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The following appeared as part of a recommendation by one of the directors of
the Beta Company.
“The Alpha Company has just reduced its workforce by laying off fifteen percent
of its employees in all divisions and at all levels, and it is encouraging early
retirement for other employees. As you know, the Beta Company manufactures
some products similar to Alpha’s, but our profits have fallen over the last few years.
To improve Beta’s competitive position, we should try to hire a significant number
of Alpha’s former workers, since these experienced workers can provide valuable
information about Alpha’s successful methods, will require little training, and will
be particularly motivated to compete against Alpha.”
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
A director of Beta Company suggests that Beta can improve its competitive position by hiring a significant number of former Alpha
Company employees who have recently retired or been laid off. The director’s reasoning is that because Alpha manufactures some
products similar to Beta’s, former Alpha employees would be experienced and need little training, could provide valuable information
about Alpha’s successful methods, and would be particularly motivated to compete against Alpha. The director’s argument is
problematic in several respects.
First of all, the argument presupposes that Alpha’s methods are successful. This is not necessarily the case. To the contrary, the fact
that Alpha has laid off 15 percent of its employees in every division and at every level suggests that Alpha’s methods may have been
unsuccessful and that downsizing was necessary for the company to minimize financial losses.
Secondly, the director assumes that the former Alpha employees hired by Beta will be well-trained and valuable. During a typical lay-off,
however, the best and most experienced employees are typically the last to be laid off. By following the director’s advice, Beta would
probably be hiring Alpha’s least efficient and least experienced employees—that is, those who would be least valuable to Beta.
Thirdly, the author assumes that Alpha and Beta are sufficiently similar so that former Alpha employees could provide special value for
Beta. However, we are informed only that Beta manufactures “some products similar to Alpha’s.” It is possible that former Alpha
employees have experience with only a small segment of Beta’s product line, and thus have little inside information of any value to Beta.
Argument Page numbers
Finally, the claim that former Alpha employees would be motivated to compete against Alpha is partially unwarranted. While many of
those who were laid off may be so motivated, those who retired early from Alpha probably departed on good terms with Alpha, and
would in any event be unmotivated to reenter the work force.
In conclusion, the argument fails to provide key facts needed to assess it. To better evaluate the director’s suggestion, we would need
more information about why Alpha reduced its work force, what type of workers left Alpha and under what circumstances, and how
similar Alpha’s range of products is to Beta’s.