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Sample Case Study

The Case of the Floundering Expatriate


The case study is focused on the analysis of the situation in Argos Diesel, Europe. This company faced a problem of the internal conflict resulting from the ineffective work of the assistant of the CEO, Bert Donaldson, who cannot adapt to work in Europe. As a result, his efforts targeting the creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams and improvement of the company performance fail. As a result, the CEO, Frank Waterhouse, has to solve this problem. In terms of this paper the situation is researched and the problems are identified in the failure of the company’s strategy of employee recruitment and selection, which actually led to the transfer of Donaldson to Argos Diesel, Europe, which proved to be unable to work effectively causing conflicts within the organization. As a result, the plan of actions was developed which could solve the problems identified through the firing of Donaldson and improvement of company recruitment strategy and possible new appointment within the company.


Often the problem of the organization of an effective work and creation of a cooperative team united by common objectives and ideas is quite a difficult task, especially if such an organization is supposed to be created in the region with a different socio-cultural background and in the situation of the shortage of well-qualified specialists that are ready to work in such environment. In fact, many multinational corporations face a problem of the organization of effective work in different parts of the world. This is actually the case of Argos International and its unit operating in Europe. Obviously, problems caused by the lack of experienced and qualified specialists and the necessity to organize work of a company in a multicultural environment are very serious and need immediate solution since they may threaten to the normal development of the company at large. Consequently, a company, like Argos Diesel should have a clear and effective strategy to overcome a variety of problems it may face in the process of its market expansion and this strategy should be implemented on the basis of a well-structured and realizable plan of action. At any rate, what is not acceptable is wasting time and delaying bold actions which could ameliorate the situation, while any delays would lead to its deterioration.

Background information on current problems in Argos Europe and symptoms

Speaking about the current situation in Argos Europe, it is necessary to point out that the company is facing serious problems in its functioning and Waterhouse, the CEO of Argos Diesel, Europe, should find the most plausible and effective solution of all the problems. In this respect, it is necessary to dwell upon the brief description of the situation in the company in order to better understand its problems and challenges.

First of all, it should be said that Argos Diesel is a multinational corporation based in Detroit, the US. The company actually operates in different countries of the world and its presence in Europe is considered to be strategically important. This European headquarter, situated in Zurich Switzerland, coordinates the functioning of the company in Europe. The CEO of Argos Diesel, Europe, is Frank Waterhouse who attempts to do his best to improve the effectiveness of the work of the personnel and, what is more, to improve the atmosphere within the organization and create a positive organizational culture. This is why Frank Waterhouse attempts to develop team work through the creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams. The creation of such teams could lead to the considerable reduction of costs and improve the quality of the company’s operations and organization in Europe.

Actually, it is exactly to meet these basic goals the company employed Bert Donaldson, who was supposed to assist Frank Waterhouse to develop cross-divisional and cross-functional teams increasing the effectiveness of work of the company in Europe and creating an effective cooperation between all members of the teams working in Argos Europe. It is worthy of mention that the decision to engage Donaldson was not the independent decision of Waterhouse. In fact, Frank Waterhouse take such a decision after the consultations or, to put it more precisely, on receiving recommendations of Bill Loun, Argos International’s CEO and chairman, who estimated that Bert Donaldson could be very helpful because of his experience and his recent successes in Cairo.

On analyzing the potential of Donaldson and taking into consideration given recommendations, Frank Waterhouse agreed to employ Bert Donaldson. At first, the CEO was basically satisfied with the work of Bert Donaldson since he was ambitious and wanted to achieve best results. Moreover, the appointment of Donaldson secured important government contracts in Moscow, Warsaw and Ankara that naturally strengthened the position of the company in Europe.

However, the effectiveness of Bert Donaldson as a team builder, which was supposed to be very high and which actually was very high in the US and Cairo, proved to be not so high in Europe. In fact, at the present moment the situation has deteriorated so dramatically that Frank Waterhouse even thinks over the possibility of firing Bert Donaldson because of the failure of his efforts in the creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams and the growing rejection of his approach and management style by the personnel. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that the personal of Argos Diesel, Europe is multinational and includes representative of absolutely different cultures. Strangely enough but Bert Donaldson, in spite of his experience and seemingly perspective methods he attempted to apply, has failed to unite them or, at least, gain the support of some part of managers. In contrast, conflicts are growing more and more serious. For instance, there is an open confrontation between Bert Donaldson and Frau Schweri, one of the most experienced employees, whom he calls a secretary and whose position he totally ignores, like it was in the case of appointment of trainers whose hiring Frau Schweri opposed. The dissatisfaction of managers with the work of Bert Donaldson grows so much that some of them like Maurizio, the director in Rome, attempts to convince Frank Waterhouse to fire Bert Donaldson.

In such a way, instead of the amelioration of the atmosphere within the company and improvement of the functioning of Argos Diesel, Europe through the creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams, the company faces the problem of the growing tension between managers and Bert Donaldson and the opposition to him is very strong that makes Frank Waterhouse think about the possibility of firing Donaldson. However, he cannot take such a decision because he realizes that Bert Donaldson was really successful in the US and Cairo, he has a great experience, he attempts to use effective methods, which though do not work in Europe, and, finally, there are some ethical concerns. Namely, Frank Waterhouse cannot fire Bert Donaldson because it would mean the end of the career of this perspective and ambitious manager. On the other hand, Frank Waterhouse perfectly realizes that the situation cannot remain unchangeable because the current relationships and interactions of Bert Donaldson with the rest of the personnel is practically destructive.

However, it is worthy of mention that such a situation is really strange because it is stated that Bert Donaldson is or, at any rate, used to be quite successful and Bill Loun recommended him as a very reliable, experienced and perspective assistant in the process of team building. In fact, implicitly this means that Bert Donaldson, as a well-qualified specialist, is not the only cause of the current problems in Argos Diesel, Europe. In such a situation, it would be logical to presuppose that there is something wrong with the organization itself, i.e. with Argos Diesel, Europe, and, probably, its CEO, Frank Waterhouse. What is meant here is the fact that it is hardly possible to imagine the situation when a single person can be so destructive. In all probability, the organization and its CEO have also failed to use the potential of Bert Donaldson. Anyway, it is obvious that there exists an enormous gap between Bert Donaldson and other managers, while Frank Waterhouse, even on receiving numerous complaints from the part of his managers, cannot take any decision concerning his assistant, i.e. he does not fire him nor really attempts to improve the situation, though Donaldson have actually failed.

Major goals to improve the current situation

Taking into consideration the current situation in Argos Diesel, Europe, it is necessary to define clearly the major objectives of the company and possible objectives directed at the improvement of the current situation. In this respect, it should be said that initially, the company targeted at the development of the effective system of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams which could help to optimize the operations of the company in Europe, unite all its units throughout the continent and coordinate their work. Practically, this means that the entire organization was supposed to be structured and organized in such a way that it would be possible to provide the close cooperation between different divisions and increase multifunctional trends in their work. In other words, the entire organization was supposed to become a kind of a team where all employees, being divided into smaller groups or teams, could work for one and the same purpose defined by the strategic plan of the company.

At the same time, the company also targeted at the creation of a positive organizational culture and collaborative atmosphere that also implied the unification of all employees. Basically, it was virtually impossible to make people work effectively if they had absolutely different views on the basic approaches to work, to the realization of the strategic plan, and used different methods. Obviously, such a difference would be destructive. In this respect, it should be said that the failure of Bert Donaldson was, to a significant extent, determined by such a difference that existed between managers and his failure to unite them.

In fact, the unification of the personnel in one team or teams united by common goals was strategically important for the successful development of the company in Europe. The creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams could provide the company with the possibility of the growing interactions between different divisions. This would lead to the better understanding of the work of different units by all employees. As a result, they would be able to view Argos Diesel, Europe, not as a huge corporation which their unit constitutes the most important part, while other divisions, their successes or failure, experience and achievements were of little use for this particular unit where employees worked. Instead the company, through the creation of cross-divisional teams should be viewed as the solid organization where all parts are closely integrated and cooperate with each other.

At the same time, it should be said that the basic goals of the strategic development of the company in Europe faced serious obstacles in the way of their realization. In fact, since cross-divisional and cross-functional integration have actually failed, at the present moment it is necessary to define short-terms goals which could help overcome the current problems of the company and improve the situation in Argos Diesel, Europe. In this respect, it should be said that it is primarily necessary to define the future of Bert Donaldson in the company. Obviously, he proved to be ineffective and unable to assist to Fran Waterhouse to apply effectively the changes essential for the improvement of the functioning of the company. Furthermore, another goal is to find the alternative to Bert Donaldson because it is really important to develop cross-divisional and cross-cultural teams. Finally, it is necessary to find the causes of the failure of Bert Donaldson within the organization because apparently it was not only the fault of Donaldson but also the result of the problems within the organization, the adaptation of new employees and the lack of interaction or mutual understanding. Anyway, whatever the causes are they should be eliminated and this is why it is possible to name another goal – the development of an effective plan of actions to overcome the existing problems as well as the problems that may arise in the nearest future.

The analysis and diagnosis of the current situation

Basically, the current situation within Argos Diesel is determined by the erroneous policy of the company. In this respect, it is possible to recommend the application of the Rational Choice theory which could facilitate the process of recruiting and application of changes in the company. In order to find the adequate and effective solution of the existing problems of Argos Diesel, Europe, it is necessary to analyze the current situation in the company and identify the major problems. First of all, it should be said that, at the moment, Frank Waterhouse stands on the ground that it is Bert Donaldson who cause all the troubles. On the one hand, he is an ambitious professional who has successful experience of work but in other countries but Europe, while, on the other hand, all his successes and ambitions turn to be absolutely useless in Argos Diesel, Europe and, what is more, his work undermines the stability within the organization and causes numerous conflicts between Bert Donaldson and managers, such as Frau Schweri.

Consequently, it is possible to estimate that one of the major problems of the company is the inability of Bert Donaldson to conduct the changes and create effectively working cross-divisional and cross-functional teams. This problem is defined by several factors. Firstly, the personal ambitions and charisma of Bert Donaldson prevents him from the possibility to better understand people who he is actually working with. In other words, he perceives himself as a strong, experienced, and skillful leader that can lead the company to great successes and the only problem is that the company and its employees should be changed in such a way that they would meet the demands of Bert Donaldson. In such a way, he rather attempts to change his environment, people working with him but does not attempt to change himself at all.

However, the latter is extremely important because another important problem is the enormous cultural gap between Bert Donaldson and managers of the company. In this respect, it is possible to mention his numerous conflicts with the managers, his style of work, his behavior and actions that are not comprehensible or not adequately perceived by the personnel of Argos. For instance, he has a typical American style which he applied effectively in the past but which proves to be ineffective now, in Europe. The organization of work is absolutely unacceptable for the managers who have different socio-cultural background. For instance, mangers from Germanic countries can hardly admit his style because of the lack of formalism, clear structure and system since Bert Donaldson do not provide them with clear schemes that could help them systemize the information they receive. In contrast, managers from Italy, or Spain, for instance, need more vivid communication and they accept neither Germanic model nor American which Bert Donaldson actually imposes to all of the managers. In such a way, Bert Donaldson should adapt his style to the needs and culture of managers with different cultural background, i.e. he should find some plausible alternative style of work which could be acceptable for all. For instance, while implementing changes he should resent his plans in the form of clear schemes but, at the same time, he should make the presentation more vivid, though he should not use such remarks as he made about Eisenhower’s idea concerning urgent and important problems because European managers have a different mentality and different culture. Consequently, such remarks could be effective in the US to create more comfortable atmosphere but in Europe they are rather puzzling.

Thus, it is obvious that the decision to employ Bert Donaldson was a mistake that would not occur if the management of the company based its human resource policies on the Rational Choice theory because it would lead to the more careful selection of the personnel on the basis of the personnel qualities or recommendations of Bill Loun but on the basis of the logical choice made in the result of deep reflections on the perspectives of Donaldson in Argos Diesel, Europe. To put it more precisely, Frank Waterhouse should rationally evaluate the perspectives of a candidate that has never worked in European environment and has not got any idea about socio-cultural environment in which he was supposed to work. Naturally, chances that he would be an effective employee were minimal, if all objective factors were taken into consideration and logical and rational analysis of Donaldson perspectives was conducted.

Obviously, it is not only the problem of the personal ambitions and the cultural gaps that lead to the ineffectiveness of Bert Donaldson’s work. One of the major problems is the problem of the inability of Argos Diesel and its CEO, Frank Waterhouse to integrate Bert Donaldson, whose is apparently a well-qualified professional and this fact is recognized by Bill Loun as well as by Frank Waterhouse, into the company. This means that he should come prepared to work in the company and Frank Waterhouse should help him overcome cultural barriers. This means that the company should have a clear strategy of integration of new members but there is no strategy at all.

Moreover, from the point of view of the Rational Choice Theory, it would be more logical to find an assistant for Frank Waterhouse among the managers that have a huge experience of work in Europe or who are actually Europeans. For instance, Frau Schweri would be a good assistant who new socio-cultural environment perfectly well and had significant experience of work within Argos Diesel, Europe.

The action planning

On analyzing the case of Argos Diesel, it should be said that the major problem of the company is the poor employee recruitment and selection and this is why it is necessary to improve the process of recruitment and select the personnel more carefully in order to prevent the possibility when an unprepared employee like Donaldson joins the company.

Obviously, in face of the numerous problems Frank Waterhouse as a CEO should undertake bold steps to solve the problems defined above. This is why it is possible to recommend the application of the plan of actions that could decrease the tension and contribute to the further progress of the company through more careful personnel selection and recruitment.

First of all, Frank Waterhouse needs to take decision concerning Bert Donaldson. In fact, in the current situation, it is necessary to fire Bert Donaldson because his work is ineffective while the growing opposition of the personnel threatens to the normal functioning of the entire organization. Naturally, it is possible to argue that Bert Donaldson did not have enough time to realize all his ideas and plans since he has been working for only two years, but actually there is no time to waste. The actions should be taken fast. However, it is very important to explain to Bert Donaldson the reasons for such a decision because such specialists are really valuable and he could be useful for Argos International in some other region of the world, but not in Europe.

Furthermore, on firing Bert Donaldson, it is necessary to find the adequate substation. In this respect, Frank Waterhouse could be quite a good candidate since he has a huge experience of work within the company in Europe, but, naturally, he cannot narrow his functions to the implementation of the changes Donaldson has failed to do. This is why in a long-run he still will need an assistant. It is possible to recommend Frau Schweri who also has a great experience of work and knows perfectly European socio-cultural environment. Also, Frank Waterhouse should improve contacts with the personnel. For instance, he could visit all the countries where the company operates and communicate with its managers to learn more about their style of work and needs they have in order to understand their problems.

In such a way, it will be possible to develop an effective strategic program of the creation of cross-divisional and cross-functional teams which could function in multicultural environment. At the same time, it is also very important to organize training, especially for people that just join the company, to get them prepared to work in European cultural environment.


Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the current situation in Argos Diesel, Europe is very difficult and threatens to the normal development of the company because of the failure of Bert Donaldson to implement effectively the changes he planned and the opposition of the personnel of the company. Basically, the ineffective work of Donaldson and his conflicts with other managers actually revealed a serious problem in the company recruitment and selection policy, which proved to imperfect since it did not provide the recruitment of highly qualified professionals and their training for work in particular environment. On the other hand, it is necessary to admit the fact that personal ambitions of Donaldson and his unwillingness to give in and adapt to the new environment also contributed significantly to the deterioration of the situation in the company. Consequently, the CEO should be more careful in the selection of the assistant in such for work in such a sensitive and complicated environment. Eventually, this led to a serious organizational problem when the internal conflict threatens to the effective functioning of the company. In such a situation, it is necessary to solve all these problems starting from the firing of Bert Donaldson and changing the organizational culture to make it more universal and inclusive for new members of the team. Otherwise, the situation in the company will grow worse.