Greyson Corporation was formed in 1940 by three scientists from the University
of California. The major purpose of the company was research and development
for advanced military weaponry. Following World War II, Greyson became a
leader in the field of research and development. By the mid-1950s, Greyson employed
over 200 scientists and engineers.
The fact that Greyson handled only R&D contracts was advantageous. First
of all, all of the scientists and engineers were dedicated to R&D activities, not
having to share their loyalties with production programs. Second, a strong functional
organization was established. The project management function was the responsibility
of the functional manager whose department would perform the majority
of the work. Working relationships between departments were excellent.
By the late 1950s Greyson was under new management. Almost all R&D
programs called for establishment of qualification and production planning as
well. As a result, Greyson decided to enter into the production of military
weapons as well, and capture some of the windfall profits of the production market.
This required a major reorganization from a functional to a matrix structure.
Personnel problems occurred, but none that proved major catastrophes.
In 1964 Greyson entered into the aerospace market with the acquisition of a
subcontract for the propulsion unit of the Hercules missile. The contract was projected
at $200 million over a five-year period, with excellent possibilities for follow-on
work. Between 1964 and 1968 Greyson developed a competent technical staff composed mainly of young, untested college graduates. The majority of the
original employees who were still there were in managerial positions. Greyson
never had any layoffs. In addition, Greyson had excellent career development programs
for almost all employees.
Between 1967 and 1971 the Department of Defense procurement for new
weapons systems was on the decline. Greyson relied heavily on their two major
production programs, Hercules and Condor II, both of which gave great promise
for continued procurement. Greyson also had some thirty smaller R&D contracts
as well as two smaller production contracts for hand weapons.
Because R&D money was becoming scarce, Greyson’s management decided
to phase out many of the R&D activities and replace them with lucrative production
contracts. Greyson believed that they could compete with anyone in regard
to low-cost production. Under this philosophy, the R&D community was reduced
to minimum levels necessary to support in-house activities. The director of engineering
froze all hiring except for job-shoppers with special talents. All nonessential
engineering personnel were transferred to production units.
In 1972, Greyson entered into competition with Cameron Aerospace
Corporation for development, qualification, and testing of the Navy’s new
Neptune missile. The competition was an eight-motor shoot-off during the last
ten months of 1973. Cameron Corporation won the contract owing to technical
merit. Greyson Corporation, however, had gained valuable technical information
in rocket motor development and testing. The loss of the Neptune Program made
it clear to Greyson’s management that aerospace technology was changing too
fast for Greyson to maintain a passive position. Even though funding was limited,
Greyson increased the technical staff and soon found great success in winning research
and development contracts.
By 1975, Greyson had developed a solid aerospace business base. Profits had
increased by 30 percent. Greyson Corporation expanded from a company with
200 employees in 1964 to 1,800 employees in 1975. The Hercules Program,
which began in 1964, was providing yearly follow-on contracts. All indications
projected a continuation of the Hercules Program through 1982.
Cameron Corporation, on the other hand, had found 1975 a difficult year. The
Neptune Program was the only major contract that Cameron Corporation maintained.
The current production buy for the Neptune missile was scheduled for completion
in August 1975 with no follow-on work earlier than January 1976. Cameron
Corporation anticipated that overhead rates would increase sharply prior to next buy.
The cost per motor would increase from $55,000 to $75,000 for a January procurement,
$85,000 for a March procurement, and $125,000 for an August procurement.
In February 1975, the Navy asked Greyson Corporation if they would be interested
in submitting a sole-source bid for production and qualification of the
Neptune missile. The Navy considered Cameron’s position as uncertain, and
wanted to maintain a qualified vendor should Cameron Corporation decide to get
out of the aerospace business.
Greyson submitted a bid of $30 million for qualification and testing of thirty
Neptune motors over a thirty-month period beginning in January 1976. Current
testing of the Neptune missile indicated that the minimum motor age life would
extend through January 1979. This meant that production funds over the next
thirty months could be diverted toward requalification of a new vendor and still
meet production requirements for 1979.
In August 1975, on delivery of the last Neptune rocket to the Navy, Cameron
Corporation announced that without an immediate production contract for
Neptune follow-on work it would close its doors and get out of the aerospace
business. Cameron Corporation invited Greyson Corporation to interview all of
their key employees for possible work on the Neptune Requalification Program.
Greyson hired thirty-five of Cameron’s key people to begin work in October
1975. The key people would be assigned to ongoing Greyson programs to become
familiar with Greyson methods. Greyson’s lower-level management was very unhappy
about bringing in these thirty-five employees for fear that they would be
placed in slots that could have resulted in promotions for some of Greyson’s people.
Management then decreed that these thirty-five people would work solely on
the Neptune Program, and other vacancies would be filled, as required, from the
Hercules and Condor II programs. Greyson estimated that the cost of employing
these thirty-five people was approximately $150,000 per month, almost all of
which was being absorbed through overhead. Without these thirty-five people,
Greyson did not believe that they would have won the contract as sole-source procurement.
Other competitors could have “grabbed” these key people and forced
an open-bidding situation.
Because of the increased overhead rate, Greyson maintained a minimum staff
to prepare for contract negotiations and document preparation. To minimize costs,
the directors of engineering and program management gave the Neptune program
office the authority to make decisions for departments and divisions that were
without representation in the program office. Top management had complete confidence
in the program office personnel because of their past performances on
other programs and years of experience.
In December 1975, the Department of Defense announced that spending was
being curtailed sharply and that funding limitations made it impossible to begin the
qualification program before July 1976. To make matters worse, consideration was
being made for a compression of the requalification program to twenty-five motors
in a twenty-month period. However, long-lead funding for raw materials would be
After lengthy consideration, Greyson decided to maintain its present position
and retain the thirty-five Cameron employees by assigning them to in-house programs.
The Neptune program office was still maintained for preparations to support
contract negotiations, rescheduling of activities for a shorter program, and
In May 1976, contract negotiations began between the Navy and Greyson. At
the beginning of contract negotiations, the Navy stated the three key elements for
1. Maximum funding was limited to the 1975 quote for a thirty-motor/thirty-month
2. The amount of money available for the last six months of 1976 was limited
to $3.7 million.
3. The contract would be cost plus incentive fee (CPIF).
After three weeks of negotiations there appeared a stalemate. The Navy contended
that the production man-hours in the proposal were at the wrong level on
the learning curves. It was further argued that Greyson should be a lot “smarter”
now because of the thirty-five Cameron employees and because of experience
learned during the 1971 shoot-off with Cameron Corporation during the initial
stages of the Neptune Program.
Since the negotiation teams could not agree, top-level management of the
Navy and Greyson Corporation met to iron out the differences. An agreement was
finally reached on a figure of $28.5 million. This was $1.5 million below
Greyson’s original estimate to do the work. Management, however, felt that, by
“tightening our belts,” the work could be accomplished within budget.
The program began on July 1, 1976, with the distribution of the department
budgets by the program office. Almost all of the department managers were furious.
Not only were the budgets below their original estimates, but the thirty-five
Cameron employees were earning salaries above the department mean salary,
thus reducing total man-hours even further. Almost all department managers asserted
that cost overruns would be the responsibility of the program office and not
the individual departments.
By November 1976, Greyson was in trouble. The Neptune Program was on
target for cost but 35 percent behind for work completion. Department managers
refused to take responsibility for certain tasks that were usually considered to be
joint department responsibilities. Poor communication between program office
and department managers provided additional discouragement. Department managers
refused to have their employees work on Sunday.
Even with all this, program management felt that catch-up was still possible.
The thirty-five former Cameron employees were performing commendable work
equal to their counterparts on other programs. Management considered that the
potential cost overrun situation was not in the critical stage, and that more time
should be permitted before considering corporate funding.
In December 1976, the Department of Defense announced that there would
be no further buys of the Hercules missile. This announcement was a severe blow
to Greyson’s management. Not only were they in danger of having to lay off 500
employees, but overhead rates would rise considerably. There was an indication
last year that there would be no further buys, but management did not consider
the indications positive enough to require corporate strategy changes.
Although Greyson was not unionized, there was a possibility of a massive
strike if Greyson career employees were not given seniority over the thirty-five
former Cameron employees in the case of layoffs.
By February 1977, the cost situation was clear:
1. The higher overhead rates threatened to increase total program costs by
$1 million on the Neptune Program.
2. Because the activities were behind schedule, the catch-up phases would
have to be made in a higher salary and overhead rate quarter, thus increasing
total costs further.
3. Inventory costs were increasing. Items purchased during long-lead funding
were approaching shelf-life limits. Cost impact might be as high as
The vice president and general manager considered the Neptune Program critical
to the success and survival of Greyson Corporation. The directors and division
heads were ordered to take charge of the program. The following options were
1. Perform overtime work to get back on schedule.
2. Delay program activities in hopes that the Navy can come up with additional
3. Review current material specifications in order to increase material shelf
life, thus lowering inventory and procurement costs.
4. Begin laying off noncritical employees.
5. Purchase additional tooling and equipment (at corporate expense) so that
schedule requirements can be met on target.
On March 1, 1977, Greyson gave merit salary increases to the key employees on
all in-house programs. At the same time, Greyson laid off 700 employees, some
of whom were seasoned veterans. By March 15, Greyson employees formed a
union and went out on a strike.
1. What is the case all about?
2. What s the structure of Greyson?
3. What are the problems encountered by Greyson? How do you think this can be solved?
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