This problem is a mini-case about growth issues in a company that
packages fresh and freeze-dried herbs and vegetables. The case is on pages 154-155 of the 1st edition
of Human Resource Management in a Business Context and will also appear in the 2nd
edition to be published in November 2003 by Thomson Learning.
This page provides students with hints and suggestions for dealing with the mini-case
Approach this problem by considering it as a situation with several possible levels of
analysis. Like any real situations, this has implications which include but also go beyond
human resource management. In fact, this case would be useful as a brief business strategy
exercise. The most obvious implications are corporate culture and employee commitment - because the mini-case
comes at the end of a chapter on culture and commitment! Less obviously, there are underlying
1. In many respects this is a typical, successful small business situation where
the company has reached a growth point at which the old start-up methods of general management and
HR cease to be effective. See for a discussion.
2. It is evident that the company is essentially a 'one-woman business', heavily
dominated to the point that the managers who report to her are not being allowed to BE managers - when she is around.
This is typical of many small businesses where owners consider their firms to be extensions of
themselves. So, consider the consequences on the following:
- the quality of decision-making in the company, particularly at the strategic level;
- the ability and suitability of existing executive staff to take charge of serious growth;
- the HR systems in place that provide the information to support decision-making and staff
3. You are expected to take the role of a management consultant in this situation.
So how would you set about collecting necessary information/opinions? What model of company
would feature in your proposed solution? Take a look at which might suggest a way forward.