Case Study: National Products

Case Study: National Products

Susan Thomas is the vice president for human resources at National Products, a manufacturing company with 500 employees. The company has an opening for a general manager in one of its product divisions, and the president asked Susan to review the backgrounds of three department managers who are interested in being promoted to this position. She is expected either to recommend one of the three internal candidates or to begin recruitment of external candidates. The internal candidates are Charley Adams, Bill Stuart, and Ray Johnson. The following information about each candidate was obtained from performance records, interviews with the candidates, and discussions with the boss of each candidate. Case Study: National Products

Charley Adams

Charley Adams has been a production manager for the past eight years. He is an easygoing person who loves to swap jokes and tell stories. Charley stresses the importance of cooperation and teamwork. He is uncomfortable with conflict, and he tries to smooth it over quickly or find an acceptable compromise.


Before becoming a manager, Charley was always willing to take on extra assignments for his boss and to provide helpful advice to less experienced coworkers in his department. Charley is proud of his reputation as a “good team player” and a loyal “company man.” It is important to Charley to be liked and appreciated by people in the organization.

Charley comes from a cultural background emphasizing the importance of close family ties. He holds frequent Sunday dinners at which the entire Adams clan gathers for an afternoon of swimming, baseball, eating, and singing. On Saturdays, Charley likes to play golf with friends, including some of the other managers in the company.

Charley wants his department to have a good performance record, but he is reluctant to jeopardize relations with subordinates by pushing them to improve their performance beyond current levels, which he believes are adequate. When Charley gives out performance bonuses to subordinates, he usually tries to give something to everyone.

Bill Stuart

Bill Stuart has been the manager of an engineering department for three years. He was promoted to that position because he was the best design engineer in the company and was ambitious to further his career by going into management. At the time, Bill had little understanding of what the job would be like, but he saw it as both an opportunity and a challenge.  Bill grew up as somewhat of a loner. He still feels awkward around people he doesn’t know well, and he dislikes social functions such as cocktail parties and company picnics. As a design engineer, Bill preferred assignments where he could work alone rather than team projects. He is impatient with bureaucratic authority figures and he is critical of corporate policies that he regards as too restrictive. Bill gets along well with his present boss, because he is left alone to run his engineering group in his own way.

Bill likes challenging assignments, and he tries to save the most difficult and interesting design projects for himself. Although Bill usually performs these tasks effectively, his preoccupation with them sometimes takes time away from some of his managerial responsibilities, such as developing and mentoring subordinates. Case Study: National Products

Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson has been a corporate marketing manager for five years. He grew up in a poor ethnic neighborhood where he learned to be tough in order to survive. He has worked hard to get where he is, but for Ray, good performance has been a way to get ahead rather than something he enjoys for its own sake.

Ray lives in a large house with a big swimming pool in the best part of town, and he likes to throw big parties at his home. He wears expensive clothes, drives a luxury car, and he belongs to the best country club. Ray is married, but fancies himself as quite a playboy and has had many affairs, including some with female employees.

Ray views the organization as a political jungle, and he is quick to defend himself against any threats to his reputation, authority, or position. He tries to undermine or discredit anybody who criticizes or opposes him. He keeps a tight control over the operations of his department, and he insists that subordinates check with him before taking any action that is not routine.


  1. What are the dominant motives for each candidate?
  2. What are the implications of these traits for the success of each candidate if selected for the general manager position?
  3. Should Susan recommend one of these candidates for the position, or look for external candidates?

Case Study: National Products