Discussion Questions Week 8

If a student asks an instructor to bump her course grade up because she will have a 2.19 GPA overall and thus will be kicked out of the business school if she gets a “D”, why is the instructor often reluctant to do so?How would you analyze the sentry’s behavior in terms of game theory?10 = very positive outcome5 = positive outcome-5 = fairly negative outcome-10 = very bad outcomeShootDon’t shootFriendFoeThe instructor is always reluctant to bump up a student’s grades because they stand to lose if they lower themselves to that position. Even if the action of the instructor assists the student, the instructor faces a probable career risk. If the instructor grants the student her request, the reputation of the researcher will be at stake.

How would you analyze the sentry’s behavior in terms of game theory?10 = very positive outcome5 = positive outcome-5 = fairly negative outcome-10 = very bad outcomeShootDon’t shootFriendFoeThe sentry’s behavior like a zero sum game shows the choices he has to make. The sentry has to make a choice on whether to gain or lose. There are only two choices available to the sentry. He has to make that quick judgment before the enemy can pose any danger. Because he has no time to identify the enemy, he has to shoot him. There is equilibrium so the sentry has to make the choice of whether to shoot or not to shoot.

How would you analyze the incentive structure of the representative from the corporate communications department?10 = very positive outcome5 = positive outcome0 = neutral outcome-5 = fairly negative outcome-10 = very bad outcomeApproveDon’t approveUnsuitableSuitableBased on the odds and the risks involved in the corporate communications department, the representative’s incentives shall be weighed by how the representative handles communications. The incentives structure unlike that of the sentry will be based on an approve-Do not approve structure since the representative will have to seek approval based on their behavior or the manner in which they have carried out their work.

Why does Ted spend “a lot of his time trying to explain why it is necessary and proper for things to be the way they are,” and what is the downside to his attitude?

Ted spends a lot of time giving reasons why things are supposed to stay the way they are because the goals are not explicitly stated in phase 1. Ted’s attitude creates a poor impression to the rest of the team. In his explanations, Ted proceeded to change the strategies already put by the planners of phase 1. Ted also tends to irritate both Stan and Ben by his endless explanations. His actions drive them to posses a negative impression of him.

How do Stanley and Ben benefit from pursuing “the more profitable course of trying to learn why things are the way they are?”What current (or past) news stories reflect the lessons of this chapter?By trying to learn why things are the way they are, Stanley and Ben are able to understand why Ted had spent a lot of time trying to deviate their attention from their own strategies. Both of them manage to find out why for instance Ted had become a hindrance to the achievements of the goals of phase 1.

In your own words, answer Stanley’s question, “Why is Ted inflating the results of the program and not addressing the original mission?”Ted is inflating the results of the program and ignoring the original mission of phase 1 because he wants to the hide the fact that the program has certain flaws in it.

With the events of this chapter in mind, what is the benefit of documenting commitments made by others that affect your self-interest?

Documenting commitments made by others that affect ones self-interests enables one to have a record of the person’s behavior. This can be seen in the case of Ted. Ben acknowledges Ted’s unusual behavior and his efforts to derail the program. Bearing these in mind, Ben gains a greater understanding of his behavior.

What are the risks of referring back to these documented commitments’ in the future?Documenting the commitments of other people is beneficial to a certain extent. Referring to such documented commitments sets one revives previous stereotypes and hinders the free interaction between two colleagues. This can be seen between Ben and Ted. It will be difficult for them to interact freely due to Stanley’s previous behavior.

What does the text mean when it says that Faust is “trading on his reputation?

The text Faust is trading on his reputation refers to Ted’s efforts to make Faust look good at the expense of Stanley. Faust accepts Ted Shelby’s accolades despite the fact that Stanley is performing much better than he does. The text therefore refers to Faust’s acceptance of someone else’s privileges.

Why do the foreman cook the books in situations similar to the one illustrated in the tail?The supervisor cooks the books to hide the discrepancies in accounting and to account for the errors registered. His actions are driven by the desire to avoid punishment by creating a good impression in the records.

Could this faulty accounting lead to future problems?Faulty accounting poses possible problems to the company in future. It creates costs that are unnecessary and non-existent. These unnecessary costs will weigh down heavily on the financial status of the company in the future.

What Dr. Faust left unsaid, according to the text, “is that it is Management’s greatest folly to believe that organizational members, when called upon to supply information that can affect their own organizational well-being, can be neutral with regard to that information.”Can you think of examples from your own experience to illustrate Faust’s point?Dr Faust is right when it comes to his sentiments about the tendency of employees to remain neutral when called to provide information that may affect their well-being at the workplace. One day a staff meeting was arranged to devise remuneration and incentive methods for members of staff who post the best returns during a financial year. Members were asked to offer possible ways through which their performances can be measured. One member suggested the measurement of an employee’s daily contribution at the workplace while another suggested that certain minimum benchmarks be set for employees. A under performing supervisor was asked to make a choice between the two suggestions. He however failed to make the choice since he saw each of the methods as attempts to make him put more effort.

How does this tale compare with the box that follows, “Fixing the Facts”?

In relation to fixing the facts, the super visor tries to stay away from trouble. He refuses to take part in the problem solving exercise because he fears he might be labeled incompetent and consequently lose his job.

What would you have done, in Stanley’s position, when your boss appeared to be displeased after all the hard work of your first two report drafts?

If I were Stanley and my boss refuses to acknowledge my hard work I would just put more effort until he notices or someone else notices. Stanley does not have a choice, either way he is the one who loses. If he decides to work less hard just because the boss is displeased, he might attract more displeasure. The only thing that he can do is to work harder or maintain his hard work. Such efforts will end ear him to other line managers or prove his boss wrong. The boss might also come to appreciate his hard work on the future.

How did the placing of Stan’s name on Kerry’s white board for a few months influence Stan’s motivation?

The placing of Stanley’s name on Kerry’s white board motivated him to work even harder. Kerry’s projections had to be met at all costs. Stan had to work harder to meet the demands put by Kerry on the white board.


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