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Donna Dubinsky and Apple Computer

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Describes a major conflict within Apple Computer in 1985 over control of product distribution. The founder and chairman, Steve Jobs, proposed a new distribution process which would transfer many responsibilities away from distribution manager, Donna Dubinsky. Dubinsky believed, however, that this process would be practically and financially unworkable. Presents her defensive and unsuccessful conflict management, culminating in her threatened resignation.

This case deals with the recipients of change, that is the people who are affected by change management and how they cope with change efforts.

Lewin Change model Unfreeze – need for change

Action Research Model Problem Definition, consultation, data gathering

Magnitude of change – significant

Motivating the change, Creating readiness and overcoming resistance. Dubinsky did not see then need for dramatic change progress was being made.

Energizing commitment reasons and vision where not shared. The organisation and Donna were not sensitised to the pressures for change. There was no or inappropriate participation and involvement.

Political support, ultimate power was used by Jobbs. Dubinsky did not influence stakeholders

Dubinsky source of power with her support, knowledge, personality (Griener and V.Schein)

Employee involvement, Initial empowerment, High motivation and autonomy

Change was not planned? Little sign of an emergent model not a learning organisation more power struggle.

Nadler Congruence Model – systems approach, change was due to environmental change but there was no planning transformation processes or outputs. Was not change as such but idea or proposal?

Nadler problems of change key

Resistance – no motivation

Control – transition not considered

Power – political dynamics not supporting



Leadership styles

Conflict – no third part intervention

Cyclical model of interpersonal conlict (Walton) – issues behaviour consequences

Conflicting management style

Leadership grid Blake & Mouton

Dubinsky high regard for people – Team management

Jobbs high concern for production ? Authority compliance?

Clash of culture?

Values approach – Denison and Spreitzer

Internal external focus

Central decentralised

(group to hierarchical)??

Quinn competing values –

Apple values

Indivdual performance

Team spirt – open

Good management -trust the motives and integrity of supervisors, create a productive environment ??? not for Dubinsky


Hierarchy against market/adhocracy

Contextual approach Dawson

Context – politics, concern and conflict Apple/Mac

Content – significant

Process – none

Karl Rodgers

Understand subjective reality of others

Respect, geninueness empathy ?????

Story line Themes

Garth Morgan

Walsh /Bridges


Donna Dubinsky

Very successful until then, Not questioned before

Narrow minded ? not proactively raising ideas

Shock, defence, (acknowledge, adapt)

Bill Campbell VP US Sales

Why did Weaver report to him. How interested was he? Sales biased, not cost?

Embarrassed by Weaver/Dubinsky questioning authority/defensiveness

Roy Weaver VP distribution & support

Limited support undermined./ demoted

Debi Coleman Man Director

Additional power, direct relationship with Jobs, ambitious confident

John Sculley CEO

Apple and Mac contension! Undermined by Jobs dual role?

Steve Jobs

Duel roles Chairman & GM for MAC


Right to question status quo, right to consider JIT and request proposal

Change in focus to distribution cost why? Motives not communicated.

IBM competition? Mac sales down.

Taskforce compromise

Still questions Dubinsky’s openness and decision making ability

What is the best proposal for Apple

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