The MacTaggart case presents a company with an array of organizational issues that if not acknowledged and addressed might have severe implications for the firm’s future success. While Watkins International’s acquisition of Brownloaf MacTaggart and Co. (BM) may have been a shrewd business investment, from a human perspective the integration has not been particularly smooth. The shift from being a small independent company to a division within a large corporation has meant sudden changes in leadership and management styles.
The result is that the former BM employees have been left somewhat isolated – clashing with Watkins’ culture and values. In addition to the problems of cultural integration, the company seems to lack in sophisticated goal setting and reward policies. This has led to an unpleasant atmosphere with a clear hierarchy and a fiercely competitive ‘backstabbing’ environment in which consulting projects are assigned based on punishment or reward, as opposed to the skill and ability of individual consultants.
There are two major views to consider within this case: firstly is the macro view, i. e. the impact a vertical acquisition can have on an organization’s culture and how it adapts. Secondly, is the micro view of the organization in question – i. e. the way in which both the acquired and original entities operate and how effective their methods are. Using scientific theories based around Organizational Behaviour topics, these issues will be acknowledged, analysed and subsequently addressed with a proposed course of action to help improve the situation at Watkins International.
Culture & Individual Differences The initial optimism that often surrounds any Merger, or in this case Acquisition, is in many cases dispelled by financial failure due to incompatibility between the two organizations. Naturally, with an Acquisition comes necessary change smooth running of that organization; yet one of the major reasons for incompatibility is the inevitable gulf between two firms’ respective cultures that is not dealt with and resolved appropriately (Cartwright ; Cooper, 1993).
To understand where the clash in cultures of BM and Watkins International has emerged from, it is vital to consider what organizational culture is and how easily it can be adapted. Schein (1985) defined an organization’s culture as: “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid. ” This viewpoint is certainly valid within the BM-Watkins case study, with two highly contrasting sets of assumptions prominent in the respective organizations.
As Schein asserts with his ‘three levels of culture’ model, deep level assumptions and underlying values manifest themselves through the surface behaviour of that particular group. This is demonstrated in the BM-Watkins case, with fundamental assumptions and values of the employees shaping how they behave. The typical Watkins Consultant is academically excellent, from a top university and extremely driven to achieve his or her maximum potential. These underlying principles result in an obsession with success, a culture of “all work and no play”, with Consultants being hugely motivated to progress up career ladder by working almost non stop.
The typical BM Consultant contrasts greatly with the Watkins mould, being of a different academic background; a lower level of education, and in the field of Engineering as opposed to a Business background. It is also implied that the BM workers aren’t as highly motivated as the Watkins staff. Taking Schein’s model, it is clear to see that these ‘deep level’ assumptions and values (the lower level of education and lower motivation) have manifested themselves in the behaviour of the BM staff, leading to self proclaimed inferiority and somewhat raucous behaviour, through excessive drinking and a bad attitude towards personnel management.
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