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THE MERIT CORPORATION Family-owned and -operated for three generations, the Merit Corporation manufactured and sold children’s furniture. John Kirschner, Merit’s CEO and grandson of the company’s founder, was actively involved with every aspect of the firm’s operations. Now, as he was considering early retirement in the next few years, he began to think about his legacy for the future. Merit’s headquarters and the biggest of its three manufacturing plants were located in an industrial park 10 miles outside of Boston. Merit shared the large six-story building with several small firms, having its corporate offices on the second and third floors. Employees began work promptly at 8:30 a.m. and most left before 6:00 p.m. A devout family man,…show more content…
Kirschner, who had attracted the above individuals based on his compelling vision that they would be doing “something completely different” and of vital importance, believed that the group would be most effective if given extensive freedom and encouragement. The only things he required from it was a biweekly progress report, so that the executive committee could be kept abreast of its activities, and a monthly financial report. Group members were free to work as they wished; as long as they focused their energies on coming up with viable ideas for durable, multipurpose children’s furniture products those consumers would consider a good value. The only structure he imposed was having one person report directly to him. Thus, he appointed Kane the group head, in large measure because Kane was the first to be hired, but also because he had made such a positive impression on him. When the eight people began work at Merit, they did not know each other. Given Kirschner’s rather broad mandate, they also did not know what they would be expected to do on a daily basis. They soon discovered that they had different ideas not only about what they should do, but also about how they should approach their work. Those like Jacobson, who had worked in large corporate environments in the past, were the most outspoken about how the group should approach its task. He was a proponent of a more “systematic approach.” Kiris was


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