Organisational Behaviour (MNG82001)
Assignment 2 Guidelines & Marking Criteria
Title: Assignment 2 – Reflective Case Study
Marks: 35 (which is 35% of the unit grade)
Due: Prior to 11pm on Monday 21st December (week 10), 2015.
Task: Drawing on your own personal experience, write a mini case-study (max 1500 words) on one of the following OB-related topics:
- When Teamwork failed to meet its objective
- The appropriate use of power in the workplace
- Organisational Change
Following the case-study, two questions should be posed which encourage the reader to examine and analyse different aspects of the case in close detail. Students should also provide a brief 200-300 word example answer for each question in order to demonstrate the potential learning outcomes of the case.
Purpose: This assignment seeks to achieve 2 key learning outcomes.
Firstly, it seeks to develop a student’s awareness for the way in which ‘teamwork’, ‘power’ or ‘change’ is manifest in organisations.
Secondly, understanding workplace behaviour can be greatly informed by periodic ‘reflection’. Through this assignment it is hoped that students recognise the value of setting aside time in their busy work schedule to reflect upon and analyse, issues that influence the behaviour of themselves and others in the workplace.
Format: The single document submitted for this assignment is to contain the following components and formatting features:
- Assignment ‘Coversheet’ (document is available in the Assignment file on Blackboard).
- Assignment ‘Coverpage’ identifying the unit name & code, assignment title, student name & ID, and the report word count (note: Reference List content does not contribute to the word count).
- Case Study (maximum of 1500 words). See below for the type of structure and style to adopt.
- Two Case Study questions and example answers (max 300 words each)
Adopt the following formatting features for the paper:
- Apply page numbers. Page 1 comes after your coverpage.
- Font style: Times New Roman, 12pt, justified, 1½ line spacing.
- Margins – top and bottom to be 2.54cm. Left and right to be 2.54cm. No page boarders.
- Spelling – if using a Microsoft package, specify Australian English language/grammar when running your spell-check.
- Writing and grammar must conform to the standards of a professional report.
Submit Process: All assignments are to be submitted through ‘Turn-it-in,’ which can be accessed from the ‘Assignment 2’ folder on Blackboard. The link will be activated in week 7 and you can submit the assignment at any time leading up to the due date.
The file you submit should be labelled in the following manner:
Surname, initial, student code, MNG82001, asmt 2
For example – Gillett, P, 012345, MNG82001, asmt 2
Feedback: Students who submit their report by the due date will receive feedback within 2 weeks. This feedback will be in the form of a marking rubric and a copy of your report with electronic comments made by the marker.
Structure and style of the Case-Study
There is no prescribed structure for the case.
It is advised that students develop a catchy title; one that gives a clue as to the focus or purpose of the case.
Although not mandatory, students might use sub-headings to help structure their case story.
The general aim is to write an interesting story which clearly illustrates a good lesson in Organisational Behaviour. It is important that the key concepts associated with the lesson are discussed in the case and that this information is presented in a logical manner (i.e. it is effectively ‘contextualised’ and the story has good ‘flow’).
At the same time, students should avoid being too blatant with the learning-related details. It is important for readers of the case to pick-up numerous small clues about the particular OB concept themselves and to recognise the relevance.
While the case is based on your own experience, you should not be referring to yourself specifically (e.g. I thought…, I did…, etc). Rather, you should adopt the perspective of someone who is observing and subsequently describing the case details as they unfold.
Many textbooks across a range of disciplines provide case studies that adopt this type of perspective. Students who are unfamiliar with the approach should therefore review various textbooks for examples.
For students who have no workplace experience on which to base their case, it is suggested that they identify and interview someone who can provide the required first-hand insight. This will provide for a more realistic case story; as compared to simply making things up. Students can however, use a small degree of ‘artistic license’ to help promote the OB issue at the centre of their case.
It is important that you use pseudonyms to protect the identity of the organisation and the individuals concerned.
Refer to the documents ‘Writing the Case Study’ and ‘Reflective Writing’ (located in Assignment 2 folder) for further advice and tips that are specific to this assignment.
A. Written communication
(weight = approx 30% of marks)
1) Unsatisfactory. The writing is ineffective due to numerous spelling and/or grammatical errors.
2) Pass. Proof-read the final document to identify and correct minor errors in spelling and grammar. Plan for and undertake additional drafts as this will help to improve the quality of your written work.
3) Credit. A good standard of writing is provided (no spelling errors), however there is room for improvement in terms of higher-order writing skills (e.g. vocabulary and sentence structure). Work on developing the logic within your discussion.
4) Distinction. Higher-order writing skills are evident in parts. Greater consistency will improve the overall quality of your work.
5) HD. The quality of writing is exceptional. Well done.
B. Case Content
(weight = approx 30% of marks)
1) Unsatisfactory. The case details are highly ambiguous. No lesson in Organisational Behaviour can be logically deduced from the case story.
2) Pass. The case story highlights a basic lesson in Organisational Behaviour. Some of the details may be unnecessary or unrelated to the OB topic.
3) Credit. The case details offer good insight into the OB topic. Presenting the content in a more subtle manner will increase the learning impact.
4) Distinction. The case details reflect a good understanding of the OB topic. Further details could be provided which provide a more comprehensive lesson outcome.
5) HD. The case provides a very effective lesson in Organisational Behaviour. It is well constructed, believable and relevant to the OB context.
C. Questions and Answers
(weight = approx 30% of marks)
1) Unsatisfactory. The Q&As are poorly conceived. They do not contribute in any noteworthy way to a particular learning outcome
2) Pass. The questions are appropriate however the answers are ambiguous or they identify issues that are not present in the case.
3) Credit. Both the Q&As are linked to the Case details. The answer content reflects a solid basic learning outcome.
4) Distinction. The questions clearly encourage the reader to consider and analyse key OB features imbedded within the case. The answers could be developed a little further to show greater insight into the OB topic.
5) HD. The Q&As reflect a very strong understanding of the OB topic. In combination they clearly reveal how the case provides the opportunity for a very effective learning outcome
D. Features and Formatting
(weight = approx 10% of marks)
1) Unsatisfactory. The assignment document is unprofessionally presented (refer to the assignment guidelines).
2) Pass. A number of formatting style features are missing which should have been picked up in the final proof-read.
3) Credit. Two formatting style features are missing.
4) Distinction. One formatting style feature is missing.
5) HD. The assignment document adopts all the required formatting features and is professionally presented.
One of the most notable corporate failures that occurred during and as a consequence of the subprime mortgage crisis and the United States of America’s recession of 2007-2009 was the corporate giant ; General Motors Company. General Motors Company filed for Chapter 11 protection in a Manhattan court in New York on 1st June 2009 and became the fourth largest corporate bankruptcies after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Washington Mutual and WorldCom Inc.in the history of the United States of America. The corporation was for many years, the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world before being overtaken by Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan in 2008. The corporation used to manufacture vehicles in many countries all over the world before then. During its peak period it manufactured over 9 million vehicles annually and employed over 234,500 employees worldwide (SELBST 2009, pp. 3-10, 46).
When the company started experiencing problems, intense agitation by stakeholders for the Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr. Rick Wagoner, to resign begun. Mr. Wagoner listened to stakeholders and resigned in March 2009, just a few months before the company filed for Chapter 11 protection and was replaced by Mr. Fritz Henderson. Mr. Henderson’s tenure at the helm of the corporation was also short-lived as he was replaced after the corporation filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 by Daniel Akerson (DELAMAIDE 2009, pp. 36-38). The company was also forced to lay off almost 130,000 workers worldwide and sell off some of its well-known brands such as Hummer, Saab and Saturn among other prime assets. At the end of it all the corporation was actually liquidated and a new entity by the same name of General Motors Company was incorporated which then bought the assets of the old General Motors Company (under liquidation). Prior to incorporation of the new entity the company entered into negotiations with the United States’ treasury department, bondholders and other large creditors to buy shares in the new entity (DELAMAIDE 2009, pp. 36-38).
Factors that led to the organizational change at General Motors Company
There are various factors that led to the fall of General Motors and which catalyzed the organizational change. One of the factors is that the company was insolvent prior to the bankruptcy filing. Prior to filing for Chapter 11 protection, the corporation had assets valued at $91.047 billion against total liabilities of $176.387 implying that it was insolvent technically. Prior to the filing, the corporation was also facing union intransigence and mismanagement which also forced it to report poor financial results and hence file for Chapter 11 protection. The other factor is that the company was facing serious liquidity problems. Before filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, the company faced severe liquidity crisis which made it difficult for the company to meet its short term obligations (JACOBS, ARJEN and CHRISTE-ZEYSE 2013, pp. 772-792). The company also found it very difficult to sell off some non-core assets to improve its liquidity position. The other reason is that the company faced stiff competition from other large corporate entities such as Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan, Hyundai, Volvo and Mercedes Benz. This led to loss of critical market share. The next factor is that during the same time, customer preference shifted from fuel guzzlers which the company was mainly dealing in to fuel efficient cars manufactured by competitors (NAFEI 2013, pp. 1-n/a). By the time General Motors Company responded to customer tastes and preferences for fuel-efficient cars, it was too late as most customers had shifted to its competitors. There was therefore an urgent need for the organization to change to compete effectively and attain its goals. The last driving factor for the change is the fall in demand for vehicles in the United States of America. At about this time, the subprime mortgage crisis and the United States of America recession struck. This greatly reduced car sales as many prospective customers could not afford new cars. This problem still coupled with rising cost of petroleum products and rising cost of living worsened the situation. Demand for new cars was therefore reduced in those years (BARBAROUX 2011, pp. 626-639).
Some organizational change behaviorists have noted that change is the new constant in all organizations in the world. In most organizations, organizational change takes place continuously and impacts on the entire organization key success factors. Organization change is increasing due to various factors such as increasing globalization, fast changing technology, fast changing consumer needs, cultural diversity and changing demographics patterns among others. Organizational performance in the modern workplace is increasingly being determined by the ability of management to recognize the need for change as well as implement the change strategies formulated effectively (MARROQUIN VELASQUEZ 2011). Even though organizations may see the need to change the way they carry out their business, change is not always easy to implement successfully. The main reason why strategic change in most organizations fails is because of resistance to change by employees, lack of top management support or lack of stakeholder’s support among others. For strategic change to be implemented successfully, management must ensure the need for change is well understood by all stakeholders, effective channels of communication are opened, there is operational alignment and lastly there is readiness to change among all players in the organization (ALNAWEIGAH 2013, p. 55).
There was a lot of resistance to change in General Motors Company from various stakeholders due to a number of factors. The resistance was mainly because implementation of organizational change does not automatically follow strategy formulation. When it became clear that General Motors had to change, a lot of work went into strategy formulation but even more effort was put in reducing resistance to change. There was both behavioral and systemic resistance to change. One of the main systemic resistance to the change was the sale of some of the company brands and assets which proved to be difficult and progressed slowly (DELAMAIDE 2009, pp. 36-38). Behavioral resistance to organizational change in General Motors Company originated from coalitions and power centers within the organization. The corporation had to negotiate with its two largest creditors to agree to swap part of the debilitating debt owed with an equity stake in the new entity that would be incorporated. Management had to negotiate with United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and bond holders to agree to swap part of their debt with equity stake in the new company (MARROQUIN VELASQUEZ 2011).
The process of implementing the organizational change
General Motors Company generally followed Kurt Lewin’s model of implementing organizational change. The change model involves unfreezing the previous behavior, changing to the new state and behavior and refreezing the new patterns. In unfreezing the previous behavior stage, the company replaced the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer by bringing a new face at the helm. The corporation also reconstituted the board with many new faces which also set the stage for change to occur (ALNAWEIGAH 2013, p. 55). The company also filed for chapter 11 protection as part of this process. The next stage involves changing what needs to be changed to move to the new state and behavior. In this stage, the company sold off some of its brands such as Hummer, Saab and Saturn in a brand reorganization drive. The company incorporated a new entity and liquidated the old General Motors (STOLL 2009). The company also negotiated with large creditors and obtained an agreement to swap part of their debts with equity stake in the new entity. The new leadership team in the company changed the culture of the organization, the organizational structure and chain of command. The company also cut the pay of employees in its efforts to reduce costs. In refreezing new patterns, the company empowered employees to be more productive by motivating them well. Employees who behaved in a manner consistent with the new change strategy were rewarded while those who did not were sanctioned. This refroze the new patterns of working, culture and systems (BARBAROUX 2011, pp. 626-639).
How the company overcame resistance to change
Initially there was a lot of resistance to the proposed changes in General Motors Corporation. Some of the large creditors such as bondholders and United Auto Workers Union (UAW) initially lobbied for liquidation of the company to get their money from the sale of company’s assets. The new management had to overcome this resistance to ensure the company remained a going concern. There were many reasons why there was resistance to change. One of the reasons was lack of trust and misunderstanding (STOLL 2009). Management overcame this type of resistance through education and communication. The company ensured that all employees and other stakeholders were fully aware of the implications of not implementing change or not changing at all, the process of implementing the change and the benefits of the change to the employees individually, the creditors and other stakeholders (ALNAWEIGAH 2013, p.55). The other reason why there was resistance to change was the fear of job losses and competing commitments. It should be noted that before the company filed for Chapter 11 re-organization, it owed bondholders $27.2 billion and $ 20 billion to VEBA trust and Union Auto Workers in unpaid dues (STOLL 2009). These creditors would naturally oppose any change unless they were assured that their interests would be safeguarded as a result of the change. Management overcame this resistance to change through participation and involvement of these parties. The parties were invited to swap part of their debts with an equity stake in the new entity (BARBAROUX 2011, pp. 626-639).
The things that were changed
A lot of things were changed. One of the very first is that the Chairman and Chief executive officer was replaced and the board was reconstituted afresh. This brought in new faces at the helm of the company and hence infused new management ideas. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection to create time to reorganize its business without worrying about creditors. The next thing that was changed is that the company was liquidated and a new General Motors Company incorporated. This new company saw new shareholders take over the company and instill new management strategies (NESBIT and LAM 2014, pp. 303-323). The workers union, United Auto Workers (UAW), was allotted 20% of the paid up share capital through debt equity swap plan in the new General Motors Company. The corporation negotiated with the worker’s union and the union agreed that its members’ salaries be cut. The agreement with the unions also led to a reduction in healthcare costs by $1500 per employee (STOLL 2009). The bond holders also accepted to swap their debt with an equity stake in the new entity to the tune of 10% of the authorized share capital, The Company made changes in the existing structure, cost and culture. The company also sold off some of its brands that were considered unprofitable which included Hummer, Saab and Saturn. The company made some changes affecting its corporate culture. The new leadership made certain board changes to improve decision making. The new culture improved the efficiency of employees and made them accountable for their actions (ALNAWEIGAH 2013, p.55).
Results of the change process at General Motors Company
The change process resulted to a reduction of employees to 101,000 from about 234,000 in all its business operations worldwide. Employee’s productivity improved as the staff adopted the new culture which enabled them to be accountable and responsible for their actions. The new change strategy increased the market share of the company in the United States of America and enabled the company to compete effectively with other motor vehicles manufacturers in the world (STOLL 2009). General Motors Company issued one of the largest Initial Public Share offering (IPO) in 2010 in the USA and has since returned to profitability. It is currently the largest motor vehicle manufacturer in North America and trades in over 120 countries of the world. The change process was worthwhile for it saved one of the largest corporate entities in the USA from imminent collapse (LINES 2011).
Implementing organizational change is very challenging. The challenge stems from the fact that change is heavily resisted by those who have benefited from the old order of things and mildly defended by those who stand to benefit from the change. One of the best ways to implement change is by identifying a change agent who could be internal or external to the organization. The reason why implementation of change was successful at General Motors Company is because it had two change agents. The external change agent was the government of the USA. The government through the US Treasury, gave various types of loans to the company on condition that the company meets certain terms and conditions. This in effect compelled the company to implement the change successfully. The internal change agent was the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer and the newly reconstituted board. These two levels of leadership in the corporation gave strategic direction to implementation of change and monitored the way things were being done. The fact that the new Chief Executive Officer removed certain levels of decision making hastened decision making which also boosted implementation of the planned organizational change tremendously.
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