Punctuality or pettiness: Are rules meant to be broken?

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Case Research Journal





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79-86, 293


Jill Roberts, Materials Manager for Worth District Hospital, a small hospital in the San Joaquin Valley in California, finally had to face the problem with Pete Smith, a chronically tardy subordinate whose lateness had gained the attention of the new chief executive. The situation had evolved both as a result of the hospital’s organizational culture and Roberts’ decision to tolerate Smith’s behavior, which she felt had little impact on departmental efficiency. Indeed, she regarded Smith as a valuable employee. The Worth Hospital Board had recently hired a new chief executive, John Briggs, who was charged with the task of correcting the hospital’s continuing financial slide due to lower revenues amidst rising costs. As a part of his review of hospital operations, Briggs insisted on reviewing departmental performance evaluations as a part of his assessment of the staff. When Briggs reviewed Roberts’ ratings of Smith, Briggs disagreed with her assessment that Smith’s tardiness was a minor issue. He then directed her to take disciplinary action against Smith, which could ultimately lead to his termination if his behavior did not change. Although Roberts tried various tactics to change Smith’s behavior, her efforts proved less than successful. At the end of the case, Roberts was perplexed by the unpleasant decision she must face. She sincerely believed that Smith generally performed his job well, had become quite a valuable employee to her department, and would be difficult to replace in the short term. But Roberts also recalled her conversation with her boss, John Briggs, and her subsequent understanding about what she should do if Smith did not correct the tardiness problem.


timeorganizational behavior


Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Marketing

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