Introduction The Swedish Company ABB Commerce Essay


ABB was formed in 1987, as a result of the merger between Sweden-based engineering group, ASEA, with Switzerland-based Brown Boveri Limited and lead by Percy Barnevik who is one of Europe's most influential and successful chief executives.

Basically, ABB was chosen by authors Kevin Bareham and Claudia Heimer from the book, The Dancing Giant because it represents the role model for the entrepreneurial, financial success and globally connected corporation of the future. Both Percy Barnevik and his successor Goran Lindahl strongly believe that the importance of the company's human resources which emphasis on attracting and developing new talent is vital and seen as being the prime responsibility of line management.

For the following part, we will discuss whether it is good to work for ABB, and then we will proceed with discussion about the culture and employee behavior in turn. Lastly we will discuss about the proposal of management development practices that would suitable for ABB.

2.0 Discussion

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Nowadays, employee is view as a valuable asset for a company because employee is no longer viewed as collective and dispensable but is increasingly viewed as an individual with proactive inputs to the production processes which is the source of the organization's competitive advantage (Bacon 2003, Legge 2005, Ramaswamy, 2000). As a result, emphasis now has been focus on raising commitment in employees through their involvement. Participative Management has gained the importance as a way of ensuring employee's involvement by allowing employees to be involved more, which can be achieved through upward and downward communication, financial involvement, task-based participation and team working (Marchington 2001: 235-7).

Basically employee empowerment is something very important not only for the interest of the worker, but also for the management as well. Through employee empowerment it can assists in enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among organizational members through the identification of conditions which foster powerlessness and through their removal by both formal organizational practices and informal techniques of providing efficacy information (Conger and Kanungo 1988: 474, cited in Styhre 2004: 1445).

Clegg et al (2006) stated that democratic leadership usually produces not only sense of loyalty and belonging but also the most work of the highest quality. Usually democratic leaders will offer guidance to group members as well as participated in the group which allows input from other group members and as a result this enable group members to engage in the process and thus they're more motivated and creative. Besides that, democratic leadership also consists of a good ethnics, psychology and business. In this day, worker's is not only concerning about maximizing wages and reducing severity of labor in terms of effort and hours but what really matter is that through work, worker's will be able to obtain psychological and social benefits which include fulfillment and sense of belonging.

Workplace motivation is an important aspect as it influences people to do things which help to achieve organizational goals. For instance, in order for an individual to be motivated to complete organizational task effectively, their needs must be satisfied and met. Due to each individual may have different needs so different motivational tools must be utilized by the organization in order to encourage their employees to put in the needed effort thus increase productivity for the company.

Organization survival and success are measured by the contribution from motivated employees in such a competitive market environments and changing workplace. Basically job characteristics, working environment and appropriate organizational reward system are the factor of motivation. Therefore the strongest motivational factors which can influence both job satisfaction and employee motivation are through reward systems which will affects the job satisfaction by making the employee more comfortable and contented as a result of the rewards received.

A good communication channel is vital as according to Frank and Brownell (1989), internal communications refer to interaction between individuals and groups in organizations through various levels and from different areas of specialization. Kalla (2005) defines internal communications as "all formal and informal communication taking place internally at all levels of an organization" Through internal communications it will be able to nourish employee relations, establishing trust, providing timely and reliable information and thereby contributing to general motivation, particularly in times of change and stress.

Extensive downward and upward communication is seen as empowering acts because it removes communication barriers. The powerlessness of the employees where they do not have voices in the working place is being removed as the employees will be involved in the decision-making, and they will be having more autonomy in their work (Marchington 2001).

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In order to understand the implications of cultures within an organization therefore it is important to understand the basic concept of culture. Firstly the core of culture is composed of explicit and tacit assumptions or even through understandings commonly derived by a group of people. Secondly it is a particular configuration of assumptions or understandings that is distinctive to the group and these assumptions or understandings also serve as guides to acceptable and unacceptable perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Lastly they are learned and passed to new members of the group through social interaction. Besides that, culture is dynamic so it changes over time (Milliken and Martins, 1989).

The implication of this definition is that culture is a collective social phenomenon. For instance management communicates organizational work culture through practices of recruitment, staff appraisals, remuneration and flexible work arrangements and all these practices are aspects of social interactions. Organizational culture therefore can be created, rather than just inherited by employees. Once in existence, it subtly influences perception, thought, action, and feeling of the employees in ways that are consistent with their cultural reality. It is act as a guide line for selection, interpretation, and communication of information in ways that are meaningful to the employees. In order to understand organizational culture, therefore one must understand the basic assumptions of the employees, namely, their national cultural values and beliefs. Culture is not a characteristic of individuals as it encompasses a number of people who were conditioned by the same education and life experience.

By referring to ABB case studies we can see that ABB is having a distinctive feature of company culture, as all newly appointed employees are required to have a good education, strong analytical skills, good communication skill, interest in and openness to other culture as well as enthusiastic to drive business.

For instance, the Ritz-Carlton uses a selection process which combines interviews that determine a person's natural talents and abilities with skills assessment tests for the particular job. Likewise, AGA Catalog Marketing and Design requires a team of carefully selected employees to interview applicants for cultural fit (Anonymous, Inc. 1999) and Cisco Systems, in pursuit of the same goal, requires job applicants to complete five to ten face-to-face interviews (Cohen 2000).

On top of that, new employees of ABB will also be given early responsibility as well as subject to undergo a range of informal and formal development strategies. For example, Disney's Polynesian Resort has developed a training program, Magic of Polynesia, to facilitate employee understanding and commitment to the business and its values (Enz and Siguaw 2000). At Edward Jones, new brokers attend 17 weeks of training at costs ranging between $50,000 and $70,000 per person (Branch 1999).

Lastly, Arne Olssen is reported to have said "Exposing talented people to demanding assignments and providing feedback and support is the key to management development". For instance evaluation and feedback procedures are different in between firms. Some firms evaluate employees infrequently and provide feedback primarily in terms of job quantity, while others focus more on job quality and provide frequent and specific behavioral feedback. For example, at General Electric, some managers annually receive three to four formal reviews and feedback about their performance, in addition to feedback regarding their progress toward achieving agreed upon promotion goals (Cohen 2000).

ABB organization has a unique culture and the many features evident are;

A commitment towards goals and values as this has particular implications on how the employees are lead and motivated.

A recipe for success as the company searches only for excellence employees with at least a post graduate, conceptual person with good decision making, good communication, non bias and non discriminative off all culture, and with challenging spirit and ready to move forward.

Expression on how valued is expressed, for example with the use of slogans and mission statements.

Unspoken rules define in respect of how employee is expected to behave and how they are expected to dress.

The physical appearance of the company which include smart new buildings, tidiness and office layout.

Symbolism reflects a person's status and how the organization is presented to the outside world (such as its concern for ethical or environmental issues), presenting symbolically what is important through standards, placing emphasis on quality and so on.

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Rites and rituals include ceremonial observance. Events are ritualized in order to emphasize the extent to which they matter. This may include recognizing and rewarding success. Ceremonies are ritualized events - 'culture on display'.

Play is a useful function of bonding, helping resolve conflict while facilitating cooperation, sharing and enhancing vision.

According to Unachukwu (1997) an organizational behaviour can be seen as the systematic study of the nature of organizations, for instance how they begin and how they develop which will effects on individual members and this also applies on behaviour for people in an organization. It is not only about human behaviour but structural behaviour, elements behaviour, systems behaviour and even policy behaviour. For example, in order for a staff in the registry department to function efficiently and effectively, the registrar must understand the nature of people he is working with and be able to interpret their behaviours.

Organizational behaviour come together with the principle of human behavior due to the people in an organization are governed by the same psychological mechanisms with both on the job and outside the job. Organizational behaviour can also be considered as human behaviour through particular setting because the behaviour of an individual in an organization is determined by internal and external factors. These include learning ability, motivation, perception, attitude, emotions, frustration etc. While the external factors include stress, reward system, degree of trust, group cohesiveness, social factors, office policies etc.

Organizational behaviour can also be situational due to an individual's behaviour cannot be disassociated from the situation he finds himself. For example, a normally calm individual is forced into constant close physical aggressiveness with some other people. The behaviour of that individual is therefore a function of interaction between his characteristics and other environmental variables. Besides that an organizations are also seen as complex systems consisting of interrelated subsistence. Changes or amendments in any part of the system have consequences on other part of the system, for instance modification in the system leads to desired positive changes called functions while negative consequences in response to changes or amendments in the system are called dysfunction. Therefore the behaviour of an individual is borne out of the decisions that have been taken in an organization.

By referring to ABB case studies, we can see that after having recruited outstanding talent, they're given extensive training, learning and development through a range of informal and formal development strategies to ensure that these people remain at the forefront of their field in terms of professional expertise gained through training which facilitates learning so that people can become more effective in carrying out aspects of their work (Bramley, 2003).

Basically what is required initially is through learning on the job. Research shows that while executives learn most from actual experience as well as difficult situations, they could actually learn much better and more efficiently if there were an opportunity and process to help them organize and structure these experiences, either individually or through collectively. Companies are beginning to realize the importance of learning on the job.

Secondly, equally important approach is through action learning whereby participants learn by addressing real-life issues that are impacting their company. The idea is built around groups of colleagues working on a project or problem together with the goal of accomplishing a work-related initiative. As a result, the participants are able to practice and acquire new skills, work as a team, and receive and provide feedback.

Thirdly, coaching and mentoring programs generally prove to be popular among employees as coaching achieves a balance between fulfilling organizational goal and objective while at the same time taking into account the personal development needs of each and every individual employees. It is a two-way relationship with both the organization and the employee gaining significant benefit (Shermon, 2004). Both also focuses on the individual which can enhance morale, motivation and productivity, and reduce staff turnover because individual feel value and connected with both small and large organizational changes.

Job sharing

When two part time employees divide the duties of one job and one paid according to what they have done, it is an approach to work that is attractive to people who went to work forever than forty hours per week.

3.0 Conclusion

From my point of view, I personally considered ABB as a good company to work for basically due to