Using Cultural Theories Analyzing the Main Issue of the New Zealand Office of at&T
According to Neghab A. E. P, et al(2009, pp87-88) organizational culture is a common assumption, value or norm system among members of an organization which is based on their behaviors to help organization to achieve the abilities they need to adapt itself to the environment, create uniformity and internal integrity. This essay will analyze the main issue of AT&T’s New Zealand office by using the cultural theories and the reflections after the analyzing.
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In the case of AT&T GIS, AT&T’s office in New Zealand by Thomas, David C (2003, pp92-100), it was called NCR before it integrated into AT&T stable of business and during this time, AT&T are trying to restructure the organizational culture of NCR to make it more like their own culture. Bob Allen the chairman and CEO of AT&T developed “Our Common Bond” with sixteen groups associated at all job levels, from eight states and four countries, they are the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Singapore.
The objective to give out this five common bond is to increase the cohesion of all AT&T people as a glue to hold the company together. However, the New Zealand office did not achieve the expected effect practically. In an article by Cameron . K and Quinn R (1999), clan culture has a high inward focus with the concern for integration but clan emphasize flexibility and discretion rather than the stability and control. As Thomas, David C (2003, p192) points out that most western expatriates forms a kind of clan culture although the lasting relationship among them and the company are rare.
This may allow us to trace back to the old NCR’s organizational culture. As Thomas, David C (2003, p93) points out that NCR was a company which appeared to cultivate traditional values of being caring and family-like. This have been demonstrated by the fact that there were people who have been working in there as engineers since they graduate from school and had never left the company and as it was mentioned before some individuals are still working when AT&T come into the picture. On the other hand, NCR focus mainly on internal issues.
It can be obvious that NCR is a clan culture company. Nevertheless, before AT&T makes any changes to NCR, there was a group of people who thinks that the latter is too conservative and traditional; moreover they were concerned about the overly inward focus on internal issues and the shortage of focusing on the customer and other external matters as well as the slowness of making a critical decision. However, NCR needs a restructuring to survive and face the changing market in the information technology industry.
On the other hand, Cameron and Quinn also show that market culture companies are similar to hierarchy because they both value stability and control but instead of the inward focus, this kind of culture has an external orientation and they evaluate differentiation over integration. Organizations in this scope are mainly focused on relationships especially with the ones who are related to the external area, for example, suppliers, customers, contractors and unions. In their opinion, market culture organizations consider that they can best achieve success through effective externals.
The organizational structure of AT&T is similar to a hierarchical model, once the chairman gave out an order or an idea, it will be fed down from the American Corporate Office and translated into tangible practices and policies to the people who work in the New Zealand office. They have developed a customer focus team to ‘make a better understanding of customer needs and interests, interpret them and then work with marketing and support teams to provide smart deliverable solutions that fit the unique profile of every customer. (Thomas David C, 2003, p94) In other words, AT&T is a company that uses market culture. Thomas also said that after the take over of AT&T, there are still some old NCR ways existing in the new company. AT&T attempts to abolish the NCR cultural and replace it more likely to be the way of AT&T as the whole operator. They try to change the staff composition even though most of NCR’s executives are still part of the company. However, the management team has been changed slowly and correctly which means that the team is now composed primary AT&T people or people who are new to the both company.
As it was mentioned above, AT&T is trying to change NCR’s culture from clan to market and during this process they have gone up to a few uncertainties. Neghab A. E. P, et al (2009, p91) claims that if the person who wants to restructure a company did not pay any attention to the organization’s situation, its culture and not predicting and valuing organization’s readiness for restructuring, then this kind of reengineering project may fail or will not change the performance pf the organization remarkable. Edward T.
Hall and Mildred Reed Hall (David C Thomas, 2003, pp151-152) also indicates that learning a new cultural program is extremely complicated and it needs years to bring into practice, a cultural communication is deeper and more complex than spoken or written messages. It has more to do with releasing the right response rather than sending the correct message. AT&T gives the five common bonds and the new vision and mission out to connect and assist the people in New Zealand together to reach the achievement.
Tony Bradley, the CEO of New Zealand office is pleased that AT&T has their value statement; he had a successful experiment in Singapore when it is the first corporation in introducing the five common bond values. He consider that the common bonds works well in a non-western culture then it will also give out the same result in New Zealand, a mostly western culture country. Unfortunately, this did not appear to be the truth. In the case (David C Thomas, 2003, p99) I find out that the disagreement from the staff in New Zealand said that the common bonds are too American and too overstated in some general ideas.
Even the vision has a wrong using of phrase, they do not use ‘delight’ in response to deliver customer service and it is not the way of business that is conducted in New Zealand. It seems that they had a realistic attitude and they are not interested in sitting around celebrating and speculating as much as their American counterparts. Although it is clear that the common bonds is not suitable with the New Zealand style of work, Bob Allen still emphasize that the common bond must be the kernel and the connection for all the corporation’s.
At the same time, he build up value workshops talking about the five bonds, however, he may be using the relevant strategy, avoiding and education to face the conflict. In other words, according to David C Thomas (2003, pp143-144) he ignores or not deal with the conflicts which it is been remained to be unresolved and he also convert others to the decision he and his mainly American team had made. In other words, AT&T is using the deculturation strategy.
As a result was shown by Steven L Mcshane and Glinow M A Y V (2000, pp510-511), this kind of strategy rarely works because it will increase the risk of the social conflict. The employees from the acquire company resist the cultural intrusions from the buying firm, thereby delaying or undermining the merger process and this is what happened to AT&T. Eventually, the merger strategy failed, AT&T GIS returned back to its original name after losing approximately 4 billion dollars.
In conclusion, communication is an important role in organizational culture. In this case, both companies had a similar national culture but it can not be seen as a fact of using one’s idea to other people. Organizational culture is also a very important part of view. This case study gives me a deeper understanding in international management; you have to consider different aspects before changing a company’s culture and being flexible when connecting everyone together as a team.
However, the four types of organizational culture may be too stiff if one’s can be combined together there would create a complementation environment for your company. Reference: Cameron K and Quinn R (1999) Diagnosing and changing organizational culture, New York, Addision Wesley Neghab. A. E. P, Sardari N and Imani S (2009) “A model to evaluate organizational capability for business process reengineering with respect to organizational culture”, International Journal of Business Research Vol. 9 Issue 2, pp87-93 [Online] Available: http://web. bscohost. com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=a7ca6e72-78e8-49b6-a1fd-f0887cec9b22%40sessionmgr113&vid=7&hid=110 (Accessed: 17 Oct 2011) Steve L M and Glinow M. A. Y. V (nd) “Organizational culture” Organizational behavior Vol not founded, pp510-511 [Online] Available: http://docs. google. com/viewer? a=v&q=cache:yt1WBfYT4PwJ:www. kfunigraz. ac. at/iimwww/iimwww/orgculture. pdf+at%26t+organizational+culture&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgjTtfvcpobjnv1xfkH2kcJ7-5OkvnRSIodejCimzWWgj7Th0GHopnD4ldCKp2T80tiqf5XwFhcXwYyQ7rhr1 _P6CijXPiJFNRfpXtIkjqSkVUagMu9-9GlxvMf67ngXR0K6EZ&sig=AHIEtbSpJjyseCBgCrrrXWIW0CE0zGblRw (Accessed: 20 Oct 2011) Thomas, David C. (2003). “Common bond values at the New Zealand office of AT&T” Readings and Cases in International Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, London, SAGE Publications pp92-100. Thomas, David C. (2003). “When Ethics collide-managing conflicts across cultures” Readings and Cases in International Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, London, SAGE Publications pp143-144. Thomas, David C. (2003). Key concepts-underlying structures of culture” Readings and Cases in International Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, London, SAGE Publications pp151-152. Zavyalova E and Kucherov D (2010) “Relationship between organizational culture and job satisfaction in Russian business enterprises” Human Resource Development International , Vol. 13 Issue 2 , April pp225-235 [Online] Available: http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/detail? vid=40&hid=110&sid=a7ca6e72-78e8-49b6-a1fd-f0887cec9b22%40sessionmgr113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=bth&AN=49707510 (Accessed: 17 Oct 2011)