Agent or Steward – The Case of Pratham Insurance
Pratham Insurance Company with its offices all over India had been receiving complaints about its Indore branch. There were increasing instances of employees manipulating customers, mis-selling products to them and being indifferent to their requests. Akshay Arora, HR manager, of the company, was asked to find out the reason for such incidents and an action plan to tackle them. On interacting with Amit Sahare, the branch manager of Indore Branch he could not get a conclusive reply. Therefore, he followed up his investigation by talking to employees as well as customers of the branch. Upon interacting with employees he found that they were very dissatisfied due to Amit’s managerial style. They were not only overburdened with work but also felt that their previous manager Prem was better, because he motivated employees to perform better by giving them a free hand at taking decisions whereas Amit was control oriented. Prem motivated them to achieve targets by focusing on an involvement oriented, trust based approach whereas Amit’s approach was control oriented, abusive and highly individualistic. On interacting with customers, Akshay found that customer expectations and experiences were on a downturn as most of the staff indulged in unethical practices like manipulating customers and mis-selling products to them. Now Akshay had to take a decision as to what plan of action could be implemented to improve the current situation of Indore Branch of Pratham Insurance.
Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion
The students/participants should be briefed about reading these articles and draw out their conclusions regarding both the approaches, failing which they would not be able to appreciate the case study and identify the underlying phenomenon/theories at play
- • DelVecchio, S., & Wagner, J. (2011). Motivation and monetary incentives: A closer look. Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 7(1), 1-13.
- • Kalra, A., Shi, M., & Srinivasan, K. (2003). Sales force compensation scheme and consumer inferences. Management Science, 49(5), 655–672.
- • Hernandez, M. (2012). Toward an understanding of the psychology of stewardship. Academy of Management Review, 37(2), 172–193.
- • Schepers, J., Falk, T., Ruyter, K. de, Jong, A. de, & Hammerschmidt, M. (2012). Principles and Principals: Do Customer Stewardship and Agency Control Compete or Complement When Shaping Frontline Employee Behavior? Journal of Marketing, 76(6), 1-20.
Case Positioning and Setting
This case study highlights the decision-making issues and sheds light on the ethical practices in the financial service sector. It can be used to draw out the lacunae of agency theory and pave the field for a new approach to stewardship theory. It is intended to be used for students in MBA, Executive MBA or Executive Development Programs in a personal selling course as a case of decision making issue to contrast agency theory with stewardship theory. This case study aims to help students/participants understand the aspects of the theories highlighted and the challenges faced by salesperson and ways to motivate them effectively..........