BUS209 Study Guide

Unit 6: Organizational Culture, Diversity, and Managing Change

6a. Analyze corporate structures and explain how and why organizations divide their tasks

1. Organizational structure considers how best to organize individuals, departments, and/or teams to be able to work together efficiently and to be able to reach the company's goals. Structures will vary by number of considerations, such as size, product/service, physical facility layout, number of departments, and the kind of culture you want to develop for your business.

  • Organizations will usually be structured as either centralized or decentralized. This describes the decision-making process and information flow for the business. In one or two sentences, define what is meant by centralized and decentralized control.
  • Based on your definitions, briefly design the pros and cons of each type of structure.
  • Write a brief paragraph on which structure you prefer and explain why.
  • Organizations can also have a formal or informal structure. Briefly explain what is meant by each type. Can you identify which structure is more appealing and why based on what you have written?

The decisions on what structure should be designed for any business need to consider many factors. What kind of culture is preferred for the organization? For example, if a team-based organization is preferred, the office's layout should support large, open areas where teams can meet. We will also think about the decision-making process and the amount of control that will need to be exercised. Will the management team make most of the decisions and pass them down through the organization, or will they empower employees to make more decisions?

2. Many of us are familiar with the classic organizational chart representation of a business' operation.

This shows us the various departments in the firm, as well as identifies the management structure. As you can imagine, the organization charts can grow and expand as firms grow, sometimes involving dozens of levels.

  • Two terms that have become a part of today's business vocabulary are spans of control and flattening organizations. Define both terms in a few sentences.
  • In a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages and disadvantages of flattening the organization. What do you think about this direction?
  • Again, in a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages and disadvantages of increasing or decreasing the span of control. How should a business owner think about this process?

3. As companies continue to evaluate ways to improve performance and increase the satisfaction levels of shareholders, employees, and customers, new forms of organizational structure continue to emerge. Many changes in structure have resulted from the continuing study of organizational behavior and applying the findings to current business operations.

  • Define the following terms in one or two sentences: matrix organization, boundaryless organization, and learning organizations.
  • Which of the structures that you just defined do you find most interesting? In a short sentence, explain why.
  • Briefly define the terms: cross-functional, interdepartmental, and matrix organizations. Have you ever been involved in one of these structures for a task or assignment? In a short paragraph, discuss your experience. If you haven't experienced any of these structures, tell us which one you would like to try and why.
  • In one or two paragraphs, compare and contrast the mechanistic organization and the organic organization.

As you have seen, there are many choices in how an organization can be structured. The key is to consider all those choices and decide based on the most beneficial structure for the members of your organization and your other stakeholders.


6b. Describe organizational change by analyzing methods and appropriate skills for accomplishing successful organizational changes

1. If there is one certainty in business, it is that the future is uncertain, or in other words, change is inevitable. Changes occur in the skills and work ethics of employees and the expectations of customers. Change is driven by the workforce, technology, the economy, world trends, competitor actions, and social trends. That's why businesses today need to adapt to change and move quickly to meet new requirements. However, change is not so easy to achieve.

  • Although change can sometimes occur unexpectedly, in most cases, it results from an organization purposely deciding that a change is required. Thinking about your organization's members and the impact that changes can have on them, how will you go about introducing the change? Write a brief memo to the organization describing your decision to effect a change.
  • You are in an organization that consists of a formal, centralized structure. Your major competitor is releasing new products at a much faster rate than you, and your share of the market is decreasing. Can you suggest an organizational change that might address this issue? Explain your choice in one or two paragraphs.

2. In many instances, change can hurt the members of an organization. This impact can result in a concern or active resistance to change. Individuals can fear what a change may mean to their continued employment, opportunities for advancement, or compensation. We want our employees to support our decisions actively.

  • Understanding that the members of your organization will have real concerns regarding change, list five or six steps that you could take to minimize their concerns.
  • In addition to addressing your employees' concerns about change, you would like them to understand why the change is needed and support it. Can you identify two or three steps that you might take to gain enthusiastic support from these members? Consider the following diagram as you frame your answer.

3. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show people what appropriate and inappropriate behavior is. The culture of an organization should reinforce the importance of and commitment to the organization's values. Dynamic, growing, and successful organizations create and sustain a culture that enables all the organization members to achieve their individual and group goals.

  • Write a brief description, one or two sentences, that describes the three levels of organizational culture, i.e., assumptions, values, and artifacts.
  • From your experience, provide an example of one of the levels of organizational culture. How important was this example to your organizational experience? Explain in one or two paragraphs.
  • The following diagram depicts the various dimensions of organizational culture. Different cultures have varying levels of these dimensions. In one or two sentences, define each of the dimensions of organizational culture.

  • Select any two dimensions and write a short paragraph on each, explaining how each of these dimensions could positively impact the firm's culture.
  • Select one of these dimensions and describe how you might increase this dimension in an organization. In a paragraph, list some specific action items that you could take to accomplish this.

4. An organization's culture typically begins with the vision of the group's founder. The starting point might be found in the organization's vision statement, which tells the internal and external stakeholders what the organization believes in. The culture will influence many factors, including goals and objectives, employees, leadership, and rewards and punishments. To be effective, the culture must be assessed to verify that it is still true to the organization's vision, and adjustments must be made if it is not.

  • To ensure that the culture is understood and supported by the organization's members, care should be taken to bring in new members that are a good fit for the group. If you oversaw talent management, what would you consider important traits in selecting new members for your organization? Make a list of three to five attributes that you would consider and provide a brief explanation as to why they are important.
  • Now, let's consider employees who have been with the organization for a few years. Can you identify two or three things you could do to remind and/or reinforce the desired culture? Provide a one- or two-sentence explanation of why you think these things are important.

For an organization's culture to positively contribute to its success, it must create a sense of belonging for all its members. It should influence the desired behaviors and commitments required to achieve the organization's goals.


Unit 6 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • active resistance
  • artifacts
  • assumptions
  • boundaryless organizations
  • change management
  • founders
  • learning organization
  • matrix organizations
  • mechanistic structure
  • organic structure
  • organizational culture
  • organizational structure
  • reward systems
  • vision statement