Understanding organizational behavior has never been more important for managers. A quick look at a few of the dramatic changes now talking place in organizations supports this claim. For instance, the typical employee is getting older; more and more women and people of color are in the workplace; corporate downsizing and the heavy use of temporary workers are severing the bonds of loyalty that historically toed many employees to their employers; and global competition is requiring employees to become more flexible and to learn to cope with rapid changes. The war on terror has brought to the forefront the challenges of working with and managing people during uncertain times.
In short, there are a lot of challenges and opportunities today for managers to use OB concepts. In this article, we review some of the more critical issues confronting managers for which OB offers solutions or at least some meaningful insights toward solutions.
Responding to Globalization:
Organizations are no longer constrained by national borders. Burger King is owned by a British, and McDonald’s sells hamburgers in Moscow. Exxon Mobil, a so called American company receives almost 75 percent of its revenues from sales outside the United States. New employees at Finland based phone maker Nokia are increasingly being recruited from India, China, and other developing countries with non-Finns now outnumbering Finns at Nokia’s renowned research center in Helsinki. And all major automobile manufacturers now build cars outside their borders; for instance, Honda builds cars in Ohio; Ford in Brazil; Volkswagen in Mexico; and both Mercedes and BMW ins South Africa.
These examples illustrate that the world has become a global village. In the process, the manager’s job is changing.
Increased Foreign Assignments: If you’re a manager, you are increasingly likely to find yourself in a foreign assignment transferred to your employer’s operating division or subsidiary in another country. Once there, you’ll have to manage a workforce that is likely to be very different in needs, aspiration, and attitudes from those you were used to back home.
Working with people from Different Cultures: Even in your own country, you’re going to find yourself working with bosses, peers, and other employees who were born and raised in different cultures. What motivates you may not motivate them. Or your style of communication may be straightforward and open, but they may find this approach uncomfortable and threatening. To work effectively with people from different cultures, you need to understand how their culture geography, and religion have shaped them, and how to adapt your management style to their differences.
Coping with Anti-capitalism Backlash: Capitalism’s focus on efficiency, growth, and profits may be generally accepted in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong, but these capitalistic values aren’t nearly as popular in places like France, the Middle East, and the Scandinavian countries. For instance, because Finland’s egalitarian values have created a “soak the rich” mentality among politicians, traffic fines are based on the offender’s income rather than the severity of the offence. So, when one of Finland’s richest men (he is heir to a sausage fortune), who was making close to $9 million a year, was ticketed for doing 80 kilometers per hour through a 40-kilometer zone in central Helsinki, the Finnish court hit him with a fine of $217,000.
Managers at global companies like McDonald’s Disney, and Coca-Cola have come to realize that economic values are not universally transferable. Management practices need to be modified to reflect the values of the different countries in which an organization operates.