The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? Case Study Analysis & Solution

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The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? is a Harvard Business (HBR) Case Study on Leadership & Managing People , Fern Fort University provides HBR case study assignment help for just $11. Our case solution is based on Case Study Method expertise & our global insights.

Leadership & Managing People Case Study | Authors :: Thomas R. Miller

Case Study Description

Dr. Jeff Foreman, Professor and Chair of the Marketing Department at Carroll State University, had just left a meeting with the Dean of the College and other department chairs about the upcoming salary increase program. Since pay increases had been small in recent years, Foreman was quite pleased that there would be four percent merit money this year, in addition to the previously announced two percent across-the-board (ATB) increase. The ATB raise would be effective in July, and the merit pay would be implemented the following January. At the meeting, the Dean of the College informed the chairs that the merit-pay policy was subject to change, in order to reward the highest performing faculty. He stated that at a recent meeting with the Provost, the idea of a more "aggressive" approach to rewarding top-performing faculty members was discussed. This approach, it was advanced, would help the University retain its most productive and most mobile faculty members - those who had the talents to really advance the programs of the school. Subsequent discussion at the chairs' meeting was animated, and they expressed a variety of opinions about the advisability of the proposed changes in the merit-pay policy. As the meeting ended, the Dean asked each of the chairs to study the proposal and make a recommendation about the pay plan with a justification, noting that the group would meet again to make a policy decision for the College. Back in his office, Professor Foreman reviewed the existing policy on salary increases, salary information on his faculty, and their performance ratings for the last three years. He thought about the philosophy underlying the aggressive approach to compensation and the implications of rewarding only the top performers. But he also wanted to look at the actual impact of the proposed change on the salaries of his faculty members. What would it do to salary differentials? How would it affect faculty motivation?

Compensation, Human resource management

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[10 Steps] Case Study Analysis & Solution

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Step 1 - Reading up Harvard Business Review Fundamentals on the Leadership & Managing People


Even before you start reading a business case study just make sure that you have brushed up the Harvard Business Review (HBR) fundamentals on the Leadership & Managing People. Brushing up HBR fundamentals will provide a strong base for investigative reading. Often readers scan through the business case study without having a clear map in mind. This leads to unstructured learning process resulting in missed details and at worse wrong conclusions. Reading up the HBR fundamentals helps in sketching out business case study analysis and solution roadmap even before you start reading the case study. It also provides starting ideas as fundamentals often provide insight into some of the aspects that may not be covered in the business case study itself.

Step 2 - Reading the The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? HBR Case Study

To write an emphatic case study analysis and provide pragmatic and actionable solutions, you must have a strong grasps of the facts and the central problem of the HBR case study. Begin slowly - underline the details and sketch out the business case study description map. In some cases you will able to find the central problem in the beginning itself while in others it may be in the end in form of questions. Business case study paragraph by paragraph mapping will help you in organizing the information correctly and provide a clear guide to go back to the case study if you need further information.
My case study strategy involves -

  • Marking out the protagonist and key players in the case study from the very start.
  • Drawing a motivation chart of the key players and their priorities from the case study description.
  • Refine the central problem the protagonist is facing in the case and how it relates to the HBR fundamentals on the topic.
  • Evaluate each detail in the case study in light of the HBR case study analysis core ideas.

Step 3 - The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? Case Study Analysis

Once you are comfortable with the details and objective of the business case study proceed forward to put some details into the analysis template. You can do business case study analysis by following Fern Fort University step by step instructions -

  • Company history is provided in the first half of the case. You can use this history to draw a growth path and illustrate vision, mission and strategic objectives of the organization. Often history is provided in the case not only to provide a background to the problem but also provide the scope of the solution that you can write for the case study.
  • HBR case studies provide anecdotal instances from managers and employees in the organization to give a feel of real situation on the ground. Use these instances and opinions to mark out the organization's culture, its people priorities & inhibitions.
  • Make a time line of the events and issues in the case study. Time line can provide the clue for the next step in organization's journey. Time line also provides an insight into the progressive challenges the company is facing in the case study.

Step 4 - SWOT Analysis of The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All?

Once you finished the case analysis, time line of the events and other critical details. Focus on the following -

  • Zero down on the central problem and two to five related problems in the case study.
  • Do the SWOT analysis of the The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? . SWOT analysis is a strategic tool to map out the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that a firm is facing.
  • SWOT analysis and SWOT Matrix will help you to clearly mark out - Strengths Weakness Opportunities & Threats that the organization or manager is facing in the The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All?
  • SWOT analysis will also provide a priority list of problem to be solved.
  • You can also do a weighted SWOT analysis of The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? HBR case study.

Step 5 - Porter 5 Forces / Strategic Analysis of Industry Analysis The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All?

In our live classes we often come across business managers who pinpoint one problem in the case and build a case study analysis and solution around that singular point. Business environments are often complex and require holistic solutions. You should try to understand not only the organization but also the industry which the business operates in. Porter Five Forces is a strategic analysis tool that will help you in understanding the relative powers of the key players in the business case study and what sort of pragmatic and actionable case study solution is viable in the light of given facts.

Step 6 - PESTEL, PEST / STEP Analysis of The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All?

Another way of understanding the external environment of the firm in The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? is to do a PESTEL - Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental & Legal analysis of the environment the firm operates in. You should make a list of factors that have significant impact on the organization and factors that drive growth in the industry. You can even identify the source of firm's competitive advantage based on PESTEL analysis and Organization's Core Competencies.

Step 7 - Organizing & Prioritizing the Analysis into The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? Case Study Solution

Once you have developed multipronged approach and work out various suggestions based on the strategic tools. The next step is organizing the solution based on the requirement of the case. You can use the following strategy to organize the findings and suggestions.

  • Build a corporate level strategy - organizing your findings and recommendations in a way to answer the larger strategic objective of the firm. It include using the analysis to answer the company's vision, mission and key objectives , and how your suggestions will take the company to next level in achieving those goals.
  • Business Unit Level Solution - The case study may put you in a position of a marketing manager of a small brand. So instead of providing recommendations for overall company you need to specify the marketing objectives of that particular brand. You have to recommend business unit level recommendations. The scope of the recommendations will be limited to the particular unit but you have to take care of the fact that your recommendations are don't directly contradict the company's overall strategy. For example you can recommend a low cost strategy but the company core competency is design differentiation.
  • Case study solutions can also provide recommendation for the business manager or leader described in the business case study.

Step 8 -Implementation Framework

The goal of the business case study is not only to identify problems and recommend solutions but also to provide a framework to implement those case study solutions. Implementation framework differentiates good case study solutions from great case study solutions. If you able to provide a detailed implementation framework then you have successfully achieved the following objectives -

  • Detailed understanding of the case,
  • Clarity of HBR case study fundamentals,
  • Analyzed case details based on those fundamentals and
  • Developed an ability to prioritize recommendations based on probability of their successful implementation.

Implementation framework helps in weeding out non actionable recommendations, resulting in awesome The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? case study solution.

Step 9 - Take a Break

Once you finished the case study implementation framework. Take a small break, grab a cup of coffee or whatever you like, go for a walk or just shoot some hoops.

Step 10 - Critically Examine The Proposed Merit Pay Program: Should the Winners Take All? case study solution

After refreshing your mind, read your case study solution critically. When we are writing case study solution we often have details on our screen as well as in our head. This leads to either missing details or poor sentence structures. Once refreshed go through the case solution again - improve sentence structures and grammar, double check the numbers provided in your analysis and question your recommendations. Be very slow with this process as rushing through it leads to missing key details. Once done it is time to hit the attach button.