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Amelia is chief information officer at ABC Pharmaceuticals, a large US-based company.
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Amelia is chief information officer at ABC Pharmaceuticals, a large

US-based company. In an industry where it generally takes $500 million and 10 to 12 years to bring a new drug to market, companies such as ABC are always looking for ways to increase productivity and speed things up. After about eight months on the job, Amelia suggested to company president James that ABC implement a new global knowledge-sharing application that promises to cut development time and costs in half. James presented the idea to the board of directors, and everyone agreed to pursue the project. He has asked Amelia to investigate firms that could assist ABC's IT department in developing and implementing a global knowledge-sharing application that would be compatible with ABC's existing systems. James explained that he wants to present the information to the board of directors for a decision next month. Amelia identified three major firms that she believed could handle the work and took a summary of her findings to James' office, where she was greeted by Lucy, who served as the executive assistant to James. The relationship between Lucy and James was proper, but no one in the company could understand why Lucy was working there — her lack of talent and experience made her a liability more than a help. Lucy was very deferential to James but condescending to everyone else. Lucy was a constant source of irritation among managers throughout the company, but there was no doubt that the only way to get to James was through Lucy. Lucy took the information from Amelia and promised the president would review it within two days. The next afternoon, James called Amelia to his office and asked why XYZ, a small local consulting firm, was not being considered as a potential provider. Amelia was surprised — XYZ was known primarily for helping small companies computerise their accounting systems. She was not aware that they had done any work related to knowledge-sharing applications, particularly on a global basis. Upon further investigation into the company, she learned that Lucy's uncle owned XYZ, and things began to fall into place. Fortunately, she also learned that the firm did have some limited experience in more complex applications. She tried to talk privately with James about his reasons for wanting to consider XYZ, but James insisted that Lucy participate in all his internal meetings. At their most recent meeting, James insisted that XYZ be included for possible consideration by the board. During the next two weeks, representatives from each company met with James, his two top executives, and the IT staff to explain their services and give demonstrations. Amelia had suggested that the board of directors attend these presentations, but James said they wouldn't have the time and he would need to evaluate everything and make a recommendation to the board. At the end of these meetings, Amelia prepared a final report evaluating the pros and cons of going with each firm and making her first and secondchoice recommendations. XYZ was dead last on her list. Although the firm had some excellent people and a good reputation, it was simply not capable of handling such a large and complex project. Amelia offered to present her findings to the board, but again, James declined her offer in the interest of time. "It's best if I present them with a final recommendation; that way, we can move on to other matters without getting bogged down with a lot of questions and discussion. These are busy people." The board meeting was held the following week. Amelia was shocked when the president returned from the meeting and informed her that the board had decided to go with XYZ as the consulting firm for the knowledge-sharing application.


Questions


1. Explain why the board of directors finally chose XYZ as the provider?


2. Discuss the types, sources, and relative amount of power (i.e. legitimate, reward power, coercive, expert, and referent power) of Amelia, James, and Lucy, in this Case


3. How might Amelia have increased her power and influence over this decision?


4. The statement 'power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely' (Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth century) is often true. However, leaders, like Amelia, might have to increase their power to reach organisational goals. What ethical concerns that Amelia should have during the process of increase her power and influence?

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