Case Study – National Business Management Services ( Contemporary Small Business Cases Dr. Linda Liddicoat (ed) 2010. NMIT Press Ltd)
National Business Management Services (NBMS) was a state-owned enterprise providing training courses to government departments. In a restructuring exercise it was decided to sell it. It was felt that there was significant intellectual property in the training materials which could be commercialised and offered more widely.
Three former staff have joined the new enterprise and a further two staff members have been recruited.
Robbie – he is the former director of the state-owned enterprise and he has contributed 50% of the capital needed to buy the company. He is a 40-year-old Australian and he worked for the previous state-owned organisation for 8 years. He is the CEO of the new company. He has been financially stretched by his purchase of shares in the organisation and cannot afford the business to fail. He is finding the transition to a commercial operation challenging – more business than they could cope with used to flow in from all over government departments. Now he has to prepare tenders and ‘schmooze’ with potential clients – he hates networking and doesn’t see why he has a Marketing manager if he has to do this stuff.
Kere is a 35-year-old Maori. She has worked for the state-owned company for 7 years as a trainer and has significant experience in developing and delivering training material here and with other private training organisations. She is especially knowledgeable in Maori culture and it is felt that she will be valuable when it comes to building relationships with the Maori community. She has a 25% share of the new company and is the Training Operations Manager. She too can ill-afford to lose the money she has invested in the company. She is not sure if it is because of this higher pressure but she notes that she and Robbie are ‘locking horns’ more now than they ever did in the previous enterprise.
Nick is a 28-year-old Kiwi of European descent. He works in training delivery and held a position with the old enterprise for 3 years. He is ambitious and saw himself moving up the ladder in the Civil Service. In fact, he only joined such a small business because Robbie persuaded him it would be good for his career and Robbie could see a big role for him in the future. Nick is confident and believes he has some great, fresh ideas. He would like to do more training development work. He is confident he could do what Kere does. In fact, he has an eye on her role.
Paula is a 48-year-old Kiwi of European descent. She did not work for the old enterprise and was recruited from a post of Marketing Manager for a private training organisation. She will handle all the Marketing for the new enterprise. She didn’t know any of the others before she joined and is slightly nervous about the lack of commercial nous in her new colleagues, but particularly in Robbie. She is trying to build a good relationship with him, and impress upon him the importance of Marketing. She also knows that there are valuable Maori contracts in the marketplace and she can’t understand why Kere isn’t more proactive in following up with her personal contacts here.
Peter plays golf with Robbie and Kere’s husband and he used to work in another government department alongside Kere’s husband. He was persuaded to put in the final 25% of capital that was required. He is also the Finance Director. He has been giving everyone a sound reality check about spending and the need for frugality until contracts are secured. He feels like ‘bad cop’ all the time and he is now realising why people say you shouldn’t mix business and pleasure – friendships are beginning to be strained.
Tensions have been rising since the business was established. The first battle lines were drawn over the name of the new business. Robbie wanted to call it ‘Mana Training & Development Ltd, because he felt it would help them appeal to the lucrative Maori market. Kere had real concerns over the name – she argued that in Maori ‘mana’ is not a learned skill as Robbie seems to think, but it is about respect and honour and it can be taken away – it is not something that people can gain through training. They took a vote and Robbie, Nick and Peter voted for ‘Mana Training and Development’ and so this is the name of the company. Kere felt let down by her friend Peter and can’t understand how the vote went against her.
Kere thinks they should be tapping in to the new e-learning market and she also thinks they should update their product offerings to include executive coaching and mentoring – this is a particularly lucrative sector but one with which they are not very familiar yet. She knows it is a risk because it’s a new direction but she has just returned from a training and development conference which confirmed her view that this is where the industry is heading. She has spent a sleepless night after the conference worrying about how to get her proposal on the new direction accepted by the others.
1. Outline the sources of power and who holds them in this organisation.
2. Create an influence map, looking at it from Kere’s perspective. Show the nature of influence relationships between all of the stakeholders. This should reflect the relative importance of each stakeholder and the strength of influence between stakeholders.
3. Critically assess potential influencing options that Kere could adopt in this situation in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. These options should have a clear grounding in influence theory i.e. you must describe the theoretical framework(s) you are using. Select the best way forward for Kere’s situation and give reasons for your answer.
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