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Clif Bar Inc. Balancing Priorities Case Study

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Updated: May 12th, 2021

Without knowing Gary Erickson’s age, where would you guess he falls in the four generations of workers as delineated by Zemke?

Judging by Gary Erickson’s business ideas and organizational policy, it can be assumed that he belongs either to the generation of Baby Boomers or Generation X. It is also possible that we are dealing with a borderline case. Baby Boomers currently run most of the well-known large corporations and are characterized by high work activity, optimism, and motivation for success. It was the Baby Boomers who triggered social changes like feminism or the civil rights movement. Gary Erickson’s desire to improve the existing product and his determination to succeed indicate that he could be a representative of this generation.

Like all Baby Boomers, he is an enthusiast who is concerned with such issues as nature protection, third-world problems, and volunteering. However, at the same time, he could also belong to Generation X, whose representatives can boast of academic training of the highest possible quality, partially accounting for their innovative and creative thinking. These people usually change traditional blueprints. In business, they tend to step away from a hierarchical structure to one that is horizontal to promote equality. Gary Erickson is highly concerned with the job satisfaction of his employees, which is typical of businesspeople from Generation X. Moreover, he is devoted to his vocation. Basically, like other Xers, he believes in the necessity of finding a balance between hard work, quality of life, and leisure. By these criteria, it is possible for Gary Erickson to represent both generations described above.

Recalling that leaders are motivated to act consistently with their values, what values appear to be most important to Gary Erickson?

The case study proves that Gary Erickson has a considerable number of both terminal and instrumental values that he finds significant for his organization. Achieving a sense of accomplishment and leading an exciting life to seem to rank among the top of those. The working conditions that he has created for his employees allow the conclusion that Erickson stands with the motto “work to live” instead of “live to work” despite the fact that he is definitely success-oriented. The latter set of values includes being honest (as he promotes a policy of openness), responsible (evidenced by the fact that Erickson promotes environmental awareness), and helpful (proven by his determination to launch third-world-supporting programs). Finally, Gary Erickson demonstrated all the enumerated values when he refused to sell the company, as he felt that his business went beyond mere production and selling.

Knowing some of the values of Gary Erickson, how closely aligned do you think the organizational values are to the way the company actually operates?

It would be fair to note that Gary Erickson has managed to integrate his values into the organizational structure. They are indeed closely aligned to the real operation of Clif Bar. First and foremost, the product is 70% organic, which means that the manufacturer is concerned with a healthy lifestyle and environmental protection. Moreover, the company financially supports a wind farm to deal with emissions. The employees are encouraged to take part in volunteer projects to help people in developing countries.

These activities are closely aligned with responsibility and helpfulness as core values set up by the leader of the company. Judging by the information presented in the case study, Erickson pays a lot of attention to job satisfaction (which is a realization of his terminal value connected with leading an exciting life): Employees can enjoy a great number of tangible privileges, such as a gym, a dance floor, dog days, and corporate parties. As far as the second terminal value is concerned, Erickson declined the proposal to sell his company, not least because his ultimate sense of accomplishment has not yet been satisfied. He is definitely determined to lead his company to even greater success.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Clif Bar Inc. Balancing Priorities'. 12 May.

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