Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Monochromatic Personnel Scanning at TechMark.(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Monochromatic Personnel Scanning at TechMark.(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case concerns sexual discrimination. Secondary issues examined include appraising employees and management ineffectiveness. The case has a difficulty level of four, appropriate for senior level courses. The case is designed to be taught in two class hours and is expected to require two hours of outside preparation by students.


This field-based case provides a powerful example of how changing market forces and changes at the top of an organization can uncover core operational problems, which corporate growth and profitability have been allowed to fester. It is also a cautionary tale. A company may espouse equality, empowerment and management, but failure to train, execute and enforce these policies may have substantial repercussions.

This is a case with misdirection and a twist ending; a grievance based upon racial discrimination. It is not evident from the case what the ethnic origins of the people involved are in the case although perhaps the students might hazard a guess as to Katherine's national origin given the mention of Mexico and Latin America.

Moreover, the case seems to focus more on Pat's maintaining her "old girls network" and indoctrinating new employees into that network. Katherine seems to be a maverick, someone always bucking the system, and therefore is not allowed to join Pat's "tea party." Katherine is ostracized by most of the workers in her unit and even Gloria, the top performer in the group, does not go out of her way to challenge the way Pat manages the group. The group dynamics of the participants in the case seem to hold the students' attention therefore creating the "smoke and mirrors" for the astonishing finale.


Intended Instructional Audience & Placement in Course Instruction

This case was primarily developed for upper level undergraduates taking an introductory course in human resource management since the focus of the case requires students to make a determination as to whether racial discrimination occurred in the workplace. Specifically, the students would need to analyze Techmark's employee's recent promotions relative to the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The case may also be employed in an introductory undergraduate management course (perhaps after the section on staffing), and a management strategy course (after the section on strategy implementation and tactical plans) although it lacks critical information (financial statements, description of personnel, personnel practices, etc ...) about the firm that would allow for a balanced SWOT analysis.

The case should be introduced after students have read the chapters on understanding the legal environment of business, appraising employees, and complying with workplace justice laws (Kleiman, 2004, Chapters 2, 8, 11; Byars and Rue, 2006, Chapters 2, 3, 11). Since the case covers numerous chapters in each text, and has many confounding elements, it is recommended that the case be employed as a sectional or comprehensive case rather than an end-of-chapter case. In its secondary uses, the case could serve as an end of chapter case dealing with HRM issues in an introductory management course (Jones and George, 2006, Chapter 12; DuBrin, 2006, Chapter 10) or could serve as a introductory or end of chapter case dealing with tactical and operational issues (Thompson, Gamble, and Strickland, 2004, Chapter 8; Pearce and Robinson, 2005, Chapter 9).


The overall purpose of this case is to introduce students to the nuances associated with discrimination and affirmative action laws as they apply to employee evaluation and promotion. Students obtain a "real-world" feel of the situation through character dialogue and tacitly experience some of the difficulties that Katherine encountered when trying to contribute to the firm. Specific learning objectives are as follows:

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