HR Student Paper: Case Study of Oconomo Plant

Southern Discomfort

Answer the question 1

On the basis of the case, we can know there are two options of changes for Lamprey to deal with the problems on Oconomo plant. One is to close the Oconomo plant. The other is to reduce the wage of workers in Oconomo plant and cross train the workers there. And the followings are these forces for and against the change at Oconomo plant, which include both internal and external evidences.

Firstly, the external changes for the change include three aspects. The first one is the need for economy changes because the operation cost of Oconomo plant are two high. For example, the average wage of workers in Oconomo plant is $16 per hour while it is only $1.60 per hour in Mexico. The secondly one is the need for changing technology because the competitors nearly catch up with its product quality. The last one is that if Lamprey could out its investment dollars in a bank and receive a better return than what its Oconomo operation is currently producing.

Secondly, the external change against the change is as the following. If close Oconomo plant, 520 workers may lose their job, which will affect the financial situation of the workers family and directly affect the economic stabilization of the town.

Thirdly, the internal changes for the change include the need for new organizational strategy and change in composition of workforce. Cross training is the proper way to solve the problems, which just as the case mentioned, includes reducing the wages and giving the worker cross training.

Fourthly, the internal changes against the change refer to the attitudes of the employees. Because the workers and unions are so stubborn and don’t want to reduce their wage, there would be several resistance for the change arousing from the workers.

Answer the question 2

According to the information in the case, I advocate that Lamprey should change the people and culture in Oconomo plant at first. Because according to McNamara, C (2000), the corporate culture consists of the values and norms of an organization which can guide the behavior of the member in the organization and even have influence of the success and the people are the backbone of the organization, it is important for Lamprey to put changing the people and culture in Oconomo plant at the primary position. For example, Samsung Electronics emphasizes corporate culture building and workers improvement so much such as the programs of work life balance as well as welfare programs ( Choi, H & Roh, S 2009), which make it become more and more successful on the world stage.

Although it is necessary for Lamprey to put changing the people and culture in the first place, only depending on changing people and culture isn’t sufficient enough for Lamprey to save the Wisconsin plant. According to Robbins, SP and Coulter, M (n.d.), it is recommendable for Lamprey to change things and people as well as culture to save Oconomo plant. Firstly, changing things include changing structure and technology. As the case mentioned, the rivals of Lamprey were close to overtake Lampreys product quality. So for Lamprey, it is necessary to improve its technique capability such as new equipment, tools as well as operation means. Secondly, on the field of changing people and culture which is also crucial for Lamprey is because of the stubborn attitude of union against the issue of reducing the wage and cross training. If Lamprey can change or reshape its corporate culture and change the workers attitudes towards the issue of cross training and reducing wage, the problem will be easily to handle out. For instance, after Wijers becoming of the CEO of Akzo, he conducted a series of changes including changing things and people as well as culture such as cost cutting, management team replacement, pension scheme for worker as well as new technique development, which helps Akzo solve the awkward problems and gain profit again (Asia Business News 2007).

Answer for question 3

On the basis of the information from the case and Palmer, I et al. (2009), the major causes of the union leaders resistance to change are as the follows. The first one is the union leaders discomfort with uncertainty. From the case, we know that Jim and his boss didn’t give any clear clarification about the destination and proper purpose of the change to these workers in Oconomo plant, which will easily rouse their fear and resistance for change due to the unknown future situation. The second one is the attachment to the established organizational culture. From the case, we know Oconomo plant had been in operation since 1921, which is such a long history to form a kind of culture of belief. So the changes for the unions leaders easily make them feel their regular and traditional life will be broken such as the cross training plan. May be these workers have already got used to their original workforce position, the cross training is totally new to them plus unknown results. So the resistance is understandable. The third one is the lack of conviction that change is needed as well as the predictable negative effects on interest. The change to Oconomo plant is obviously including the wage cutting and cross training, which means more jobs but lower wages. They are totally challenges for the interests of the workers. And meanwhile, Jim and his boss didn’t give them proper reasons and convictions for change. And what they did just like they only focus on the profit of Lamprey but not the workers in Oconomo plant. That is why the resistance for change occurred. For example the strike by the staff of British Airway in the year 2003 was due to their resistance for change (Palmer, I et al. 2009).

To convince union members to change, the followings are the proper tactics to use on the basis of the ideas from Palmer, I et al. (2009). Firstly, it is necessary for Jim to have fully communication and negotiation with the union leaders to clearly clarify the tough situation for Lamprey and make them know the change for Oconomo plant is the only means to save them. Secondly, Jim and Lamprey Company should offer the workers resources both in technical and emotional fields to convince the confidence of the workers to Lamprey. Thirdly, nominating the people in the union to conduct the change for Oconomo plant is to buy the support from the union, which can help Jim reduce the resistance. Let take Wijers of Akzo as an example. After Wijers adopted proper tactics such as full communication, offering well facilitation and support to the staff and so on, the resistance to the change from the staff was almost removed, which also made Akzo function well (Asia Business News 2007).


Asia Business News 2007, Akzo Nobel Proposes Top Management Changes, abn news wire, viewed 24 April 2010,

Choi, H & Roh, S 2009, Integrity management: Building a creative corporate culture, Samsung Electronics, electronic version,

Palmer, I, Dunford, R & Akin, G 2009, Managing Organizational Change, 2nd edn, Mc Graw Hill, New York,

McNamara, C 2000, Organizational culture, Authenticity Consulting, viewed 24 April 2010,

Robbins, SP & Coulter, M 2004, People, organization and management, Prentice Hall,New Jersey,

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