Explore BrainMass

The Parlor Case

The following case is found in the following textbook: The Leadership Experience third edition by Richard L. Daft. Please answer the questions in detail.

The Parlor

The Parlor, a local franchise operation located in San Francisco, serves sandwiches and small dinners in an atmosphere reminiscent of the "roaring twenties." Period fixtures accent the atmosphere and tunes from a mechanically driven, old-time player piano greet one's ears upon entering. Its major attraction, however, is a high-quality, old-fashioned soda fountain that specializes in superior ice cream sundaes and sodas. Fresh, quality sandwiches are also a popular item. Business has grown steadily during the seven years of operation.

The business has been so successful that Richard Purvis, owner and manager, decided to hire a parlor manager so that he could devote more time to other business interests. After a month of quiet recruitment and interviewing, he selected Paul McCarthy, whose prior experience included the supervision of the refreshment stand at one of the town's leading burlesque houses.

The current employees were unaware of McCarthy's employment until his first day on the job, when he walked in unescorted (Purvis was out of town) and introduced himself.

During the first few weeks, he evidenced sincere attempts at supervision and seemed to perform his work efficiently. According to his agreement with Purvis, he is paid a straight salary plus a percentage of the amount he saves the business monthly, based on the previous month's operating expenses. All other employees are on a straight hourly rate.

After a month on the job, McCarthy single-mindedly decided to initiate an economy program designed to increase his earnings. He changed the wholesale meat supplier and lowered both his cost and produce quality in the process. Arbitrarily, he reduced the size and portion of everything on the menu, including those fabulous sundaes and sodas. He increased the working hours of those on minimum wage and reduced the time of those employed at a higher rate. Moreover, he eliminated the fringe benefit of a one-dollar meal credit for employees who worked longer than a five-hour stretch, and he cut out the usual 20 percent discount on anything purchased by the employees.

When questioned by the owner about the impact of his new practices, McCarthy swore up and down that there would be no negative effect on the business. Customers, though, have begun to complain about the indifferent service of the female waitresses and the sloppy appearance of the male soda fountain clerks- "Their hair keeps getting in the ice cream." And there has been almost a complete turnover among the four short-order cooks who worked two to a shift.

Ron Sharp, an accounting major at the nearby university, had been a short-order cook on the night shift for five months prior to McCarthy's arrival. Conscientious and ambitious, Ron enjoys a fine work record, and even his new boss recognizes Ron's superiority over the other cooks?"The best we got."

Heavy customer traffic at the Parlor has always required two short-order cooks working in tandem on each shift. The work requires a high degree of interpersonal cooperation in completing the food orders. An unwritten and informal policy is that each cook would clean up his specific work area at closing.

One especially busy night, Ron's fellow cook became involved in a shouting match with McCarthy after the cook returned five minutes late from his short break. McCarthy fired him right on the spot and commanded him to turn in his apron. This meant that Ron was required to stay over an extra half-hour to wash the other fellow's utensils. He did not get to bed until 3 A.M. But McCarthy wanted him back at the store at 9 A.M. to substitute for a daytime cook whose wife reported him ill. Ron was normally scheduled to begin at 4 P.M. However, when Ron arrived somewhat sleepily at 10 A.M. (and after an 8 A.M. accounting class), McCarthy was furious. He thereupon warned Ron, "Once more and you can look for another job. If you work for me, you do things my way are you don't work here at all." "Fine with me," fired back Ron as he slammed his apron into the sing. "You know what you can do with this job!"

The next day, McCarthy discussed his problems with the owner. Purvis was actually very upset. "I can't understand what went wrong. All of a sudden, things have gone to hell."


1. Contrast the beliefs about motivation held by Purvis and McCarthy.
2. Do you consider either Purvis or McCarthy a leader? Discuss.
3. What would you do now if you were in Purvis's position? Why?


Solution Preview

The attached guide will assist with your studies and further your knowledge of this subject.

1. Contrast the beliefs about motivation held by Purvis and McCarthy.

Purvis' beliefs and motivations were to focus on the businesses interests and less on the day to day operations. His belief was to enhance the business, he needed assistance and the assistance was through new operational leadership. The offer he made to McCarthy was impressive, as it incurred a profit margin. That being, McCarty's belief was to cut costs at all costs to increase his profits, as the higher the profit, the higher is pay.

Purvis was an innovator, as he built the business from the ground up. McCarthy was a businessman and to him, the bottom line is the bottom line.

Purvis welcomed the customer ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses business ethics and management style in relation to the Parlor Case