Italian Shoe Company

The Italian Shoe Company is a New York, family owned company now in its sixth generation. The company started in 1823 making shoes for men and women based on designs that were popular in the growing Italian community of New York. In the early years, it struggled to survive. But over the years, particularly from the start of the twentieth century, it has prospered. The sixth generation owner -Adamo Pedone- is a very wealthy person. Currently, the company produces over 30 different types of men and women shoes, mostly in the upper market segments (i.e. starting at $ 400 a pair). Rising sales revenues have brought in a lot of money to the company, which is steadily being invested into increasing numbers of specialized line personnel and managerial staff.

Adamo, who is known as “Shoe Lord ” by his employees, has finally added an HR specialist (you) to help with personnel and organizational behavior issues. He has asked you to help with what he feels is a problem of worker morale in the operations division. Mark Whitehall, VP of operations, has complained to Adamo that most of his workers have bad attitudes and don’t seem to want to work. He says he’s prepared to fire them all if they don’t shape up. Mark has informed Adamo of his intentions, and believes he (Adamo) needs to “clean house” to show them who’s boss. Besides, he thinks a lot of them have become complacent and don’t care about quality.

Mark also pays little attention to the mid-level managers’ opinions stating that, “I’m ultimately responsible, so I’ll make the decisions.” Adamo knows that Mark can be heavy-handed in his management style and that he believes workers come to work either motivated or not. Mark has told him “there’s nothing you can do to make them work if they don’t want to.” Knowing everything about shoes, but little about people, Adamo isn’t sure whether it’s the workers or Mark that’s creating the problem. He wants to know that if it is Mark, can he be changed?

Or is it hopeless? He wants you to tell him if you think Mark or the workers should go. If you think neither should, then what are the ingredients needed to cook up a solution? This thing’s getting on his nerves. He wants to get it behind him and get back to his shoes. Therefore, Adamo asks you to analyze the situation using your knowledge of leadership theories, and recommend at least two possible solutions so he can decide what to do.

Case 2: North Holland Boat CompanyNorth Holland Boat Company sells sail boats to upper crust clients who want to make use of the excellent opportunities for sailing on rivers, lakes, or the sea that are all easily available in the area. The company has been in existence only a short time, but sales are up and business is booming. Eva Henness, the CEO, got the company off to a good start with her patented sail design. She discovered a way to make smaller sails which could catch more wind, even when there is very little wind. She guarantees smooth sailing in any weather condition.

This has made the boats very attractive to weekend sailors. Eva says, “let’s capitalize on this while the gettin’s good.” As she puts it, “get’em in, sell’em, and clip’em quick before they get away.” However, her husband Jim, who she assigned to supervise the sales staff, has had problems getting his salespersons motivated to do their job. Some seem to want no supervision while others want to know exactly what it is they are supposed to do. A couple of them insist on being managers themselves. Jim also has been having trouble with many of the salespersons who don’t seem to be showing up for the celebration (i.e. sales meeting).

The sales in their areas seem to be down, and the salespersons don’t appear to be concerned about the reduction in sales volume. Eva and Jim know that motivating workers is the leader’s primary responsibility. Therefore, they have asked you, a high-priced personnel consultant, to help solve what they think is a leadership problem. Jim is confused about how to organize and lead the staff.

Should he develop teams, supervise them individually, or just leave them alone? Since Jim’s only work experience was as a weekend life-guard before he met Eva, he is floundering, as he puts it, “rudderless in a turbulent sea.” He wants you, an expert HR specialist consultant, to help steer him back on course. Therefore, he has contracted you at $1000 a day, to develop a leadership development plan for North Holland Boat Company.

Case 3: Shell and Brent SparBrent Spar was a floating oil storage facility constructed in 1976 and moored approximately 2 km from the Brent “A” oil rig. It was jointly owned by Shell and Esso, and operated wholly by Shell, which gave them responsibility for decommissioning the structure. The draft of the platform was such that manoeuvring in the North Sea south of Orkney was not possible. The storage tank section had a capacity of 50,000 tonnes (300,000 barrels) of crude oil.

This section was built from 20 mm thick steel plate, reinforced by ribs and cross-braces. It was known that this section had been stressed and damaged on installation. This led to doubts on whether the facility would retain its structural integrity if it was refloated into a horizontal position.

Decommission of the Brent Spar Throughout the decommissioning process, Shell based its decisions on estimates of the quantities of various pollutants, including PCBs, crude oil, heavy metals and scale, which it had calculated based on the operating activities of the platform, and the quantity of metal that would remain in the structure after decommissioning was completed. cale is a by-product of oil production, and because of the radioactivity found in the rocks from which the oil is extracted, is considered to be low-level radioactive waste. It is dealt with on-shore on a regular basis, by workers wearing breathing masks to prevent inhalation of dust.

Shell examined a number of options for disposing of the Brent Spar, and took two of these forward for serious consideration. The first option involved towing the Brent Spar to a shallow water harbor to decontaminate it and reuse the materials used in its construction. Any unusable waste could be disposed of on land.

Technically, this option was more complex and presented a greater hazard to the workforce. This option was estimated to cost £41M. There was some concern that the facility would disintegrate in shallow coastal water, having a much more economically and environmentally significant impact. The second option involved towing the decommissioned platform into deep water in the North Atlantic, positioning explosives around the waterline, then detonating them, in order to breach the hull and sink the platform.

The facility would then fall to the seabed and release its contents over a restricted area. Due to the uncertainty associated with detonating explosives, a number of possible scenarios were envisaged. First, the structure would fall to the seabed in one piece, releasing its contaminants slowly, and affecting the seabed for around 500 m “down-current”. Second, the structure might disintegrate as it fell through the water column.

This would release contaminants in a single burst, and have an effect for 1000 m “down current” of the final resting place, although this would last for a shorter time than in the first instance. Third, the structure could fail catastrophically when the explosives detonated, releasing its contaminants into the surface waters. This would have an impact on sea birds and on the fishing industry in that area. The cost of this option was estimated at between £17M and £20M. Shell proposed that deep sea disposal was the best option for Brent Spar. Shell argued that their decision had been made on sound scientific principles and data.

Dismantling the platform onshore was more complex from an engineering point of view than disposal at sea. Shell also cited the lower risk to the health and safety of the workforce with deep sea disposal. Environmentally, Shell considered that sinking would have only a localized impact in a remote deep sea region which had little resource value. It was considered that this option would be acceptable to the public, to the United Kingdom Government and to regional authorities. Shell acknowledged that 3

sinking the Brent Spar at sea was also the cheaper option. Shell opted for the North Feni Ridge site, and applied to the British government for a license to dispose of the rig at sea. This was approved in December 1994. Greenpeace involvement Greenpeace became aware of the plan to sink the Brent Spar at sea on 16 February 1995. The organization had been campaigning against ocean dumping in the North Sea since the early 1980s, using high-seas tactics to physically hinder the dumping of radioactive waste and waste from titanium dioxide production, and lobbying for a comprehensive ban on ocean dumping through the OSPAR convention.

Greenpeace objected to the plan to dispose of the Brent Spar at sea on a number of issues: That there was a lack of understanding of the deep sea environment, and therefore no way to predict the effects of the proposed dumping on deep sea ecosystems. Furthermore, the documents which supported Shell’s license application were “highly conjectural in nature”, containing unsubstantiated assumptions, minimal data and extrapolations from unnamed studies. Thirdly, dumping the Brent Spar at sea would create a precedent for dumping other contaminated structures in the sea and would undermine current international agreements.

The environmental effects of further dumping would be cumulative. Fourth, dismantling of the Brent Spar was technically feasible and offshore engineering firms believed they could do it safely and effectively. The necessary facilities were already routinely in use and decommissioning of many other oil installations had already been carried out elsewhere in the world. Fifth, to protect the environment, the principle of minimizing the generation of wastes should be upheld and harmful materials always recycled, treated or contained. Sixth, Greenpeace alleged that the scientific arguments for ocean dumping were being used as a way of disguising Shell’s primary aim: to cut costs.

Four Greenpeace activists first occupied Brent Spar on 30 April 1995. In total, 25 activists, photographers and journalists were involved in this stage of occupation. They chose to cover up the Exxon logos on the platform. At this time, activists collected a sample of the contents of the Brent Spar and sent it for testing to determine the nature of the pollutants which the platform contained. This sample was collected incorrectly, leading to a large overestimate in the contents of the facility. Although Greenpeace quoted Shell’s own estimate of the amount of heavy metals and other chemicals on board, they claimed there were more than 5,500 tons of oil on the Spar – far more than Shell’s estimate of 50 tons.

For context, the Exxon Valdez oil spill involved around 42,000 tons. Greenpeace mounted an energetic media campaign that influenced public opinion against Shell’s preferred option. It disputed Shell’s estimates of the contaminants on the Brent Spar, saying that these were much more than initially estimated. On 9 May, the German government issued a formal objection to the British government, with respect to the dumping plan. On 23 May, after several attempts, Shell obtained legal permission to evict the Greenpeace protesters from the Brent Spar, and they were eventually taken by helicopter to Aberdeen, Scotland, where they held a press conference.

Towing of the platform to its final position began on 11 June. By this time the call for a boycott of Shell products was being heeded across much of continental northern Europe, damaging Shell’s profitability as well as brand image. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl protested to the British Prime Minister, John Major at a G7 conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Support from 4  within the oil industry was not unanimous. Although oil production companies supported Shell’s position, influential companies in the offshore construction sector stood to make money from onshore dismantling if a precedent could be set, and consequently supported the Greenpeace point of view.

On 20 June, Shell had decided that due to falling sales and a drop in share price, their position was no longer tenable, and withdrew their plan to sink the Brent Spar. They released the following statement: “Shell’s position as a major European enterprise has become untenable. The Spar had gained a symbolic significance out of all proportion to its environmental impact. In consequence, Shell companies were faced with increasingly intense public criticism, mostly in Continental northern Europe. Many politicians and ministers were openly hostile and several called for consumer boycotts. There was violence against Shell service stations, accompanied by threats to Shell staff.”

Aftermath In early July, the Norwegian government gave Shell permission to mothball the Brent Spar in Erfjord. It remained there for several years while other options for disposal were considered. Having moored the Brent Spar in Erfjord, Shell commissioned the independent Norwegian consultancy Det Norske Veritas (DNV) to conduct an audit of Spar’s contents and investigate Greenpeace’s allegations. Greenpeace admitted that its claims that the Spar contained 5500 tons of oil were inaccurate and apologized to Shell on 5 September. This pre-empted the publication of DNV’s report, which endorsed Shell’s initial estimates for many pollutants.

Greenpeace noted that its opposition to the dumping had never been solely based on the presence or absence of oil, however, and that opposition to the disposal plan was part of a larger campaign opposing the dumping of all waste into the North Sea. Although Shell had carried out an environmental impact assessment in full accordance with existing legislation, and firmly believed that their actions were in the best interests of the environment, they had severely underestimated strength of public opinion.

Shell were particularly criticized for having thought of this as a “Scottish”, or “UK” problem, and neglecting to think of the impact which it would have on their image in the wider world. The final cost of the Brent Spar operation to Shell was between £60M[11] and £100M, when loss of sales were considered. Although Shell and the offshore industry consider that Brent Spar did not set a precedent for disposal of facilities in the future, signatory nations of the OSPAR conventions have since agreed that oil facilities should be disposed of onshore, so it is difficult to see how this does not set a precedent.

Shell claimed that spending such an amount to protect a small area of remote, low resource value, deep sea was pointless and this money could be much more constructively spent. The overestimation of the contents of the Brent Spar damaged the credibility of Greenpeace in their wider campaigns. They were criticized in an editorial column in the scientific journal Nature for their lack of interest in facts. Greenpeace moved to distance itself from its “5500 tons” claim, after the Brent Spar argument was won, and because of this has been accused of indulging in historical revisionism, after issuing statements such as “In the absence of a full inventory, Greenpeace, during our occupation, attempted to find out what was on the Brent Spar.

The estimates resulting from this sampling were in no way central to the campaign…”. This allegation has also been leveled at individuals, such as Lord Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace UK, who wrote in New Scientist magazine, “Greenpeace made mistakes too. We  allowed ourselves to follow the agenda set by the Department of Trade and Industry, Shell and the media – too often getting into arguments about the potential toxicity of the Spar.”