Johnson Engine Company: Organizational Development

Table of Contents


To conduct an organizational diagnosis we use Burke-Litwin Causal Model (B-L Model). The model presents 12 constructs or variables which can be used to understand the present condition of Johnson Engine Company. The company’s external environment has become highly competitive, as there are cost efficient Japanese companies who have entered the market. The mission and strategy is to be a leader in the niche area of specialty suppliers of heavy duty and light weight diesel engines for the trucking industry. The leadership of the company is managers from “old-school” who believe in driving the workers rather than empowering them. The culture of the organization is work oriented, union based and bureaucratic. Clearly, the structure is hierarchical, machine bureaucracy with top-down management practice. The systems in place are that of order and delivery with no consensus taken from the bottom level. There are no system of teams in place which leads to a direct departmentalization and many hierarchies. The work is done is a done when an order is passed down the line to the bottom level. The company follows no proper job evaluation patterns and is traditionalist in many ways. As there are no match with the skill and the job, a person is doing and he has to continue doing the drill for as long he works. Highly bureaucratic and top down approach has led to de-motivated workforce with increased worker grievances which remain unsolved. Individual need and values have little or no meaning to the managers as they are not interested to mingle with the workers and know their mind, and are mostly interested to use coercive and positional power to make them work. This power driven, non-cooperative management who do not value employees has led to increased dissatisfaction and has led to an increase in turnover. Ultimately, it is the performances which are being affected due to the management style and excessive bureaucratic culture.

Main body

Johnson Engine Company is a highly bureaucratic, unionized, traditional and to a great extent conservative organization. The management as described in the case is mostly theory X type managers who believe that their subordinates have to be constantly driven and instructed to get a job done. The culture is not so open and follows a strict bureaucratic structure. So for intervention to take place, the environment must be made open to a suggestion of change. For this, the management and the unions must buy the idea of Peter Sneed. An OD intervention without employee participation is completely futile. So Sneed should try to reach out to the management and discuss the goals and strategy for the change and show why a change is necessary. As an OD practitioner, Sneed should first study the organization, its problems, its acceptance of a perceived of change through a survey or interview. This will give him a strong, quantitative idea as to what the state of the organization is before he can prescribe a remedy. Thus, we suggest the following steps to be taken by Sneed to do an OD intervention: (a) survey to understand the resistance to and the need for change, (b) discuss these needs to the management and the union bosses to understand the ailments of the company and the areas where the treatment is required, (c) then set strategies and goals along with a time line after discussing with the management, and (d) initiate process of change.

Research suggests that a structure is related to climate of the organization, and so the first step to alter the climate is to change the structure (Schneider & Snyder, 1975). The change strategy that we suggest keeping in mind the culture and management style of the company, we think that there must be a change in the structure of the organization which will ensure increased participation in decision making. As the organization is set in traditional management style which follows a strict top-down decision making process, this must be altered to a great extend in order to make the climate more receptive and open so that we can change the culture and eventually move towards a complete team based structure.

Strategy is usually implemented in the organization as a top-down decision and intent. But the necessary that change that is expected in what the employees believe the process should be and implementation of the same. So the strategy that should be employed is that of a participative planned change process which encourages participation and suggestions from all levels.


The union leadership is mostly concerned with the promises that top management makes and the jargons re forgotten later. Further, these are used in guise to reduce the control of the union. So in order to make them understand what the process should be, the intervention process must include them. So the strategy suggested for this are:

  • Make the union leaders understand the process and show them the place the union has in the system. This should be done through exemplifying example of other such situations where collaborative environment has been implemented. Then the future strategies must be clearly told to them.
  • The union must be convinced so that the bottom line is convinced. This will lead to wider acceptance of the plan among workers.
  • Increased participation in the change process will lead to ensure the leaders that such a plan will actually empower the workers and not make the union weaker.

Works Cited

Schneider, B., & Snyder, R. A. (1975). Some relationships between job satisfaction and organizational climate. Journal of Applied Psychology 60(30) , 318-328.

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