The Bolet case


Charicoup is a familial firm, managed by its founder: Mr. Bolet. He manages the firm with two of his sons: Jean, the head of Sales department and André, the head of production department. Since he entered the firm five years ago, André has set up the current structure of the firm.

Mr. Bolet is worried about some tensions who appear between seniors executives and supervisor agents.
Created fifteen years ago, Charicoup has been growing and went from 20 to 200 employees. Charicoup produces some sawmills machine-tools and facilities.

Machine-tools are assembled in workshops. Once tested, they are disassembled and dispatched to customers, where they are re-assembled by a specific team. The firm also tries to sign some maintenance contracts with the customers, as their products are used in very straining environments.

Development department, set by André, adapts the products  to customers demands, transmitted by Sales Dpt. Development Dpt is composed of young engineers and technicians.

Supervisor agents are almost always risen from the ranks. Among them, the HeadShop manages the whole fabrication line. He has been promoted to a senior executive position as the Research Dpt was created.

Interviews of a previous survey highlights the following elements:

  • According to engineers and technicians of Development Dpt, supervisors agents are overflowed, and the deadlines are seldom met.
  • The HeadShop says to be overbooked by stocks and dispatch issues, and maintenance contracts  requests. According to him, the Bolet sons, Jean and André,  are to blame.
  • According to supervisory staff, the «departments» (i.e. Development Dpt. and Sales Dpt.)  are troublemakers, as they often  make the fabrication line stop to run some test or change the fabrication order.

 Jean, the manager of the Sales Dpt., would like to introduce a new fabrication facility in the firm. This facility is very expensive and requires a huge investment, but will drastically increase the quality and the productivity of the firm. However, it also requires the whole fabrication process to be redesigned (rational planning, shift work teams …). For economical and business purposes, Jean is convinced that the firm has to get this new facility.

The question is whether Jean will succeed in his project that his father decides to buy the new fabrication facility.

A presentation of the model.

The case is due to Bernoux, P.: La sociologie des organisations, Edition du Seuil, Paris, (1985).