Case Study Authority and Responsibility


Prof. Dileep Kumar. M

Lilly-Lilly Pharmaceutical is a leading multinational pharmaceutical company located in Central Bangalore having a turn over of Rs 300 Crore.  The company has about 1500 employees and about 200 managers. The managerial level consists of senior, middle and junior level Managers. Out of 200 managers 10% at senior level, 30% Middle level and the rest of them are junior level managers. The shop floor level consists of the workers at plant, production, instrumentation, electrical, lab, etc. 

The company obtained the trust and confidence of the employees by following employee friendly policies and norms. The culture of the organisation followed employee supportive leadership, objective feedback, open communication, performance based reward system, and better authority and responsibility at functional level.  The organisation consists of trade unions, but they support management with constructive contributions in business operations and management. They intervened only on problems with severe concerns. There was congenial relationship between employees and employers in this organisation. The morale of the workers was very high since there is cordial industrial relations, supportive leadership and effective management approaches. The employees observed high considerative and relationship orientation in the task performance.

The company has decided to go for expansion and extension programme with the launch of new products. The management has decided to select few highly committed and hardworking workers from the shop floor level and promote them to manager's level and assign them these tasks on new product design and development. The management have of the impression that these employees have better understanding on the lacunas and pitfalls on the present products and these worker managers with the help of existing workforce can develop new products as an experimental effort. The management selected five young workers from the shop floor level and promoted them to the manager's level. The morale of the employees increased by knowing the promotion news. The newly selected managers has sent for training and development programmes and prepared them to take up the task. These new managers were sent back to shop floor level with the newly assigned task of product design and development. The company has given them 6 months soon after training and development period in the allotted task.

These new managers unaware of the authorities and power of managers since they were coming from the worker background. They were unaware of how to make effective use of power, authorities and responsibilities towards their fellow workers. They were workers before one month and they have sent back to their fellow workers with a new title of managers. The worker group consists of many old employees and with them they find difficult to use their authorities and responsibilities.  Many of the hardworking and committed workers have discontent on the selection of these new managers by ignoring them. They have shown their non-cooperative attitude towards these new managers. The workers started calling them as 'worker manager.' These young managers found the situation pretty difficult to manage. Even in the difficult atmosphere they started their assignment with commitment. Many days they have spent more than working hours in the assigned task.

The management has made a periodical review on the work progress of these new manages with their workers. The management came out with information about the project that the new managers could accomplish only 10% of the allotted task in a period of two months as against the expected out put of 40%. The information about the work group led them to go for an enquiry into the matter with an immediate concern. They came out with an informative report that the new managers were reluctant to use their power, authority and responsibility to plan and organize the work and coordinate and control their workers in the task accomplishment. The workers under these new managers were not ready to accept the new managers since they were worker turned managers. Some of the new managers didn't have the analytical and research orientation that would help in the product design and development. The report forwarded to the senior level manages. They concluded the matter in the report that the newly elected, managers are good in routine works but not in higher responsibility tasks. The new managers didn't have that much analytical and research skills to develop a new product. The training and development have little impact on the new managers in their effective utilization of authority and responsibilities. More over the workers at the shop floor level had shown their non-cooperative attitude to the new managers because they found discrepancy in the selection and promotion of workers to the managerial level. Lack of adjustment with the new job responsibilities, role stress and role conflict are additional factors contributed to their failure in the assigned task.

The senior level managers show greater concern on the issue. They observed severe problems in the extension and expansion programme. The accepted the mistake of selection and promotion of new managers with preconceived assumptions and notion. They realized the role researchers, scientists, market analyst and many others involvement in the product development.  Since the matter affected the morale and involvement of the workers at the shop floor level they wanted an immediate intervention in the issue. Since stringent measures like depromotion affects the morale and commitment of the workers they found it difficult to take some measures on these new managers. Without getting a proper solution in this matter the senior level managers refer the case to the HRD department.


1. How authority and responsibility is important in management of workers at shop floor level?

2. How you perceive the role of accountability in the effective use of authority and responsibility?

3. If you were an HR manager how you resolve the crisis without affecting the morale of employees?

4. If you were an HR manager how you resolve the crisis without the intervention of trade unions?

5. Will you agree with the statement that 'hard work and commitment are not substitute to research and analytical skill?

6. How you interpret justified use of authority in getting done through and with people?

7. To what extend the selection process accountable to you if you are an employee at shop floor level?

Prof. Dileep Kumar. M

Source: E-mail July 25, 2006


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