Recently in Christopher Dirkes Category
Overall I thought today's presentations went pretty well. They were very informative about the organizations; the University of Minnesota Men's Hockey program, Nike and their Air Jordan brand, Adidas, and the Minnesota State High School League. What I thought was really interesting today was to have the Nike and Adidas presentations back to back as these are companies that are competing with each other. With the Adidas discussion at the end when we were talking about reasons why Latin America would be an opportunity for Adidas you were talking about how there is less representation their than in the United States and this surprised me. With Latin American countries so prominent in soccer culture I would have thought that Latin America would be a dominant area for Adidas because of their traditions in soccer shoes.
Looking back at my initial evaluation of organizational effectiveness and comparing it to how I view organizational effectiveness after weeks of classes on organizational theory my views have changed slightly but not significantly. I would still say that organizational effectiveness is still a very subjective concept and different people might have different opinions on whether an organization is being effective or was effective.
In my first post I discussed issues about the goal attainment theory to judging organizational effectiveness and said that it was a decent way to decide on effectiveness. After studying theories for the past couple of months, this theory is too focused on goals to decide anything for sure. Just looking at an organization's goals is not a good way to make a decision. Other factors must be considered. For example, an organization may meet all or most of their goals but what if the structure of the organization is completely dysfunctional? If the organization restructured they could potentially become even more efficient.
Organizational efficiency is an ongoing process and should be examined frequently in an organization. An organizations environment must constantly be evaluated in order to remain an effective organization. By this I mean an organization must constantly monitor its competitors and keep tabs on them. If your direct competition is looking at or actually implementing a change into developing a new consumer market or product you must evaluate if their change could increase your effectiveness as an organization. Organizations must also realize changes in consumer preferences and perceptions of the organization in order to stay effective. Using an organization in the sporting goods industry that focuses on downhill skis and is located in Minnesota we can apply these. In Minnesota a downhill ski shop will be very effective in the fall and winter months throughout the year but when consumer's preferences are changing when the summer months come the downhill ski shop will have to adapt if it wants to survive and be effective throughout the summer. One option could possible for the ski shop to also develop into maybe a skateboard shop in the summer and also add snowboards in the winter as those two sports are becoming more and more popular.
In conclusion, throughout this course I have realized the importance of all aspects of an organization in determining the effectiveness of the organization. All of the aspects can work together to create an overall effectiveness. In theory an organization can be considered effective but could improve things inside their organization to become even more effective like adopting a structure that would be a better fit or bringing in a great leader if one is not currently present. Organizational effectiveness is something that is ever changing within an organization.
What is culture? Culture has been described in many different ways throughout the years. The way people interact with each other and their surroundings is one way to describe culture. Our book identified common themes in the various ways culture has been described as being concerned with values, beliefs, basic assumptions, shared understandings, and taken-for-granted meanings on which a set of individuals base the construction of their organization, group, or subgroup. Culture is traditionally thought of in terms of the culture of a country like the United States or France. Culture can also be apparent in other area such as within an organization. Organizations across the street from each other could have totally different cultures.
How does the culture of an organization come to be realized? Is culture present in an organization from the beginning or does it take time to develop? How is the culture of an organization developed; by the head of the organization, the main leader, or some other factors? A brand new start up organization will not instantly have a built up culture that would be very noticeable. In this case there would be no myths about the origins of the organization or stories for employees to tell to new employees to help them get initiated into the ways of the organization. In a new organization who would be the major influences in the development of the culture? I would say the most influential person in developing a culture is the creator and most likely the head of the organization. This person would have legitimate power over the people he hires and by selecting the people he does hire will give the organization their culture. In an organization that has been around for a long time the culture has been established and current employees can share stories with new employees and help them fit into the culture. Personally, I enjoy the story from our text about Nike and only having to be right fifty-one percent of the time. This is especially true in a thick culture as opposed to a thin culture. A thick culture could potentially cause problems in hiring a new person to an organization if the new hire does not fit in with the culture they are likely to leave the organization if it is affecting them greatly.
The reading for this week brings up the question, do leaders shape culture or are they shaped by it? This argument could go both ways and depends on the situation. As I stated before in a new organization there is no culture so the leader would shape the culture into what it will be. As the organization and culture grow and the leaders move on and new leaders step in it is possible for the culture of the organization to shape them. This is apparent when the new leader has come up through the levels of the organization. They would have thrived in the culture at the organization to make it to the top level and would not attempt to change the culture much. Someone that was hired from outside the organization could influence a shift to a different culture. This was done when Joel Maturi was hired as athletic director and was in charge of merging the men's and women's athletic departments. The two departments were run completely different and separate cultures and Joel has been successful in combining the two cultures into one unique culture from the two previous.
Leadership in an organization is influenced by many aspects related to organizational context including actors, culture, structure, and environment. The actors in an organization are the individuals who authority to become leaders within the organization at any level. Taking an athletic program for example, leadership can be shown from the athletic director, coaches, and captains of individual teams. From some experiences I have had I noticed that the leadership style of a person higher up in the organization would often trickle down and show itself in lower positions as well. The culture of an organization has an inverse relationship with leadership and may be one of the biggest influences on a sport organization in relation to leadership. In a new organization the leadership style of the organization may affect the formation of the organizational culture. While in an organization that has been around for a while and with a culture that is changing by bringing in new employees and taking a different approach to obtaining their goals the leadership style may change with the culture of the organization. Another big factor in organizational leadership is the structure of an organization. A small organization that has few employees and a flatter structure may not need strong leadership from a single person to be successful. They may use shared leadership to get things accomplished within their small group of people. In my experience working as a lifeguard at my high school this was the case. We had a staff of maybe ten lifeguards and then our supervisor. I would say my supervisor showed a very laissez-faire leadership style which allowed us to all work together as a group. Leadership within the group changed people often. However, when an organization grows and their structure becomes taller a natural leader will most likely appear and will most likely be in the higher levels of management. The environment is another factor that goes into leadership. Some external things to the organization could very well affect a leader and their leadership style to some extent. The current state of the economy is one factor of environment that could play a role in leadership. In a down economy the leader must demonstrate trust to his/her subordinates to make them feel like they will not lose their jobs in the coming days. The leader may need to show a higher level of individual consideration in their leadership style to accomplish this. Leadership in an organization can be influenced by many factors. The most prominent factors include actors, culture, structure, and environment of the organization. From my experiences I believe culture and structure to have the most influence on the leadership within a sport organization.
Just like in any other organization, sport organizations have to deal with change and a resistance to change. The text book identifies four different areas that change can occur in a sport organization: technology, products and services, structures and systems, and people. A big technological advancement in the sport industry came via television and changing how the major sporting events were delivered to the audience. Now people are able to watch a game from their home instead of actually having to be at the stadium. A change in the products or services of a sport organization may involve the addition, deletion, or modification of other areas (Slack and Parent, p. 239). Structural or systemic changes often occur in growing organizations. As they grow the structure of the organization will most likely change, as may the strategy. People change does not just mean bringing in new people but can just be a change in the way the group thinks and acts as a whole.
After reading the chapter and the journal article I feel that the contextualist approach to understanding organizational change is an approach that should be understood thoroughly. The contextual approach examines three areas that are related to change. Content refers to the four areas in which change can occur. Process has to do with how the organization gets from the current state it is in to the future state it wants to be in. Context is split into two categories: inner and outer context. Inner context refers to things within the sport organization while outer context refers to the society at large (Skirstad, p. 3).
If an organization is changing that also means there will be some type of resistance from inside and/or outside the organization itself. Resistance is not always a bad thing, for example, what if a group of resistors show to the group that are trying to change the organization that this particular change may not be in the best interest to the organization. The book identifies four major sources of resistance to change. The first source is self-interest and this comes from people who oppose the change because they feel the change will hurt them in some way through job security or losses in power. The second source is a lack of trust and understanding about the implications of change. This source stems from employees in the organization not knowing how the change will affect them personally and this is enhanced even more when there is also a lack of trust. The third source is differing assessments of change consequences and this comes from people who will be affected by the change and them having inadequate information about the change. The last source is the cost of change. This happens when people cannot see the long term benefits of a change and only see the high cost in time, effort, or money in the short term.
Questions for the class:
1. What are the six stages of the change process?
2. Is resistance to change always going to hurt the organization or are there situation in which the resistance might be a good thing? Example?
Conflict is very common in organizations and can influence various aspects of an organization as a whole. It can affect organizational effectiveness, structure, power, and politics. Our online reading for this week stated, "in 1976, and American Management Association sponsored study reported that managers spend approximately 20% of their time dealing with conflict (Thomas and Schmidt, 1976)." Conflict has been defined in many different ways but I like the most inclusive definition provided by our text book the best. Conflict can be described as a breakdown in the standard mechanisms of decision making so that an individual or group experiences difficulty in selecting an action alternative (Slack and Parent, p. 217).
There are two different categories that conflict could fall into. These two categories are horizontal or vertical conflict. Distinguishing between the two types of conflict has to do with the structure of the organization. Horizontal conflict is present when conflicts take place among subunits at the same level in the organization. An example of this could be in the athletic department of a university when coaches from various teams are in conflict with one another. Vertical conflict is present when subunits at different levels in the organization are in conflict. An example of this in an athletic department would be when a particular coach has conflicting ideas with the athletic director.
Most of the time conflict is viewed as detrimental to the operations of an organization. Therefore conflict should be eliminated from an organization or managed to have and effective organization. The most common way this is done is through rules and regulations organizational members must follow. On the other hand, what if conflict in an organization could benefit the organization as a whole? After all conflict could encourage creativity and change that ultimately puts the organization in a better position than it was before.
There are many strategies for managing conflict and they include things like avoidance, separating or merging conflicting units, increasing resources, integrating devices, confrontation and negotiation, and third party interventions. One strategy that is directly related to power in an organization is the use of authority to manage conflict. This involves the senior managers of an organization to use their formal authority to resolve an issue which everyone may or may not be happy with but because he has the power to do so it will be recognized. A form of politics that runs through trying to introduce conflict into an organization evolves from manipulating communications. Leaving information or people out of a communication process is a political way to manage conflict.
Some questions for thought include; do you agree with the statement made in the textbook on page 220 that "if conflict isn't happening then the organization has no reason for being?" Why or why not? What are the five stages of Pondy's conflict model?