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Defining the Problem

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You have just been hired by Juicy Red Tomato Company as a human resources consultant. Juicy Red Tomato Company (JRT), a tomato grower operating in Florida, hired you to investigate (1) the effectiveness and efficiency of its organizational structure, and (2) the selection and maintenance of managerial personnel. The reason why? Internal costs are rising, key personnel are leaving, and the company is considering expanding its operations.

You are not the first consultant; your predecessor had started to develop a proposal, but left suddenly. Review the proposal in progress, then add what is needed to complete this initial stage of problem definition.(Use the first five steps of the Research Process for Basic and Applied Research, Figure 4.1, on the Sekeran, p. 56, for formulating a full research design).

Following is your predecessor's work:

Juicy Red Tomato Company is a tomato grower, operating in Florida. The company has been in operation for 15 years, during which it has grown at a rate of about 5% per year. Costs have remained steady for the first 10 years of the company's existence, but have grown by 2.5 - 4% over the past 3 years. Reasons cited by the company include unexpected temperature drops, pests, and increased labor costs. Management has tended to come from within the company, as long-term employees "rise through the ranks". Over the past year, several long-term, key personnel have left, citing that they had "no future" with JRT. On the bright side, JRT is poised for an increased rate of growth, through possible expansion of the business.

JRT has retained this consultant to investigate (1) the effectiveness and efficiency of its organizational structure, and (2) the selection and maintenance of managerial personnel. We will conduct internal and external research on the causes of the issues and present recommendations.

After preliminary interviews within the organization and research of the produce industry, and business cases with similar challenges, we have formed a hypothesis; that Juicy Red Tomato Company needs to invest in retention not only of its managerial personnel, but also front-line production employees. In addition, JRT needs to improve communication between production and operations, possibly by enhancing technology used by the company as a whole.

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