The case manager role represents a break with the conventional approach to the division of work. Individuals or small teams perform a series of tasks, such as the fulfillment of an order, from beginning to end, often with the help of information systems that reach through the organization. Case managers provide a way to increase organizational efficiency, timeliness, and customer satisfaction. The authors discuss some of the issues arising from case management and the lessons we can learn from the experiences of some pioneering firms.
1. N. Nohria and J. Chalykoff, “Internal Revenue Service: Automated Collections System” (Boston: Harvard Business School, Case No. 9-490-042, 1990).
2. J. Berkeley and R.G. Eccles, “Rethinking the Corporate Workplace: Case Managers at Mutual Benefit Life” (Boston: Harvard Business School, Case No. N9-492-015, 1991).
3. B. Shapiro, K. Rangan, and J. Sviokla, “Staple Yourself to an Order,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 1992, pp. 113–122.
4. For a detailed discussion of the incremental improvement approach to processes, see:
H.J. Harrington, Business Process Improvement (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991).
For discussions of radical process change, see:
T.H. Davenport, Process Innovation (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1993).
5. In 1979, Richard Mattheis of Citibank described a precursor of case management in the letter of credit area. The combination of several job tasks was made possible by a new system that handled all letter of credit functions. Real case management as we describe it, however, is typically broader than this example. See:
R. Mattheis, “The New Back Office Focuses on Customer Service,” Harvard Business Review, March-April 1979, pp. 146–159.
6. A. Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), p. 8.
7. R.B. Goldman, A Work Experiment: Six Americans in a Swedish Plant (New York: The Ford Foundation, 1976), p. 31.
8. J.D. Thompson, Organizations in Action (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), pp. 20–24.
9. R.B. Chase and D. Garvin, “The Service Factory,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 1989, pp. 61–69.
10. The possibility of such ethical violations should not be taken lightly. Witness, for example, the recent British Airways infractions relative to Virgin Atlantic; British Airways marketing personnel were apparently given a high level of autonomy and a low level of ethical counseling on appropriate competitive tactics. See:
P. Betts and M. Cassell, “BA to Pay Virgin ¥610,000 in ‘Dirty Tricks’ Case,” Financial Times, 12 January 1993, p. 1.
11. The cultural difficulties arising in cross-functional teams have been documented with respect to design and manufacturing processes. See:
D.G. Ancona and D.E. Caldwell, “Cross-Functional Teams: Blessing or Curse for New Product Development?” Transforming Organizations, ed. T.A. Kochan and M. Useem (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 154–166.
12. For a discussion of the “horizontal organization,” see:
T.A. Stewart, “The Search for the Organization of Tomorrow,” Fortune, 18 May 1992, pp. 92–98.
13. This concept is similar to that of “minimum critical specifications” in the sociotechnical design literature. See, for example:
C. Pava, Managing New Office Technology (New York: Free Press, 1983), pp. 17–18.