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Jim Cranston had made plans to conduct performance appraisal inter­views with each of his district managers during 1977. He arranged to have such an interview with Eugene Kirby, one of the district man­agers, in the latter part of June.
Around that time, Cranston had decided to reactivate the position of regional operating manager. While this position had always been in the region, the responsibilities associated with it had declined to almost nothing over the years. After some deliberation Cranston had assigned Mike Mason, a good friend of Gene Kirby's, to the position. Mason supervised five food service district managers.

Cranston's interview with Kirby was scheduled once and then postponed for a week to accommodate an unexpected change in Cran­ston's itinerary. Kirby traveled two hours by car to a city where Cran­ston was working with another district manager. Kirby arrived on time but had to wait two hours while Cranston finished his business. The two men then drove together to a nearby conference room where they sat down for the interview.