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Agent or Steward - The Case of Pratham Insurance*

CASE STUDY, BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES
ET Cases - GSMC, 5 pages
AUTHOR(S) : Manoj Das, IIM Indore

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Agent or Steward – The Case of Pratham Insurance

Akshay Arora (Akshay), Human Resource manager of Pratham Insurance Company (Pratham Insurance), was reviewing the performance reports of his Indore branch office, which was the top performing branch in the country. He was puzzled by the performance of the branch headed by Amit Sahare (Amit), because it was lagging behind significantly compared to other branches and had high attrition with employees leaving within two months of joining. Akshay’s mind was filled with questions and kept wondering what could be the reason for this. Finally, he decided to discuss the matter with Indore branch team head, his team members, as well as some customers, to find out the truth................

Brief profile of Pratham Insurance Company

Pratham Insurance, a well-established player in the field of insurance with 20 offices all over India had an array of products suitable for every age group. It commanded a decent client base and an enviable reputation particularly in its main branch located at Indore since its inception.............

Grey Areas

In the recent past there were increasing instances of mismanagement of customers and employee turnover at its Indore branch which was an increasing cause of concern due to the ever-increasing number of customer complaints being registered at the grievance helpline number. The most common complaints could be grouped under three broad categories:...............

Meeting Amit

On Monday morning, Akshay arrived at Indore branch; he had informed Amit about his visit. Upon arrival, Akshay noticed large serpentine queues at all the counters. He enquired the reasons with one of the customers and was told that it was a common occurrence in this branch as the staff was very slow and unresponsive. Taking customer feedback, Akshay quietly headed towards Amit’scabin..............

Different Perspectives

Akshay first spoke to Siddharth Pradhan (Siddharth) who was the team leader of the business development team. Siddharth worked for four years in the insurance industry and had been associated with Pratham Insurance for the last one year as he shifted to Indore, his hometown. Akshay remembered Siddharth as an ambitious and enterprising person during his recruitment, but now he looked tensed and disinterested.............

Time for Decision

Next day in the morning, while sitting in his office he was reflecting on possible courses of action that he should propose to the board. Should he bring Prem back to this branch? ..............

Assignment Questions

I Highlight the focus of two approaches used by the two different managers in this case? Compare and contrast them.
II In short describe which approach in your opinion works best, citing reasons for the same?
III ...............

Teaching Note Preview

Agent or Steward – The Case of Pratham Insurance

 

Synopsis

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..........

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Abstract

This case study is meant to introduce the students/participants enrolled in a personal selling course to the decision making dilemma, about which approach is best suited to cater to the customers' needs? It revolves around Pratham Insurance Company (Pratham Insurance), a well-established player in the field of insurance with 20 offices all over India. Lately, there had been increasing instances of employees manipulating customers' by 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. His investigation unearthed a broad range of issues like abusive supervision, bitter experiences of customers etc.

Salespersons performance, a topic of interest for quite a long time, is gaining renewed prominence due to increase in competition and realization that relationships  between salesperson and customer could be a source of competitive advantage in the long-run. This case study highlights two approaches towards ensuring employee performance and questions the conventional wisdom of managing employees via incentives. It aims to discuss how willing marketing managers are to try new approaches.


Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To encourage structural thinking around the theoretical perspectives of agency theory and stewardship theory
  • To compare and contrast the advantages and pitfalls of both the approaches
  • To highlight the impact of abusive supervision on salespersons performance
  • To emphasize that an employee can act as a role model for his colleagues

Case Positioning and Setting:

This case study highlights the decision-making issues and sheds light on the ethical practices in the financial service sector. This case study 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 will help students/participants to understand the aspects of the theories highlighted and the challenges faced by salesperson and ways to motivate them effectively.


* GSMC 2016, IIM Raipur

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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