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Organizational Behavior: Illa Fitzgerald’s Case Case Study

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Updated: Jul 15th, 2021


The case under consideration is the work written by Medlin (2011) as an example and is not a real situation. The action takes place in Bella’s, one of the leading chains of beauty salons in the south of the country. The key characters are Illa Fitzgerald, the owner and founder of the chain, her acquaintance Lynne Gibson who was the manager and became the leading consultant later, and Kris Jenkins, who replaced Gibson. The critical issues addressed in the case described by Medlin (2011) are job satisfaction, as well as employee engagement.

The case begins with how Miss Fitzgerald founded Bella’s first spa, which was her long-time dream. However, the woman had no experience in this field, and her first companion who made a significant contribution to the development of the chain was Gibson. Two young women started the business and attracted acquaintances who were promised a gradual increase in wages as their profits increased. Ten years later, Bella’s expanded significantly, and success was achieved. A permanent customer base was formed, profits were stable, and the employees had sufficient qualifications.

Nevertheless, as the chain’s activities were analyzed, Lynne Gibson who was the company’s leading consultant began to notice a decline in important indicators, in particular, income levels, the number of customers, and high staff turnover. After Fitzgerald’s partner decided to leave the job for education, the owner of the chain needed to find a new partner. The choice fell on Kris Jenkins who had appropriate skills for working with the staff and was trained professionally, but she did not have enough experience. After examining Bella’s development indicators, Jenkins was unpleasantly surprised by the decline in essential success indicators. However, after talking with Fitzgerald, the new manager was ready to take on her duties since the business mistress convinced her that any interventions were permissible.

Immediately after taking office, Jenkins made sure that many employees of the organization were dissatisfied with the management and could not formulate their working strategies correctly. Therefore, the new manager decided to conduct an anonymous survey among the staff, including various positions, to determine the degree of employees’ interest in performing duties and their satisfaction with working conditions. According to the survey results, the prevailing number of Bella’s workers confirmed that they did not feel any encouragement at work, their opinions were not taken into account, and in general, they were dissatisfied with the senior management. This intervention allowed Jenkins to obtain relevant information and draw appropriate conclusions regarding job satisfaction and employee engagement.


The evaluation of employees’ job satisfaction and engagement is an important practice in the work of any organization. Essential data may be obtained based on the perception of the tasks assigned to the staff and, as a result, the outcomes of activities. When considering the story of the case described by Medlin (2011), it can be noted that the situation was not disturbing from the very beginning, despite the lack of experience of Bella’s chain founder.

However, it may have been one of the reasons why the organization began to incur losses and receive negative feedback from customers. The dissatisfaction of the employees with Illa Fitzgerald’s work proves that the leadership of the chain does not adhere to modern management principles and makes mistakes in controlling the work of subordinates. As a result, performance deterioration is observed, and high costs indicate the loss of customer confidence in the services provided.

As the main problems associated with Bella’s case, Medlin (2011) mentions such aspects as job satisfaction and employee engagement. In terms of impact on overall performance, these factors are significant criteria for assessing enterprises’ activities and, in particular, an internal personnel policy. According to Huang et al. (2016), “job satisfaction is a specific job attitude relating to the reaction an individual has to either their work overall or specific facets” (p. 249). Therefore, this factor needs to be taken into account since the success of the entire organization depends on how workers assess their duties and the range of activities in general.

Concerning such a term as employee engagement, there are also certain criteria. Nimon, Shuck, and Zigarmi (2016) define this aspect “as an active, work-related positive psychological state,” which directly affects the productivity of work (p. 1150). The possibility of the participation of employees, without exception, in solving current tasks and achieving final goals opens up positive prospects regarding mutually beneficial cooperation. The establishment of a favorable microclimate in a team is largely achieved through the participation of employees in teamwork aimed at helping one another and collaborating with the management.

However, in the case of the business under consideration, the lack of the chief executive’s interest is observed in maintaining the policy of engaging the staff and motivating subordinates, which, in turn, causes organizational issues. Thus, job satisfaction and employee engagement are crucial aspects, and Kris Jenkins’ actions aimed at checking colleagues’ opinion concerning leadership practices and the work of the chain, in general, is a reasonable and necessary intervention.

Jenkin’s Position and Decisions

In the context of the case under consideration, various arguments can be made regarding the correctness of the decision made by Kris Jenkins. Medlin (2011) does not include information about what results the woman has achieved after she agreed to take the post of the general manager of Bella’s. Nevertheless, based on the prerequisites of her decision and reasoning on the need to accept or refuse Fitzgerald’s proposal, conclusions may be drawn concerning the consistency and validity of the actions taken. As a rationale for analysis, those concepts and theories will be applied, which are devoted to organizational behavior and employee engagement in the working process.

Social Exchange Theory

In the process of interaction in the working team, it may be necessary to not only perform immediate duties aimed at achieving certain goals but also to follow specific norms of cooperation to maintain a favorable microclimate. As one of the theoretical concepts explaining this approach to the organization of the workflow, it is possible to consider the social exchange theory. According to Huang et al. (2016), based on the terms of this concept, employees working in a positive microclimate “perceive organizational commitment and support for safety as beneficial to their personal well-being” (p. 249). In other words, many people value effective and productive interaction in the workplace as the essential component of life and consider it the integral part of a competent corporate policy.

However, in the case of Bella’s, it can be noted that the microclimate in the organization was significantly less favorable. Therefore, while considering the decision of Kris Jenkins to accept the position of a general manager, it is possible to interpret her act on the basis of the principle of humanity. Her desire to influence employees to prevent the decline of such a stable and potentially profitable organization may be explained by not only by career but also by altruistic interests. To establish quality interaction between the management and subordinates and improve the performance of the chain of salons is a worthy goal, and Jenkin’s decision can be viewed from this standpoint.

Behavioral Approach

A behavioral approach is one of those mechanisms that explain the motivation of the staff, the work of the management, and other essential aspects of business activities. Jenkins’s decision to accept a job offer at Bella’s may be due to her personal reasons, and the woman’s behavior proves that her ambitions are above her senses. Based on the teamwork theory, Nimon et al. (2016) note that employees can adapt to different conditions depending on various criteria, including a leadership style. Jenkins’s desire to change subordinates’ behavior and help them adapt to a new course demonstrates her desire to show her competence as a specialist and do everything possible to prevent Bella’s from bankruptcy.

Employees, in turn, can learn from the leader’s behavior and begin to put more effort into working for the benefit of the organization. Relevant incentives are the effective means of engaging the staff in work, and Jenkins’ start at Bella’s suggests that she approaches personnel evaluation with great attention. Therefore, Jenkins’s decision to take office can be interpreted as one of the attempts to prove her own competence on the basis of changes in employee behavior.

Far-Reaching Plans

One of the possible explanations for Jenkins’ decision is her ideas concerning the potential outcomes of the work done and the results of the changes that she proposed in Bella’s. Far-reaching plans are consistent with her image of a goal-oriented and willing-to-work manager, as described by Medlin (2011). The involvement of subordinates by assessing their satisfaction with the current labor conditions and microclimate in the team is a successful step since employees will certainly appreciate the loyalty of the new leader and her innovative management methods.

Moreover, if Jenkins succeeds in changing Bella’s performance indicators and returning a former high status to the organization, it is possible that she will advance further up the career ladder because larger and well-known companies may notice her efforts. According to Huang et al. (2016), investing more personal resources in job performance is in direct proportion to the quality of outcomes achieved. As a result, Jenkins’s activities can allow her to not only gain recognition from subordinates and the immediate owner of the business but also to establish herself as a professional. It is one of the possible reasons for her taking this position.

Based on the aforementioned assumptions, Jenkins’ decision to accept Illa Fitzgerald’s offer to take the post of the general manager at Bella’s could be interpreted from the standpoint of different concepts. As plausible explanations, the social change theory, as well as a behavioral approach, may be applied. Also, ambitions can be the cause of such a decision since in case of the successful implementation of the employee engagement policy, career growth can be achieved. The analysis of subordinates’ job satisfaction is a successful mechanism for assessing the microclimate in the team and, at the same time, the way of gaining recognition among colleagues.


Huang, Y. H., Lee, J., McFadden, A. C., Murphy, L. A., Robertson, M. M., Cheung, J. H., & Zohar, D. (2016). Beyond safety outcomes: An investigation of the impact of safety climate on job satisfaction, employee engagement and turnover using social exchange theory as the theoretical framework. Applied Ergonomics, 55, 248-257. Web.

Medlin, B. (2011). Bella’s: A case study in organizational behavior. Journal of Business Cases and Applications, 4, 1-11.

Nimon, K., Shuck, B., & Zigarmi, D. (2016). Construct overlap between employee engagement and job satisfaction: A function of semantic equivalence? Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(3), 1149-1171. Web.

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