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review case study market research inc

Market Research Inc. is a Vancouver-based firm that specializes in conducting surveys and interviews with members of the general public. The company has several different teams that work on many different projects for its many corporate clients. It is usually the case that several projects are conducted at the same time.

The company is composed of three departments: production, technical, and marketing. The marketing group is responsible for selling the company’s services to corporate clients. The technical department is mainly composed of research personnel who are responsible for developing and analyzing the results of the surveys, focus groups, and interviewing studies for the clients. The production department is composed of several teams of interviewers. It is that department’s job to conduct the data collection. They are responsible for identifying the customers who will be interviewed or surveyed, for enlisting their cooperation, and for interviewing them either personally, by phone or mail, depending on the project.

Thomas Waterfall (Tom) is the manager of the production department. The department is responsible for ensuring that all the data-collection projects are conducted in a professional and timely manner. More specifically, Tom is responsible for ensuring that there is always enough staff on hand to conduct each study (never too many or too few), for hiring (or dismissing) the interviewers, for training them on the specific project requirements, and for ensuring and controlling the quality of the work done by the production department. He must keep himself informed of the activities of the marketing and technical departments to ensure that his department meets the demands of these other groups. Finally, the production department is a high-pressure environment where tensions among interviewers and between interviewers and the technical staff can sometimes flare up, threatening the efficient and effective production of the studies. The production manager must often act as an arbiter of disputes and soothe people when they get upset, a skill for which Tom is famous.

Mary Milend has been working for the last five years in the production department of Market Research Inc., where she is an interviewer. She has been doing a remarkable job, conducting her interviews with professionalism and competence. She always meets her deadlines and has never been the object of a complaint, either by consumers or by her co-workers. She has always shown great cooperation, often volunteering to help other interviewers with their tasks when they were submerged. Finally, in the tense atmosphere of conducting the data collection under tight deadlines, she has always maintained extremely good relationships with the technical staff with whom the production department interacts routinely.

Tom, the manager of the production department, has announced that he will be retiring next year. Because of her superb record as an employee and her extensive hands-on knowledge of the production department, the vice president has offered to promote Mary to the job of production manager when Tom retires.

Mary is quite interested in the job, as this would mean a much higher salary, better benefits, vacations, and greater influence in the company. However, as Mary is a very honest person, she told the VP, when he offered her the promotion, that although she was keenly interested in the job, she was not sure that she was the best choice. She explained that she had never acted in a managerial role before and that she felt uncertain that she had the skills to do the job well. Impressed by Mary’s honesty, the VP indicated to her that he would be willing to provide her with all the training she requires to acquire the managerial skills that she will need to perform her new job.


1. What are the main skills that Mary will need to develop if she accepts the promotion?

2. What are some of the training experiences that might benefit Mary?

3. Should Tom be invited to play a role in Mary’s development? If so, what could that role be? 449 4. How effective do you think each of the following programs would be for Mary’s development: management education programs, management training programs (i.e., outdoor wilderness training), and on-the-job development (i.e., job rotation and coaching). What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and which one(s) do you recommend and why?


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