Bagby Copy Company
Discuss the
tradeoffs that Bagby faces in choosing between specialized and broad task
assignment.
Bagby Copy Company manufactures 10 different copiers. The main part of these
copiers is a wiring bundle. This device is plugged into various components
during the assembly process. · They can assign each major task in this process
to different employees using a broad task assignment or one individual can be
assigned the task of producing the completed bundle using a specialized task
assignment. Discussion: Some of the advantages that Bagby\'s managers will obtain
if they divide the total task of the manufacturing process into specific jobs or
tasks are: Exploiting comparative advantage: Specialized task assignments will
permit managers at Bagby to match people with jobs based on skills and training
so this will permit employees concentrate on their particular specialties. For
example, Bagby can hire engineers to design and develop a product and business
people to do the marketing. The principle of comparative advantage suggest that
this specialization will often produce higher output than using individuals to
perform a broad tasks. Lower cost-training expenses: With specialized task
assignment, each employee is trained to complete one basis function. With broad
task assignment, employees are trained to complete more than one function, this
can be very expensive. For instances, suppose at Bagby the designing function
requires an engineer, while in the line of production function requires a person
with a lower education. Specialized task assignment allows Bagby\'s managers to
hire one engineer and one person without an advanced degree. With broad task
assignment, the level of education required is usually the highest level, so it
will cost more for Bagby to hire two persons with college degree than one. Broad
task assignment is more expensive than specialized task assignment. Some of the
costs of specialized task assignments are: Forgone complementarities across
tasks: Supposing that Bagby\'s engineers have to design and develop a new copier
but they do not participate into the manufacturing and marketing functions, they
will not have the sufficient feedback to develop a successful product. This
feedback will be traduced in customers needs, future market opportunities or
cheaper substitutes for raw materials. As another example, if within a product
unit, only one person is in charge of assemble and check the wired bundle the
care with which person does his job will decrease. Coordination costs: The
activities of specialized employees have to be coordinated. For instance, Bagby
would have to establish the methods and procedures required to process a certain
quantity of bundles during a period of time so technicians could use the same
methods and procedures to process different kinds of bundles, this required a
high level of coordination between the different product units. Bagby\'s managers
will also need to coordinate procedures between functional and product basis
groups. Functional myopia: With specialized task assignment, employees tend to
concentrate on their individual functions rather than on the overall process of
providing good sales and services. For example, the performance of the
manufacturing department could be measure base on the quantity of produced units
and the performance of the marketing department could be measure based on sales,
but if the quality of the copiers decrease sales will be negatively affected and
the performance of the marketing department will be low while the performance of
the manufacturing department remains high. Reduced flexibility: Failure to
cross-train employees has costs as well as benefits. For example, if only one
person is trained to perform a particular function he or she becomes
indispensable for the organization and this is a disadvantage when bargaining
with the employee over salary and other benefits. From an incentive point of
view, it is sometimes better to have employees concentrate on a narrow set of
tasks, while in other circumstances, a broad set of tasks is preferred, it
depends on the business activity. 2. Discuss the tradeoffs (ventajas o
desventajas) between these two methods of grouping wire-harness makers into
subgroups. Facts: In either case, there are a group of employees that are
assigned individual tasks to produce a wire harness for a particular copier
(broad task assignment), so there is 10 subgroups of wire harness makers. Bagby

Copy Company has the following alternatives: 1. Place all 10 groups in one
harness department. 2. All groups can be assigned to and report to a manager
responsible for a particular copier. Discussion: If Bagby decided to place all

10 groups in one harness department this will lower the communication and
coordination costs because members will report to the same manger. Employees are
also more likely to form closer working relationships if they share the same
workspace (especially