Explore organizational, ethical, and cultural issues by following the travails of Apogee Broadband Communications Company.

Apogee Broadband Communications is a fictional communications company that will serve as a model organization for case study purposes. Apogee is intended to provide a framework for illustrating daily challenges faced by managers. These challenges range from providing quality communications services to a large customer base in a timely fashion, to managing a multiethnic workforce with a wide range of education, experience, and technical/professional expertise.

Any similarity to specific workplace incidents, specific persons, or organizations of any type is purely coincidental. The primary Apogee staff members in our case studies are managers, professionals, and technicians.

For case study purposes in this course, we will focus on the challenges, conflicts, and successes Apogee’s management experiences. Additional management and professionals work at Apogee as well, as shown in the accompanying organizational chart. From time to time in these case studies, you will encounter these additional staff members as Apogee’s day-to-day management challenges extend across the organization.

See the Organizational Chart below:

See Apogee’s Employees below:

See Case 1: Abandoned in Australia below:


TR Bryant was hot, madder than he could remember. TR had been in Australia for the last three months running a partnering operation between an Australian company and Apogee Communications. Far from home and with little help from the folks at Apogee, he felt abandoned. Upgrade of the existing plant was at a standstill, and he felt powerless to move it along. What’s more, TR was expected to upgrade the Greater Brisbane plant as well as run his old department at Apogee back home. TR mumbled to himself: “Leila must really not care-she won’t return calls. Even e-mail doesn’t work. �Find a way to make it work’ is all she ever has to say!” TR’s voice trailed off as he contemplated his fate with Apogee. “Where the ____ is Clarence when I need him?” TR shouted as he slammed the office door. TR was unaware that Leila had tried numerous times to contact him. Leila’s busy schedule, jammed circuits, and the significant time difference with Australia had prevented her from reaching him.

Apogee Communications and Telecommunications of Australia had agreed to contribute assets and share risks to increase market share in Australia. Expansion was slow “down under,” and both companies believed they had the people and the resources to be successful. However, both companies felt pressure to select the “right” people for the task. Leila had been given two weeks to select people from her staff and send them to Australia.

Leila selected TR to lead the Australia project. He was transferred temporarily to Australia to get the Greater Brisbane upgrade completed. Leila had told TR that she felt he could do the job and that he would “figure out a way to make it work.” TR was excited about the opportunity because he knew that foreign assignments usually led to a promotion.

TR selected his headend tech, Clarence Jones, to accompany him to Australia. Clarence was enthusiastic because he felt stuck in his current position with no place to go. Leila approved TR’s selection because she felt there was good chemistry between TR and Clarence even through their backgrounds were significantly different. Leila was somewhat uncomfortable allowing both TR and Clarence to be gone at the same time. However, she believed that operations at Apogee were running smoothly enough that a “short time without them both would be manageable.” Neither TR nor Clarence had ever traveled abroad. They knew little about the Australian culture, but both assumed, “Aussies have to be a lot like Americans.”

Case Readings:

International Human Resources Guide

On the Move to the Land “Down Under”

See case 2: Donutgate below:


The time seemed to drag as Dave Swayze sat quietly in his office. In all his years as a manager, he had never faced anything that made him feel so uneasy. He liked the new sales rep, and he was doing a good job. In less than his first month, the new sales rep had already exceeded the highest new customer call and conversion rate Apogee ever had. But Dave knew he had to confront this disturbing situation-it could not be ignored. Dave pondered: “Should I fire the guy or just quietly give him a reprimand? What will the other employees think if I don’t do anything? What will Leila McGrath think if I decide to fire him?” The new sales rep’s voice startled Dave. “I heard you wanted to see me,” he said.

At Apogee’s most recent quarterly meeting, the staff enjoyed coffee and donuts provided by the company. The delivery person required payment before he left. The new sales rep said he would cover it and flashed a money clip containing a wad of bills. “How much is it?” he asked. The delivery person handed him a receipt and said, “It comes to $218.20.” The sales rep pulled off two $100 bills and a $50 and handed them to the delivery person and added, “Keep the change.”

The delivery person started to leave and stopped. He looked at the delivery order, turned around, and said: “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot that Li Ahn Trang in Human Resources prepaid the order. Here’s your money back.” The new sales rep took back the bills and pocketed them along with the receipt. Dave Swayze’s administrative assistant, Suzanne March, observed the whole thing, thought nothing of it, and turned her attention to the meeting.

Two weeks later, the new sales rep’s expense report came through. Suzanne noticed the $250 entry for donuts and coffee from the previous meeting. She recalled that the delivery person said it was prepaid. She flagged the entry on the expense report with a note to Swayze and asked what she should do.

When Dave reviewed the expense report, he could not believe what he saw. The new guy was doing great, but he had a bogus expense item. Dave asked himself, “Should I fire him on the spot?” then he wondered if he should just forget about the money-it was only $250 and, after all, the new rep was knocking them dead with his sales numbers. Or Dave considered just telling the new rep that Apogee had strong ethical performance standards supported by a pretty tough ethics policy and that he needed to be more aware in the future. Just because he had a receipt, that didn’t mean he had a chargeable expense.