I am currently teaching organisational structures to my Year 12 groups, and they always ask for real examples of concepts such as delayering, chains of command and spans of control. I thought that this business example would be a great way to not only teach organisational structures, and motivation, but also link to the financial side looking at profits, and business failure.
After a poor trading period in 2017, and the announcement that 10 stores would be closed, Debenhams issued a profit warning’ after poor festive sales and a failure to entice shoppers to its post-Christmas sale.’ Profits are expected to have fallen by as much as £20million in the past year.
Last month the store in Farnborough closed its doors for the final time, meaning that meaning that shoppers wanting to visit a store will have to travel 10-15 miles to stores in Woking and Guildford, which are still currently open.
On February 8th, the company announced that they would be cutting 320 management jobs in a bid to reduce costs in the business. ‘The retailer said last month it was stepping up cost-cutting plans after it issued a profit warning because of disappointing trading over Christmas. ’This reduction in management jobs accounts for a quarter of all management position in the business.
The company hopes that it is able to re-deploy some of the worker (where it find other roles for those affected elsewhere in the business), however this is unlikely to find a solution for everyone who is affected.
Debenhams have announced that they “envisage our new structure being fully in place by the end of March.” This restructure it’s claimed will revive the businesses finances.
Activities in the classroom?
I will be using this case study with both Year 12 for structures and Year 13 for revision purposes as it can cover so many topic areas.
For year 12-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob4P79graGY – introduction to delayering video
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/08/debenhams-to-axe-320-store-managers – Article from the Guardian explaining the process of delayering in action.
I would ask students to use this article to assess the benefits and constraints of delayering for the business. Encouraging them to use motivation, leadership as well as organisational structure theory in their answers. You could ask them to do this in groups, and then write as a timed 10 markers if you felt they had exam practice.
Alternatively, depending on the nature of the class you could have a debate with one side being the business and one side the employees, or benefits V constraints.
For Year 13–
I am trying to get them to link theory into answers… I would ask them to read the article (the Guardian one) and make a list of concepts that they think are included in this. Once they have done this, they can work in pairs to create their own exams questions and mark schemes for the article. This way they can develop their exam technique (and how answers are marked!) and understanding of theory and concepts on the syllabus.
I love using anything in my teaching that is actually linked to the real world so the students will understand!
Teacher of Business
Principal and Senior Examiner for a major UK exam board