Question 1 (50 points): Folk wisdom among auto dealers suggests that customers should not buy a car made at the end of the week. In Rivethead, Ben Hamper indicates one basis for this belief: absenteeism at his plant increased on Fridays. Assume you are a consultant hired by GM to explore Hamper's claim. Use the job characteristics model to describe a core job dimension of assembly line work at Flint Truck and Bus that you believe has a relationship to absenteeism (choose from among skill variety, task variety, task significance, autonomy, and feedback). Next, describe the critical psychological state influenced by the job dimension you selected. Finally, for the job dimension you selected, recommend a job design strategy to produce an associated critical psychological state that will reduce absenteeism. [Hint: Remember that in the job characteristics model core job dimensions influence critical psychological states, which in turn influence work outcomes.]

Question 2 (50 points): Nike has a potent corporate culture that acts to inculcate similar perspectives among Nike employees. In battles for dominance of the athletic shoe market, this unity of purpose has been a tremendous competitive advantage. However, recently, many analysts have speculated that Nike increasingly lacks the boldness and innovativeness that characterized the company's products and advertising in the late 80s. Consider Nike's growing conservatism in terms of organizational learning. Describe how you think Nike's strong culture might negatively influence one of the following strategies for organizational learning: learning from direct experience; learning from others' experience; or learning from experimentation. Next, describe changes to Nike's culture that you would recommend to improve the organization's ability to learn. Finally, speculate on factors of corporate culture that make it difficult for CEOs and other managers to realign corporate values, attitudes, and behaviors. [Hint: Remember that culture acts as the repository for an organization's history and traditions.]

Question 3 (50 points): According to Alderfer, the drive to satisfy individual existence, relatedness, and growth needs motivates people on the job and at school. Undergraduates at the University of Michigan have roughly equal opportunities to fulfill existence, relatedness, and growth needs. Yet, individual levels of motivation differ dramatically. In an effort to improve selection of students best suited to benefit from Michigan's resources, President Bollinger has asked you to focus on the possible relationship between personality characteristics and motivation. Choose one personality dimension (from among conscientiousness, extraversion-introversion, agreeableness, neuroticism-emotional stability, and openness to experience) and describe how variation among students on this dimension might result in different drives to satisfy the needs in Alderfer's model. Second, focusing on the same personality dimension, describe the type of personality test you would use to identify students likely to be highly motivated by the University of Michigan environment. Finally, identify one weakness of relying on personality testing to identify students likely to be highly motivated. [Hint: Think about the degree of fit between personality characteristics and the college environment.]

Question 4 (50 points): Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, a law firm, has contacted you to explore a recent spate of resignations among the firm's partners. Exit interviews with the departing attorneys indicate low job satisfaction. The firm's managing partner has narrowed the explanation for low job satisfaction to three theories: need satisfaction; social information processing; and dispositionalism. Your job is to describe for the firm the process that influences job satisfaction: a) when need satisfaction theory is the best explanation; b) when social information processing theory is the best explanation; and c) when dispositional theory is the best explanation. Finally, the managing partner has asked you to select one of the three theories and describe the kind of data that would confirm the selected theory. [Hint: Remember that Maslow, Pfeffer and Salancik, and Staw each propose a different origin for work-related attitudes.]

Question 5 (50 points): Occupational stress is a response to factors at work that threaten satisfaction of important needs and goals. Given this model of stress, choose a personality characteristic (i.e., a trait, a motive, or a cognition) and show how this characteristic might influence an individual's vulnerability to occupational stress. Next, consider data from Michigan undergraduates showing that an unusually high proportion (over 60%) of the variance in students' levels of stress is related to personality characteristics. Assume that you collected the same data from a random sample of Ann Arbor residents. How would you expect the residents' data to differ from the undergraduate data, with respect to the influence of personality characteristics on stress? [Hint: Consider the difference between the environment undergraduates face VS. the environments faced by Ann Arbor residents.]

Question 6 (50 points): During World War II, British engineers analyzed films of artillery crews to help make the crews more efficient. The films revealed that artillery commanders raised their right arms, clenched their fists, and pulled forward just prior to giving the firing order. Baffled, the engineers questioned the officers about the purpose of this seemingly superfluous action. None of the officers could give a cogent explanation. Probing further, the engineers showed the films to artillery instructors. Immediately, a veteran instructor figured out the significance of the raised arm. "They are holding the horses," he said, meaning that in the days when horses pulled artillery pieces, crew commanders would grab the reins to prevent the horses from running away when a gun fired. Use one of the learning theories discussed in lecture to explain why, long after artillery pieces began to be towed by trucks and jeeps, artillery commanders continued to "hold the horses" before firing their guns. Second, describe a learning strategy that you would have recommended to eliminate the "hold the horses" gesture. Finally, the "hold the horses" story can be read as a metaphor for the mindless persistance of routines and procedures in organizations. Describe a learning strategy that you would suggest to help organizations prevent the blind following of past practices. [Hint: Consider the difference between modelling a behavior and understanding a behavior, ala Calvin Coolidge and his guests.]

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February 20, 1997