AfrobitLink Ltd was an information technology (IT) firm with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. AfrobitLink started as a very small IT firm with less than two dozen staff. Within a few years of its founding, AfrobitLink established itself as a dependable organization known for delivering high-quality IT services. However, starting in 2004, AfrobitLink experienced rapid growth as it expanded to serve the telecommunications firms taking advantage of the deregulated market. This rapid expansion resulted in many challenges for AfrobitLink. The firm rapidly expanded into all 36 states in Nigeria, hiring a manager to oversee the company’s operations in each of the states. Poor hiring practices, inadequate training, excessive spans of control, low accountability, a subjective reward system, and other cultural issues, such as a relaxed attitude to time, resulted in low motivation, high employee turnover, poor customer service, and financial losses. By 2013, the firm was operating at a loss and its reputation was in shambles. Generally, the culture was toxic: employees did not identify with the firm or care about its goals, there were no performance standards, employees were not held accountable, self-interest and discrimination prevailed. The organization was in a downward spiral. Consultants were hired to help sort out the firm’s problems but these efforts yielded few results. Ken Wilson, the founder’s son, was hired in 2014 as VP of Administration to help get the firm back on track. As a change agent, Ken had to decide how to address the issues facing the firm and how to achieve profitable growth.
Primary sources included interviews with the company CEO, his wife, his son, and a volunteer staff member. Secondary sources included the company website. The names of the people and the firm in the case have been changed to provide anonymity.
Relevant courses and levels
This case is intended for use in graduate courses (although it can also be used in upper level undergraduate courses) in change management/organization development, organizational behavior, leadership, or international management. For graduate courses, students may focus on application or integration of several theories or concepts. For upper level undergraduate courses, students may focus on application of a single theory or concept. Below are suggested texts or readings for each type of student by subject.
Change management theories (e.g. Lewin’s force field analysis (Schein, 1996), Kotter’s eight-step change management process (Kotter, 2007), The change kaleidoscope approach (Balogun and Hailey, 2008)), social identity theory (Tajfel, 1981), attribution theory (Kelley, 1972), leadership theories (e.g. Hersey and Blanchard, 1969), intercultural/international management theories (e.g. Hofstede, 1980, 1991).
Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision making. The author/s may have disguised names; financial, and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.
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