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A Journey to engagement: the reinvention of Vehicle Testing New Zealand (A) 2016-178.1

25 February 2016



Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) is a former government agency and state-owned enterprise that was purchased by the Motor Trade Association in 1999. A nationwide organisation, VTNZ by 2004 employed some 850 people. Its main business was to perform Warrant of Fitness (WOF) checks and other regulatory activities relating to vehicle safety, on contract to the New Zealand Transport Authority. Privatisation introduced new competition as well as new operating constraints, but little change to culture and human resource management practices. Staff with mechanical skills were highly valued and made up the bulk of the management. Although 60% reported being satisfied with their work, there was also a feeling that the organisation put profit ahead of people. Engagement with VTNZ was limited, as was interaction with customers. New chief executive Mike Walsh, knowing that significant change would be needed to survive future competition and deregulation, began building a new management team. He recruited Melissa Jordan from the IT industry to the new position of General Manager, People and Capability.

This is a two-part case. This part of the case can be used to set the scene, elaborated in the accompanying teaching note, for analysis of three conceptual areas: change management, human resource management, and differences between public and private sector management. Though brief, it gives ample evidence of the state of the organisation when Mike Walsh took over, and preliminary discussion of human resource management (HRM) processes as a mechanism for organisational change.

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  • The second part of the case can be used to explore ‘success factors’ in effective organisational change. The associated teaching note guides discussion from a human resource management (HRM) perspective, considering for instance barriers and opportunities for the making of change, or factors to be considered when contemplating the removal of formal performance assessment. This may be used in contextual discussion of the case itself, or broadened to include comparison with an organisation class participants are familiar with. There is also scope for a wider discussion of the implications of a local business becoming part of a global enterprise.
Authors: Janet Tyson, Hamish Crimp
Published Date: 25 February 2016
Author Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Content Length: 3
Product Type: Part A, Primary resources