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Organizational Learning and Decision Making at the Contemporary Collection

Written Assignment


Course:  ORG/6503 Organizational Theory, Design, and Change

Case Study: Organizational Learning and Decision Making at the Contemporary Collection

Imagine that you are the owner of a fictitious upscale home furnishing business called The Contemporary Collection. Your store sells contemporary furniture and a large array of decorative items, such as glass art objects, small sculptures, coffee table picture books, sofa throws and pillows, artificial flower arrangements, contemporary dishes, glasses, candlesticks, table linens, and designer sheets and comforters. The Contemporary Collection has been the leading boutique home furnishing store in the city for the past 15 years. In the last three years, however, a major home furnishing chain store has opened in the city, and the new store has steadily been luring your customers away from The Contemporary Collection. Your store sales are down 30% over last year.

You decide to talk to former customers to find out why they have switched loyalties to the other store. You learn that these former customers believe that The Contemporary Collection simply is not keeping pace with changing trends in home decorating and furnishing. Products are seen as old and out-dated—certainly not contemporary. These former customers also tell you that your competitor offers different kinds of customer services that they value, such as same-day delivery and set-up, and in-home decorating consultation.

As you look at your internal operations, you realize that the buyers responsible for purchasing furniture and decorative items have been buying increasingly from the same set of suppliers, and that they are reluctant to bring in new lines of furniture and decorative items. Most of the buyers have been with the firm for at least eight years, and their average age is 52. You also realize that the salaried salespeople at The Contemporary Collection are reluctant to offer suggestions for new items that might augment the existing lines of furniture and decorative items because the buyers rarely listen to their suggestions. Turnover among salespeople is fairly high; the average tenure of a salesperson is about two years and the average age of a salesperson is 31.


As the owner of The Contemporary Collection, you need to make some important changes in the way your employees think about store operations and in how decisions are made, or your company will continue its inevitable decline. You devise an approach to increase the level of organizational awareness and learning, and to improve decision making, with the goal of turning around operations and regaining your competitive edge in the marketplace.

In a paper of at least 6 – 8 pages (excluding title and references pages), explain how cognitive dissonance and other biases may have led you, the owner, and other managerial staff to overlook or fail to take seriously the signs that the company was struggling. Describe the steps you would take to stimulate a better understanding of the store’s current operations and to implement a new process for making decisions about product line and sales and service techniques. Identify specific ways you plan to enhance the level of learning among employees to refocus the organization. Discuss the model of decision making you will implement to ensure better solutions to organizational challenges. Identify any ethical considerations that need to be taken into account in designing new models of learning and decision making. Explain the rationale for your approach and reference three sources in addition to required course readings.


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