Equity Theory Perspective

This case requires you to apply several motivation theories to explain the behavior of Roger and the work crew. Answer all of the questions at the end of the case. Be specific and detailed in your answers and be sure to use theory terminology as you apply the theories to the case. Let me know if you have questions

Case 2
Blessed with the Boss’ Son

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The Harborside Inn, located on the New England coast, is a 125-room luxury hotel. The inn’s guests are predominantly upper middle class in that the going rate is about $100 per day per person. The hotel grounds include 30 acres of lawns and gardens. Their nine-hole golf course winds its way around a picturesque trout pond. The hotel grounds were meticulously cared for and yet efforts at cultivating beauty could not match the natural beauty which was so much a part of the Harborside Inn, namely the rock and reef strewn Atlantic Ocean. The Harborside was particularly blessed in this regard in that three small islands lay at each end of the property. However, the many varied gardens attracted many of the guests, and the patrons’ high praise was evidence that the maintenance department was an important part of the hotel staff. This department was responsible for all matters pertaining to the physical upkeep of the hotel. This included such tasks as plumbing, painting, pool care, flower garden planting and upkeep, golf course maintenance, and twice daily dump hauls.

Maintenance Department
The maintenance department was made up of twelve men and a department head named Harold. Harold at age 62 was the perfect representation of a man who had devoted his life to work. He worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. The money seemed unimportant in that his salary was for an eight-hour day, six days a week. His sight and his hearing were both failing. Glasses and a semi functioning hearing aid had probably extended his life, for Harold would often move before he looked or thought of where he was or of where he was going. A broken leg, a sprained ankle, a twisted knee, a dislocated hip, had all occurred at least once, and all were souvenirs of different accidents. His strong compact frame combined with his positive outlook at the world helped keep him and his quick temper aimed toward his never-ending urge to work. His failing physical prowess was only matched by his one-sided outlook on life. Each and every issue, whether it be national politics or grass cutting, had one solution. “It is to be done this way,” he would insist as if the object of his attention, whether it be animate or inanimate, had suddenly confided its life secrets to him. The trick to survival on the Harborside maintenance crew was simple: Agree with Harold and go about your work.

Harold had been “blessed” with several sons, one of whom was a member the maintenance department. Roger, a senior in high school and the third youngest member of the team, was remarkably like his father. In fact the resemblance so fit that Roger became known as “little Harold.” However, there was one important difference: Roger, unlike his father, disliked work. Of course being the boss’ son had some advantages; higher pay, $7.75 an hour instead of $7.50 an hour; lawn-mowing, riding a sit-down tractor instead of pulling weeds; and a direct line to Harold, a line that we felt had some voltage in that a run in with “Little Harold” meant quite often a run in with Harold. The threat of “lay-offs” was an integral part of every Friday’s paycheck, so “little Harold” was always called Roger. This was not to say that Roger was totally unliked; many of us considered his predicament, namely that he was Harold’s son, and basically a rather lonely person. Gatherings such as parties and softball games always found Roger included.
Mid-July was the beginning of the peak season at the Harborside, and all seemed right on schedule. The maintenance crew had indeed suffered some losses, two men layed off for disciplinary reasons, and yet the grounds and hotel had never looked or functioned better. The gardens were filling with bloom, the lawns had not yet been burned by the ocean sun, and Roger had managed to put the right amount of fertilizer on the golf course greens for a change. Several of us had refinished a grand piano, and to both management’s and our delight the result had been magnificent. The crew’s work was under high praise and Harold couldn’t have been happier. The crew felt confirmed in its assessment of its own performance. Prospects for the summer looked good with a competent and close-knit crew. However, several members of the crew felt the high-paid prince of Harold-land, Roger, was getting a little out of hand in that he now spent the greater part of his day wooing Sue, the pool attendant. These complaints often came to Bob since he was second to Harold in the number of years he had worked at the Harborside.

Bob was 23, and like seven of the other members of the ground’s crew was a recent college graduate. He had majored in psychology and had attained a near-perfect average in his major but was unable to get into graduate school in clinical psychology. His devotion and pride in his work had earned him the title of “Harborite,” short for Harbor side man. He had worked at the inn for seven years during summers, weekends, and holidays while attending New England College and valued the job very much. He was well liked and respected. Most members of the ground’s crew felt he should be the boss, and he was often asked how and when a particular job should be done. Though he would often instruct members on the how, he would never seem to venture behind Harold’s back and give the when or the O.K. on a job without first checking with Harold. If Harold said no, something else had to be done first, Bob accepted his answer. Harold had been a good friend especially during the past two winters when Bob had been unemployed. Whenever there was any work, Harold would call Bob and instruct him to make sure the job was done slowly and properly the first time; the understanding being, make the work last. Thus, though Bob would often agree with his fellow workers that Harold was rather slow and very disorganized, he would remind them that Harold meant well and that basically the hotel was fairly well cared for.
But as Fate would have it, Harold became stricken with a gall bladder problem, and Bob was asked to take over the crew for probably the balance of the summer or six weeks. His takeover was carefully monitored by management, and Bob was unable to make purchases without the accountant’s initial approval. The crew was monitored and both the owner and the accountant spent the first few days of Bob’s takeover pulling surprise checks on the workers. Everyone, however, was working well and management was particularly pleased that some priorities which Harold had passed over were now being cared for. Bob took the opportunity to reorganize the work load so that each member of the crew got an even share of the easy as well as hard or unpleasant jobs. For instance, the same two men had been assigned to cleaning the 50-gallon garbage containers each morning. Their vociferous complaints had fallen on deaf ears, as Harold felt that because they were the youngest two members on the crew they should be the ones to do this job. A 20-minute lecture on how he had been treated as the youngest member of a ground’s crew was so often repeated that they acquiesced and began finding other methods of slipping out of the task. One such tactic was to clean the same garbage container for the amount of time it would lake to clean all ten. Bob felt that this was unfair and made a schedule whereby each man on the crew including himself would have his turn. No one except the former full-time cleaners particularly cared for the decision but everyone felt that it was a fair solution.
Roger’s behavior became an issue quickly. Everyone had felt Harold exercised no control whatsoever over his son until we all saw what occurred after his father had left. Bob attempted to change his work schedule, which meant Roger would no longer spend the day on the sit-down lawnmower. Several problems surfaced immediately. Roger felt that his father was the boss and for this reason alone he didn’t have to listen to any temporary boss give him orders. Bob reminded Roger that as the highest paid member of the crew he had better work or there would be little reason for ordering anyone else to work especially for less pay. Roger said he didn’t care if anyone worked or not. Bob immediately went to the manager to voice his and the crew’s complaints about Roger. The manager’s response was to say that Roger was Bob’s problem, although he agreed that a few words to Roger were in order. His words must have been very few since Roger emerged showing little concern and promptly went about his business, mainly Sue. Bob spoke with Sue and she insisted Roger had been driving her crazy but she didn’t have the heart to hurt his feelings. Bob could see her point in that Roger had an extremely pronounced acne problem which had kept him from dating during high school. He was considered a mathematical genius, but his physical appearance and quick temperament offended many prospective friends and dates.
Bob returned from the pool unsure of just how to handle Roger. The manager would be of little help since he and Harold had known each other for ten years. Harold’s absolute devotion to the inn during those ten years made it clear to Bob that the manager would not fire Roger. Any such action would have to be Bob’s responsibility and Bob’s alone; and something had to be done. Roger’s presence was destroying the morale of a very hardworking and talented maintenance crew. Bob returned to the maintenance garage to find his entire crew, less Roger, seated inside the garage, not working, a half hour before the lunch break. The reason was Roger.
What do you see as the basic, underlying problem here?
Analyze this situation from a motivational standpoint using the following models. Use the concepts and the terminology of each model as you apply it.
Analyze Roger’s needs using Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Analyze the situation from Roger’s perspective using Expectancy Theory.
For simplicity and consistency sake assume that there are only two behavioral choices Roger is dealing with— namely, he can do good work or he can goof off and do inferior work. You do not need to quantify things but look at “expectancies”, “instrumentalities”, and “valences” in terms of being strong, moderate, or weak and then conceptually combine the combinations. Consider several outcomes for valences and remember that some can be negative.
Analyze the situation from Roger’s perspective using Equity Theory.
Analyze the situation from the crew’s perspective using Equity Theory.
If you were Bob, specifically what would you do, both regarding Roger and regarding the crew? Explain why you think your plan would work using the context of some of your answers in question #2. For more information on Equity Theory Perspective see this: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/law/law-divisions-and-codes/equity

Equity Theory Perspective

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