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Cultural Changes To Organisations Apple Case Study Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 4554 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This essay was primary design to examine the important of the cultural changes to organisations using Apple as a Case Study, gathering different systematic approach with variable models, then having examined the core aspect of culture, the leadership quality, organisation structure, performance management and the human resource strategy, to analyse possible outcome of any chosen approach for the predicted changes. It was discovered that there is no one way approach to the end result, in recommendation to this complexity nature however, conclusion where made, that sacrifice have to be made to get rid of the bad aspect of the organisation to retain this goods, that it is rather totally impossible to have a holistic and unique organisation without some form of setback if organisations objectives are to be achieved. More so the recommendations made where in great consideration of Apples corporate culture.

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What is culture of Apple?

Apple incorporation is today’s one of the biggest if not the biggest organisation culture change trend master, in the past few years apple as being in the light of it totally perceive genius ways of getting thing done with a different, however Apples corporate culture is constantly changing as a result of changes to its leadership/CEO from time to time. Apples corporate culture is characterise by its intense work ethic and casual work culture (case study p.3) observers also noted that Apple culture is centred on secrecy and very hard discipline for employees that void the rule by sharing information. To gain an in-depth understanding of this we must dwell into Apple historical background, it pros and cons, and the possibility of future management. Therefore the empirical question would be what is the culture of Apple?

What is culture?

Culture has been describe by many authors, school of thoughts, theories to mention a few in relation to its conceptual usage, it has been described for example as the dominant values espoused by an organisation’,’ the commonly held and relatively stable set of beliefs, attitudes, values and norms that exit throughout an organisation’ the basic assumption and beliefs that are share by member of an organisation’. In recent time culture has been refer to as ‘the way things are done around here. Lynch (2006, p.37) culture refers to the shared understandings and meanings of that members have concerning an organisation. Rather as individuals have distinctive personalities organisation have their own particular culture. Some will be friendly, relaxed and informal while others will be highly formal aloof and hostile. Also Drenna(1992).in senior.B (1997).p101)says culture is what typical of the organisation, the habits the prevailing attitudes, the grown up pattern of accepted and expected behaviour “.

The main feature of culture is that even though there are many organisational differences there seem to be share understandings within them. Culture tends to build gradually in rational thinking of groups with the system which later forms a sub/dominant culture. Using Handy (1993) cultural model, handy opine that ‘A culture cannot be precisely define, for it is something that is perceived, something felt handy (p. 191).however he pointed out the four type of culture in organisation which are explain in fig1.1.




Power Culture

A web

Control from centre; political and entrepreneurial ,personal power serves the figure-head and the leader

Role Culture

The Greek Temple

Classical structure; bureaucratic; role identity position power predominate, serves the structure

Task culture

A net

Valued individual expertise and contribution focus on completing the job, both personal and position powers are important; high level of collaboration base on group unity.

Person culture

A cluster or galaxy

Combine of a lose collection of individuals-pursuing own goal but share common facility, power not necessary a focus because members are experts in their own field. This culture serves the individual.


The four culture type highlights how power and control are utilized by organisation and of whose interest are they serving? certainly there’s an element of power culture at Apple inc, as noted in the case study, Steve entrepreneurship style had giving way for personal ideology and more-or-less gain control over the system, he is characterise as Apple a mirror image of Apple, of course we can say this is of Advantage, but the bad aspect is the span of control and politic associated with Steve upon returning back in late 1990s, when he changed the culture back to the way it’s use to be when he was at the apex Apple. Also the Role culture could be link with eras of Sculley, and other leaders who try to formalize the structure by imposing their own rule, neglecting the important of project groups, which is central to the Task culture even though individual expertise at Apple is crucial to its innovation the only existing collaboration is based on secrecy. A typical reflection of Apple is the individual culture we may say is the Person culture as different geeks work tiredly to bring about a unique invention based on their expertise.

Is the culture good or bad for Apple?

According to, Van backer(case study p.10), ( Backer)an analyst at Gartner inc, noted” when Apple goes out to hire somebody, the no 1 criteria isn’t how much experience you have or who you know .it’s whether they think you will fit into the culture. Secrecy seems very good for Apples corporate culture as it brought good market value for the product, innovation, and keeps customer loyalty going, the downside of this though is the culture of Secrecy had eaten deep into both the internal and external environment of Apple, they became so paranoid that employee were not allow to share internal information, they call it the “surprise factor” (case study P.11 1). Clearly this will affect employees’ engagement and leads to de-motivation of individuals, another is legal ethics surrounding secrecy that leads to big bail out in legal battle, which of course is bad for the corporate image and share profit. Reasonably any changes to the secrecy culture without due care may affect performance and alter the structure. Nevertheless the culture seems unique but can it function without structure, the leadership, performance and strategy? Ideally, we can communicate this by a thorough analysis of the model below; take note that the model is a non linear model as all the elements are inter-related and interdependent.

Fig1.2 A model of relationship between culture, leadership, performance, strategy and structure.

The model explained that culture is interdependent with the other four linked organisational behaviour, that any alteration at the centre point (culture) will have a major effect on the these linked elements in any direction, in a simple form an alteration of culture as a result of leadership change will also result in structural change, impacted the strategy, and affect the performance, the rebounds effect may occur in vice-visa order, which in turns brings complexity rather than flexibility. As organisation faces difficult obstacles in providing systemic changes to culture, the most successful organisations are belief to be those with a clear understanding of the important changes from the four elements; this view is supported by various scholars, Cameron and Quinn (2006) emphasis this life cycle shift in culture that had developed in Apple over time.

Noticeable in the case study is the commentators’ reference to Apple as a unique culture, analysts argued that Steve the CEO of Apple is the best marketer in the world, this is good but his leadership style suggests a different view. For instance secrecy is the pinnacle of Apples strategic marketing culture. The initial exit of Steve saw a change in leadership that resulted in different performance and strategy, when Sculley was brought on by Steve to help, as a manager, this itself would obviously alter the Structure, because the strategy was not yielding good results. Which cause a drastic change of performance as the new leader struggle to change the previous culture.

Apple was known to appreciate and value its employee, it worth noting that whereas motivational theories such as B.F Skinner (1974), Mintberg (1979), have highlighted the importance of reward and value as the ideological stimuli that motivate individual to work, in contrast, at Apple any universal concept of motivation might not work, because of how Apple justifies its reward system with a do or die culture. More so the structure at Apple Inc is becoming complex as it evolves into a different pattern over the years.

FIG2 Hierarchy and Flat structure


The above is an illustration of a standardize structure of organisation formulated by many scholars over the year to explain organizational functionality; the flat is more prominent to entrepreneurship, with suitable element of informal, charismatic, and informal leadership quality but grapevine in nature while the other is ideal for a larger organisation, this was centred by the work of Mayo (1934) in Hawthorn study and was later confirmed by Huczynski and Buchanan,(2007 p.460). It is said the right structure must support strategy, be appropriate-reflecting the goals of individual or the organisation. It must remain flexible and be permissive to communication.

However, of all the supportive research is the work of Canadian academic, Henry Mintzberg. According to Mintzberg (1979) an organisational structure is the sum total of the way in which it divides its labour into distinct tasks and then achieve coordination between them’. also structure is define as “the established pattern of relationship between the components parts of an organisation, out lining both communication control and authority patterns .supportive to this also is Wilson and Rosenfeld(1990) explained that structure distinguishes the parts of an organisation and delineates the relationship between them”.

This is supported by Apple’s trend in organisation structure which is more complex than initially perceived, for instance Apple is seen as the pioneer of “work hard play hard” ethic. Equally important is the frequent changes in culture as different leaders tried to adopt a different approach to reorganise the structure, it is interesting that analyst said Apple adopted a style that was not too far too formal or hierarchical and that the approach was more result-driven.the other bad effect of Apple structure is it tend to yield to favouritism, unfairness and biases, this bad thing of having a formal structure, as employees complain of organisational politics within the system, this will no doubt de-motivate staff morale.

In ugly circumstances as a reference to the case study, any poor performance at Apple will not be consistent with its culture; it is important to say that any change in culture will resort in change in structure, however if the structure cannot survive without the culture then where do we inject the leadership style to bring about ultimate performance? Apple structure is neither hierarchy nor flat we could say it’s more of a hybrid or matrix, the flat is more organic which is prone to bureaucracy according to Max webber in analyst of organisation he had identified the principle of bureaucracy as a continuous organisation that is bound by rules. Webber outline the importance of ideal bureaucracy to an organisation as positive and rational unlike the other which he described as domination as charismatic authority and traditional authority .thus we are likely to adjust the culture to fit the structure as the case of Apple might be, ideally the Adhocracy culture may be implemented.

Apples ideal culture Vs Structure

Cameron and Quinn (2006) gave an insight into what an ideal adhocracy culture is, they went on to say that there are four types of culture develops within different dimension, the four culture namely the Clan culture, the Hierarchy Culture, the Market Culture and the Adhocracy Culture. The assumption were that organisation were in business to develop new ideas, new product and thus be able to respond to the hyper turbulent world, therefore the major task of management would be to forester creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. The good picture is Apple structure is informal which promotes cratetivity, and recognises the important of leadership charisma, it’s a bitter end as this can only work effectively in smaller organisation.

Adhocracy have been characterised as “tents rather than palaces “in sense that they are temporary and response to situational changes rapidly, taking advantage of flexibility and ambiguity. As Apple is a technological industry which must learn to adjust and respond to change in product and market value, Apples culture is dynamic because of the visionary and risk of it leadership effectiveness, as their focus is leading edge of new products and producing unique and original product. However is important to state that the transformation of Apple largely rely on leadership quality and employee commitment to it structural and cultural changes whenever the needs arise.

Fig 2.1 A representation of Apples organisation formation structure.


Leadership as a concept has been an interesting centre piece to different fields of thought, to the ordinary man; a leader is just a symbolic head, but as a supportive element by theorists and analysts a definite category of classification; it is said the most important type of leaderships are of the following: the charismatic, the traditional, the situational, the appointed, the functional and the principle centred leader for the purpose of this essay we will look at leadership from management perspective, according Cole(2004), leadership is define as the following:

“leadership at work is a dynamic process whereby one individual in a group is not only responsible for the group results but actively seeks the collaboration and commitment of all the group members in a achieving group goals in a particular context and against the background of a particular national culture”


The leadership style of Apple is highly represented by their iconic CEO Steve that is highly regarded for his innovative, creative and marketing strategies. Using classification of leadership, his style could be linked as the transformational leader according to Burns (1978), which is characterised by the transformation of organisation, creativity and innovation with the purpose to engender commitment. This is genuinely good for Apple, However the simplicity of his approach could resort in the downfall of his perceived personality and organisational performance, for instance if this was ideal for the organisational culture then the question would be the sited instances of global workforce revolting against the culture of secrecy used by Apple as an accepted way to move the company forward. The side effect of Steve’s charismatic role at Apple is what happens when he leaves the organisation! Will this mean there’s no other possible replacement for his strategy and the portrait of Apple is damages for good?

If apple is to maintain its status quo as the number one most valued company in the world then it needs to engage itself in some form of leadership reorientation as over the past decade different management/leaders have tied to change the culture of apple and its structure only to head back to the starting point which is where they are today, Steve job certainly must be doing some right, concrete evidence suggest that Steve job must have outperformed his expectation to the board of management as emphasized in the case study.


the ripple effect of change of leaders/managers at Apple inc emphasis the need for change in culture, however this changes also brought about change in structure as each leader tries to implement his/her own ideology, arguable is the internal problem that apple faces from its reorganisation, for instance the appointment of Sculley who was credit for making Apple one of the biggest and fastest-growing corporation in the US.(case study p.5 ).A series of failure in the early 90s again brought another power shift when the board decided it time for leadership change and Micheal pindler was appointed in 1993 to replace Sculley, Spinder also fail to perform as expected ,Amelio could have being the one man that brought the last drastic change into apple because of his focus on Apple product line and workforce reduction but fail follow Apples corporate culture, once more Steve was back in business to turn things Around. A key point to his transformational leadership style, nevertheless it would appear that the board were more interested in performance rather than leadership quality or style; however performance cannot be divorced from leadership.

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Performance, there’s no generalised definition of performance; it has being said that performance cannot be easily defined as you cannot measure or manage it. However few management researchers have noted the core different of performance from other fields in comparison to management sectors. Performance is more adapted to performance management day in day out, therefore performance could be agreed to be of relevance to situational changes. Armstrong and Baron (1998) define performance management as “a strategic and integrated approach to delivering sustained success to organization by improving the performance of the people who work in them by developing the capability of team and individual who work in them”.. Therefore, it provides avenue for knowledge on organizational objectives and goals and a spectrum to manage and train individual in order to achieve to such objectives’ Armstrong stress that performance is strategic because it is concern with broader issues facing organizational effectiveness.

As evidence in the case study the market value of Apple against the backdrop of its financial performance over the years in Exhibit VIII, it is clear that in the past decade there being a major profit share in the company, more so recently Apple posted all time record revenue with increase earnings of 78 percent, as of July 2010. Apple posted record revenue of $15.7 billion and also quarterly profit of $3.25 billion, (APPLE press release 2006). Surely the share holders would be very pleased with the result. These results compare to workforce engagement and the strategy used to achieve result cannot be overlooked, Apple was known to appreciate its employees. It was consider a great place to work for people who are personate about what they did. (Case study p.3) also experts felt one of the key success to Apples performance is its ability to attract and retain key personnel in technical, marketing and staff positions.

Nevertheless financial performance in one comfort zone for the company identity externally, but does this speak the same for the internal general audit of employee of Apple who work tirelessly for over 60hours to get this results out. The secrecy involved creating the competitive edge and the sighted instance of the Chinese employees that commit suicide then how engaged are the staff of Apple incorporation. In reality if we alter the strategic approach of performance which rely on secrecy and long hour working ethic, surely this would revert the profit standing of Apple ,therefore this can’t be achieved although the element of secrecy may be bad, this however may not be change as the entire strategy and organisation culture rely on it to survive.

The unique culture of Apple which is base on the leadership style of one man approach: Steve jobs, can it survive after the exit of jobs. its plausible to say yes as jobs himself claim he had trained others to manage whenever he is no longer available, however the determination of each individual could result in systemic failure of the culture as every leader approach with a different goal setting. If the goal serve as the basis for motivation, and the goals are set by managers, industrial standard or base on negotiation, how then do you motivate individual, researchers Add a few more??? noted that one can be motivated by target set against the others while you could be de-motivated by over pressured standard. “levison (1972)”highlights this in Asinine attitude towards motivation, in relation to reward or punishment to motivate workers, more so borrowing the work of Hygiene theory of motivation by Herzberg (1968),which he claim that the most important motivator or satisfier are



Work itself



While the following called hygiene factors or dissatisfies

Company policy and administration.

Supervision-the technical aspects.


Interpersonal relations-supervision

Working conditions.

Herzberg pointed out that these factors were intrinsically related to the content of work, i.e. with intrinsic challenge, interest and the individual responses generated by them.

If applied to Apple, how do we justify the working condition of staff who work for long hours to get the job done, or does the secrecy atmosphere bring about individual motivation or fear of punishment has whoever fail to comply to the culture is noticeably punished, the reward scheme in apple for those that come up with innovative technology like iphone, mac ipad could result in esteem of individual while the punishment approach on the other hand is detrimental to the public image of Apple as any failure leads to sacking individual or leakage of secret will automatically result in dismissal. Therefore we could say any universal concept of motivation might not work in Apple cooperate culture base on perceived punishment and reward of staff performance, thus Apple cooperate culture is zero experience and no stability of staff until now though it has worked for the company.

Even though the strategy may be consider risky. Apple target young staff recruits with less commitment and more glory seeking rather than experience. However is worth saying the older generation are not mush expandable. This could be explain using Maslow (1956) Hierarchy of needs, which he associated the important of needs to motivate individual, starting from basic needs called physiological needs, follow by safety needs, then love needs, esteem needs, and self actualisation. He emphasis that as one needs is fulfil we move up to another. A key point to Apple Staff retention

Goal setting (locke,shaw sari &latham 1981)A change in goal will foreseen a better Apple as a company, for example Apple has always focus on improving on a previous product i.e. Iphone1,2,3..4.e.tc while not come up with something entirely different and innovative. Even though Apple came up with a micro palm device name ipad, it still relied entire on the old operating system which is gradually facing out as competition grows in the technology industry. Again the past ten years down the line Steve Jobs was back the in same job at the apex of the company after many failures of different managers at various stages of cultural development within Apple inc. even though Jobs is making money for apple for now the question is will same strategy that fails at the initial past decade in culture, work for the future?

A do or die culture was Apples it ideal for apple? For instance sculley tried for Apple for about five years, thus due to cultural strategy of sculley, the board got rid of him. At this juncture the answer would be it all depends on many factors conserving strategy culture and variable element to forecast the future.


Ohmae (1982), comment that ‘what business strategy is all about …is, in a word, competitive advantage. Without competitors, there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.’ different academics, have define strategy in reflexion of objective and organisational goal with viable attribute to structure. Chandler (1962) defines strategy as the determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and allocation of resources necessary for carry out those goals’. In a simple word strategy must encompass various aspect of organisational defitions, create analysis while making choice before implantation and return back to analyse result. This is represented in strategic process below .by Johnson and scholes (2006).

The strategy process Strategy


Implementation Choice HRM Finance operations sales/marketing

All the above are based on structure and corporate culture, therefore the overall strategy at Apple is subjected to many reviews taking in to consideration their strength, i.e. secrecy and brand packaging, the unique and trend product, and the possible side effect that comes with ethical issues like radiations, one man culture-Steve, an alteration will result in change in performance, therefore this are necessary tool for Apple to keep, if they are to maintain continues brand and global advantage.


Base on reviews of different model in relation to the impact of corporate culture at Apple the following conclusion can be made:

There is a significant effect of Apples corporate culture on leadership, performance and reward, strategy and structure.

There is also significant impact of the corporate culture on the internal and the external environment.

The following recommendations are opinionated:

There should be a minimal structural adjustment to Apples corporate culture; management should make sure to reduce dissonance, workers are allowed in decision-making process and team interaction be also allowed.

Employee should be made adequately aware of the organisational gains, loses, management policies and goals and a reasonable reward scheme in place to motivate workers.

Has secrecy is both good and bad for the organisation it should be kept at a level that encourage performance and it share understanding among the employees and manage since is a necessary evil that can’t be gotten rid of.

Leadership role should also in context of management training to retain future management and valuable culture.


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