokke's ideas about "innovation through team work" is only a manner of speaking and without practical consequence. And when Stokke realises that the new "team spirit" is more discord than accord, he seeks an informal meeting with the head of adminsitration. In the next meeting in the division, a letter from the administration asks for a postponement of the work on the new structural plan.

Tilbake for å fortsette

Case-13: RISK-analysis: Exercises


Links RISK-analysis etc.:
You are chief administrative officer in a small Norwegian municipality with approx. 10 000 inhabitants. The municipality is organised along traditional lines, with a local council, executive committee, and a main committee for each department, such as the Technical Division, Department of health and social services, etc. Each department is headed by a chief municipal officer. The departments are further divided into sections, with head of section and group leaders.

The financial situation in the municipality has deteriorated over the years, and the politicians are greatly concerned. As a consequence, they ask the chief administrative officer to present a proposition for a renewed political and administrative structure.

The executive committee asks specifically that the chief administrative officer outline a new political and administrative structure. The local council asks for an assessment of a model where departments and sections are replaced by activity areas. The council also wants suggestions for a visible reduction of the distance between the chief administrative officer and those who have daily contact with the public.

The executive committee believes a programme for renewal should be organised as a project and asks the chief executive officer to draw up a proposal for organisation and implementation of such a project. As chief administrative officer you know hat this is a conservative municipality with a strong organisational culture and little propensity for change. Your assumption, therefore, is that the proposal will be strongly opposed.

Find central elements in the text and formulate a problem for discussion based on these elements.

In addition:
1. describe your municipality and its distinctive features. The description should be approx. 1 page.

2. Formulate the proposal you will present to the local council. You may use overhead sketches in your presentation. The proposal should be 7-10 pages, excl. sketches, and should not exceed 40 minutes.

Tilbake for å fortsette