Case | HBS Case Collection | October 1996 (Revised December 1996)

United Electric Controls

by H. Kent Bowen, Jody H. Gittell and Sylvie Ryckebusch

Abstract

United Electric Controls (UE) was a small, traditional family-owned manufacturing company when Dave Reis, the youngest member of the Reis family, took over the business. This case describes Reis's efforts to change UE's traditional work practices in order to make the business more profitable and position it for growth. UE's experiments with strategies to involve workers in the change process are described, as are efforts to adopt Japanese manufacturing techniques. The case dilemma centers around UE's decision to spend $1.5 million to put in place a state-of-the-art computer system. It is hoped that this system will help to better integrate company functions. The wisdom of this decision and how it would impact UE's future growth should be the subject of a rich classroom discussion.

Keywords: Change Management; Family Business; Production; Business Strategy; Human Resources; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Decisions; Growth and Development Strategy; Information Technology; Electronics Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States;

Citation:

Bowen, H. Kent, Jody H. Gittell, and Sylvie Ryckebusch. "United Electric Controls." Harvard Business School Case 697-006, October 1996. (Revised December 1996.)