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Question & Answer:

  • What is the role of control in management?

  • Describe four methods managers can use to acquire information about actual work performance.

  • How are planning and control linked? Is the control function linked to the organizing and leading functions of management? Explain.

  • In Chapter 7 we discussed the white water rapids view of change. Do you think it’s possible to establish and maintain effective standards and controls in this type of atmosphere? Discuss.

  • Why is what is measured in the control process probably more critical to the control process than how it is measured?

  • Why do you believe feedback control is the most popular type of control? Justify your response.

  • Every individual employee in an organization plays a role in controlling work activities.” Do you agree with this statement, or do you think control is something that only managers are responsible for? Explain.

  • How could you use the concept of control in your personal life? Be specific. (Think in terms of feedforward, concurrent, and feedback controls as well as specific controls for the different aspects of your life—school, work, family relationships, friends, hobbies, etc.)

  • Just after midnight on March 22, 2006, the Queen of the North ferry, part of the BC Ferries system, hit rocks off Gil Island, south of Prince Rupert. It was immediately clear that the ferry was in trouble, and within 15 minutes, “all” the passengers and crew were off the ship and in the ferry’s lifeboats. Initial media reports celebrated the fact that all 99 passengers and crew had managed to get off the ferry safely and with no major injuries.
    On day two, passengers were reported missing. How could the ferry crew not know there had still been people onboard? While international maritime regulations require that ferries record identifying information about all passengers (name, gender, and whether they are adults, children, or infants), the Canadian government doesn’t require BC’s ferry fleet to meet international standards. Passenger names aren’t collected and ferry staff don’t even take a head count after loading. The number of passengers is only roughly determined by the number of tickets sold. There is no system in place to count passengers as they move from the ship to lifeboats, should such a situation arise.
    The internal investigation BC Ferries conducted after the incident concluded that “human factors were the primary cause” of what happened. The report stated that the fourth officer “failed to make a necessary course alteration or verify such alteration was made in accordance with pre-established fleet routing directives and good seamanship.” During the investigation, crew members responsible for navigating the ship that night claimed that they were unfamiliar with newly installed steering equipment. In addition, they had turned off a monitor displaying their course, because they could not turn on the night settings. The report also concluded that the crew maintained a “casual watch-standing behavior,” had “lost situational awareness,” and “failed to appreciate the vessel’s impending peril.” Transcripts of radio calls that evening noted that music was heard playing on the bridge.
    1. Describe the type(s) of control that could be used to improve the BC Ferries service to prevent an accident such as this occurring again. Be specific.
    2. Assume that you are the president of BC Ferries. You have read the report of the investigation and noted some of the problems found. What would you do? Explain your reasoning.
    3. Would some types of controls be more important than others in this situation? Discuss.

  • What is operations management and how is it used in both manufacturing and service organizations?

  • What strategic role does operations management play?

  • How might operations management apply to other managerial functions besides control?

  • What types of organizational benefits does value chain management provide?

  • Explain why managing productivity is important in operations management.

  • Who has the power in the value chain? Explain your response.

  • Choose two tasks that you do every week (for example, shop for groceries, host a poker party, clean your house/apartment, do laundry). For each one, identify how you could
    (a) Be more productive in doing that task and
    (b) Have higher-quality output from that task.

  • Starbucks understands the important role each participant in its value chain plays. Starbucks offers a selection of coffees from around the world. There are many potential challenges in “transforming” the raw material into the quality product and experience that customers expect at Starbucks. Weather, shipping and logistics, technology, political instability, could potentially impact what Starbucks is in business to do. Although those are significant operations management challenges, the most challenging issue facing Starbucks today is balancing its vision of the uniquely Starbucks’ coffee experience with the realities of selling a $4 latte.
    Starbucks’ products have become an unaffordable luxury for many. As revenues and profits have fallen during the economic downturn, CEO Howard Schultz realized that “the company needed to change almost everything about how it operates.” The recession and growing competition forced Starbucks to become more streamlined.
    At one of the first stores to implement the “lean” techniques, the store manager looked for ways for her employees to be more efficient with simple things like keeping items in the same place, moving drink toppings closer to where drinks are handed to customers, and altering the order of assembly. After two months under the new methods, her store experienced a 10 percent increase in transactions.
    1. Would you describe Starbucks’ production/operations technology in its retail stores as unit, mass, or process? Explain your choice. (Hint: You’ll probably need to review this material found in Chapter 5’s “From the Past to the Present” box.) How does its production/operations technology approach affect the way products are produced?
    2. What uncertainties does Starbucks face in its value chain? Can Starbucks manage those uncertainties? If so, how? If not, why not?
    3. Go the company’s Web site, www.starbucks.com, and find the information on the company’s environmental activities from bean to cup. Select one of the steps in the chain (or your professor may assign one). Describe what environmental actions it’s taking. How might these affect the way Starbucks “produces” its products?
    4. Research the concept of lean manufacturing. What does it mean? What benefits does lean offer? How might a business like Starbucks further utilize the concepts of being lean?


  • What is an organization and why are managers important to an organization’s success?

  • Are all effective organizations also efficient? Discuss. If you had to choose between being effective or being efficient, which one would you say is more important? Why?

  • Using any of the popular business periodicals (such as BusinessWeek, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company), find examples of managers doing each of the four management functions. Write up a description and explain how these are examples of that function.