The following study guide is meant to help you prepare for the final exam. This material is for your practice and review only. You will not be asked to turn in your responses to the questions and activities below. As you work through these study guides, take note of your confidence level with the material. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your grasp of these topics, and take the suggestions for resources to re-watch or re-read seriously before proceeding to the final exam.
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6a.1. Congratulations! You have worked hard, and are now ready to open your new business. At this point you have made several decisions on finances, products/services, markets, pricing, and a list of very important issues. Now you are looking at how you will structure your organization to operate.
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 any number of considerations such as: size, product/service, physical facility layout, number of departments, and the kind of culture that you want to develop for your business.
A. 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.
B. Based on your definitions, briefly design the pros and cons for each type of structure.
C. Write a brief paragraph on which structure you prefer, and explain why.
D. Organizations can also have a formal or informal structure. Briefly explain what is meant by each type. Based on what you have written, can you identify which structure is more appealing to you, and why?
The decisions that are made 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 layout of the offices 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?
6b.1. Many of us are familiar with the classic representation of a business’s operation that can be represented by the organizational chart.
This shows us the various departments in the firm, as well as identifying the management structure. As you can imagine, as firms grow, the organization charts can grow and expand as well, sometimes involving dozens of levels.
A. 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.
B. In a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages, and disadvantages that can result from flattening the organization. What do you think about this direction?
C. Again, in a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages and disadvantages that can result from increasing or decreasing the span of control. How should a business owner think about this process?
6b.2. As companies continue to evaluate ways that they can 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 the application of the findings to current business operations.
A. Define the following terms in one or two sentences: matrix organization, boundaryless organization, and learning organizations.
B. Which of the structures that you just defined do you find most interesting? In a short sentence, explain why.
C. Briefly define the terms: cross-functional, interdepartmental, and matrix organizations. In your experience, 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.
D. 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 to decide based on what will be the most beneficial structure for the members of your organization, and for your other stakeholders.
6c.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 in 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 be able to adapt to change, and move quickly to meet new requirements. However, change is not so easy to achieve.
A. Although change can sometimes occur unexpectedly, in most cases, it is the result of an organization purposely deciding that a change is required. Thinking about the members of your organization, and the impact that change 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.
B. 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 market is decreasing. Can you suggest an organizational change that might address this issue? Explain your choice in one or two paragraphs.
6d.1. In many instances, change can have a negative impact on the members of an organization. This impact can result in concern, or in active resistance to the change. Individuals can be afraid of what a change may mean to their continued employment, opportunities for advancement, or compensation. We would like our employees to actively support our decisions.
A. 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.
B. In addition to addressing the concerns that your employees may have about change, you would like them to understand why the change is needed, and to support the change. Can you identify two or three steps that you might take to gain the enthusiastic support from these members? Consider the following diagram as you frame your answer.
6e.1. Chapter 8 defines organizational culture as, “…a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show people what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.” The culture of an organization should reinforce the importance and commitment to the organization’s values. Dynamic, growing, and successful organizations create and sustain a culture that enables all the members of that organization to achieve their individual and group goals.
A. Write a brief description, one or two sentences, that describe the three levels of organizational culture, i.e., assumptions, values, and artifacts.
B. 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.
C. The following diagram depicts the various dimensions of organizational culture. Obviously, different cultures have varying levels of these dimensions. In one or two sentences, define each of the dimensions of organizational culture.
D. Select any two dimensions, and write a short paragraph on each explaining how each of these dimensions could have a positive impact on the firm’s culture.
E. Select one of these dimensions, and describe how you might be able to increase this dimension in an organization. In a paragraph, list some specific action items that you could take to accomplish this.
6f.1. An organization’s culture typically begins with the vision of the founder of the group. The starting point might be found in the organization’s vision statement, which tells the internal and external stakeholders what the organization believes in. From there, the culture will be influenced by 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.
A. To ensure that the culture is understood and supported by the members of the organization, 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.
B. Now, let’s consider employees who have been with the organization for a few years. Can you identify two or three things that you could do to remind and/or reinforce the desired culture? Provide a one or two sentence explanation of why you think that these things are important.
For an organization’s culture to be a positive contributor to the company’s success, it must create a sense of belonging for all the members. It should influence the desired behaviors and commitments that are required to achieve the organization's goals.
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.