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“The Road to Hell” Case Analysis Essay


This case starts simple and becomes complex in nature as you get closer to the end of Matthew’s interview. John Baker an Englishman is the chief engineer of the Caribbean Bauxite Corporation of Barracania in the West Indies. Baker is given a task to groom his successor into his position within thirty days of leaving to his new position as production manager of Keso Mining Corporation. Young Barracanian Matthew Rennalls is being groom for as his successor to take over as chief engineer. The only thing that stood between the passing of the torch was the final interview “The Road to Hell” for Mr. Baker. His objective was to have a smooth transition for his replacement and make sure he continued with harmonious workplace culture of dignity and respect to fellow coworkers.


After reviewing the case, it was realized there were multiple problems race, perception based on prior history between the two cultures, and communication. Mr. Baker assumed he never got as close with Matt due to racial differences. While Matt never let Mr. Baker really, get to know him because of the cultural differences between the older Englishmen and Bacarranian people. While trying to convey a since of unity Baker communication was solely one sided based on the Englishmen’s viewpoint and not the Bacarranian people. His intentions were missed in his comparison of how long the Western Europe and the United States had been doing commercial commerce 300 years versus the Baccarranians 50 years. What he intended as a compliment to them Bacarrania progressing so fast came off as a back handed slap to Rennalls’ people. If Barker would have been more direct in his concerns of wanting to have a more sincere friendship with Matt, the disintegration of the working relationship may not have happen. It was also evident the past cultural bias that Matthew had against European expatriates was causing him to feel defensive towards them as whole.


With the rise in globalization and the goliath of Multinational Corporations. There is a lot being lost in translation. As we move up the vertical ladder in our business with more and more diversity in the workplace. Our communication for this workplace diversification has moved horizontal. I am finding the more we communicate the less we understand one another . For example, the ways we communicate in United States and United Kingdom versus Asian and Middle Eastern countries differ. See Table 1 below that shows the difference in low context cultures versus high context cultures.

In order to achieve cultural synergy in a diverse group they must come together for a common goal. Rennalls’ and Baker both initially had synergy at work ,with there like humor and are both excellent engineers. However, the cultural difference is what has divided them. Rennalls nor Baker is a racist by their actions or definition of the word. The two men suffer from cultural pride. Baker pride was shown in his since of British superiority of knowledge and progression over the centuries in commerce experience. While Rennalls pride was rooted in the respect to Barracanian people and country. This ideology has destroyed growth of many countries and business in their growth.

Therefore, both men’s perception of each other is what destroyed their relationship. Baker perception of Rennalls started with the since of never really getting to know him as well as he would have like to. Also, from the production manager Hutchins, Jackson the senior draftsman, and Godson he had developed a reputation for being rude to expatriates. In Rennalls defense can empathize with his view and reaction because as a woman of color I been in his shoes. I have also been in Baker shoes as an expatriate working in the Middle East. The perception of Rennalls from his English co workers was he was rude and difficult to work with. But, if that was truly the case Baker would have gotten the same notion form working with him. On the other hand Rennalls was viewed by baker as being rude and insensitive to the Bacarranian accomplishments in commerce.


For instant short term results, Baker needs to visit with Rennalls immediately to offer an apology. Then explain his true intentions in the conversation to both Matt Rennalls and his father. Also, offer to extend his stay to help ensure a smooth transition of Matt’s leadership as Chief Engineer. By doing so that will allow him to buffer any challenges against and let him know he really supports and believe in his abilities to rise to the challenges of the position. Baker only wanted to close the distance between the two. But he missed his opportunity not having cultural diversity classes to have a better understanding of the Bacarranian people and the culture of the West Indies. He was aware immediately that the cultural distance between Englishmen and Bacarranian’s was much greater than any other expatriate experience he has had before. Yet he ignored the opportunity to close the gap.

Long term results will require that Organizations implement various methods of training to ensure everyone in a diverse work environment is communicated to properly. Many organizations impart practical, real-life training to teach employees how to handle situations those arise due to cultural differences. The organizations can use the following cross-cultural training techniques: •Environmental briefings: to provide information about history, geography, climate, schools, government, economy, etc. •Orientation in culture: to familiarize the employees with value systems and culture of the host country. •Cultural assimilator: is a programmed learning technique that is designed to expose employees of one culture to some of the attitudes, customs, etc. of another culture. •Language training: to teach conversational language skills. •Sensitivity training: to develop attitudinal flexibility. •Field experience: to give first hand exposure to another culture (Hodgetts and Luthans, 1994).

As the number of women, minorities etc. in the workforce increase, so will their influence as consumers. Hiring women, minorities, disabled, etc. will help the organizations to tap these niche markets (Mueller, 1998). I feel this is something that Continental Ore should implement into all is subsidiaries Caribbean Bauxite Company of Barracania, Keso Mining Corporation as well as Continental Ore in the Far East. As a multinational corporation they have duty to ensure harmony on every level of their workforce. To remain competitive, organizations must develop long-term intervention strategies rather than short-term solutions or strategies. Managers have to remove the barriers which prevent the organizations from developing and utilizing fully equitable systems that allow workforce to achieve its full potential (Kundu, 2001).


Consequently, if these two are able to make amends this could relate a horrible public relations issue for Continental Ore as a whole in Barracanian community. Any potential for new commerce with a community in its infancy of commerce would allow their competitors to take their existing as well as any new market shares. Also, their reputation could be injures abroad because if this incident hits the international community red flags would be placed when doing business with the parent corporation as well as its subsidiaries. As for the Bacarranian, if this is not settle tact and finesse their communities financial earning could also be affected until they could generate new business in this area. How they move pass this with Rennalls and his father being the Minister Of Finance. They could lose the ability to be a solvent nation. When a nation gains its independence it takes decades to be seen as a force in the international community financially.

Also , even it could even have it own people turn on them because you could affect their ability to earn. If this becomes bigger than a two gentle man misunderstanding. As the saying goes The saying is thought to have originated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote (c. 1150), “L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs” (hell is full of good wishes and desires)(Ammer,1997). An earlier saying occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid: “facilis descensus Averno (It is easy to go to hell)”. Both are loosely translated to day “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” (Mawr, 1885).


Ammer, Christine (1997), The American Heritage dictionary of idioms, ISBN 9780395727744

Fatima Oliveira, M. (2013). Multicultural Environments and Their Challenges to Crisis Communication. Journal Of Business Communication, 50(3), 253-277. doi:10.1177/0021943613487070

Hodgetts, R M and Luthans, Fred, (1994). International Management, New York : McGraw, Hill.

Kundu, S. C. (2001). Managing cross-cultural diversity. Delhi Business Review, 2(2).

Mawr, Mrs E. B. (1885), “Hell is paved with good intentions”, Analogous Proverbs In Ten Languages, Elliot Stock

Mueller, Karen Price, (1998). “Diversity and the Bottom Line”, Executive Excellence, New Delhi: Sage, Dec,pg. 7.


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