Business论文模板 – Organizational Development

The objective of this paper is to discuss on the concept of “values” based on the perspective of change management.  The core dogma presented here is that approaches to change management theories and practices are pillared upon the values of people regardless of whether they are employees, employers or consumers. Thus, how effective the change management is going to be accepted will depend heavily on those who are involved or affected by the process (Paton & McCalman, 2008, p. 39). For instance, in situations where by the involved parties feel that the change is not going to be in their favour, then some resistances are bound to occur. Considering that virtually any organization has a potential of experiencing ad-hoc (or emergent) change, then it is critical that paramount plans should be placed that will aid in smooth transitions. This is in recognition that emergent changes are often progressive and unexpected by various organisations’ stakeholders (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2007, p. 58). As far as Organisation development (OD) is concerned, plans for change are based upon some theories of organisation, change and management. This sentiment is supported by Ries (2011, p. 45) who views that: “all approaches to Organisation development depend on some hypothesis about planned change.”

To precisely bring about the concept of change management, this paper will be make huge reference to Nian Qing (not the real name), a Chinese company. First, the company is in the category of Medium-sized firms and has its headquarters in the Mainland China. Moreover, the paper which is based on a researcher observation coupled by individual learning is aimed at helping other researchers as they engage in Participatory Action Research (PAR) in China (Patzer, 1995, p. 6). Generally, the paper also serves as a documentary of the processes assumed and the researcher’s first hand observations during the PAR project as well as the significance of having clear contract with all the participants. The project is aimed at transforming the company from its silo-based organisational tradition to one of cooperation and coactions by building an organisational network.

Background of the project

The intention of the researcher was to work closely with the Human Resource (HR) department of the Nian Qing Company in order to step-up its profitability through process development. In other words, it is believed that, by the America researchers associating with Mainland Chinese insider participants, an improvement and sustenance on the company’s knowledge on planned change and organisational development could be realised (LeCompte, 1999, p. 82). The team of researchers comprised of two professors and nine doctoral students from various schools in Colorado Technical University Institute of Advanced Studies.

 Before the project could commence, it was viewed appropriate that the research team should receive from the company’s HR a list of specific areas that were of major concern. Precisely, these are the areas that the HR considered critical if the company was to achieve higher profits and improve on its performance. Figure 1 below is an excerpt from such questions as they were posed to the researchers by the HR of Nian Qing Company.

Question numberIssue description
1Considering that we are the sole department capacitated to be in charge of Organisation development (OD), we are instituting a set of controls and policies concerned with OD. Could you furnish us with some information some issues such as The standards of setting up the departmentHow to define a postulate
2How do we develop manpower scheduling in the fast moving consumable goods (FMCG) considering that most of the employees are satisfactorily intellectuals?
3How do we construct a matrix company structure and avoid matrix ricochets in order to enhance horizontal collaboration within various departments?
4Could you bring forth business models and organisation structures of multinational FMCG companies? What lessons can be drawn from such companies?
5How can we promote innovation in the organisation from a dimensional view on Organisation development?

Brief history about the researchers

All the researchers were educated in the U.S and have been working collaboratively for the last two and a half years by virtue of being in the same doctoral cohort. Though none of them have been to China before, at least all have been to Europe for various reasons ranging from tourism to work requirements. Moreover, all the researchers are experts in accounting, software engineering, management and higher education teaching. The desire to work with Nian Qing Company was primarily motivated by two reasons. First, just like any other researcher, this team too embraced the action research with its aim on partnership and co-operation in generating ideas and directing sustainable change ( General Accounting Office, 2003, p. 123). Secondly, by working with Nian Qing Company, the researchers viewed that it would be an opportunity to learn about its success as well as challenges that face as far as daily operations are concerned.

Though both the team of professors and students had previous experiences as expert consultants, there was an element of difficultness in adopting the role of external process consultants (Paton & McCalman, 2008, p. 25).  In respect to this, they relied on mostly on their experience from previous appreciative inquiry research process-consulting project whereby they cooperated with the organisation in determining the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Background of the company

To begin with, Nian Qing is a medium-sized firm which is headquartered in the Mainland China and generally serves the local Chinese market. As at the end of December 31st, 2009, the anticipated revenue for the company was estimated to be 8 billion RMB which is an equivalent of $ 1 billion (Elam & Brands, 2013). The central activities of the company include commodity branding, design, fabrication, distribution and retailing. Some of the tangible products it produces include footwear and an assortment of sports equipments.

In the past five years, the company engaged in a series of activities that were aimed at lifting its profile in the industry. This included acquisitions of local companies, franchising as well as forming joint ventures with other multinationals. The significance of this is that, Nian Qing has been able to dominate the local market in terms of the products mentioned earlier and also increasing it foreign presences in countries such as South Asia.

Literature review

In order to understand the rationale of Chinese business culture and Participatory Action Research, this section will deal on a literature review that addresses the concept of change management.

Chinese business culture

 A study conducted by Ang & Dyne (2008, p. 78) advise that in order for any foreign expatriate to adapt easily in the Chinese companies, there is a strong need for them to understand the culture of the country. Indeed the construct of face and guanxi greatly affects Chinese enterprises (So & Walker, 2010). This construct is pillared on the advancement of individual relationships and the value of networks in Chinese community and business which is a strong behavioural propeller. In other words, employees who knowingly or unknowingly embarrass their employers, they risk punitive measures from the latter. On the other hand, Guanxi, like a face is pillared on relationships and networks. The Chinese highly value the strength of transaction referrals so that they can thrive in their businesses.

Other than these two issues, the Chinese are known to harbour a phobia for change particularly in their work environments. Indeed Stirk & Sanderson (2012, p. 173) cites the workers’ fear for change as a detrimental factor in a case study of an organisational structure change in a Chinese company. In this regard he goes on to suggest that perhaps the most ideal way of winning the loyalties of the Chinese employees is by rewarding them during change rather than punishing those who resist.

Planned change

Kurt Lewis is considered as one of the earlier scholars who developed the cornerstone model for understanding organisational changes back in the 1950s (Baimyrzaeva & Jones, 2012). Despite all these years, the model is still practical in some daily scenarios as far as change management is concerned. According to Kurt, change should be implemented in three major stages; the unfreezing, change and freezing stage.

The first stage known as the freezing stage involves preparing the employees in advance so that they can embrace change. In this case, the management points out to the employees why the current situation is not working in their favour and also that of the company and thus, there is a need for change to be initiated. For instance, the management can point out this by making references to declining sales figures, poor financial results and worrying customer satisfaction surveys.  All the same Kurt points out that the strength towards winning the support of the employees rests on the management’s ability to challenge their unfounded beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours regarding the change.
Once the management is past the unfreezing stage, the next stage is the actual implementation of the change. In this case, Kurt suggests that change should not be assumed to be an overnight event. Instead, it should be implemented gradually to prevent resentments as well as observing previously undetected weaknesses. Moreover, the company should consider reminding the employees the gains they are likely to reap out of the transition.

 The last stage as identifies by Kurt is the unfreezing stage. In this case, it is the responsibility of the management to support the changes that have just been implemented.  This could include aspects such as introducing a reward scheme to support the system as well as training the employees so that their skills are as per the expected changes. 

In regard to Nian Qing, the researchers viewed that in order for the planned change in OD to be effective there was a need to develop an organisation network structure. In this context, a network is viewed as a collection of autonomous organisations that work towards a common goal (Gaïti, 2006, p. 292).  Such networks include those that will support trust, inseminate information and provide authority. The trust network encourages the employees to share information with each other without the fear of betrayal. On the other hand, network on information insemination determines the most appropriate individual to act as a liaison between the employees and the various administrative bodies.

As observed by Robbins,  Odendaal, & Roodt( 2013, p. 416) point out that matrix organisations are efficient structures that can facilitate linking of functional experts on micro teams to address complicated issues. The strengths of such structures is that enhance knowledge sharing across the organisation or even project managers thus creating a balance of power between various departments. Nevertheless, the trio point out that the organisation matrix is at times prone to failure especially due to a potential of creating supremacy battles. In other words, the employees become confused due to unclear reporting protocols in various departments. Gido & Clements(2014, p. 45) support the concept of Matrix organisation through an assertion that, it is efficient for complex, independent organisations that function in interrelated markets and thus, they can benefit from a knowledge-driven culture.

Further studies on the Matrix organisation structure also indicated that it allows for a successful coordination between the managers without causing critical serious management or Chinese cultural conflicts. For instance, according to Hill (2007, p. 234), a matrix Project team structure, is effective with executive managerial support in that, external consultations can also be engaged to facilitate various organisational process.

 To be more precise, the structure educates the managers on the importance of motivating and rewarding the employees so that they can positively embrace change. Moreover, the Matrix organisation structure preserves the Chinese management characteristics such as employee relationships, employee loyalty, the organisation’s hierarchy, face and guanxi which were mentioned previously. Gido & Clements recommend that, should any changes occur due to the adoption of the matrix organisation structure in a company, then all the project members should be informed accordingly.

Participatory Action Research

One of the methodologies that have been favoured in developing practical outcomes to facilitate change is the Action Research. It is characterised by budding process that uses personal and community inquiry to build knowledge that empowers participants so that they feel fully accommodated in the projects in question (Chevalier & Buckles, 2013, p. 119). The core feature of Action research is that kind of collaboration it creates between the researcher and the participants towards the development of knowledge that is in harmony with the anticipated changes. Moreover, all the aspects of Action Research are social, create orders, encourage innovation as well as participation. Therefore, Participatory Action Research aims on the developing practical knowledge to enhance and liberate understanding and learning.

In practicality, Action Research is not widespread in China owing to the fact that, organisational development as a discipline is not prevalently studied in the country. One of the factors that contribute to this is that, there are few English translations covering the Chinese Participatory Action Research. In connection to this, Song & Vernooy (2010, p. 6) examined on general position of the status of AR in China and concluded that its adoption was in critical as the country shifted from an anticipated economy to a planned socialistic Market economy. Nevertheless, the author asserts that the translated models might not be effective in the country due to different approaches of development across the world. Thus, there is a need for China to develop its own Action Research models.

Research Methodology

The objective of this section is to focus on the research, experiences, outcomes and learning that can be associated from the interactions of the researchers and the HR department of Nian Qing Company.

Data collection, analysis and interpretations

 About two weeks prior to the commencement of the project, the team leader of the research team emailed an introductory letter to the HR department of Nian Qing Company. The objective of the letter was to seek permission from the management of Nian Qing Company in respect to their desire to learn more about the company. The management of the company quickly granted the team permission and consequently recommended that Web-based conference would be a suitable media for interaction. One of the initial developments that were realised through the web-based conference is that the researchers were able to get the general picture of the company. The main fear of the research team was however, the notion that the company could attach high expectations as a result of the interaction. After the initial contact of the web-based conference, the research team decided to physically visit the premises in the Mainland China. In order to collect the data required to complete the research, interviewees among the employees was conducted as well as making some routine observations (Schensul, Schensul, & LeCompte, 2003, p. 23).  The interview which was conducted in the company’s conference area involved some prepared questions, inquiry in nature about the company, its role, responsibilities as well as some critical OD issues. The researchers also inspected various documentations of the company such as financial reports, hiring records among others as provided by the HR of the Nian Qing Company (Hill, 2007, p. 25). Typically, the researchers shared their daily observations with the HR department considering that each segmentation of the team focus on specific areas within the organisation. Finally, cross-checking of the data with the members of the departments was done to ensure that the research team would be analysing the most accurate data.

Limitations and observations

Foremost, there was the aspect of time limitation as the researchers engaged with the Nian Qing Company employees. The initial two weeks were spent on cultural orientation since none of the members from the research team had been to China before. Thus, only the last few days were reserved for the analysis of the data collected during the research. In some cases, the research team would have been extended but again, the researchers were relying on their own financial funding in all the activities. This introduced an element of pressurization because the team did not feel that the time was adequate for PAR activities that involved helping the company. Nevertheless, the research team could not secure adequate daily interaction time with the HR members considering that they were always engaged in the daily administration activities of the company. In recognition of Flow Principal Consultation (Hepworth, 2010), the researchers understood that, it is up to the client to specify when they are ready to work.

Prior to the commencement of the research, the research team was also committed to sign a confidentially agreement in regard to what extent they could share the data from Nian Qing Company.  As the researchers deduced from other observations, it made sense to them as to why such restriction could be enforced by the management (Allen, 2011, p. 160). Moreover, the researchers were afraid that the HR members could provide erroneous information in the hope of building a harmonious interaction. This is testified by the fact that the research team was compelled by the HR members to delete or re-edit some of the data collected during field work.

 Another limitation of the project is that, when the researchers partnered with the HR members, the latter had many expectations from the former that they hoped could be used to impress the executives. For instance, the HR members sought to know if they could be sufficed with data about the competitors of Nian Qing Company. In response to this, the researchers clarified to them that the objectives of the PAR was to discover the solutions to their problems together.

Success of the PAR

In 2008, Nian Qing Company launched a bigger store backed-up by an R&D facility outside the Mainland China. This involved collaboration with an international company on R&D products a scenario that was also characterised by two successful acquisitions to add product lines. Since then, the company has continued to post high profits revenues on its balance sheet. Indeed, the company’s sole focus is on establishing an industry brand, widening its distribution network and improving its distribution channel in readiness for future growth. In this new establishment, the company has adopted a hierarchical structure that combines functional and product-based units (Diwan, 2011, p. 122). Specifically, this includes the CEO as the overall leader and an executive rank comprising of general managers and the vice presidents. Another indication of the strength of the PAR is that most of the current employees have been working with the company for more than four years which was not the trend during the research.

Discussion on Organisational development and change

It was the opinion of the HR company managers that they should restructure their organisation in order to optimize their processes and achieve set goals. This is manifested by the fact that a year earlier, the company overhauled its HR department resulting to formation of additional units (Gido & Clements, 2014). The primary objective was to support optimisation of internal process such as workforce planning. However, the problem arose in that, organisation department created consisted of three individuals who nonetheless, had no formal training on OD matters. Consequently, about 30% of the available times were spent addressing OD issues rather than the real HR activities (Hepworth, 2010). Indeed, the researchers established that, only one project of the planned ones had completed successful thanks to the inefficient organisation structure. In short, there was the challenge of managing projects through intra-department activities. After the PAR project, the mindset of the HR has changed and they now feel that, changing the organisational culture from one of silo-based to one of cooperation among various stakeholders can ease the situation. Some of the solutions that the PAR recommended in favour of the new system include;

  1. convening regular meetings with clearly outlined agendas
  2. Creating concise Key Performance Indicators whose measurements of success or failure are based on financial returns among other metrics
  3. Transforming the organisational culture to encourage inter-departmental cooperation
  4. Clearly defining the roles of the project leaders to promote accountability
  5. Supporting the training of various project participants especially on their expected roles and responsibilities

Previously it was stated that the PAR had a number of limitations. Nevertheless, the researchers were obliged to discuss with the HR department on possible models that could facilitate the new transformations. One of them is the Chisholm’s model (Robertson & Cooper, 1996, p. 396) which aids in linking various independent organisational structures so that they gain better understanding on the roles and responsibility towards the big picture of the organisation. Some essential features of the model include self-drive, horizontal relationship as well as common vision across all departments.

Conclusion

To some extent, the PAR designed to change the fictitious Nian Qing Company from silo-based organisation to one that embraces an organisation culture of cooperation did not succeed. Though the HR has so far made some progress towards achievement of their goals, the researchers learned of the significances of building trust, establishing concise contracts. More importantly, it is a lesson for future researchers on the need of understanding the culture of an organisation forehand to favour a collaborative and participatory environment.

List of references

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Alvesson, M., & Sveningsson, S. (2007). Change management: a guide to effective implementation. London: Routledge.

Ang, S., & Dyne, L. V. (2008). Handbook of Cultural Intelligence. M.E. Sharpe.

Baimyrzaeva, M., & Jones, L. R. (2012). Institutional Reforms in the Public Sector: What Did We Learn? Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited Oct.

Baker, D. A. (2010). Multi-company project management : maximizing business results through strategic collaboration. Ft. Lauderdale: Ross Pub.

Chevalier, J. M., & Buckles, D. J. (2013). Participatory action research: theory and methods for engaged inquiry. London: Routledge.

Diwan, P. (2011). Management principles and practices. New Delhi : Excel Books India.

Elam, D., & Brands, K. (2013). Planned change in a Chinese company: a participatory action research approach. Journal of Management Policy and Practice.

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Gido, J., & Clements, J. (2014). Successful project management. London: Cengage Learning.

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Hill, G. M. (2007). The complete project management office handbook, Second Edition. London: CRC Press.

LeCompte, M. D. (1999). Researcher roles & research partnerships. Walnut Creek : California Altamira.

Paton, R. A., & McCalman, J. (2008). Change management: a guide to effective implementation. London: Sage Publications.

Patzer, G. L. (1995). Using secondary data in marketing research : United States and worldwide. Westport: Quorum Books.

Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup : how today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. New York : Crown Business.

Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., Odendaal, A., & Roodt, G. (2013). Organisational behaviour : global and Southern African perspectives. Pinelands; Cape Town: Pearson Education

Robertson, I. T., & Cooper, C. L. (1996). International review of industrial and organizational psychology. Vol. 11, 1996. Chichester : Wiley.

Schensul, S. L., Schensul, J. J., & LeCompte, M. D. (2003). Essential ethnographic methods : observations, interviews, and questionnaires. Walnut Creek : Altamira.

So, Y. L., & Walker, A. (2010). Explaining Guanxi: The Chinese Business Network. London: Routledge,.

Song, Y., & Vernooy, R. (2010). Seeds and synergies : innovation in rural development in China. Ottawa:

Practical Action Publishing : International Development Research Centre. General Accounting Office. (2003). Major management challenges and program risks : Department of Homeland Security. Washington D.C: The Office.

Stirk, S., & Sanderson, H. (2012). Creating person-centred organisations : strategies and tools for managing change in health, social care and the voluntary sector. London ; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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