BA420 Organization Behavior - Homework

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#1 Instructions:

1. Discussion – 75 words

2. Plagiarism free

3. Need by Sunday, June 30 1:00pm EST

BA420 Organizational Behavior

Discussion forum: Conflict

Your textbook lists “groupthink” as one of the contributing factors that led to the
Challenger disaster in 1986. “Group polarization”, “brainstorming”, “nominal
group technique”, “devil’s advocacy”, and “dialectical inquiry” are also
techniques or situations that can affect group decision-making…some positively
and some negatively. Choose one of these six factors/techniques and describe a situation where you have seen (could be personal experience or research found) the technique used in a
group decision-making situation and evaluate the strength of the
decision-making that occurred and analyze the impact the factor/technique had
on that result.

#2 Instructions

1. Writing assignment: 2-3 pages

2. APA format

3. Plagiarism free

4. Need by Monday, July 1 2:00 p.m. EST

Read the Case Study and answer the following short essay
The case focuses on John Lasseter, who currently is the creative
head of Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, both of which are
owned by The Walt Disney Company. The case chronicles Lasseter’s interests in
animation from a young age, the relationship he developed with the Disney
organization, his developing interest in computer-animation and consequent
demise at Disney Studios, his subsequent award-winning success with computer
animation at Pixar Studios, and his recent ascension to creative head of
Disney’s Animation Studio as part of the Pixar-Disney merger.

The case provides a marvelous illustration of the many types of interpersonal power
¾ reward, coercive, legitimate, referent, and expert that exist within an organization. The
case also shows how power can be used to promote the well-being of the
organization and its members or to benefit specific people’s interests at the
expense of others’ interests. Herein, the two faces of power positive and
negative come into play. Another linkage between the chapter material and
the case occurs in the form of concerns about the ethical versus unethical use
of power. Finally, the case can be used to explore the concepts of
organizational politics and political behavior in organizations. Organizational
politics often has a negative connotation, and some of the case facts lend
themselves to reinforcing this negative connotation.

Power and Politics in the Fall and Rise of John Lasseter
John Lasseter grew up in a family heavily involved in artistic expression.
Lasseter was drawn to cartoons as a youngster. As a freshman in high school he
read a book entitled The Art of Animation. The book, about the making of the
Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty, proved to be a revelation for Lasseter.
He discovered that people could earn a living by developing cartoons. He
started writing letters to The Walt Disney Company Studios regarding his
interest in creating cartoons. Studio representatives, who corresponded with
Lasseter many times, told him to get a great art education, after which they
would teach him animation.

When Disney started a Character Animation Program at the California Institute
of Arts film school, Lasseter enrolled in the program after encouragement from
the studio. Classes were taught by extremely talented Disney animators who also
shared stories about working with Walt Disney himself. During summer breaks,
jobs at Disneyland further fueled Lasseter’s passion for working as an animator
for Disney Studios. Full of excitement, Lasseter joined the Disney animation
staff in 1979 after graduation. However, he soon met with disappointment.

According to Lasseter, “[t]he animation studio wasn’t being run by these great
Disney artists like our teachers at Cal Arts, but by lesser artists and
businesspeople who rose through attrition as the grand old men retired.”
Lasseter was told, “[y]ou put in your time for 20 years and do what you’re
told, and then you can be in charge.” Lasseter continues, “I didn’t realize it
then, but I was beginning to be perceived as a loose cannon. All I was trying
to do was make things great, but I was beginning to make some enemies.”

In the early 1980s, Lasseter became enthralled with the potential of using
computer graphics technology for animation but found little interest among
Disney Studio executives for the concept. Nonetheless, a young Disney
executive, Tom Willhite, eventually allowed Lasseter and a colleague to develop
a thirty-second test film that combined “hand-drawn, two-dimensional
Disney-style character animation with three-dimensional computer-generated
backgrounds.” Lasseter found a story that would fit the test and could be
developed into a full movie. When Lasseter presented the test clip and
feature-length movie idea to the Disney Studio head, the only question the
studio head asked was about the cost of production. Lasseter told him the cost
of production with computer animation would be about the same as a regular
animated feature. The studio head informed Lasseter, “I’m only interested in
computer animation if it saves money or time.”

Lasseter subsequently discovered that his idea was doomed before he ever
presented it. Says Lasseter, “[w]e found out later that others poked holes in
my idea before I had even pitched it. In our enthusiasm, we had gone around
some of my direct superiors, and I didn’t realize how much of an enemy I had
made of one of them. I mean the studio head had made up his mind before we
walked in. We could have shown him anything and he would have said the same
thing.” Shortly after the studio head left the room, Lasseter received a call
from the superior who didn’t like him, informing Lasseter that his employment
at Disney was being terminated immediately.

Despite being fired, Lasseter did not speak negatively of the Disney
organization, nor did he let others know anything other than the project on
which he was working had ended. His personal admiration and respect for Walt
Disney and animation were too great to allow him to do so.

Lasseter was recruited to Lucasfilm by Ed Catmull to work on a project that
“turned out to be the very first character-animation cartoon done with a
computer.” Not too long afterwards, Steve Jobs bought the animation business
from George Lucas for $10 million and Pixar Animation Studios was born.
Lasseter became the chief creative genius behind Pixar’s subsequent animated
feature film successes like Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, and The
Incredibles, among others.

In 2006, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs consummated a deal for
Pixar to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney. Iger points out that, in
making the Pixar acquisition, Disney wanted to protect Pixar’s culture while
giving it “a much broader canvas to paint on.” Instead of Disney absorbing
Pixar into its culture, Iger gave Pixar executives “Ed Catmull and John
Lasseter control of Disney’s animation operations, with the mission to get the
old studio’s computer-generated efforts up to par.”

Iger wanted to reinvigorate animation at Disney, and as the top creative
executive at Pixar, John Lasseter was viewed a key figure in achieving this
objective. Lasseter “is regarded by Hollywood executives as the modern Walt
[Disney] himself [with capabilities] ¼ that
have made Pixar a sure thing in the high stakes animated world.” Former Disney
Studios head, Peter Schneider, says Lasseter “is a kid who has never grown up
and continues to show the wonder and joy that you need in this business.”
Current Disney Studio chief, Dick Cook, says that Lasseter is like the famous
professional basketball player, Michael Jordan. “He makes all the players
around him better.”

According to Iger, “[t]here’s no question that animation is a great wavemaker
for the company. We believe we have a very vibrant creative engine there,
mostly driven by Pixar, and we hope that Disney Animation will once again
experience glory days too. We believe we’re on the right track.” Cook notes
that Disney was the king of animation for a decade from the mid-1980s to the
mid-1990s. Cook continues, “[b]ut I think the biggest challenge in any mature
organization is how do you continue to evolve and press the edges of the
envelope, and I think it’s fair to say we stopped doing that.” He also observes
that getting Catmull and Lasseter “was like a giant shot of adrenaline to the

Lasseter now oversees development of movies at both Pixar’s and Disney’s
animation studios. Says Lasseter, “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have
all these new roles. I do what I do in life because of Walt Disney—his films
and his theme park and his characters and his joy in entertaining. The
emotional feeling that his creations gave me is something that I want to turn
around and give to others.”

Without a doubt, Lasseter is realizing his dream, and very successfully to
boot. Bolt, a recent production of Disney Animation Studios, received a Golden
globe nomination in late 2008 for best animated feature film. And Wall-E, a
Pixar Studios production, was nominated for the same award as well. Jennie
Yabroof, a reporter for Newsweek, writes that “Lasseter himself has played
perhaps the biggest role in the elevation of the lowly cartoon” to the animated
feature film.

Lasseter’s influence at Disney extends well beyond the animation studios. The
reconstitution of the Disney theme parks’ submarine ride is a great example.
Refurbished as a take-off on the animated film Finding Nemo, “the ride
resurfaced with whiz-bang video and audio effects that allow the animated sea
creatures from Finding Nemo to seemingly swim and talk in the water.”
“Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is emblematic of Disney’s efforts
to keep its parks relevant in a digital age.” Two other projects, based on the
hit movies Cars and Bolt, would not have been possible without Lasseter and his
Pixar colleagues’ hands-on input, says Bob Iger.

What a professional journey. Being fired by Disney Animation Studios for trying
to be too creative, then ultimately becoming the chief creative animation
genius for both Disney and Pixar!

This case was written by Michael K. McCuddy, The Louis S. and Mary L. Morgal Chair
of Christian Business Ethics and Professor of Management, College of Business
Administration, Valparaiso University.

Answer the following Essay questions and explain your answers with concepts from the

1. What forms of interpersonal power are evident in the case? Provide evidence to
support your answer.

2. In what ways do the two faces of power appear in this case?

3. Does the firing of John Lasseter from Disney Studios and the events leading up
to his firing demonstrate the ethical use of power? Explain your answer.

4. Did the firing of John Lasseter indicate the existence of political behavior in
the Disney organization?

5. Describe a situation, from your experience, where political behavior in an
organization contributed to benefit or detriment to you or someone else.

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Explanation & Answer

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