Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Scenario: Atlantis Global Corporation
In the 21st-century global economy, talent management has become a key strategic tool, which places greater
responsibility on the shoulders of human resources (HR) managers and senior leadership in organizations. The
ability of organizations to manage their global talent efficiently makes the difference between success and failure,
competitive advantage and bankruptcy. Rapidly changing connectivity, technology advances, economic and
business transformations, the ever-emergent competition, demographic changes, and the coming to age of a new
generation of workers are having an impact on talent supply and demand.
The quest to gain a competitive advantage and tap into new and emerging markets has created a significant shift in
organizational operation and growth patterns. Organizations today are increasingly operating across their home
continents and beyond. Companies are no longer operating in silos.
Atlantis Global Corporation (AGC) is a multinational organization that engages in the development, manufacture,
and marketing of electronic circuit boards for use in high-definition TV screens. Although the design centers are
located in the United States, the bulk of the manufacturing processes are carried out at their overseas subsidiaries.
The electronic circuit boards are primarily sold to Original Equipment manufacturers located in North and South
America, Africa, and the Asia/Pacific region. Headquartered in the Midwest United States, AGC has subsidiaries in
three locations, on three continents: Subsidiary A in Asia, Subsidiary B in Africa, and Subsidiary C in South America.
In all three locations, the subsidiaries are located in industrial parks or centers. These locations were selected for
strategic reasons, including an abundance of raw materials for the company’s products, the availability of a labor
force, and a rapidly growing customer base. Within the industrial parks, it is not uncommon to find two or three
organizations competing in the same market segment and for the same labor force.
As part of its global human capital staffing strategy, AGC relocated several key people to leadership positions at
each of the three subsidiaries. By placing key personnel from headquarters in leadership positions, AGC assumed a
unified culture. Senior leadership envisioned that the subsidiaries would be self-sustainable in 2 years and
profitable thereafter. A lot of capital, both tangible and intangible, has been committed to making the subsidiaries
AGC has approximately 84,000 employees, most of whom are highly skilled and specially trained in the operations
they perform. On average, it takes 3–6 months to fully train employees in each of the many operations of the
parent company and its subsidiaries. Although the head count at the three subsidiaries has remained fairly
constant, there have been a number of employees who have left the company for a variety of reasons. As
employees leave, others are hired to replace them, but no one knows the exact number of employees who left the
company or the reasons why they have separated.
At the subsidiaries, line and middle managers are concerned with having the right number of employees at each
function or workstation. The operations manual, which the line and middle managers follow religiously, indicates
that all staff must be fully trained and certified before they should be allowed to work on their own. Further, this
requirement indicates that if someone has been certified before leaving the company, he or she must be retrained
and recertified if rehired—no exceptions—even if his or her absence has just been a week. On the other hand, a
trained and certified employee who is out on vacation or medical leave for a month is not similarly required.
Since operations began in the three subsidiaries, AGC has failed to meet its financial obligations, and profits are
lagging. This is beginning to show in the company’s balance sheets and is taking a toll on the organization’s
financial bottom line. Although the company’s structure is designed for adaptability in a fast-changing market,
several other factors were overlooked when the company selected locations for the subsidiaries. These include,
but are not limited to, the following:
Intercultural communication issues
Political and regulatory conditions of the host country and the subsidiaries
Diversity and multiculturalism
Employee retention and motivation issues
An overall global human capital strategy that takes into account the home and host country nationals
AGC, often considered the leader in this market, is in jeopardy of losing that title when the end-of-year reports
come out in 3 months. This is a critical time for the organization and the senior leadership team is very concerned.
They need to find out what is happening to the organization, report to the shareholders, and rectify the situation.
John Dawson, the CEO, COO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors at AGC, is deeply concerned about the future
of this company. Past strategies have not advanced AGC to a leadership position in the global market. John
believes that he has done everything that can be done to optimize the company and is reluctant to change the
present strategic course. He is a reluctant risk taker and must be convinced that changes to the organization have
value before changing direction.
John is currently working with Shawn Williams, the newly recruited Vice President of Global Human Capital
Management at AGC. His priority is to help diagnose and address the company's human capital issues. Shawn
brings with him extensive experience in resolving global problems, and he is recognized as an expert in the field of
change management and viewed as a motivational leader. John and Shawn will be meeting soon to align goals and
set a new strategic path for Atlantis Global Corporation.
As the new external consultant for AGC, you will be working closely with Shawn to establish a cross-cultural team
that will address the company's global challenges. You will provide guidance and recommendations regarding each
objective and anticipated outcome. This is a critical assignment because failure could lead to the dissolution of
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