HICKLING ASSOCIATES LTD Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


Hickling Associates Ltd. was a Vancouver based medium-sized business firm that had specialized in import and export of many canned and frozen food products. The company also had operations in commodities such as grain and fishing nails.

This case study revolves around Tony Azzara’s problems. Tony Azzara joined Hickling Associates on June 18 following the seizure of the entire fresh and frozen sea food products of his ex-firm, Pisces due to financial and other collective reasons.


Tony Azzara joined Hickling Associates after his earlier firm seized the entire division of fresh and frozen food sea products. His ex-firm, Pisces was one of the leading exporters for fresh and frozen seafood on Canada’s west coast. They were generating around $40-$60 million in revenues per annum that fluctuated with the demand and the fishing season. The primary market that they catered was in Europe and in various parts of Asia and Japan. Pisces usually compensated the employees very well and in the case of Tony Azzara who served as the sales manager there, climbing up the ladder in two and a half years from sales person to such decorated post, was rewarded substantially. Sometimes the annual bonus based on group sales in the best years was elevated to 100% of Tony’s base salary and 20% in the poorest of years. Pisces used a blend of custodial and supportive model to manage their employees.

When Tony Azzara joined Hickling Associates he was caught completely off guard and was required to work in an environment he wouldn’t have wanted in his wildest dreams. Hickling Associates followed an autocratic model to manage the employees. He faced severely faulty workplace ethics, blurred authority, communication barriers, severe commitment issues, low moral standards, lack of support, barriers to work effectively and lower benefits. Hickling Associates used an autocratic model to manage the employees, and had severely dented workplace environment practices.


Pisces used a blend of custodial and supportive model to control the behavior of their employees and nourish them which resulted in employee satisfaction. Pisces was monetary oriented, at least that particular division in which Tony worked. They compensated the employees generously and the bonus at the end of the year was healthy. Tony had authority such as taking trips to other places to prospect clients and materializing the deals which were very vital to his job. He used to keep in touch with the industry and the contacts through industry functions that were notified by industry mail. He was entitled to look after seafood exports in Europe which provided him an opportunity to exercise his authority and nurture his skills. His performance, feedback and acknowledgement needs were also fulfilled when he was awarded with the year-end bonus based on his performance. In Pisces workplace moral standards were high, workplace ethics were followed and they had a particular set of guidelines and policies which were clear.

On the other hand, Hickling Associates followed autocratic model where power lied with the manager or the head of the firm. Employees were obedient to him rather than respectful due to his bursting out nature. Monetary compensation was fairly low compared to his previous employer as Tony had scored handsome bonuses at the end of the year rather than getting paid $10000 the first year and $5000 the second year. He was unable to exert authority that comprised of signing of papers to taking trips and attending functions to prospect, materialize and strengthen client relationship. Alcohol consumption and affairs between staff were few examples of low moral standards. There was no workplace dress code and Tony would find him to be the only one following the formal protocol. Lack of trust, no devised strategy to nurture employees, lack of feedback and acknowledgement from the boss were the few examples that gives us the portrait that employees just wanted to survive their tenure there. Tony’s workstation gave him goose bumps, as his desk was merely feet’s away from Hickling’s and he could have literally glanced over his shoulder.

Above chart shows how different factors in an organizational strategy impact an employee’s motivation that results in the decline in performance...............

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