The “Sacred Cow” at Lunix Corporation: When Getting Rid of an Incompetent Employee Becomes Risky Business

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CASE STUDY. A rapidly growing educational technology company hires a young and savvy professional, Frank Atwood, to head and restructure its Web Services Department.

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The “Sacred Cow” at Lunix Corporation: When Getting Rid of an Incompetent Employee Becomes Risky Business: Abstract

The “Sacred Cow” at Lunix Corporation: When Getting Rid of an Incompetent Employee Becomes Risky Business is a case study by Susana Fernández.

A rapidly growing educational technology company hires a young and savvy professional, Frank Atwood, to head and restructure its Web Services Department. Atwood’s enthusiasm is quickly dampened by long work hours and, worst of all, by an unqualified and unwilling employee, Charles Johnson, who is even resistant to being trained in current technology. To Atwood’s dismay, his boss, Megan Moore, hints at the need to fire Johnson, but she is not eager to be responsible for making the decision. The reason for this is Johnson’s status as a long-time family friend of the President and CEO and his family. When the situation becomes intolerable, Atwood realizes that he needs to “sacrifice the sacred cow,” but the question is: how can he do it in a way that benefits everyone involved?

Teaching objectives

This case seeks to foster a discussion regarding strategic personnel and organizational issues, including concepts such as return on investment, job and organizational fit, organizational culture, political environment, decision making and organizational change. The case presents a real-life situation that often tends to be solved by termination, yet the case challenges students to creatively explore other alternatives and options by analyzing the interests of all those involved. The purpose is to find and propose solutions that legitimately support growth and add value to the organization, while benefitting everyone. Finally, the case also asks students not only to describe the plan they would use to engineer the process, but also to consider how they would communicate their proposed change in order to elicit the commitment of the key players in the organization.

Additional information

Also available in French.

Teaching notes are available for professors. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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