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Case Study Paul Paul is a bi-lingual mechanical engineer who recently returned from Japan where he completed a postgraduate degree and worked (for 3

Case Study


Paul is a bi-lingual mechanical engineer who recently returned from Japan where he completed a postgraduate degree and worked (for 3 years) for a large industrial firm on the problems of friction in high stress-bearing components in heavy equipment. He wasn't worried that he had no job to come back to. The week after arriving home, he emailed his CV to all the largish metal fabrication firms in the large city in which he lives, about half a dozen companies. Of the six companies, three did not reply at all or return follow-up phone calls.

Two replied with a standard email saying they 'had no position at the present time' but indicating that any future positions would be advertised on the internet and he might like to apply then.

One company did reply personally, asking him for an interview straight away. At this company, a substantial exporter of industrial equipment, he was interviewed by the technical director, George, who quickly recognised the quality of Paul's technical knowledge and skill, and offered a job immediately. There was no vacant position as such but he felt Paul's potential value to the firm was too good to be missed or lost to competitors. George suggested a very competitive starting salary subject to annual review and said:

Come back on Monday, we'll have an office and a high-powered computer for you. You can start work on any design problems you see in our manufacturing.

Paul was very impressed and accepted the job on the spot. Things went along very well for the first couple of months. The HR department ran a very good induction programme. He was introduced by George to all the key department heads. They did give him a top scientific computer and he had lots of professional engineers to talk to in the department. He was impressed: the place was very engineering-driven.

After a couple of months, he began to spend more time on the shop floor where the blue- collar staff began to trust him and confide their feelings about the technical department. They described it as superior and dangerously out-of-touch with what was really sub-standard in the manufacturing processes (or words to that effect, expressed more directly in the vernacular). Although the company had trained them very well in quality management, they felt that the professional engineers still did not listen to 'unskilled workers'.

Taking on board some of their observations about processes and working from his own experience offshore, Paul redesigned some components in a way that impressed George because of their potential for better quality at lower unit cost. He subsequently made a presentation to the CEO on the plans that Paul had drawn up. What annoyed Paul, however, was that he did not get the chance to present the drawings with George to the CEO. An internal company newsletter which came out subsequently talked about the planned changes but attributed them anonymously to the technical department. Wondering what sort of politics were going on, Paul mentioned this to one of the other graduate engineers who had been there longer. He simply replied:

This whole place is political but we're well paid and we have real colleagues to talk to. If I was you I'd just do my job and not rock the boat.

Paul is not impressed but keeps his mouth shut for the time being.

Questions 1:


If Paul is not an unusual case, how would you describe, and rate, this company's recruitment strategy?

Questions 2:

What strengths and weaknesses does this company have in its management of people? Apply the AMO framework to your analysis and consider both the engineering department and shop-floor workers.

Questions 3:

What could this company do better in its management of people? Consider both highly educated individuals like Paul and the shop-floor workers

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