Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Instructors Notes: Dinner or No Dinner: A Student Leadership Decision

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Instructors Notes: Dinner or No Dinner: A Student Leadership Decision

Article excerpt


The two approaches to consider in this case are student teams that engage and discuss the various aspects of the case from an organizational behavior and leadership viewpoint; or, role-playing, which allows the students to adopt the personae of the student characters and the faculty adviser in the case. There is ample room for creativity by the instructor to use the case in either setting. In the option of student teams, students would prepare individually, then come together in teams to formulate a response to the situation from a point of view in the case. In the role- playing option, individual students would assume principal roles in the case and play out the scenarios to a conclusion. The class would evaluate the outcome based on the issues at stake in the case.


1. What are the issues the organization is facing and prioritize them in terms of urgency and importance.

The instructor might start by having the small groups brainstorm a list of at least 5 issues facing the organization. After they have about 5 minutes to do this then start listing them on the board. You will get a variety of responses. Among the responses you might get:

A. Inconsistent leadership by Joe

B. A confused command structure

C. Short timeline to put on a successful Dinner with the Industry event

D. Unwillingness of the members to confront Joe

E. Conflict avoidance that has hidden the problem

F. Impact on recruiting new members, if the Dinner with the industry is not successful

G. Impact on current members' continued interest in participating in the organization

H. Reputation of the School of Management

As you write the list, the instructor should ask respondents to clarify any overly vague issues. Once you have exhausted the responses, use the two-dimensional chart (TN Figure 1) chart to categorize according to urgency and importance. While many of these issues will be seen as important, get them to identify the truly urgent ones. You might want to suggest an issue (if one is not apparent from their responses) and an example of one that is urgent but of lower importance.

What should become clear is that there are some important issues to deal with including the leadership of Joe Strawn, the morale of the organization, etc., but the dinner with the industry event is the most urgent of these important issues because of the timeline it is under and the actions that must still be taken to get it off in time and with the quality required given the high visibility of the event with stakeholders. This will lead into the next question on stakeholders.

Students should have sufficient time to formulate their own views prior to joining in with others in a small-group setting. In this way, individual contribution and learning can be maximized. The decision, however, is that of a group and as much as possible, the small groups should simulate the executive board of the business fraternity. The outcome of this section would be to identify succinctly the issues the organization faces, their priority, and an initial view of the enablers and inhibitors to the positive resolution. Importantly, this section would define what "positive resolution" is based on the use of the tools in this Teaching Note.

2. Who are the stakeholders regarding Dinner with the Industry and how should they be addressed?

Using the stakeholder map below (Freeman & McVea, 2001), students should be encouraged to use a four-step process to map the stakeholders based on two variables: impact of the stakeholder on problem resolution; and, the probability that the stakeholder will intervene. The students should be encouraged to debate actively the relative standing of each stakeholders or stakeholder groups. Once students have filled out the map (this can be done in the whole group or in small groups), students can weigh the strategies to anticipate and react to a stakeholder group that intervenes. …

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