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Just a Little Something from All of Us: Conflicting Expectations for Gift Fund Management Lead to Dissatisfaction

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CASE STUDY. The case describes a situation where the employees of a department agree to contribute to a gift fund but have different expectations of how it will be used. An interim manager has decided to assume responsibility for managing the fund and has done so in a way that has caused employees to question his decisions.

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Just a Little Something from All of Us: Conflicting Expectations for Gift Fund Management Lead to Dissatisfaction: Abstract

Just a Little Something from All of Us: Conflicting Expectations for Gift Fund Management Lead to Dissatisfaction is a case study by Nicole Bérubé and Mélanie Robinson.

Jeanette Williams, the administrative assistant of the IT department of a large firm, had suggested creating a departmental gift fund to which employees would each contribute a set amount each year and that could be used to purchase gifts to mark significant events in the lives of department employees. Though she had managed the fund since its inception, Dave Babcock, the interim manager, had decided to take over its management.

Over the course of several months, a number of events occurred requiring the use of the gift fund. In most cases, those events were of the type for which the fund had been created – births, deaths, promotions, and departures. However, Dave had also used the fund to pay for a social event, generating mixed reactions from employees. The fund had been depleted, and Dave had solicited volunteer contributions from employees when more events occurred calling for gifts. Department staff had begun to ask questions about Dave’s management of the gift fund. Faced with another event and a depleted fund, Dave had to decide what to do next.

Teaching objectives

Students will:

  • Develop their analytical skills by applying theoretical concepts to examine relationships between supervisors and employees in cases where employees have a vested interest in management decisions
  • Gain a better understanding of how different factors can interact (e.g., factors related to the actors involved and the context) to impact perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours, and ultimately work motivation and satisfaction
  • Draw on both their analyses and knowledge of the literature to make recommendations as to how the manager should approach the current situation and improve it going forward

Main themes covered

  • The importance of communication
  • Collegiality, courtesy
  • Consideration in a team environment

Concepts & theories related to the case

  • Organizational behaviour
  • Perception
  • Organizational justice
  • Motivation

Additional information

Teaching notes are available for teachers only. Please contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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