Bridging The Two Worlds Case Study

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Case Study #2: Bridging the Two Worlds
1. In the case study, “Bridging the Two-Worlds,” the protagonist mainly develops referent power, which is a power that arises as a result of one’s likeability and personality. McShane and Glinow defines referent power as a power that originates “when others identify with [you], like [you], or otherwise respect [you]” (McShane and Glinow 295). The protagonist is a newly-hired management and has yet to learn the divide that exists at Aluminum Elements Corp. However, unlike other managers, the main character soon starts to communicate and talk with the floor employees. In a sense, the protagonist stumbles upon acquiring referent power because he does not force it and merely finds it worthwhile to talk and hang-out with the floor employees. That being said, having referent power immensely helps the protagonist because he soon realizes that floor employees have suggestions that could enhance the work-flow. When top management wanted to deliver a message to the floor employees, the protagonist became the “go-to person.” Consequently, the protagonist develops expert power because through his vast network and communication skills, the bridge between floor employees and the management is strengthened. The main character utilizes his referent power and expert power because it allows him to improve the work flow and help the organization. Simply by talking and approaching the floor employees, the protagonist found that by talking and listening to the issues, the organization could benefit greatly. The protagonist also displays two key contingencies of power: substitutability and centrality. First, the protagonist is not easily substitutable because he is the first and only management (at least from what is written on the case study) employee to effectively communicate with floor employees. Since the current management cannot do this, the protagonist’s substitutability is extremely low. The protagonist is valued and is able to manage his boss, George, because he provides something of value to the upper management: the “in” with the floor employees. Second, the protagonist has high centrality, because many people depend on him. Not only do floor employees like him, but “[he] became the messenger for the office-to-shop floor communication” (McShane and Glinow 461). He is able to influence the floor employees in a positive way because the floor employees know that other management staff speak through him, and he is the only one who takes time to listen and try to understand the floor employee’s issues.
2. The biggest barrier of effective communication within Aluminum Elements Corp. was the lack of interaction and lack of effective communication where jargons are watered down to everyday language. First, the sheer number of interactions was dismal in this corporation. In other words, the management never tried to mingle with the floor employees and treated them like robots that take in information and produce results. By not interacting with the floor employees, the orders that were sent were perceived in different ways by the floor employees and the issues that the floor employees had were not heard by the management. Once the relationship strained, it became harder and harder for both sides to try to rebuild the bridge. One thing that this organization can implement to alleviate such issue is follow the same model that the Austrian-owned telecom company, Mobiltel Bulgaria, implemented to minimize dysfunctional conflict. McShane and Glinow give an example where the CEO Andreas Maierhofer strengthened communication by implementing programs such as “Don’t be Apart, Be a Part.” Another program that Mobiltel runs is called “Visit A Colleague” initiative, which aims to bring the “employees [to] visit an executive or coworkers in another department of their choice to better understand their workday and improve cooperation among the teams in the company” (McShane and Glinow 330). Second, effective