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Organizational Culture in Google Corporation

Introduction

Organizational culture can be interpreted through the lens of cultural change and cultural transformations. People use their organizations for unconscious reasons such as defending themselves against certain anxieties, renewing a sense of lost omnipotence, enhancing their self-esteem, and resolving incomplete developmental issues; as targets of aggression; and as a psychological space for play and imagination, to name a few (Bolman and Deal, 2003). How people, particularly those in power, use their experiences with and fantasies about organizational membership affects their relationships, and ultimately their collective image of the organization.

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Purpose of the Study

Awareness of the structure of subjectivity and the relational patterns organizing experience and action helps to explain human behavior (Carlopio et al, 2005). In terms of cultural change, modern organizations are not analyzable as a single entity, an organism with its own mind, but as a consequence of interpreting the patterns of human interactions and perceptions of members in their respective roles and groups. Collective patterns of private images and interactions may differ from one organization to the next, rendering coherent what otherwise seems chaotic and unreasonable. Organizations are more than the sum of members’ collective projections: that is, organizations are psychological containers for members’ individual and shared experiences, fantasies, and expectations (Robbin, 2004). The purpose of the study is to investigate organizational culture and illustrate its function in Google Corporation.

Background

Culture and Change

Changes in culture can be communicated through the CEO and repeated by senior management, real behavior change (which is required for a cultural change) does not occur unless it is embedded in performance expectations as expressed through the performance management system. Thus, the performance management system is the glue that ensures that new cultural behaviors “stick” and it binds employee efforts together to create competitive advantage. Organizations have also been in the midst of great organizational change in an effort to meet competitive challenges, and shifts in organizational culture have served as important catalysts for change. As greater shifts in culture were required (for example, shifting from a “knowing” to a “learning” organization, there was a need to redefine appropriate job behavior and interactions with people both within (functional peers) and outside (customers) the organization (Lohr, 2005).

Culture as A unified Forcer

Organizations began to create tools that engaged employees in the enterprise by emphasizing the importance of managers managing people (as opposed to managing tasks) on a continuous basis. Managers and employees began to communicate frequently and in very specific ways, focusing on aspects of performance that contributed significantly to business success. They communicated until they achieved a shared understanding of what it takes to be most effective in the organization. New performance management systems are nimble, can be changed according to business needs, and include organization-wide concerns. They focus on a shared understanding of effective performance through continuous communication and feedback between managers and their subordinates and then motivate behavioral change by capitalizing on the self-interests of both appraisers and appraises (Meyerson and Joanne, 2001).

Google’s Organizational Culture

One of the main work-related advantages of Google is that it creates small entrepreneurial teams that work on specific projects that look like start-ups businesses, where each participant is able to make his/her own contribution toward the development and success of that project. Everyone’s opinion is important and taken into consideration, which inspires high commitment and is rewarded by appropriate compensation (Bolman and Deal, 2003).

Advantages of Google’s Culture

Another advantage is that company’s engineers are given 20 percent of their working time to devote to their own ideas and projects, which should be approved by the manager to proceed and might become small independent businesses inside Google if they prove to be effective. Those employees whose projects and innovations add value to the Google franchise can be granted Founders’ Awards of millions of dollars. Moreover, in order to encourage a sense of ownership, Google provides its employees with stock grants or options, which increase as the corporate revenue grows (Sass, 2000).

Working cultural environment

Another advantage of the company within the working environment is Google’s “Tech Stops” on each floor of each building. They include all the necessary technical staff to fix any problem employees might have. Instead of spending several hours to identify the problem and try to fit it by himself, the employee can just go to Tech Stops and get the solution right away. While having additional storage of keyboards, cables, mice and so on, Tech Stops are able to provide employees with anything they need since it is broken, old or does not work. This saves a lot of time and increases employees’ productivity since their technical problems are solved within the minimum possible time. Moreover, such open communication with technical staff establishes a strong relationship with IT people, increases technical knowledge of employees themselves and encourages a more flexible model for employees to define their own equipment needs (Meyerson and Joanne, 2001).

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Literature Review

Culture explained and defined

In the book, New Frontiers in Human Resource Development, Woodall et al (2004) state that cultural organizational defenses shield organizational participants from the cognitive and emotional realities of the unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable character of organizational environments. Earlier experiences with anxiety can produce highly rationalized, stereotypic, and narrow-minded thinking among workers. Although ego defenses of the self are intended to promote greater adaptability and maintenance of security, they can become quite rigid and inflexible. Consequently, the avoidance of anxiety often takes priority over other human motives and values among organizational members (Hoyle and Wilmor, 2002).

The uniqueness of Organizational Culture

The main goal of Stacy Savides Sullivan, the Chief Culture Officer at Google, is to retain the company’s unique culture and keep the Googlers happy by figuring out ways to maintain, enhance and develop Google culture and keeping such core values as lack of hierarchy, flat organization and a collaborative environment (Mills, 2007; Foster-Fishman and Keys, 2002). The internal communication within Google is diversified starting from personal face-to-face communication at the working places or in special communication cabins and ending with conference calls between departments and international offices. The communication process is open and friendly so that any concern or idea has become known to colleagues and managers to be solved or applied (Foster-Fishman and Keys, 1997).

Findings and analysis

Culture and Financial Motivation

Google offers its employees free three-times-per-day meals prepared by company chefs, which eliminates the necessity to order food delivery or going outside the office to look for food during busy lunch hours. The main purpose of such a free-food strategy is to make employees healthier, happier, and more efficient (McCarthy, 2008). In order to make the working environment comfortable and enjoyable Google tries to solve employees’ needs and problems outside work, which resulted in the availability of on-site dental care and health care centers, children’s daycare, laundry and dry cleaning services, gym, volleyball and basketball courts, game rooms, massages, and so on within the Googleplex (Lohr, 2005). In such a way, the majority of people’s usual needs and problems are already solved by the company, which makes them stay longer in the office and organize their outside-of-office life around Google office at the end in addition to being available by email 24/7 and spending most of their evenings working from home. In the case of work from home, employees can use conference calls to discuss urgent and important issues while their phone and Internet bills are paid by the company (Hersey et al, 2001).

Culture and Knowledge Management

The knowledge of Google is based on the statistical analysis used in classified advertising when businesses or individuals use various keywords while browsing the Internet. By using keywords and key phrases related to any product or service delivered digitally over computer networks, whether it is news, financial transactions or software programs (Charan et al 2001). Google was able to attract more businesses and individuals into its “global” search network where everyone even with the small money and basic knowledge of computers and the Internet is able to create advertisements, place them on websites they prefer and earn money. With the minimum advertising expense per day as $5 and minimum expense per ad as $0.05, any business or individual is able to promote his products or services using Google AdWords tool with a detailed explanation of how to open an account, how to create the ad, which keywords to use, which sites to use for ads, how to increase traffic to the website and so on. Software engineering staff with their creative and innovative solutions for current Google projects and innovative ideas toward the new projects makes the basis for Google success and so rapid development. Overall, Google wants information to be free and affordable for any Internet user or business (Cole, 2005).

Employees and as A Mirror of Organizational Culture

The main characteristics of Google employees are that they have a good education, talent to work on Google’s projects and create their own implementing their creative and innovative ideas. What matters to Google is the way employees think and find the solutions for the existing problems or milestones. Previous experience in other companies of the related field does not matter so much since in many cases employees have to think in totally different and unusual ways in order to keep Google as the unique company with extraordinary web solutions (Cole, 2005).

Organizational development

Organizational development seems to be an inevitable thing that any organization is supposed to live through. There can be various reasons for organizational change, and all of them have to be carefully taken into account in order to make the organization productive and help it survive in the competitive world of business. But in order for this change to be successful and bring positive outcomes and profits to the company, there was the need for all the employees to support and participate in this change. It is understandable that some people may appear to be quite conservative and may not accept the change as a positive thing. The organization cannot afford internal conflicts and needs the employees to work in synergy. Thus, the way out in this situation could be inviting a consultant who could train employees the new ways of behavior in a changing environment and make them believe that change is a positive thing, as well as make them work for the success of their company (Foster-Fishman and Keys, 1997).

Change and its implementation

It is always interesting to define the reasons for the change in organizations. It is known that change does not happen and is not implemented for the sake of this change itself. There is always a reason in any organization for which the change becomes unavoidable (Robbin, 2004). As it has been mentioned above. there was a serious reason for the change: severe competition in the changing era, which could cause the downfall for the company. Thus, the change appeared to be the way to rescue the company and to move its operations to an entirely new level (Carlopio et al, 2005).

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Goals and purpose of new relations

And when the goals have already been defined and vocalized there is a need to estimate whether there can be any impediments and resistance to change, which are necessary to be dealt with and eliminated. It is understandable that impediments to change can appear at any level of an organization – from the individual to all of the personnel. It is the management’s goal to find out the core of this impediment and to take care of it. There can be various causes of resistance. If it is individual resistance, it may be caused by an employee’s fear of change which can, as one thinks, influence one’s life and work in a negative way. This resistance is simple to define and to deal with for it rarely includes any demolition work. Communication of the management with the resistant employee (and clarification of the change’s goals and management’s intentions) may help as well as psychological and professional training. And, finally, one more type of resistance is the resistance of the entire organization, namely, its stagnation in the process of implementing change for the reason of fighting for power within the company. Those who are to lose their power and those who are to gain it may start a confrontation which may cause the company’s stagnation. As well, it may be difficult for the employees to make up their minds to change. The reason for this can be a habit, the mechanistic structure of the company, organizational culture, and differences in functional orientation. And it is evident that if the change is on the agenda of a company its management has to be ready to determine and deal with resistance of any kind. This is in particular, the ground for inviting a consultant in order for this professional to work with the employees of the organization and to help them change attitudes and behaviors towards future change and to help the company achieve their objectives (Bolman and Deal, 2003).

Techniques

There exist good organizational development techniques which allow managers to deal with resistance to change. These techniques include education and communication, participation and empowerment, facilitation, bargaining and negotiation, manipulation, and finally, coercion. Education and communication will allow offering information about the change to employees in order for them to understand the reasons and need for it. As a result, employees will be able to see the logic in the change process and understand that there is nothing terrible in it. Participation and empowerment will allow engaging employees in the process of change – as a result, they will become part of it, and will not be able or eager to resist it. If employees are unable to adjust to the new conditions, they tend to resist the change. If other tactics do now work, manipulation for the sake of the company’s success may be a good way out (Robbin, 2004).

Possible resistance to cultural change

Employees as a result will be forced into accepting change through coercion – the threat of job loss, transfers or lack of promotion. When the issue of ways of overcoming resistance is contemplated, it is important to consider the types of organizational change and their positive and negative sides. There are two approaches to change implementation within an organization, and they are bottom-up and top-down. It is understandable that top-down change is implemented by managers at a high level. In this case, radical restructuring and reengineering are conducted (Carlopio et al, 2005). Often, there is much resistance to this kind of change on the side of employees. When a bottom-up approach to change is viewed, it is far more democratic for it is usually implemented on the part of employees. All levels of organization appear involved in the change process, and thus there is much less resistance to this kind of change (Robbin, 2004). The abovementioned characteristics of change types include and imply their pros and cons. The advantages of the top-down approach lie in its implementation by the administration of the company. This means that the change is going to be conducted professionally, with the use of management and change theory, and thus be more effective for the company. The disadvantage for this type of change is the lack of participation of average executives and thus a more serious probability of resistance. As for the bottom-up approach, the advantages are the participation of all levels of organization in this changing development as well as little resistance to this change. On the other hand, a longer time of change implementation and its management by those average employees may appear serious hindrances to effective work and the company’s further development. It is known that most theorists support the top-down approach to change implementation within any company (Bolman and Deal, 2003).

Conclusion

The analysis of the organizational culture shows that Google has positive and effective relations based on theoretical models and universal principles of human communication. These changes influence the motivation of employees who start operating according to changed conditions. But implementing change in organizational structure and operations is half the battle. Thus, it is vital to make employees believe in positive outcomes of change and help the management in implementing what has been planed. And these techniques can be used by the invited consultant in order to make employees not aliens but parts of the organization working for its and their own benefit. The conclusion can be made from the paper, that organizational change can appear a very stressful issue not only for the company and its management but to a greater degree, for its employees. And in order to avoid their resistance to new conditions, employees have to be trained, educated and communicated with, which will guarantee positive outcomes of change even conducted top-down on the initiative of the management.

References

Bolman, L., Deal, T. (2003). Reframing Organizations- Artistry, Choice and Leadership, Jossey Bass: San Francisco.

Carlopio, J., R. Andrewartha, G., and Armstrong, H. (2005). Developing Management Skills, Pearson: Australia.

Charan, R., Drotter, S., Noel, J. (2001). The Leadership Pipeline How To Build The Leadership-Pored Company, Jossey Bass: San Francisco.

Cole, G. (2005). Management –Theory and Practice, Pearson: Australia.

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Foster-Fishman, P. G., Keys, C. B. (1997). The Person/environment Dynamics of Employee Empowerment: An Organizational Culture Analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology 25 (1), 345.

Hersey, P, Blanchard, K. H., Johnson, S. (2001). Management of Organizational Behavior 8th edition.

Hoyle, J. R., Wilmore, E. L. (2002). Principal Leadership: Applying the New Educational Leadership Constituent Council (Elcc) Standards. Corwin Press.

Meyerson Debra and Martin Joanne. “Cultural Change”. (2001). In Organizational studies: critical perspectives on business and management by Von Warwick. Routledge; 1 edition, pp. 321-346.

Robbins, S. (2004). Organizational Behavior. Prentice Hall. 11th Ed.

Sass, J. S. (2000). Characterizing Organizational Spirituality: An Organizational Communication Culture Approach. Communication Studies 51 (1), 95.

Woodall J, Lee, M, Steward, J. (2004). New Frontiers in Human Resource Development, Routledge; 1st ed.

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