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W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Analyze the structure and environment of W.L. Gore. Include in your analysis each of the structural dimensions discussed in your text and indicate the type of environment W.L. Gore operates in. Provide reasons and explanations to support your analysis.
Organizations are designed according to the type of settings that influence and shape their structural dimensions (Daft, 17). Some are formalized with rules and procedures designed to handle contingences faced by an organization. These rules and procedures are uniform and consistent with specifications. Specialization entails the division of labor, job titles, and multiple divisions where tasks are divided, supervised, and dispersed to field or branch offices. Hierarchy of authority describes which individuals carry out the orders of other individuals and who carry out the orders of their superiors. This hierarchy helps in supervising employees and in coordinating and making decisions, which could be elaborated as having ten or more levels of authority while in partnerships or in a single proprietorship, there may be less. Centralization refers to where in the organization decisions are made and which groups have the power to contribute to the decision-making process. In a centralized organization, what the unit at the top says determines what the lower units do. Professionalism is the level of formal education and training of employees (Daft, 20). Professionalism helps organizations recruit higher quality personnel that creates an atmosphere of that encourages respectful communication and diligence in fulfilling their responsibilities. Lastly, organizational structure depends on the personnel ratios that refer to the number of employees assigned to specific tasks as proportioned to all the employees in the organization.
Founder, Wilbert L. Gore (Bill) created a flat lattice organization where there were no chains of command or pre-determined channels of communication. Associates hired are personnel who are able to motivate themselves to a work area. Associates communicate directly with each other and are accountable to fellow members. Associates are encouraged to continually grow and develop. They are also encouraged to take an interest in a wide variety of job functions. Associates within W.L. Gore & Associates have the freedom to use their judgment to determine if they have suitable skills, time, and experience to lend a hand in another work area. Associates are what differentiate Gore as an enterprise and fuel growth. Knowledge, expertise, talents, creativity, and hard work are what lead to unique, valuable, and profitable products. It is for this reason that attracting, growing, energizing, and retaining the best talent is critical to their success. There is a financial incentive for associates wanting to be part of a winning company. There are no pay structures, pay is determined according to a person’s contribution, which goes towards the overall success of the company. Pay is calculated according to the individual’s effort. Associates also are given long-term financial rewards, which encourages company loyalty and increased levels of contribution. WL Gore also offers stock ownership, which all associates are given. Shares are increased annually based on the associate’s participation.
Since 1958, Gore has avoided traditional hierarchy, opting instead for a team-based environment that fosters personal initiative, encourages innovation, and promotes person-to-person communication among all of our associates. This kind of unique corporate structure has proven to be a significant contributor to associate satisfaction and retention, and continues to be a factor in our inclusion in the magazine’s annual list of top companies.
WL Gore works hard to maximize individual potential, maintain an emphasis on product integrity, and cultivate an environment where creativity can flourish. A fundamental belief in WL Gores associates and their abilities continue to be the key to their success.
Identify, analyze, and describe in some detail the culture of W.L.Gore. Provide reasons and explanations to support your analysis.
I will describe the organizational culture, structure and what has contributed to WL Gore’s success. WL Gore and Associates, established in 1958, have one of businesses most unusual structures and cultures. However, the concept has worked and has been profitable for both the company and associates who have the privilege to be there. A corporate culture and the organization’s structure can spell success or disaster for a business. Restructuring and reorganizations are a common event as businesses attempt to become more responsive to their environment, more efficient, and more competitive. WL Gore takes their reputation for product leadership seriously, continually delivering new products and better solutions for marketplaces. WL Gore has repeatedly been named among the ‘100 Best Companies to Work for in America,’ and the culture is a model for contemporary organizations seeking growth by unleashing creativity and fostering team-work.
Organizational culture comprises the attitudes, values, beliefs, norms and customs of an organization. Whereas organization structure is relatively easy to draw and describe, organizational culture is considered to be less tangible and more difficult to measure. What sets WL Gore apart from the traditional organizations is that they encourage hands-on innovation, involving those closest to a project in decision making. Teams organize around opportunities and leaders emerge. The big difference from other organizations, however, is the work environment.
WL Gore has associates that adhere to four guiding principles; fairness to each other, freedom to encourage, ability to make commitments and consultation with other associates. WL Gore also maintains the status quo of equality and encourages associates to contribute independently and collectively in teams loosely based around a work area. Members of the organization bring their own individual experiences, beliefs, and values. Work-groups within the organization have their own behavioral quirks and interactions, which, to an extent, affect the whole system. Task culture can be imported. That is to say, computer technicians will have expertise, language and behaviors gained independently of the organization that set them apart from their colleagues, but their mere presence can influence the culture of the organization.
A Strong culture is said to exist where staff respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. Where culture is strong – people do things because they believe it is the right thing to do. Innovative organizations such as WL Gore need individuals, who are prepared to challenge the status quo to share information, implement new ideas effectively and add value to the organization. Organizational culture is “the residue of success” within an organization. The cornerstone of associate culture is encouraging individuals to believe in their potential overall contribution to the power of a small team.
Analyze W.L. Gore using Miles and Snows Strategy (as defined in your text), Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model, and Porters Competitive Strategies.
W.L. Gore, the $2 billion-a-year Newark, Delaware company, innovates on many fronts and boldly adapts its inventions for completely different markets. W.L. Gore got its start in 1958 when Bill Gore, a DuPont chemist, envisioned some ways to use polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)–the smooth, slippery polymer better known as Teflon–that DuPont wasn’t pursuing. In 1969 Gore’s’ son Bob (an engineer who is now chairman of the company) found a way to stretch the polymer, creating expanded PTFE, or ePTFE, which was trademarked Gore-Tex. The material became the basis for a host of new product possibilities, including the durable outdoor fabric that was introduced in the ’70s and is still W.L. Gore’s bestselling product line.
In 2008, Gore’s “Know What’s Inside” promotional campaign won the PRO Award presented by PROMO Magazine for delivering the most effective promotion marketing experience. Gore is a price maker not a price taker, and sells only to producers of high quality goods who sell them at premium prices (Slack and Parent 2006).
Some companies might have been tempted to focus on fabrics, perhaps turning into a clothing manufacturer, but not W.L. Gore. Using Gore-Tex as its springboard, Gore has gone on to create a variety of completely different products. Gore is so good at innovation and product development that it has become a major player in areas as diverse as guitar strings, dental floss, medical devices, and fuel cells. And it has managed to post a profit every single year since its founding.
Gore prides itself on being a team-based organization that fosters personal initiative. The company has no traditional organizational charts, no chains of command, no predetermined channels of communication, and decentralizes decision-making. Associates are hired for their skills in specific work areas. Gore works hard to create an environment where creativity can flourish by combining freedom with cooperation, and autonomy with synergy (W.L. Gore Website 2009).
Analyze W.L.Gore’s technology and identify the type of interdependence it uses. Provide reasons and explanations for your analysis.
View the W.L. Gore web site and discuss their current state in regards to the concepts analyzed above.
In conclusion, I have described WL Gore’s organizational culture, structure and what has contributed to WL Gore’s success. WL Gore and Associates, established in 1958, have one of businesses most unusual structures and cultures. They have capitalized on their niche and have been profitable. A key factor I think is that they bring everybody in at the same level and then they have to show potential growth, loyalty, and if they are an asset of liability for the company. By empowering the associates to be engaged at all levels based on their skill sets and abilities puts them in their comfort zone. WL Gores associates feel important and involved and know what is happening in the workplace. They are all their to make money and have fun and have the vehicles to do so by the company.
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