OB Case Study
The multinational organization is an increasingly common and important part of the economy. This case takes you into the world of a cutting-edge music software businessseeking success across three very different national and organizational cultures. Its managers need to make important decisions about how to structure work processes so employees can be satisfied and productive doing very different tasks.
Major Topic Areas
* Organizational structure and boundaryless organizations
* Organizational culture
* Human resources
* Organizational socialization
Newskool Grooves is a transnational company developing music software. The software is used to compose music, play recordings in clubs, and produce albums. Founder and CEO Gerd Finger is, understandably, the company’s biggest fan. “I started this company from nothing, from just me, my ideas, and my computer. I love music-love playing music, love writing programs for making music, love listening to music-and the money is nice, too.” Gerd says he never wanted to work for someone else, to give away his ideas and let someone else profit from them. He wanted to keep control over them, and their image. “Newskool Grooves is always ahead of the pack. In this business, if you can’t keep up, you’re out. And we are the company everyone else must keep up with. Everyone knows when they get something from us, they’re getting only the best and the newest.”
The company headquarters are in Berlin, the nerve center for the organization, where new products are developed and the organizational strategy is established. Newskool outsources a great deal of its coding work to programmers in Kiev, Ukraine. Its marketing efforts are increasingly based in its Los Angeles offices. This division of labor is at least partially based on technical expertise and cost issues. The German team excels at design and production tasks. Because most of Newskool’s customers are English speakers, the Los Angeles office has been the best group to write ads and market products. The Kiev offices are filled with outstanding programmers who don’t require the very high rates of compensation you’d find in German or U.S. offices. The combination of high-tech software, rapid reorganization, and outsourcing makes Newskool the very definition of a boundaryless organization.
Gerd also makes the final decision on hiring every employee for the company and places a heavy emphasis on independent work styles. “Why would I want to put my company in the hands of people I can’t count on?” he asks with a laugh. “They have to believe in what we’re doing here, really understand our direction and be able to go with it. I’m not the babysitter, I’m not the school master handing out homework. School time is over. This is the real world.”
The Work Culture
Employees want to work at this company because it’s cutting edge. Newskool’s software is used by a number of dance musicians and DJs, who have been the firm’s core market, seeing it as a relatively expensive but very high-quality and innovative brand. Whenever the rest of the market for music software goes in one direction, it seems like Newskool heads in a completely different direction in an effort to keep itself separate from the pack. This strategy has tended to pay off. While competitors develop similar products and therefore need to continually lower their prices to compete with one another, Newskool has kept revenues high by creating completely new types of products that don’t face this type of price competition.
Unfortunately, computer piracy has eroded Newskool’s ability to make money with just software-based music tools, and it has had to move into the production of hardware, such as drum machines and amplifiers that incorporate its computer technology. Making this massive market change might be challenging for some companies, but for an organization that reinvents itself every 2 or 3 years like Newskool does, the bigger fight is a constant war against stagnation and rigidity.
The organization has a very decentralized culture. With only 115 employees, the original management philosophy of allowing all employees to participate in decision making and innovation is still the lifeblood of the company’s culture. One developer notes, “At Newskool, they want you to be part of the process. If you are a person who wants to do what you’re told at work, you’re in trouble. Most times, they can’t tell you what they want you to do next-they don’t even know what comes next! That’s why they hire employees who are creative, people who can try to make the next thing happen. It’s challenging, but a lot of us think it’s very much an exciting environment.”
The Boundaryless Environment
Because so much of the work can be performed on computers, Gerd decided early to allow employees to work outside the office. The senior management in Berlin and Los Angeles are both quite happy with this arrangement. Because some marketing work does require face-to-face contact, the Los Angeles office has weekly in-person meetings. Employees who like Newskool are happiest when they can work through the night and sleep most of the day, firing up their computers to get work done at the drop of a hat. Project discussions often happen via social networking on the company’s intranet.
The Kiev offices have been less eager to work with the boundaryless model. Managers say their computer programmers find working with so little structure rather uncomfortable. They are more used to the idea of a strong leadership structure and well-defined work processes.
“When I started,” says one manager, “Gerd said getting in touch with him would be no problem, getting in touch with L.A. would be no problem. We’re small, we’re family, he said. Well, it is a problem. When I call L.A., they say to wait until their meeting day. I can’t always wait until they decide to get together. I call Gerd- he says, ‘Figure it out.’ Then when I do, he says it isn’t right and we have to start again. If he just told me in the first place, we would have done it.”
Some recent events have also shaken up the company’s usual way of doing business. Developers in the corporate offices had a major communications breakdown about their hardware DJ controller, which required many hours of discussion to resolve. It seems that people who seldom met face to face had all made progress-but had moved in opposite directions! To test and design the company’s hardware products, employees apparently need to do more than send each other code; sometimes they need to collaborate face to face. Some spirited disagreements have been voiced within the organization about how to move forward in this new environment.
The offices are experiencing additional difficulties. Since the shift to newer products, Sandra Pelham in the Los Angeles office has been more critical of the company. “With the software, we were more limited in the kinds of advertising media we could access. So now, with the hardware-real instruments-we finally thought, ‘All right, this is something we can work with!’ We had a whole slate of musicians and DJs and producers to contact for endorsements, but Gerd said, ‘No way.’ He didn’t want customers who only cared that a celebrity liked us. He scrapped the whole campaign. He says we’re all about creativity and doing our own thing-until we don’t want to do things his way.”
Although the organization is not without problems, there is little question Newskool has been a standout success in the computer music software industry. While many are shuttering their operations, Newskool is using its market power to push forward the next generation of electronic music-making tools. As Gerd Finger puts it, “Once the rest of the industry has gotten together and figured out how they’re all going to cope with change, they’ll look around and see that we’re already three miles ahead of them down the road to the future.”
Gerd has asked for your advice on how to keep his organization successful. He wants to have some sort of benchmark for how other boundaryless organizations in the tech sector stay competitive despite the challenges of so many workers heading in so many different directions. You will need to prepare a report for the company’s executive committee. Your report should read like a proposal to a corporate executive who has a great deal of knowledge about the technical aspects of his company but might not have much knowledge of organizational behavior.
When you write, make sure you touch on the following points:
Consider some of the cultural issues that will affect a company operating in such different parts of the world
And whose employees may not be representative of the national cultures of each country.
Are the conflicts you observe a function of the different types of work people have to perform?
According to case study, Newskool Grooves is a company which operates across three countries that they are different in national and culture. The main cultural issues in Newskool Grooves are an organization culture and diversity in the organization. Newskool Grooves is decentralized culture companies that allow all employees to participate in decision making and innovate something new, employee can work outside the office. The senior management in Berlin and Germany also happy with boundaryless model but not for Ukraine site because of
Head office is in Berlin, Germany where new products are developed and organization strategy established, coding work to programmers in Kiev, Ukraine, and marketing effort based in Los Angeles, America.
Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people defined by language, religion
Organization culture is the values and behaviors that contribute to the social and environment of an organization.
Organization cultures also included an organization’s expectations, and values that hold together expressed in organization’s image, inner working, interaction with outside. (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/organizational-culture.html#ixzz3Gb5LJ4Um)
Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts (http://www.livescience.com/21478-what-is-culture-definition-of-culture.html)
Pro and con of multiculture
Culture of company has no problem if have a great management