Ramrod Case Questions and Answers Essay

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Issues and Discussion Questions
1.What kinds of products and technologies does Benson Metals use? How have these been changing recently?
Benson Metals, a medium-sized maker of specialty steel products, has traditionally used a craftsliketechnology to produce a variety of metals. In terms of Perrow’s model of technology, task variety andtask analyzability are low, as there is still guesswork, skill, and even some “black magic” inmanufacturing products. Benson also produces metals in very small quantities—pounds not tons—so thatin terms of Woodward’s model it is small batch, and the skills and knowledge of production people aremore important than machines in getting the job done—task complexity is low.Recently, the company has moved
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Communication and decision-making haveslowed as a result of uncooperative attitudes. Integration between functions is falling. This is dangerousfor nonroutine technology that requires a high level of differentiation and integration to be effective.
3.What is causing these problems in Benson Metals?
The sources of the conflict can be isolated. Keep the discussion focused on the people, principallyRamrod, and examine what he is doing wrong; this approach makes the later analysis of power moredramatic.The attitudes and behavior of Ramrod Stockwell cause the problem. Although he is competent, he causesconflict within his own function and other functions. In his own function he fails to delegate authorityand keeps the reins of power in his own hands. He has a centralized management style and does not shareinformation, which makes it impossible for subordinates to provide salespeople with the information theyneed. He does not follow the chain of command; he goes to people only when he needs them. Violatinglines of authority reduces the authority of his managers and also leaves them uninformed.His attitudes affect relationships with other functions, especially sales, because he also does not allowsubordinates to share any but routine information. Because of the centralization of authority in production, subordinates do not possess information. Only Rob Bronson, the vice president of
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