The Woodyard Dilemma

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Case Description

This case provides an opportunity for students to examine a real life strategic problem and alternatives facing senior managers in a very costly, highly competitive industry. The primary subject matter of this case concerns re-engineering and the establishment of “self-directed work teams.” Other issues involve empowerment, change, and organizational politics. The case is well suited for organizational behavior and business strategy courses at the undergraduate or graduate levels the case is designed for a senior undergraduate or MBA organizational behavior or business strategy course. It can be taught in one hour.

Case Synopsis

This case describes the dilemma facing the senior management team of a large,(900+ employees), unionized pulp mill in Brunswick, Georgia, as they decide on what to do about their woodyard. Due to competitive pressures, the mill must reduce its operating costs. Several alternatives are being considered: outsource the entire woodyard operations, outsource part of the woodyard, or totally re-engineer the woodyard. This re-engineering is estimated to cost between $22 to $30 million. Most recently the mill’s parent company headquarters in Atlanta has urged the Brunswick mill to outsource its woodyard and chip operations. However, the local senior management team wants to go in a radically different direction. This direction would involve re-engineering the woodyard, building and installing custom made equipment, and changing the culture of the woodyard to a “self directed-empowered” model


Allied Academies International Academy of Case Studies International Conference (IACS)


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