Faculty of Business and Law

Trimester 2 2021 Examination

Unit Code:MMH356

Unit Name:Change Management

Exam Name: Open-book Take Home Online Exam

Anticipated writing time: TWO (2) HOURS

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This examination is OPEN BOOK.

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This examination constitutes 40% of your assessment in this unit.

This examination comprises 6 questions. You are required to answer ALL 6 questions.

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In the unlikely event that you cannot upload your completed exam paper, email it as an attachment to your unit chair [andrea.howell@deakin.eu.au] within the submission time.

The breakdown of marks in this exam is:

Question Marks Question Marks

1 5 4 5

2 5 5 10

3 5 6 10

Total Available Marks 40

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Short answer questions (up to 500 words for each question); each question is worth 5 marks

Question 1.

Three (3) strategies for implementing change are: economic, organizational development (OD), and a combined economic/OD strategy. Identify which strategy Woolworths Group Australia (WGA) used and in your response outline the situational variables that should have been taken into account.

Woolworths used the economic strategy to implement change. In this strategy, the company focused on the drive relating to the economic value through a tough result driven and top-down action plan. Technical solutions were imposed to the problems that inhibited organizational success and effectiveness. The main solutions and intervention methods used to implement change included layoffs, restructuring of the various positions, efficiency drives, and reengineering. The main situational variables taken into account in these decisions on strategy include focus of the business, leadership, reward systems, processes. These key situational variables are internally consistent with Woolworths need for change and implementation of strategies. Their impact is directive due to urgency and the fact that little resistance is expected as the changes are effected. Change managers at Woolworths have access to information and the implementation did not rely on the commitment of others.

Question 2.

Hayes (2018) argues that leadership can be fragile when leadership is distributed. Using examples from the case study, explain the breakdown of organizational and environmental coupling in WGA.

Distribution leadership increases the capacity of leadership in order to gain improvements and grow in a manner that is authentic. It allows organizations to become more effective due to the presence of a leadership structure that yields more effective leaders. In this model the responsibilities and accountability of leadership are shared by individuals with expertise and skills rather than being confined to one individual. It focuses on building more leaders as opposed to delegating roles. In delegation, a leader transfers his/her duty to others. However, in distributed leadership, other individuals with the leadership capacity are given the power to exercise their capabilities and strengths in a way that moulds them into effective leaders. Distributed leadership works on a belief system that more leaders are better than one. It increases the demand for leaders as an organization grows in complexity and size. It therefore creates a pool of skills, expertise, and talent from which future organizational leaders emerge.

By its very nature, distributed leadership can be very fragile. From the organizational and environmental coupling in WGA, distributed leadership is slower compared to when leaders make decisions individually. WGA has to consider the views of several distributed leaders before arriving at a decision. It could also create complexities and problems if different departments create a competitive drive. It is also a struggle when it comes to maintenance of accountability since the occurrence of “many” leaders in one can be quite confusing. Lastly, WGA has shown that distributed leadership creates uncertainty.

Question 3.

WGA encountered significant resistance during the planning and approval process. Explain where this resistance came from and how resistance was demonstrated.

Provide three (3) strategies that the CEO could have used to counter this resistance (these were taught during the trimester).

WGA saw significant resistance from the employees in the planning and approval processes. The main reason for this resistance to change was because of a lack of communication and trust. More specifically, the economic strategy chosen by the organization meant that there would be layoffs and restructuring of the organization. Job loss was a real threat at WGA as the restructuring process took shape. As there were more moving pieces and bits in the organization, employees resisted proposed changes due to the fear of job loss. At WGA, another factor leading to resistance was the fear and surprise of the unknown, peer pressure, and a climate of mistrust. Again, the fear of failure and organizational politics meant that employees would naturally resist change. Resistance was demonstrated through absenteeism, late assignments, and forgotten commitments. Delays, poor communication, decision paralysis, low morale, and a lack of adoption of newer policies were all demonstrated as a part of employee resistance.

To counter resistance, the CEO should have overcome opposition, effectively engaged the employees, and implement the proposed changes in several stages. To overcome opposition, early communication would have been a good strategy to convey messages to resisting employees. An explanation of why the change was required would have helped to fight opposition and to allow employees to settle regarding the fear of the unknown. Effectively engaging them would have also help in calming the climate of mistrust. When employees understand the need and reason for change, they would have been less resistant. Additionally, listening to feedback is an effective way to engage them, to see what would work or otherwise. Lastly, dividing up the changes into several stages would enable stakeholders to effectively prepare for changes.

Question 4.

WGA applied a strategic intervention in merging its drinks and hospitality businesses into a new entity Endeavour Group (EG) to sell that subsidiary at a later date.

Explain your understanding of an intervention, and then what a strategic intervention.

Keeping in mind the focus of a strategic intervention, briefly describe the three separate strategic interventions evidenced within the case study.

In my understanding, intervention points to the conscious and different strategies that can be applied in a business to effect change in the processes or organizational structure. Changes are required at almost every step of an organization. An intervention is important in ensuring that the change(s) go through successfully. As such, strategic intervention looks at the approaches and methodologies dedicated to the extraction of the most effective and practical forms of communication and strategy aimed at improving a certain area of business and bringing about organizational growth. Strategic intervention is a deliberate, focused, and planned structure that leads to viability and relevance of an approach in the overall implementation of policies aimed at effecting change. It is intended to impacting a business on its basics such as culture, belief, attitude and values.

The first notable intervention is the marketing intervention at WGA. The company determined who its target customers were and narrowed down the target market to reflect its products on this market. This helped to check the competition and to set prices that would ensure maximum profit. Another major intervention strategy was streamlining the overheads. The overhead costs were merged to ensure that the organization’s goals were streamlined. A developmental approach was also taken at WGA to incorporate goals such as increasing sales and reducing costs.

Essay answer questions (up to 1,000 words approx. for each question); each question is worth 10 marks

Question 5.

In responding to the Gilbert Review, WGA stated:

For some years, the Woolworths (WGA) team has aspired to live our purpose in all that we do. Our purpose – to create better experiences together for a better tomorrow – is connected to a great deal of our decision making and what we do every day. The values which flow from our purpose – to do the right thing, to care deeply and to listen and learn – guide how we work as a team within Woolworths, and how we engage with our customers, suppliers, communities and governments.

We acknowledge and fully accept that, in proposing the Darwin Dan Murphy’s in the way that Woolworths did, “Woolworths has not met all of the aspirations and standards” in its purpose and values.

Analyse why WGA was so out of touch with its core values.

Strong leadership is critical to ensuring that change initiatives are successfully implemented. Using several of the key leadership tasks outlined in Table 9.2 of Hayes (2018), advise what you believe WGA leadership should do now and why.

A rapidly changing retail environment has meant that WGA has had to evolve and make changes as often as necessary. With these changes comes a point where core values, shared beliefs, and corporate culture are lost in the maze. Poor management, changing technology, new competitors, a follower strategy, and poor customer offering are some of the factors that contributed to a loss of the company’s core values. Woolworths reinvented its business strategy and processes so many times that it lost its core values and purpose. While some core values remain intact even with great changes, some are bound to change due to a change in internal and external elements. For example, WGA’s commitment to “creating a better experience together for a better tomorrow” meant that the company took a consultative stand in every piece of a decision made. This is not a very sustainable approach in the decision making structure. As such, it has had to change as the company evolved.

Leadership must begin by clearly defining changes and aligning them to the business goals. It should also determine the effects of the proposed changes and identify the affected. Develop a communication plan and offer effective training on the change. There is also a need to implement a support structure and measure the change processes. These strategies will be important in ensuring that the entire workplace is involved from the beginning and that change will be accepted as a process.

Question 6.

You are advising WGA on the best way to move forward now.

Some of the findings from the Gilbert Review are outlined below:

Commercial considerations taking precedence over public interest issues and perceptions about, and the actual possibility of, harm arising from the store.

Woolworths’ focus was on mitigating and managing alcohol-related harm around the point of sale, but many community members felt that Woolworths was not listening to them, including health experts with many years of experience in the Northern Territory.

The Liquor Commission’s findings on public interest and community impact should have been sufficient to provoke a “deeper consideration” by Woolworths – this did not happen.

Having set a “higher bar” for itself, in its aspiration to be a values-driven corporate citizen, Woolworths needed to engage genuinely with key interest groups, including health experts – beyond minimum legal requirements.

Not consulting with its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group and its External Indigenous Advisory Panel as part of Woolworths’ decision-making process.

Woolworths’ submission to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee in March 2020 may not have been in accordance with the reputation it aspires to.

Woolworths has further work to do to meet its RAP commitments.

Noting the above findings, formulate a change plan with specific targets and goals that WGA can implement.

In its change plan, WGA will need to consider the Gilbert Review considerations. First, the company will have to consult with its Reconciliation Action Plan. In this plan, the company will set targets and goals based on its values and the recommendations made by the review.

The specific plan is as follows:

Conduct a 3-month survey on the liquor issues relating to community impact versus the public interest

Listen and incorporate community views on alcohol-related harm

Do a stakeholder analysis on the issue and ensure that each stakeholder is analyzed against possible impacts and interests

Reconnect with its core values

Reconcile all of the above elements with the RAP specifications.


Dan Murphy’s in Darwin: ‘a disastrous proposal’

Dr Andrea Howell and Mike Bengough

Dan Murphy’s is a highly successful liquor store with 248 outlets throughout Australia and is a fully owned subsidiary of Woolworths Group Australia (WGA). In 2019, WGA merged its drinks and hospitality businesses (Endeavour Drinks and the ALH Group (ALH)), to establish the Endeavour Group Ltd (EG). The merger was a strategic initiative to enable the de-mutualisation of EG from WGA at a future time. According to Rickard (8 June, 2021) while WGA stated the sell off was to “enhance shareholder value through a greater focus on each business’ core customers offering and growth opportunities”, the “real” reason was that WGA wanted to exit the poker machine business. As the owner of 12,400 electronic gaming (poker machine) licences, Rickard suggested WGA was increasingly off the radar for many fund managers because of its ownership of poker machines. EG was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in 2021.

In its promotional material, Dan Murphy’s tells the story of its namesake (Gibson, 2021): “One man built his reputation on a handshake. He made a promise that no matter who you were, or what you’d like to drink, he’d have that drink at the lowest price.” However, that promise appears to have cost WGA a lot of money and a heavy hit to its reputation. A five-year battle to acquire a liquor ‘megastore’ approved in Darwin and sited near three ‘dry’ or alcohol-free areas, was abandoned in April, 2021 following a strong and sustained backlash from Aboriginal and health groups.

Northern Territorians’ average per capita consumption of alcohol is among the highest in the world. Rates of alcohol harm are shocking, including presentations to hospital emergency departments, traumatic head injury, hospitalisations for acute alcohol disease, alcohol-related domestic violence and child abuse (Thorn, 2021). Therefore, the advocacy for this ‘disastrous proposal’ by one of Australia’s biggest corporations had the potential to put Aboriginal health and wellbeing at grave risk (McInerney, 2021).

Initially, WGA did not bow to pressure from local groups and mounted a robust defence of the Darwin site. It even went so far as to seek a change of legislation before accepting the decision of an independent review panel early in 2021 (refer to the Timeline at the end of this paper). In the aftermath, WGA CEO Brad Banducci issued an apology and conceded the organisation did not listen to the concerns of indigenous groups, the voices of First Nation people inside of WGA, and their advisory panel, and did not follow their Reconciliation Action plan. “It’s deeply ironic that we can sit here and talk about our support for the Uluru Statement of the Heart but that needs to be reflected in how we run our business and the things we need to change”, said Mr Banducci (Mitchell 2021b). “We need to get our own house in order”.

What was at stake?

For Woolworths, the $40m investment was welcomed by local business groups as an answer to economic stagnation and greater consumer choice (Gibson, 2021). What began in 2016 with the original application to build the liquor megastore at the proposed location, saw a five-year run of rejections, appeals, opposition and discussion. Cumulatively, this put pressure on EG (CEO Steve Donohue), to announce in November 2020 that it had agreed to move the site of the proposed Dan Murphy’s Darwin store to be further away from these communities. The group said this decision had been made after extensive consultation with community groups. Interestingly in December, 2020 WGA announced it had commissioned an Independent Panel Review (IPR) of the Darwin plans, which would review health concerns, stakeholder engagement and other processes behind the store. At the time, WGA Chairman Gordon Cairns said: “We acknowledge that there are some in the community that feel they have not been adequately consulted regarding the proposed store. The IPR will provide a further opportunity for them and other stakeholders with a legitimate interest in the development to express their views” (Allen, 2021).

For local indigenous, health and community groups, issues with alcohol related problems meant there was vehement opposition to the planned investment. The proposed megastore was within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities, including Kulaluk, Minmarama and Bagot. Olga Havnen, Chief Executive of Danila Dilba said Darwin was already “awash with takeaway liquor” and that “we don’t need another store, especially one located so close to three dry Aboriginal communities.” She also stated: “There’s no harm caused to the community by taking the time to properly consider the public interest and community impact of the proposal. But there is a lot of potential harm in a rushed process that neglects the public health impact” (Allen, 2021).

For the NT Government, it see-sawed between attempts to curb alcohol-related harm and promote development. When elected in 2016, the government made it clear it was serious about the territory’s alcohol problems. It reinstated the Banned Drinkers Register; appointed former Chief Justice Trevor Riley to conduct a ‘root and branch’ review of the territory’s alcohol policies and legislation; and accepted all but one of the 220 recommendations of Riley’s review, including establishing an independent liquor commission. However, this began to change once the reforms came into effect. The 400 square metre ban was repealed, the government’s opposition to WGA’s proposal evaporated and it seemed to become less enamoured of the commission’s ‘independence’ (Thorn, 2021).

Sydney-based lawyer Danny Gilbert was scathing in his review, which found WGA and the government worked together to find a way around the barriers to the development’s approval. They ultimately decided to legislate their way out of the difficulties, bypassing the independent Liquor Commission and giving the Director of Liquor Licensing the power to fast-track an approval. “Instead of doing its own dirty work, the government had engineered a process that made the Director of Liquor Licensing responsible for determining the application” said Thorn (2021). Community groups expressed disappointment over the decision and accused WGA of “corporate wilful blindness”, comparing the decision to the destruction of Juukan Gorge by mining company Rio Tinto (Powell, 2020, 2021a; Knight, 2021). “I believe the decision by WGA chairman Gordon Cairns and CEO Brad Banducci to aggressively pursue their desired outcome is a good example of corporate wilful blindness,” said Olga Havnen.

For business investors, Dan Murphy’s withdrawal may have ongoing ramifications according to Opposition leader Lia Finocchiar: “The Gunner government’s reaction and continual shifting of the goalposts made it very clear, even to the most casual observer, that the Northern Territory is not a good place to do business (Gibson, 2021)”. The NT Chamber of Commerce chief executive Greg Ireland concurred saying the “scrapped” proposal would mean the loss of new jobs and affect the perception that the NT was a place to do business (Read & O’Mallon, 2021). However, for other business leaders such as Australia’s richest man, Andrew Forrest, the decision to withdraw made sense. Mr Forrest had previously criticised the company’s choice to open a “dirty big grog shop” near the Indigenous community (Powell, 2021).

The aftermath

Woolworths/Endeavour Group

In the upper echelons of corporate Australia, brand reputation trumps local profits (Gibson, 2021). When opponents of the project took their fight directly to the WGA board, warning its national reputation was at risk if it allowed its subsidiary to proceed with the controversial Darwin project, the Board took note and commissioned an independent review. That report was highly critical of WGA officials, Michael Gunner’s Labor government, and the actions of the territory’s Director of Liquor Licensing Phil Timney, in approving the development in the face of the opposition from health experts and the wishes of Darwin’s Indigenous community. WGA management agreed, apologising:

“We did not do enough in this community to live up to the best practice stakeholder engagement to which we hold ourselves accountable,” Mr Cairns, WGA Chairman said. “In particular we did not do enough stakeholder engagement with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

BUT WGA CEO Brad Banducci denied the company had done anything wrong in April (Allam & Butler, 2021). “There’s nothing wrong with what we’ve done, but we can improve it, and we have high aspirations for the way we should operate,” he said. He then sought to put some distance between WGA and the EG; at a shareholder briefing on April 29, 2021 he did not rule out the prospect of a Dan Murphy’s outlet opening elsewhere in Darwin but stated future plans were a matter for the WGA subsidiary which is demerging from the supermarket chain (Breen, 2021):

“What we have announced today is that we will not be proceeding on the current location,” he said. “As to whether there’s a future Dan Murphy’s in Darwin that would be up to the Endeavour Group but certainly in any engagement process going forward we will take on board the Gilbert Review findings and adjust how we consult on those matters.”

WGA then formally surrendered its liquor licence back to the NT Government on April 29, 2021. In a letter to the IRP Chair, Danny Gilbert, on June 9 WGA Group Chairman, Gordon Cairns, Group CEO, Brad Banducci and Group Sustainability Chair, Holly Kramer stated:

“We clearly failed to meet our expectations and we deeply regret our insensitivity to critical stakeholders in Darwin and beyond, and our own external Indigenous Advisory Panel, whose advice we did not seek. For that, we unreservedly apologise. At the heart of our reflections today is strengthening our foundations for deeper, and more thoughtful and meaningful relationships with First Nations’ peoples. Relationships built on listening, learning and education. Relationships underpinned by equity and respect. Without those foundations it will not be possible for us to achieve our ambitions for full reconciliation”.

Banducci also admitted, in June 2021, that ‘The buck stops with me . . . I’ve learnt a lot’’(Mitchell, 2021a; Butler, 2021). Powell (2021) reported that WGA’s executives would not lose their bonuses but chief executive Brad Banducci has pledged to base a portion of WGAs’ long-term executive remuneration in the future on the company’s reputation to ensure issues such as those with the since-axed Darwin store would not be repeated.

External stakeholders

Olga Havnen, Danila Dilba Chief Executive said it was a win for ensuring big corporations take into consideration the social and economic impacts of their businesses:

“Those things have got to be taken into consideration. This is why we have environmental laws. This is where we have restrictions on the sale of certain products. For example, we don’t sell alcohol to kids – there’s a reason for that. I think these sorts of social responsibilities need to be taken into account and considered seriously, and that it’s not enough just to focus on the profits. Profits don’t come before people or before the environment,” she said (McInerney, 2021).

Several external stakeholders have also called for greater corporate responsibility (McInerney, 2021). The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) welcomed the news that WGA had cancelled its plans for the store saying it was good that the retail corporate had listened to the concerns of Indigenous groups. But it also sounded a warning, saying it was “disappointing to hear from the CEO Brad Banducci that WGA may search for a new location for the store”. “These stores will cause serious alcohol harms wherever they are, and it’s time major retailers listened to the expert public health advice on these issues,” the PHAA tweeted.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) also welcomed WGA’s decision, saying the news “comes as a relief to specialist physicians who have been seriously concerned about the impacts of building a liquor megastore and the harms that it would bring to the community. When we increase the access to alcohol in the community, we see a direct increase in alcohol related harms,” said President John Wilson. “After all the progress that’s been made in reducing alcohol related harm in the Northern Territory, building a liquor megastore would have been a disappointing and an unnecessary step backward. We hope that this will herald the start of a process where more socially responsible decision making is made by commercial entities about the impacts of alcohol-related harm in the communities they serve.”

AMSANT, Danila Dilba, Foundation for Alcohol research and Education (FARE) and NTCOSS are asking the retail giant to release the Gilbert Review immediately, “in the interests of transparency”. “This is an important opportunity for Woolworths and other big alcohol retailers to re-assess their community consultation processes and acknowledge the harms their stores do to so many communities across Australia,” they said. “Communities should not need to fight so hard for so long ever again – this a unique opportunity for a re-set of liquor store approval processes in the NT and indeed across the country.”


The key dates and strategic moves by Woolworths and other stakeholders (FARE, 2021):


The NT Government amended the Liquor Regulations to make it a condition of a store licence that the retail floor space was limited to a maximum of 400 square metres.

Woolworths applied to substitute an existing licence for a Dan Murphy’s store and threatened to take the NT Government to court.


Woolworths applied to the Federal Court of Australia to have the amendments made under The Liquor Amendment Regulations 2016 declared invalid on the basis that they were not within the regulation making powers of the Government.

It later withdraws the case from Federal Court action against the NT Government

An independent review into alcohol in the NT — the Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review (Riley Review) established to tackle the high level of alcohol harm in the NT. The Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review Final Report made a range of recommendations to reduce alcohol harm in the NT.

One of the recommendations from the Riley Review comes into effect: a five-year moratorium on new take-away liquor licences began 27 October, 2017.

However, the 400 square metre rule would be repealed.


The NT Government announces legislation to re-establish an NT Liquor Commission.

Woolworths lodged an application to build a Dan Murphy’s liquor outlet on the corner of Osgood Drive and Bagot Road, Eaton.

Woolworths applies to NT Liquor Commission for licence; it commences its next legal action, applying to the NT Liquor Commission to open the first Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin despite the application being opposed by Aboriginal communities, members of the public, and organisations including FARE, NTCOSS, Danila Dilba health service, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, Public Health Association NT, and Amity Community Services.


The NT Liquor Commission denied the application for substitution (see 2017) on 20 September 2019, noting the “potential for a significant increase in harm due to the use of liquor, over and above that already occurring within the community areas”.

The Northern Territory Government overhauls the Liquor Act 1978 in response to the 2017 Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review Final Report (the Riley Review) and the NT Liquor Act 2019 comes into effect.

Woolworths appealed the NT Liquor Commission decision to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

Woolworths faces shareholder scrutiny when asked to approve re-structure plans

NTCAT dismisses Woolworths’ application on the grounds that it could be made in relation to premises that existed.


Woolworths applied to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory for leave to appeal the Tribunal decision.

Legislative Assembly introduced the Liquor Amendment Bill 2020 and referred it to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee for inquiry. As a result, Woolworths withdrew from the Supreme Court action since the legislation changed the Liquor Act 2019 to remove the barriers to the application identified by NTCAT.

FARE took the unprecedented step of formally writing to the Board of Woolworths asking them to properly consider and reassess their Director responsibilities under the Corporations Act 2001.

“In light of the LC Decision, FARE’s position is that it is reasonably foreseeable that to continue to pursue the proposed development will carry with it significant reputational risk to Woolworths.”

Woolworths lodged an application to have the case reconsidered at NTCAT. However, it sought an adjournment of public hearing to ear