1. How would you characterize the problem Smith is having with Johnson? Describe the context and the issues in the case from a managerial point of view. Smith has a substantive conflict with his subordinate Johnson; they have strong differences about IMC’s strategy. Smith only uses his formal authority to get the issue solved and his point of view intact, whereas Johnson isolates himself in his department and tries to compete with his hierarchy and Wilson’s department.
2. How could Smith have “managed” Johnson and his expectations more effectively from the beginning? After the first session where Johnson suggested IMC should increase the mutual fund management activity, Smith did not give any news or thought about Johnson’s wish to expand the fund portfolio; leaving him waiting and thinking hard without any consideration from him. Smith only turned to Wilson and dismissed Johnson that might appear as rude, because he obviously avoided the issue. He could have respected what he said first and continue to look at Johnson’s suggestion. Moreover, he could have scheduled one or more meetings with Smith and the portfolio managers to express why the company should not expand his mutual fund management activity.
3. Analyze the case from a “power” perspective – organizational, managerial, personal, and interpersonal.
Size of his unit
Involved in strategic contingencies
Teams (portfolio managers)
Involved in core capabilities
Perceived as useful (performance)
Autonomy (runs 10 portfolios)
Attractiveness (towards subordinates)
Relationships (inside & outside)
4. How might Johnson have been more influential in getting what he wanted from Smith? He should have tried to set up meetings with Smith and come with arguments regarding Wilson’s comments. Making it less “abrupt”. Smith could have changed his mind if Johnson had pushed his project. Otherwise, Johnson should have managed up himself by getting noticed for his work and performance (especially for his work with the Boston Mutual Fund), not only by his team but also by Smith & Wilson. In addition, he should have managed not only his team but the external boundaries with team reside, build mutually beneficial alliance – instead of what – he tried to get over Wilson by giving order to his of researchers. Johnson would have been more influential only insofar as he could have offered something that others value. And Johnson had some strong arguments with a broad repertoire of sources of power (regarding his performance and portfolio), which he could have used. Johnson must find ways to acquire power and exercise influence with those on whom he is dependent, first Smith and then Wilson.
According to the law of reciprocity, Johnson must be willing and able to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with them: “exercise and get thins done by providing resources and services to others in exchanges for resources and services they require”. 5. Interpersonally, what might either Smith or Johnson have done that would have led to more effective behavior and outcomes? Smith might have been more assertive and try to face the issue with Johnson, because his formal authority is not a sufficient source of power to get everyone to agree. From his part, Johnson might have been less assertive and more cooperative, he did not try to have any arguments with Smith and he managed his expectations alone with his portfolio managers, acting as if it was a confrontation win/lose. By engaging both of them exchanges over time, repeated cycles of give and take, they could have built a foundation of effective cooperation to lead to a collaboration, a compromise or at least an accommodation (from Johnson) depending on their agreement. 6. Deal with any other issues you feel are important for an understanding of the case.