Overview of the Power Generation Company of Trinidad & Tobago

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PowerGen was established on 24 December 1994 with the divestment of the generation assets of T&TEC. PowerGen owns and operates the country's three main power plants at Port of Spain, Point Lisas and Penal. Twenty one of its generating units are gas fired, with the generating units at Port of Spain power plant capable of operating either by oil or gas firing.

Our Vision is to be the leading supplier of quality energy, committed to the needs of our customers and sensitive to the environment.

Our Mission is to exceed our customers' expectations for quality energy in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, creating value for our customers, employees and shareholders.

PowerGen's Core Values are:

  • We take responsibility for our success and we are accountable for our actions in our organisation!
  • We know our organisation and the market in which we operate!
  • We identify and explore opportunities for growth!
  • We strive to align our personal goals with that of the organisation!
  • We promote and safeguard a positive image of PowerGen!
  • We take ownership!
  • We build mutually beneficial relationships!
  • We deliver results!
  • We care for country!

PowerGen recognizes that its future prosperity depends to a large extent on the hiring decisions made today. To this end, it is the policy of the Company to recruit the right persons for the right positions and to maintain a workforce best suited for the available positions through on-going training and development. The Company subscribes to the principles of equal opportunity in its recruitment and selection processes, selecting employees on the basis of merit, competency, advancement potential and character without reference to race, ethnic origin, religion or gender.

PowerGen - Not just Power, People too!1


1 http://powergen-co-tt.web25.winsvr.net/AboutUs/CoreValues/tabid/66/Default.aspx

History of PowerGen


The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission was established as a Statutory authority in 1946 and operates under the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission Act Chapter 54:70 which was revised in 1994 to allow the partial divestment of its generation assets. The Commission now has sole responsibility for the transmission and distribution of electricity throughout Trinidad and Tobago and currently supplies over 350,000 thousand customers.


One of the power subsidiaries of bp, a world class oil and gas company, is AMOCO TRINIDAD POWER RESOURCES. AMOCO group which has extensive experience in the power sector on a worldwide basis.


Maru Energy, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marubeni Corporation of Japan. Marubeni Corporation operates in fairly diversified industries with a strong focus on power sector investment globally. Marubeni has built 72,000 MW of generating plant around the world, and currently owns equity interest in generating capacity in aggregate 17.000 MW.2


2 http://powergen-co-tt.web25.winsvr.net/AboutUs/Shareholders/tabid/63/Default.aspx

Present Day at PowerGen

PowerGen is a part of the dynamic energy sector in Trinidad and Tobago. It provides electricity to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission. It employees approximately 2,000 employees which are distributed at the three power plants and the main head office situated around the country.

The oldest power plant located in the capital city of Port-of-Spain is tentatively commissioned for closure by 2013. This is to be replaced by a new mechanised power plant situated in the suburban area of the city. This has sparked unrest among the employees since information obtained through the grapevines point to restructuring of staff making the organisation leaner.

In addition, the physical environment has been a cause for concern. Even though they follow high safety standards on Monday 24th May, 2010 there was a fire in the Port-of-Spain power plant which disrupted the electricity around the neighbouring constituencies.3 Apart from that, the two deaths caused by an explosion in June 26th, 2006 at the Penal power plant still resonates fear in the minds of employees.4

Recently, there seems to be an increase in employee absenteeism, high rate of employee turnover, low employee morale, poor productivity and decreasing profitability. To find out the reasons for this, in December 2009 a study was conducted hoping to alleviate these problematic issues in order to remain profitable in anp increasing competitive environment.


3 http://www.news.gov.tt/index.php?news=3981

4 http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Coroner__Arrest_PowerGen_employee-110895929.html



"Many of us spend a good deal of our life working. At work, we make friends, learn about ourselves, grow and develop, we become innovative, energized and stimulated. Working cooperatively with others, we are able to create positive energy that gives us joy and added value to our companies" (Lynda Gratton, 2007).

"People are the main resource of any organisation. Without its members an organisation is nothing, an organisation is only as good as the people who work within it" (Mullins 2010). Therefore, the effective management of the "people resource" is highly important for an organisation's survival and success especially in an exceedingly dynamic and competitive environment which encompasses most organisations.

In Essence, the study of Organisational Behaviour (OB) is intrinsic for the organisation's success. "Organisational Behaviour is concerned with the study of the behaviour of the people within an organisational setting. It involves the understanding, prediction and control of human behaviour" (Mullins, 2010).

Johns and Saks (2005) refer to OB as the systematic study of the attitudes and behaviours of individuals and groups in organisations and provide insight about effectively managing and changing them. In addition, OB could be generally defined as the study and understanding of individual and group behaviour and patterns of structure in order to help improve organisational performance and effectiveness (Robbins and Judge, 2007).

Thus, the study of OB is concerned with many facets of organisational life and according to Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman (1999), "One way to recognise why people behave as they do at work is to view an organisation as an iceberg. What sinks ships isn't always what sailors can see, but what they can't see." Therefore, it is just as important to study the covert behavioural aspects of an organisation (attitudes, communication patterns, informal team processes, personality, underlying competencies and skills and conflict) as well as the overt formal aspects such as; technology, formal goals, rules and regulations, organisation design, physical facilities and surface competencies and skills. With this in mind, the PowerGen Company will be evaluated using four main OB issues in order to view the organisation holistically. These are: organisation structure, leadership styles, motivation and group dynamics.

Statement of Problem


Mullins (2010), work organisations are structured to create an environment that facilitates optimum working conditions. In order for maximum productivity to take place reconciliation of the organisation's needs with that of the employees' must happen. Therefore, an evaluation of the workers' needs and PowerGen's needs to know whether there is synergy or disharmony is necessary.

Aims and Objectives

In this study, there will be an evaluation of organisational behaviour issues in relation to the Power Generation Company to assess the causes for the current lack of productivity.


To assess the importance of having a good organisational structure and how this impacts on the behaviour of employees and the overall performance of the organisation.

To determine the effect of leadership style on the behaviour of employees and their level of commitment to tasks.

To evaluate the impact of power and authority in the organisation and how this impacts on behaviour.

To assess if a relationship exists between motivation and employee productivity.

To recommend any necessary changes in order to solve the issues stated above.

Literature Review and Analysis

Organisation Structure:

Bryans and Cronin (1983) state, a business establishes an organisation structure in an attempt to create a framework to facilitate the meeting of objectives. This structure in the organisation has an impact on roles, communication flow, location of authority and responsibility, efficiency and effectiveness. Also, it serves as the "formal power base or hierarchy within the organisation, and constitutes an important influence in the development of members' attitudes and behaviour."

Baptiste (2000) asserts that organisation structure is a way of allocating work roles, administrative and other responsibilities that creates a pattern of interrelated work activities and allows the organisation to conduct, coordinate and control its work activities.

Burns and Stalker (1963) as cited in Baptiste (2000) distinguish two types of organisations. These are: "mechanistic" and "organismic" which is later known as "organic." A mechanistic organisation is rigid and is well suited for a bureaucratic structure where decision making is routine and the environment is a relatively stable one. On the other hand, an organismic organisation is flexible since the environment is rapidly changing and requires non-routine and innovatory decision making.

According to Burns and Stalker (1963), PowerGen operates as a mechanistic structure with a high degree of specialised jobs with each level of the hierarchy having immediate supervision and coordination. There is a hierarchical structure of control, in addition to authority and communication. To reinforce the hierarchical structure, there is centralisation of information and decision-making at the top of the hierarchy. Also, there is "vertical interaction" between superiors and subordinates. Lastly, loyalty to the organisation is enforced as well as obedience to higher authority. All of these characteristics can impact on the morale of employees and productivity.

Centralised decision-making isolates senior management from the rest of the organisation and therefore, subordinates tend to feel a sense of alienation. They feel isolated from the company's goals and objectives because there is no integration of employees to business strategy and objectives. This alienation can lower employee morale and lower productivity levels. According to Karl Marx (1844) as cited in Barnard, Burgess and Kirby (2004), alienation is a systemic result of capitalism which is inherent in the work environment. For Marx, within the capitalist mode of production, workers lose determination of their lives and destinies because they are deprived of the right to think of themselves as the director of their actions, to define their own relationship with others, to use or own the value of what is produced by their actions. Workers can never become autonomous, self-realized human beings because they are directed into goals and activities dictated by the bourgeoisie or in this case senior management, who owns or has control over the means of production which allows them to extract the maximum amount of surplus value from the workers to enable competitive advantage. Alienation in this capitalist system occurs because workers can only express their individuality through a production system that is not collectively, but privately owned in which each individual functions not as a social being, but as an instrument.

Henri Fayol (1916), in his book 'Administration Industrielle et Generate' as cited in Marino (2010) developed a list of fourteen principles which depicts the process for obtaining a good organisation structure and demonstrates how to achieve profitability. (See Appendix B, Table 1 for a comprehensive list.)

From critical examination of this list it is evident that PowerGen has a vertical division of labour which is necessary for accuracy and effectiveness given the critical nature of the job but does not satisfy the social needs of the workers. Discipline is non-existent in the organisation because there is no sense of respect between employees. Employees are always using profane language towards supervisors and employees are always expressing their concerns in a disgruntled manner. Inherent in this organisation is poor unity of command. Subordinates report to multiple bosses which creates disarray according to Fayol.

This hierarchical structure which encapsulates a vertical division of labour, formal rules and procedures and according to Fayol (1916), a scalar chain of command represents a bureaucratic structure proposed by Max Weber (1964). Weber's ideas stressed the importance of management through rationality that is, "rational legal authority" as well as emphasising the rules and regulations of the workplace to maintain order and control. Weber saw bureaucracy as an ideal type, a model of a hypothetical pure form of an existing entity which has the following characteristics: division of labour, hierarchy of authority, public office, merit selection, career pattern and objective rules as seen in PowerGen's core values. 5

Although bureaucracies are becoming less popular amongst most organisations today, it is still present within organisations such as PowerGen which is due to the fact that high risks (fire, explosion, employee injuries and loss of life) associated with the job requires a stable rigid structure (Mullins, 2010). Therefore, a bureaucratic structure is necessary in this instance.

Burns and Stalker (1963) as cited in Bryans and Cronin (1983) question the "goodness of fit" of bureaucratic organisations to the economic and social environments confronting them. Specialisation or division of work would de-motivate the workers since they would not see the holistic view of the work they are doing. In addition, bureaucratic organisations are criticised for having too much "red tape." This creates communication problems where the sending and receiving of information can be delayed which are especially critical when emergencies occur.

Inter alia, Argyris (1964) as cited in Bryans and Cronin (1983) writing from the Neo-Human Relations School claims that bureaucratic organisations restrict the individual's psychological growth causing feelings of failure, frustration and conflict. He suggests that there should be individual responsibility, self-control and an opportunity for individuals to apply their full abilities within the organisation. Not being able to do this could result in de-motivation of staff, as they could easily get bored due to the monotonous job in which they perform.


5 http://www.ega.edu/facweb/strickland/soci1101online/CHAPTEROUTLINES/OutlineCHAPTER06.html

Merton (1940) as cited in Barnard, Burgess and Kirby (2004) is the main critic of Weber's bureaucracy being an ideal type. He advocated the "dysfunctions of bureaucracy." Merton observed that people in bureaucracies such as employees of PowerGen develop "trained incapacity", in which rules are obeyed for their own sake rather than as a means to an end. Also, the hiring practices may be based on a rigid set of formal requirements rather than the ability to perform the tasks involved in a job. Lastly, actual problems do not always fit into the compartments designed to handle them; this can lead to the "run around" for people trying to resolve problems.

In addition to a bureaucratic structure, PowerGen displays a functional structure as depicted in Appendix A, Figure 1. Mintzberg (1983) argues that "machine bureaucracy" is highly formalised and there are direct supervision and standardisation of work processes. This type of organisation is necessary due to the fact that work procedures, if altered can result in accidents and loss of life. Therefore, functional structures allow maximum supervision and control. Also, the need for specialised people to manage complex problems and situations where good decision-making is central to the operations is necessary.

However, good decision-making also entails quick decision-making which can be a problem with functional structures. Centralised decision-making by the managing director or senior management team is understood consequently, due to the increasing size of the organisation; communication can be slow, stressful and have "red tape." Gordon (1996) argues that a functional structure is not appropriate where rapid communication is necessary. Therefore, the disadvantages previously outlined by having a mechanistic, bureaucratic and functional organisation structure may the reason for loss of productivity and unhappy employees.

Leadership Style:

Charles Handy (1976) states that, "a leader is one who shapes and shares a vision which gives point to the work of others." Bryans and Cronin (1983) argue that leadership is a vital part of the control system in an organisation. If executed well, managers can influence the behaviour and attitudes of their subordinates.

PowerGen being a bureaucratic structure, the executive and line managers subscribe to an autocratic leadership style (Lewin et al. 1939). By enforcing this style of leadership, productivity remains high but when management is not present there is a significant decline in productivity. In addition, workers develop a nonchalant attitude to work when they are not coerced to do so. There is a high commitment level to complete tasks when the autocratic style is used however, if workers are left alone, they are not committed to completion of their tasks. Recently, management used a consultative style as advocated by Likert (1961) and there has been more cooperation from employees and a two - way exchange of information.

It can be argued that the autocratic leadership style employed is centred on controlling the workforce. For Lewin et al. (1939) and The Survey Research Centre at the University of Michigan (1950s and 1960s) cited in Bryans and Cronin (1983) assert that an autocratic leadership style might facilitate productivity but job satisfaction and employee morale can be severely affected. Using a democratic or participative approach is more suited for managing workers since they can be involved in the decision-making process of how to carry out tasks which is done by group discussions (Mullins, 2010).

However, Fiedler (1967) and Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1958) as cited in Baptiste (2000) argue that the leadership style alone of a manager does not encourage or discourage employees' productivity levels. There are situational variables that must be taken into account. For instance, the employees at PowerGen might not want to be given autonomy of their actions and may prefer to be led. In addition, the tasks to be carried out at PowerGen would require leaders with technical expertise and knowledge to delegate workers and ensure efficiency in workers' duties therefore, the leadership role cannot be taken lightly and handed over to subordinates. As such, the situational leader is the ideal type.

In addition, the argument wages on whether or not leaders are born and not made. The view that leaders are born is gleaned from the trait theory. Gordon (1996) asserts that more than one hundred studies indicate that leadership traits are inherent in the person's social and physical characteristics. This view has been highly criticised. For the contingency theorists, leaders are not born but also cannot be made. They doubt the fact that someone can be trained to produce an ideal style of leadership. PowerGen implements leadership training programmes for managers and supervisors but according to Fiedler (1967) it is easier to change the situation of the leader than to change the leader's style.

As Mullins (2010) states there is no one "best" leadership style. Different leadership styles are needed to cope with different organisational situations. Different types of leadership may also vary at different stages in the development of an organisation. Leadership alone cannot increase productivity and efficiency; it must be coupled with other factors to be beneficial.

Power and Authority:

Dahl (1957) as cited in Bryans and Cronin (1983) interprets power as the capability to exercise influence over the behaviour of others. As such that A has something (power) over B to the extent that A can get B to act in a certain way that B would not normally do. While, authority is when someone has the right to impose influence and is equivalent to legitimate power.