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Example research essay topic: Organizational Culture Analysis Ford Motor Co - 1,471 words

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Organizational Culture Analysis Ford Motor Co. The new economy is a knowledge-based economy without borders, where the race is between companies and locales over how to learn faster and organize more flexibly to take advantage of technology-enabled market opportunities (Best, 2001). Organizational culture has been referred to, in general terms, as the organization's unique personality and its system of values; what it stands for. Aspects of corporate identity include values, the collective unconscious, the history, the coping and defense mechanisms, the decision strategies, the self-imposed rules and regulations, the habits, the norms, the goals, the attributions, and the self-evaluations. Organization development techniques and approaches appear to be rooted in underlying concepts and values.

A number of Organization development interventionists find an incompatibility between company and employee interests or objectives. A basic thrust of organizational development interventions has been to attempt to change the organizational culture so that employees may "flourish. " The old-economy business models emphasized organizationally defined tasks and roles, new-economy business models value self-organizing teams, companies, and industry-based clusters or communities of networked firms and institutions to meet the changing requirements of innovative projects, the boundaries of which transcend the rigidities of old-economy hierarchies. In order to look at an organization's relationships among organizational culture, project structure, and project resources we will look at the Ford Companys organizations culture further along this paper. Electronic communications need to complement rather than replace face-to-face communications. Evidence is now accumulating that electronic communications may lack the social cues needed to foster a deeply shared personal understanding of work-relevant values and attitudes among team members. A team collaborating to develop a new product or service may require rich, intense forms of face-to-face communications at the beginning of a project in order to lay the groundwork for subsequent virtual project work.

Moreover project teams must develop shared mental models of their task domain and the specific behaviors expected of them in working with other team member. The need for shared understanding among virtually connected team members stretches traditional ideas not only about team performance but also about organizational culture and employee participation. New collaborative software is by itself far from enough. Project-based organizational models first achieved notoriety in the 1960 s with the rise of matrix forms of management for aerospace (i.

e. , NASA space projects) and other high-technology innovative projects. Matrix management involved the creation of an authority structure for the management of project resources that complemented the functional authority structure for the management of departmental resources. Larson and Gobeli (1987) later discerned three types of matrix organization: the functional matrix, which subordinated project resource management activities within the authority of one or more functional managers, the balanced matrix, where responsibilities and authority for each project were shared between functional and project managers, and the project matrix, where the project manager was the undisputed manager of all project resources. Organizational Analysis: Ford The intervention at Ford was aimed at changing the bureaucratic and hierarchical nature of Ford to a more participative and team-based approach to management. After extensive planning and development, Ford implemented a multi-step intervention including a number of managerial programs for decentralizing decision making and control at Ford in order to stimulate corporate wide participation and employee empowerment. The results, according were reasonably strong in the United States but not at all effective in Ford of Europe and Ford of Asia.

After Ford of Europe explored the potential problems with the program implementation, it was discovered that some "cultural" differences were in operation. The most obvious explanation of this failure to transfer the managerial successes of Ford from the United States to Ford of Europe is simply that the techniques used, participation and empowerment, are inappropriate or unsuitable for European culture. As a point of discussion, we must focus on the implementation of innovations in Ford operations in Germany. German society is based largely on market-pricing and authority ranking forms of exchange (i. e. , high power distance and moderately collectivistic). The managerial interventions used are consistent with the moderate collective orientation found in Germany.

This suggests that the problem was not the transfer of the techniques themselves, and evidence from Ford interviews with management suggest that this was not the source of the problems. A second, obvious possibility is that the German managers resented and resisted being told "what to do. " In other words, resistance occurred because management resented being told in an authoritarian fashion what program to adopt. However, this hypothesis is rejected given the strong power distance found in German society. Ford has an in-built mechanism for risk assessment and resolution. When an ingroup relationship develops, leadership occurs in that behaviors depend on the interpersonal exchange, not formal authority. The leader gives resources at his or her command, and the member gives expanded effort and time.

The leader loses control and becomes more dependent on the outcomes of negotiations with the member, while the member risks receiving less than equitable rewards and the unilateral institution of supervision. In contrast, under an outgrown relationship supervision does exist, and the employment contract with its implicit acceptance of legitimate authority in exchange for pay and benefits. In calculating the costs associated with risks, organizations must also factor so-called "higher order" impacts-those beyond an immediate impact, such as the number of people killed in an accident that include secondary effects like subsequent costs of lawsuits and damaged company reputation. The Ford Motor Co. learned this lesson in the lengthy Ford Pinto product liability case. The public's concept of "riskiness" likewise means more than the expert's expected number of fatalities.

In considering how high so-called higher order impacts can go, various kinds of ripple effects must be considered. A less obvious but more compelling interpretation is generated by using face. In this case, what the German managers resisted was neither the specific managerial techniques nor the idea that these techniques were imposed "from above. " What they resisted was that "from above" was really "from Detroit, " and they viewed the legitimate authoritarian structure as Ford of Europe and not Ford of Detroit. As a result, they lost mini after being assigned managerial directives from a "higher level" but an illegitimate source.

Had these interventions been introduced by Ford of Europe, a hierarchically legitimate authoritarian structure, resistance to the changes would have been overcome. By receiving the directives from Ford of Europe, the German managers would maintain face. This illustrates the potential of face to aid our understanding of cross-cultural management interventions. Without such constructs, the first and second hypotheses posed above would have been accepted even though they did not capture the true work dynamic. To the extent that resources permit, supervisors should reward the achievement of learning goals with recognition as well as recommendations for salary increases and promotions. New and challenging projects or assignments can be used both as a reward for previous learning and a stimulus to future learning.

In highly developed learning organizations, supervisors emphasize the connection between continued learning and employability within and outside the organization. Conclusion and Recommendations Compressed cycle times and the demand for flexibility mean that rigid organizational routines the hallmark of Forest success now destroys rather than create organizational value. Project-based organizing provides a means for companies to avoid the pitfalls of the past. But project-based organizing has profound implications for company learning, which becomes at once more critical to company success. Regional collaboration may continue to provide a degree of face-to-face communication that Web-based communications lack; however, this form of collaboration shifts the focus from the individual company to the region as a whole as the source of relevant skills and knowledge. The mixed success of business webs and dot.

coms raises questions about the further direction of e-business activities. Yet the parallel development of community webs, forged independently of their members' company affiliations, suggests a more enduring model for people's occupational learning. New-economy work is collaborative and such collaboration encompasses the multiple work contexts of individuals, teams, companies, and industry and Web-based communities. Human resource management for such new economy work and workers must similarly expand its horizons to incorporate these dynamic multiple contexts. Organizational culture has a major effect on learning, and managers in hierarchical firms may be unable to bring about meaningful learning.

Autocratic control used in traditional organizations is incompatible with the empowerment of individual employees, which learning and innovation require. Another constraint managers may face is compensation, particularly for lower-level unionized employees. As mentioned, some employees may refuse additional responsibilities, including learning assignments, without additional pay. Resources Best, M. H. (2001). The New Competitive Advantage: The Renewal of American Industry.

Oxford University Press. Larson, E. W. & Gobeli. D. H. (1987). "Matrix Management: Contradictions and Insights. " California Management Review, 29 (4): 126 - 138.

Schein E. H. 1985 Organizational culture and leadership. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.


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Research essay sample on Organizational Culture Analysis Ford Motor Co

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