Robyn & Luis

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Jeswald W. Salacuse

A short dramatized problem regarding a dispute between two corporate officers over the best way to improve company profitability

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Robyn & Luis, a short film written and produced by Jeswald W. Salacuse, presents a dramatized problem for use in courses on negotiation, conflict resolution, management, or leadership. Under the guidance of an instructor, students seek to resolve the problem through discussion. A dramatized problem tends to engage students actively in discussion and also helps develop students' perceptual skills — key assets for any negotiator, manager, or leader. In a further attempt to simulate reality in the classroom, the video seeks to encourage students to react and make decisions in real time.

The film viewer is placed in the position of the CEO of a publicly traded communication equipment manufacturer that has had low, stagnant profits for the past five years. Hired just six months ago, the CEO has been given 18 months by the firm's board chairman to turn the company around and increase its profitability. The CEO has been working energetically with the company's vice presidents to develop a plan of action to fix the problem. In order to control costs, the CEO has agreed with Vice-President for Finance Robyn Kendal to impose a 5% limit on budget increases in all departments in next year's budget. Kendal is to work with seven vice presidents to implement the budget cap. The CEO knows, however, that cutting costs alone will not achieve a sustained improvement in profitability. Company productivity must also be increased. Luis Molina, the company's Vice President for Human Resource Development, has proposed a new human resource development model that emphasizes employee training and evaluation as a way to improve productivity. Molina's plan is based on the human resources system in the company's Canadian subsidiary, the organization's most profitable unit. The CEO encourages Molina to develop a new human resources model based on the Canada system for the entire company

Two weeks later, on the day after the CEO returns from a two-week trip, Robyn Kendal and Luis Molina appear at the door of the CEO's office and ask for a meeting. They enter the office and sit opposite the CEO's desk, looking directly at the viewer. Remind the CEO of the directive to limit budget increases, Kendal reports that whereas all the other vice presidents have agreed to limit budget increases for their units to 5%, Molina has refused and is insisting on an 8% increase. Molina replies that he needs the additional 3% (i.e. $200,000) in order to implement the new human resources plan that he and the CEO had agreed upon. Kendal insists, as the CEO had previously agreed, on the need to reduce costs in order to improve company profitability, while Molina argues strongly fro the necessity of increasing productivity as the basic means of raising company profits on a sustained basis. The film ends as both face the CEO (i.e. the viewer) and say "well…?"

TEACHING POINTS INCLUDE:

  • Understanding and analyzing the nature and causes of interpersonal conflict in the work place
  • Understanding the various roles that a third party may play in the settlement of a conflict
  • Understanding and using strategies for mediation and other forms of third-party intervention in a conflict

Robyn & Luis Attributes

Time required: Unspecified
Teaching notes available: No
Run Time: 7 minutes