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BSA 354 FNU Analysis of Human Resource Management Case Studies

BSA 354 FNU Analysis of Human Resource Management Case Studies


Question 1

Case: Fidelity Deals with Workplace Bullying and Harassment

Workplace bullying and harassment have become challenging issues in many organizations and industries. Such misbehavior often involves intentionally harming others psychologically and/or emotionally on the job, as well as the development of a hostile work environment. While bullying and harassment can occur independently of each other, thus representing different issues, growing evidence suggests that these acts are interrelated, functioning together based on a prevailing negative corporate culture. Unfortunately, such misdeeds can make the workplace even worse because they can encourage poor employee morale, negative work attitudes, and low job performance.

Being one of the largest investment companies with a workforce of over 40,000 employees, Fidelity has faced many of these challenges, likely based on the sheer number of individuals who work there. The company terminated several successful money managers because of alleged sexual harassment and workplace bullying. Fidelity has a strict zero-tolerance policy that prohibits harassment and other forms of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. When incidences do occur, company officials promptly investigate what actually happened and address any issues as quickly as possible.

However, more is probably at work here, with signs pointing to a possible negative corporate culture. Fidelity has been dealing with harassment and bullying for some time, with employees complaining about a multitude of concerns. Many of the issues raised have been directed at the unethical conduct of portfolio managers who work in the equity division of Fidelity. Incidences have included disapproving comments made about the appearance of others, sexual remarks directed at women, and workplace bullying that targets both men and women victims. One internal report even pointed to persistent misbehavior that created a culture that was not supportive of women employees; it also highlighted a merit-oriented compensation structure that encouraged excessive politics among portfolio managers and analysts.

A number of these infractions have led to the termination of several successful money managers. One individual was terminated for making sexual remarks to coworkers, while another was fired for sexually harassing a junior female colleague. Through terminations or retirements, other individuals were pushed out of the company for bullying their coworkers. These cases highlight the important notion that employees have a right to operate in a work environment that is free from harassment and bullying. Consequently, employers should develop policies and practices that protect workers from such misconduct and encourage immediate action when rules are broken. Even though there is growing awareness of these concerns, challenges related to workplace harassment and bullying will likely continue—power, position, and self-interest will always have the capacity to corrupt individuals and motivate them to misbehave.


  1. Based on your understanding of this case, what could Fidelity do to reduce concerns about workplace harassment and bullying? If you were the HR manager at Fidelity, what policies would you develop to help reduce the prevalence of such misbehavior?
  2. If you were an entry-level worker at Fidelity, how would the presence of workplace harassment and bullying influence your opinion of the company? How would you protect yourself from such misconduct?

Question 2

Case: Interest in Student Unionization on the Rise

While no one would argue that college football is “big business” on many campuses, a decision made by the NLRB a few years ago might have led players to be treated as employees first—and students second. Athletes on scholarship at Northwestern University in Chicago asked the NLRB to determine their right to organize a labor union. Their rationale was that individuals often spend a majority of their time on the football field doing the required “work” that it takes to be an outstanding player (well over 40 hours a week in many cases), as opposed to completing their schoolwork. The athletes also hoped to negotiate some of the extensive costs associated with attending Northwestern, including health benefits, travel for home visits, utility expenses, mobile phone bills, and so forth.

The ensuing decisions were conflicting. An initial ruling by the regional director of the NLRB allowed college athletes on scholarship to organize at private universities. However, the full labor board in Washington, DC, overturned the regional director’s decision, claiming that such a move does not “…promote stability in labor relations across the league.” The board therefore avoided specifying that players on football scholarships are actually employees who are covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB in a separate and subsequent ruling asserted that certain rules found in the Northwestern team handbook were “unlawful” because they unfairly controlled players’ speech and expression. These cases indicate that college football players remain students rather than employees who are eligible to form a labor union. If they play at private institutions, however, they may enjoy certain private-sector rights.

But the issue of unionization at college campuses continues to gain steam, even though public institutions do not fall under the purview of the NLRB. In a case involving individuals attending Columbia University, the NLRB ruled that graduate students employed at private universities, as well as undergraduate students who are given some teaching-related duties, are considered employees and can seek union representation; graduate students at the school voted overwhelmingly to unionize. In a hotly contested voting process, a majority of graduate students at Harvard University also decided in favor of forming a union. Further, Richard Griffin Jr., General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, wrote a memo indicating that scholarship football players and students functioning in various assistant, intern, and resident roles at private institutions of higher education should be able to seek union representation. While the remarks made in the memo are not legally binding, they could encourage students at other private colleges and universities to seek out union support. However, changes to the administration and the makeup of the NLRB may reverse some of these trends.


  1. What are your opinions about the push for unionization among student-athletes and graduate students at private universities and colleges? Do you think they have a strong case?
  2. Do you think that unionization at private schools would create any unfair advantages with regard to recruiting talented athletes and students? What should officials at public and private schools do to mitigate some of these potential disparities?

Question 3

Case: Winning at Carlsberg

Danish brewer Carlsberg has grown through numerous acquisitions since its founding in the late nineteenth century to become the fourth largest international beer producer. The company now employs over 40,000 people and sells more than 500 brands of beer. While strongest in European and Scandinavian markets, its presence in Asia is growing, as Carlsberg Group now operates in Asia, both in mainland China and in Malaysia. The Asian market is deemed to be strategically important for the future of the company, and a research project was undertaken to study how corporate values and behaviors were transferred from Denmark to the Asian subsidiaries.

Carlsberg Group is similar to many MNEs in its attempt to strike a balance between standard, corporate-driven practices and customized practices adapted to each local setting. The company leadership team established a corporate culture initiative dubbed “Winning Behaviors,” which focused on creating a culture focused on developing staff to constantly take the lead in the market. Since the organization grew primarily by acquiring companies in various countries, there was some initial pushback from some local subsidiary leaders who felt that imposing Danish values on them was not appropriate. Therefore, a planning session was held with leaders from around the company to determine a common culture they could all embrace.

The results of this diverse group’s work were a set of five Wining Behaviors that would not only be universal throughout the company, but that would also respect local needs:

  • Together we are stronger
  • We want to win
  • Our customers and consumers are at the heart of every decision we make
  • We are each empowered to make a difference
  • We are engaged with society

The glocal approach involved workshops at various business units and designated “ambassadors” to disseminate the culture throughout the organization. The HR team was actively involved in rolling out the initiative and applying it to recruiting, performance management, and training practices in particular. Ten leadership competencies were identified and embedded in the performance management and compensation systems. Further, the company’s leadership academy is built around the ten competencies.

Managers in the Malaysia subsidiary embraced the culture initiative and painted the walls of the headquarters in “Carlsberg green” to demonstrate deep commitment to the parent company. They sponsored a video script contest among the employees to encourage understanding and visual display of each of the five core values. The subsidiary was awarded the “Strongest Winning Culture” as a result. In China, a video starring company leaders was created to showcase the values in action. China’s top-down hierarchical culture was better suited to using leaders rather than employees to spread the Winning Behaviors message. They also created two “stories” – one of losing behaviors and the other of contrasting winning behaviors to appeal to the Chinese employees. Storytelling is common in China, echoing a Confucian tradition.

The Winning Behaviors culture initiative has generally been successful, but some challenges persist in terms of adopting empowerment in Chinese operations where long-standing hierarchies are more customary. However, expatriate managers from Denmark have reported that many of the elements of the Winning Behaviors framework are alive and working well in Asian subsidiaries. As with most culture changes, Carlsberg Group’s Winning Behaviors is a work in progress.


  1. What role should leaders at headquarters play in establishing the preferred culture for an organization with diverse locations/subsidiaries? What is the role of headquarters and local HR professionals in such an initiative?
  2. Why is it important to include the cultural tenets in the company’s performance management and compensation programs? How successful would you expect a culture change to be if these HR practices are not updated to reflect the new culture approach? Why?
  3. What actions did Carlsberg group take to ensure buy-in from various stakeholders and operations?

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