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Office space: a leadership challenge

Jordon Swain (Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, US Military Academy, West Point, New York, USA)
James Tuite (United States Army War College, US Institute of Peace, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
John Borland (Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, US Military Academy, West Point, New York, USA)

The CASE Journal

ISSN: 1544-9106

Publication date: 10 September 2018



The case describes the dilemma a young leader, First Lieutenant Toomey, faces after arriving at a new organization. Toomey’s subordinate (sergeant first class Rodgers) is more experienced and accomplished and has enjoyed a degree of autonomy under Toomey’s predecessor. Rodger’s demeanor and the physical setup of the joint office space speak to a dysfunctional dynamic in an organization that values a traditional hierarchy and relatively high power distance between supervisor and subordinate. The potential for conflict exists as Toomey contemplates how to address the dysfunctional norms he has observed while maintaining a functional relationship and reputation as an effective leader in his new unit.

Research methodology

The case was created via an interview of the protagonist.

Relevant courses and levels

This case is designed for use in undergraduate and graduate level courses on leadership and management. The case is useful for teaching lessons (or electives) on power, influence, conflict management, culture and leading change.



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision making. The authors may have disguised names; financial, and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.


Swain, J., Tuite, J. and Borland, J. (2018), "Office space: a leadership challenge", The CASE Journal, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 593-603.



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