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Webster Industry Case Analysis

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The decision-making process that Carter (the protagonist in the Webster Industries case) and his group are using to determine which individuals should be eliminated is flawed in a number of ways.  Analyze the process Carter is using and discuss the weaknesses in this process, including any decision-making biases that may have flawed this process.  Be sure to include an analysis of the performance evaluation data that is being used.

The firing decision making process Carter and Steven used involved a certain flaws and bias. The most significant ones are anchoring bias, confirmation bias, availability bias and representative bias.  

Firstly, Carter gave too much controlling power to Stevens in the decision-making process. For example, the five dismissal criteria Steven proposed may be based on his previous work experience, which is a possible area for anchoring bias, as neither of them appears effective for Webster’ case. In fact, Carter could have done better here. As Brown appeared relieved and fine with his demotion, Brown can be a more appropriate candidate to play the devil’s advocate, not only because he’s more familiar with the department but because this can reduce the chance for confirmation bias in the whole discussion later.

Another serious problem Wester Industry faces is lack of an effective and objective performance review system. As stated in the case, PAS system is designed to judge performance and help with development. However, given it is voluntary, the usage rate in the manufacturing department is only 30%. By contrast, personnel audit, which originally set up for corporate manpower planning and career development counselling has a 97% completion rate. Relying on audit data to staff the positions is unfair, as most employees are unware of its evaluation function. Furthermore, the availability bias is not just on the data itself. In this case, Carter, Steven and Jack voiced their opinions “when an individual’s name came up”. We cannot rule out the possibility that a person got misplaced to an important role as he had good contributions only recently while he has been a bad-performer for a long time.

In addition, representative bias is also an issue. The culture of Webster Industry is to create a close community in the company town. Employee’s involvement in activities and interactions with other workers or even Steven may favor him in the process, as the termination was mostly based on perceptions, rather than in a performance context. Evidenced was the complaints from the quality control specialist, who stated “politics” and “membership in the right groups” are also factors in dismissal.  



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