In mid 1984 Mr. Mahmood, the General Manager of Westward Exports Limited, Karachi,
Pakistan was trying to implement a management information system. He was facing resistance
from Mr. Saleem, his most senior Supervisor. Mr. Mahmood wondered what he could do to
overcome this resistance.
Westward Exports was an exporter of ladies cotton garments. It was a private company
established in 1971. It was a family run business and all four directors were brothers. Over the
past fourteen years the exports of the company had grown from Rs. 0.71 million in 1972-73 to
Rs. 59.76 million in 1984. Almost 90% of the exports went to USA. It owned no manufacturing
facility of any kind. It purchased cotton cloth from six different textile mills and had the cloth
dyed and printed. This fabric was then passed on to 138 stitching subcontractors. The company
had been expanding the product line over the years and by 1983 it was exporting about one
million garments in over one hundred basic designs. The 100 designs were presented in a large
of fabric types, shades, designs and sizes.
When seen in the context that the company had to get all these things done through
subcontractors, the managerial control of the operations became quite challenging. The
directors who had always been actively involved in each and every aspect of the business, and
made all the decisions by themselves, felt the heat of changing situations. They appreciated the
problem and decided to hire some professional assistance to bring more control to their
Mr. Mahmood was hired in late 1983 to be the new general manager. He was an agricultural
graduate who had about fifteen years of marketing and sales experience with a multinational
organization. He also had attended more than a dozen management development courses. The
directors were confident that he could introduce some new control measures to help ensure the
continued success of the company.
Mr. Mahmood quickly determined that if Westward Exports was to remain in business it
immediately must eliminate the haphazardness in its operations. No proper costing, no
scheduling, no progress sheets or order status reports, no follow up charts, or for that matter no
control procedure worth the name existed. “It was all so nebulous” he concluded. He worked
1 Currently serving as Chairman, Department of Commerce, Bahauddin Zakria University, Multan.
late hours to comprehend fully the nature and scope of the company’s business and its
coordination and working relationships without contractors. Almost immediately he started to
design a proper system to help cure the lack of control and information available.
Out of about 200 old employees in the company, the key operating manager was Mr. Saleem.
Saleem joined the company in 1973 as a production officer, nearly the lowest rung in the
company’s hierarchy. He distinguished himself because of his hard work and was promoted to
be a supervisor. By 1982, Saleem, under direct supervision of the directors, was looking after
every activity in manufacturing. Right from raw material procurement to packing and shipping
of finished garments, he was coordinating all of the activities. Because of the varied nature of
his duties and his dedication to work, he was able to learn all the ins and outs of the business.
Saleem also was considered to be a man with a photographic memory. He virtually ran the
whole business from the information stored in his head. “I have an abhorrence for paperwork”,
said Saleem. “My work load is so great that I am always engrossed in my job. Even my dreams
are job related”, he added. “But due recognition has always been awarded to me by my
Mr. Saleem initially cooperated with Mr. Mahmood. However, when Mr. Mahmood started to
implement some of the new systems and procedures, Mr. Saleem refused to go along with
them. Mr. Saleem even questioned the very need for such a drastic change. “Ask me about
anything …. any detail of a fabric, any garments any export order …. For that matter anything
that has bothering the people here with such clerical burdens? These luxuries are all right for
big companies, but not for us. We can not spare people for such unproductive things.”
Mr. Mahmood understood that Mr. Saleem was close to the director and was the senior-most
supervisor. Therefore, his opposition could not be taken lightly. Mr. Mahmood also felt that
others might say that he had neither the general management experience nor any particular
experience in the garment industry.
Nevertheless, Mr. Mahmood was confident that the company did need the change and as soon
as possible. He was troubled; however, with the resistance of Mr. Salaam’s reluctant to
accommodate his new system, he would not be able to do the job.
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you agree with Mr. Saleem that “such luxuries are for big companies, but not for
us”? Why or why not?
2. How should Mr. Mahmood handle the current situation?
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