Organisational Communication Case Study 1

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Organisational Communication

Case Study 1

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The following task will test your understanding of the different academic approaches to internal communications and cultural organisational change. Read chapters 4 & 13 of ‘Key issues in organisational communication (Tourish and Hargie, 2004) and 6 of ‘Images of Organization (Morgan, 1997) before you carry out the analysis of this case study.

Use a combination of your prior knowledge and academic literature to analyse and recommend solutions to the issues discussed in the case. You should think in an ethical manner and highlight the implicit moral conundrums/dilemmas that you think will arise from your decisions. Producing an appropriate answer for each of the questions will take approximately a week, so you need to start working on this case no later than teaching week 5.


In 2014 Heineken and Carlsberg bought Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), a British brewery operating in 15 countries with headquarters in the UK. The acquisition involved a careful analysis of S&N operations and its financial position. Although the new owners were impressed with S&N productions potential, they identified some areas that needed improvement.

Apart from those technical aspects of the operation that needed to be improved, the new owners also deemed it essential to align S&N employees organisational culture with the organisational mentality (mission and vision) of Heineken and Carlsberg. But these two companies have distinctive organisational cultures and therefore the original idea of an alignment would be far more challenging than they thought.

Finally, they came up with a solution; Heineken will take control of the alignment process involving the staff producing beer while Carlsberg will implement its alignment plan for staff producing cider. Since S&N has facilities/factories dedicated specifically to the production of each of the products, (beer and cider) the new owners thought the chances of mixed messages and confusion were very slim.
Your task

You are a senior communication expert working for Heineken for several years and therefore you are given the responsibility of leading the team that will design and implement the plan that will make that cultural re-alignment possible. The main aim of the plan named ‘inception is to support a process of rationalisation/review of all the non-contractual benefits and perks that the employees of the company receive every year.

The reasons behind the need to review non-contractual benefits are threefold:

a) S&N is breaking even at the moment but Heineken and Carlsberg are not the top two leading breweries in the world. It is therefore important to make as many savings and/or reduce wastage as possible so they can be more competitive in terms of price.

b) Heineken and Carlsberg CEOs have promised shareholders that they will secure a return on their investment in two years time.

c) They have also promised that S&N will contribute to the payment of dividends in three years time.

In order to accomplish your mission you have been given the power to scrap, review or change non-contractual benefits, propose modifications to existing contractual agreements and the power to negotiate with the unions and lawyers. You also have the power to design and implement any communication strategy and tactics (actions) you consider appropriate. You have also been appointed leader of the human resources/personnel team of the former S&N.

At the present time you find yourself back to the drawing board thinking about where to start as S&N used to have several breweries abroad (in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia) as well as the one in Edinburgh. During your first video conference with all the heads of human resources in each country you have decided that it would be a good idea to get a list of all the non-contractual benefits for each country.

After analysing every single list a particular benefit/scheme has caught your attention. It is the most expensive of all which is available to all employees regardless of the country in which they work. Any employee has the right to apply for a fast loan once a month. The application form is very easy to fill in. The employee only needs to indicate the purpose and the amount of money needed. The application is considered by personnel and granted as long as:

a) The employee has money in her/his personal pot. Employees are encouraged to save/deposit as much money as they can as S&N has promised to contribute 50% of what each employee has saved every month.

b) The purpose of the loan is to buy an asset, which will benefit their families (e.g. TV set, computer, car, property acquisition) or refurbishing of existing properties (such as a house or flat). Since the employees regard the money deposited as their own, the personnel department does not ask the applicant to submit evidence that proves how they would use the money. S&N has 300 employees in total, every brewery is a sort of family and personnel trust and rely on them when it comes to verifying the use of the funds given to each applicant.

The scheme is a very generous one. Heineken does not offer anything similar to this scheme to its employees and so it could be seen as an interesting, novel way to show the corporations commitment to the betterment of their employees families. On the other hand, it involves a substantial amount of investment. For instance, 30% of 300 S&N employees have received a loan in the last six months. This growing trend of approvals forces Heineken to commit cash that could be used to fulfil the promises made to shareholders.


1) So which of the following actions/courses of action will you implement? (Choose one only)

a) Scrap the scheme and then/later (once the decision has been made) explain why to employees.

b) Undertake a review of the scheme to make it more difficult to get a loan. Then/later (once the decision has been made) inform your employees.

c) Inform employees you are considering scrapping or reviewing the scheme. Wait for their feedback expressing either approval or resistance to these two different solutions before you implement either of them.

d) None of the above (you must indicate an alternative course of action)

1.1) Explain how your course of action relates to any of the approaches discussed in chapters 4 & 13 of Tourish and Hargie (2004) and 6 of Morgan (1997).

2) Use the ideas promoted by one of the approaches of the approaches or a combination of approaches (*) to generate possible actions and communication tactics (+) that will allow you to achieve your objective (Q1).

(*) If you are considering combining ideas from different approaches identify which ones you have chosen in your argument.

(+) Consider Clampitts article (1996).

3) According to LEtang (2006, p. 405), moral theories or frameworks can be used to evaluate situations or human behaviour. Which of the two frameworks (utilitarian or deontological) is relevant to understanding, explaining or justifying your proposed course of action?

4) What are the weaknesses or drawbacks of your proposed course of action?

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