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Global Challenges Facing Organizations


In their operations, it is common for organizations to face various challenges that are often an obstacle in the operations of the organizations. Likewise, the United Nations, Imperial Tobacco, HSBC and Norwich Union have faced global challenges that have necessitated action to overcome them. The report herein looks at some of the problems that the four organizations have faced and the applicable models for reaching resolutions.

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The contingency theory of management underpins the challenges the four organizations face. For all the organizations, the opposition seems to be a common problem. This is disapproval from various groups of people and individuals for the activities of the organization. The rational goal model might solve this problem. The model aims at the ability of an organization to accomplish its goals. The human relations model might also be useful in solving the problem of customer service and productivity and hence enhance competition. Since this is a problem with the association between employees and the clients, the model aids in creating some self-fulfillment in employees and hence providing desirable services. The rational goal model can also take care of the problem of bans on tobacco products. It accounts for threats from competitors as well as governments. The open system model borrows from a computer communications network protocol that is layered but interconnected in its provision of services and might just be the right model useful for the problem of finances and personnel that is especially faced by the UN.


Challenges facing the United Nations

UN faces the problem of the huge cost of operation. To manage its operations, sit requires big amounts of funds. The organization expends up to ten billion dollars for its activities annually. To meet this financial need, member countries of the UN are required to make annual contributions to fund the activities. It is unfortunately not a priority for the member countries to contribute to the organization. To add to this, there are no strident measures to check on the way payments are made. Members are therefore not likely to suffer grave consequences for the delay or even the failure to make payment. Powerful nations are thus likely to take advantage of this. One example is the USA which has a debt of over $1.3 billion. Inadequate funds make it impossible to carry out all the peacekeeping operations.

Another problem the UN faces concerns recruitment. For countries that are involved in the conflict, it may be impossible to provide recruits for peacekeeping missions. A country like Pakistan is so involved in its defense because it does not relate well with India. It cannot afford to disburse a significant number of forces to the UN’s mission and activities. To this end, there is an inadequacy of peacekeepers for the successful operation of a mission. It would therefore prove a big hurdle to do much to resolve conflict with not enough militia to do the job. In Rwanda for instance, the 2500 personnel sent could barely do anything to prevent the massacre that occurred when the Hutu clashed with the Tutsi rebels in 1994. Tax policies need to be put in place to cater for contributions towards funds.

In addition, the UN faces a lot of opposition and this is growing with time. The reason is its ineffectiveness and bureaucracy (Naim). In the present for instance, the plan to build a UN office tower in New York has been fought by a majority of the elected officials. This means that even the members and other serious issues can stand in the way of the success of operations of the UN around the world.

The open system model is a computer program that provides a communications and network protocol design that is made in layers. Each layer is composed of functions that differ from the next. However, the functions of one layer provide services to the preceding layer and also receive services from the layers below it. In this case, each layer is in a system that works together in the coordination of functions. If the UN had its various arms organized in a kind of system that links its activities, the needs of each department would be catered for harmoniously. If the organization has such a structure, its aims are defined and the problem of opposition would not bother them. There would be a segment that looks into finances while at the same time working with recruitment to oversee efficient services.

Challenges facing Imperial Tobacco

Hemsley (2008) points out that tobacco has always been legal but the smoking lobby seems bent on implementing more restrictions on the promotion of the product. Governments are designed to stop the promotion of tobacco. Some of how they are doing this is ending the display of the products on outlets and implementing a law of branding on the pack. In Scotland, the public display of cigarettes was banned in 2008. Cigarette packs of ten were also banned (Hemsley 2008). Other regions in the United Kingdom will likely follow. This implies that the product will gradually lose market and this is a negative implication on the sales and earnings of the organization. This law deprives tobacco companies of the funds for their marketing plan. The government also stopped the sponsorship of tobacco. In addition to this was a ban on advertisements in the press and posters. In 2005, bans on global sponsorship deals for such sports as Formula one were implemented. The result is that promotion details can only be sent to consumers on request.

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The promotion of the product in developing countries where the law is not as strict has increased. WHO urged governments to place bans on advertisements and promotions in response to this. Not much of the world’s population is protected by these bans as Hemsley points out.

Imperial Tobacco also faces the problem of opposition by individuals and groups. Plessis (2007) claimed that tobacco was a threat to public health. He said that tobacco was an illicit trade and deserved scrutiny to reduce harm to people. This is just one of the many people who feel that tobacco should be rid of in the market the world over. However, the effect is felt by the organizations and distributors of the product who lose a lot of money in the trade.

Here, the rational goal model of management would come in handy. The model’s main highlight is the ability of an organization to accomplish the goals it has set for itself. An organization sets a general goal and establishes the objectives to attain them and activities to attain these objectives. The realization of Imperial tobacco that it has customers to serve and profits to make would take care of the factor of government opposition besides rivalry from other players and threat by substitutes. Tobacco organizations should be allowed to run promotions to encourage people to change brands. This is not the same as attracting new customers as the industry argues. Tobacco Manufacturers Association is of the idea that its members should be allowed to promote their brands by telling their customers how they differ from others.

Challenges facing HSBC

One of the problems that HSBC faces is the inability to translate the sparking array of KM tools and techniques into concepts that are well understood which the conservative culture of traditional organization can grip. The efforts to instill a need for intellectual-capital measurement were not heard. Many of the executives believed they already had enough to measure. The pressure that was felt in many commercial organizations was an obstruction to large-scale projects of KM (Ellis 2003).

There were also restriction factors that HSBC has to overcome. One of these is high suspicion and misunderstanding among senior managers in the organization. Any function involving knowledge- management that is newly introduced spends a lot of time and energy explaining what it is and what it does before it can be allowed to do it. Ellis says that this is a big hindrance to the development of the organization as it pulls back the speed of growth.

In addition, many commercial organizations are permeated by short-term perspective. HSBC is not left out. The result is that a lot of key investments are blocked since they fail to meet the criteria which need them to present a positive return on the investments that are made annually (Ellis). This problem can be solved by agreeing on some structure to measure progress of the organization over time. Customers’ response to the organization would be useful as a pointer to its progress. Management can also provide information on the new initiatives and costs that are attributed to knowledge management. Testing of the attainment of goals is done by having a comparison between the attained and the set goals as the rational goal model provides for (Barnat). Its aim is the ability of an organization to achieve its goals.

The fourth problem is compliance to the established hierarchy and procedures that enjoy a lot of respect. There can be a clash between the potential outcomes of good practices in HSBC and the environment where they are meant to operate. Good management of knowledge is supposed to give a free rein to knowledge and the ability to make decisions from the said knowledge. In such organizations as HSBC, the acting power is left to the people who have the authority to do so. This is often the management and those others that have been empowered to do so. This means that the problem of knowledge management can increase if it is left to its own devices. This is a negative implication on management. This problem can be overcome if an organization works with what they have. It is almost impossible to change entirely the culture of an organization.

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Challenges facing Norwich Union

Norwich Union is the second biggest insurance company in the United Kingdom. It however faces the problem of a good level of customer service experience. The organization had so much confidence in itself. When this happens, an organization faces difficulty overcoming the status quo. If something is good, then people have no reason to change it. They would rather work with it as it is. The aim of the organization was however to be great and not just be comfortable with good. The solution for the problem was to work closely with call centre agents. This would enable the organization to develop a new mindset as concerned dealing with customers. Agents should have the ability to promote organizations through conversations they have with other people (Etherington, 2008).

After the formation of CGNU, Norwich Union became the general insurance company covering CGNU in the UK. The organization needed to rationalize its Information Technology applications because before then, Colossus had been used by companies for the purpose of insurance and handling personal injury claims (Norwich Union Insurance). This was a challenge for Norwich as it meant rising above Colossus. However, the solution was in working hand in hand with CSC to facilitate the adoption of a version of Colossus. This would be based on the consolidation of the three companies that formerly use Colossus, their system and the historic data they had. The contingency theory is concerned with the process of managing risk in any organization. It airs the assumption that there is no single best way to run an organization. Every organization should be managed in a way that suits that particular environment and technology in use. Different management styles are effective in various situations.


From the research done it is evident that each of the organizations has faced challenges at one time or the other. However they are not problems without a solution if the right measures are taken to overcome them. United Nations has faced the problem of finances, recruitment and opposition from groups and individuals. Imperial Tobacco on the other hand has had to contend with bans on advertisements and promotion. They have also face opposition from people especially health organizations as well as bans on sponsorship.

HSBS has had problems with translating the sparking array of KM tools and techniques into concepts that are well understood which the conservative culture of traditional organization can grip. In addition there has been the issue of compliance to the established hierarchy and procedures and short-term perspective. The Norwich Union has faced challenges concerned with customer service and covering CGNU in the UK. For each of these problems, there are recommendations on possible solutions.


The recommendations do not in any way give a straight path to the solutions but can be tried out by the respective organizations. The problem of funds in the United Nations can be solved if strict rules and regulations are put in place to check the payment of contributions by member states. Recruitment can also be checked by regulating the number of recruits that each country disburses. The problem of conflict should not hinder this as the UN is responsible for all the nations as long as they are members.

The problem of bans on the promotion of tobacco can also be solved if organizations dealing with tobacco are allowed to give specific information to their clients, the smokers. This would not influence the non-smokers to start the habit but would promote the trade to the advantage of the organizations.

On the other hand, the problem of short-term perspective for HSBC can be solved by agreeing on some structure to measure progress of the organization over time. Cultural problems can be solved by working with what the company already has.

For the Norwich Union, working closely with call centre agents would cater for the problem of customer service experience. The recommendations provided may help overcome some of the challenges in organizations and hence increase their efficiency.

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  1. Ellis, Steve 2003. Cultivating a knowledge culture, vol. 7, issue 4.
  2. Etherington, Lyn 2008. Norwich Union. Journal of Database Marketing and Customer Strategy Management, vol. 15.
  3. Hemsley, Steve 2008. “Promotions and Incentives.”
  4. Kochler 2006. The United Nations organization and global power politics. Chinese Journal of International Law, vol. 5, pp 323-340.
  5. Naim, Hafsa. “The practical problems faced by the United Nations.”
  6. “Norwich Union Insurance Reaffirms Commitment to CSC’s Colossus.”

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