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Case from journal
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Reference no. JIACS14-05-01
Published by: Allied Business Academies
Published in: "Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies", 2008

Abstract

Imagine the challenge of being a manufacturing plant manager of a major employer in the community, faced with the need to satisfy rigorous customer requirements in the areas of quality, price, and delivery. You must fulfill these requirements with a local labor pool that has a limited supply of applicants and recently has become populated by refugee immigrants who speak little or no English. Additionally, these refugee employees have cultural and religious customs that pose challenges in the areas of plant safety and productivity. As a leading employer in the business community, you know the spotlight will be on your company to help come up with ways to address the community challenge of helping a new immigrant population become productive members of the community. The last thing your company needs is bad publicity in the area of relationships with workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Yet you know that your plant must compete on a global basis and your giant retail customers will spare no time in seeking other suppliers if you cannot meet their requirements. The primary subject matter of this case concerns managing diversity issues in the workplace and the application of total quality management principles. Specifically, an appliance manufacturer is experiencing challenges involving Somali refugees who comprise a significant percentage of the plant’s available labor pool. These challenges include quality and productivity problems caused by the Somali workers’ lack of English skills and adherence to cultural and religious customs, as well as by the plant’s own poor preparation to manage this group of employees. The case has a difficulty level of three or four, appropriate for junior or senior level students. The case is designed to be taught in a ninety minute class period, with two hours of outside preparation time by students.
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Abstract

Imagine the challenge of being a manufacturing plant manager of a major employer in the community, faced with the need to satisfy rigorous customer requirements in the areas of quality, price, and delivery. You must fulfill these requirements with a local labor pool that has a limited supply of applicants and recently has become populated by refugee immigrants who speak little or no English. Additionally, these refugee employees have cultural and religious customs that pose challenges in the areas of plant safety and productivity. As a leading employer in the business community, you know the spotlight will be on your company to help come up with ways to address the community challenge of helping a new immigrant population become productive members of the community. The last thing your company needs is bad publicity in the area of relationships with workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Yet you know that your plant must compete on a global basis and your giant retail customers will spare no time in seeking other suppliers if you cannot meet their requirements. The primary subject matter of this case concerns managing diversity issues in the workplace and the application of total quality management principles. Specifically, an appliance manufacturer is experiencing challenges involving Somali refugees who comprise a significant percentage of the plant’s available labor pool. These challenges include quality and productivity problems caused by the Somali workers’ lack of English skills and adherence to cultural and religious customs, as well as by the plant’s own poor preparation to manage this group of employees. The case has a difficulty level of three or four, appropriate for junior or senior level students. The case is designed to be taught in a ninety minute class period, with two hours of outside preparation time by students.

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