Analysis of the case chattanooga using the political system metaphor
analysis of the case chattanooga using thePolitical System metaphor
Karlstad Business School Handelshögskolan vid Karlstads UniversitetCourse code: FEAD51Course name: Competence and LeadershipTitle: Analysis of the Case Chattanooga Using the Political System MetaphorDate of Submission: 2013-01-17Family name Given nameShurrab HafezEl Bouassami MohammedName of the teacher: Markus Fellesson and Sofia MolanderName of the administrator: Frania Johansson
1. INTRODUCTION The metaphors of organizations and management have been discussed by Gareth Morganin his book “Images of Organizations” (Morgan, 2006). Morgan exposed eight metaphoricalimages of organizations including machine, organism, brain, culture, political system, psychicprison, flux and transformation, and instrument of domination. Each one of these metaphorscreates insight, but also obscures some corners. They have both pros and cons. They enableseeing, but also not seeing. No one of them is said to be correct and right.2. BACKGROUND Chattanooga Ice Cream Division is one of three major incorporated industries to CFC,Chattanooga Food Corporation. The division lost third-largest customer for no logicalreasons. Charles Moore, the president and general manager of the division conducted amanagement meeting to discuss current situations, investigate the root causes, and find outproper solutions. Many conflicts occurred during the meeting. The actions and reactions canbe projected to reflect how the division functions as one of metaphorical images. In thisreport, the case is analyzed using the political system metaphor. In other words, it discusseswhat we could see and reflect when projecting the division’s behavior on the principles andapproaches of the political system metaphor.3. THEORY An organization’s politics is most clearly manifest in the conflicts and power plays thatsometimes occupy center stage, and in the countless interpersonal intrigues that providediversions in the flow of organizational activity. More fundamentally, however, politicsoccurs on an ongoing basis, often in a way that is invisible to all but those directly involved(Bacharach & Lawler, 2000). There are three relationships to be considered when speaking of organizations thesystems of political activities, which are interests, conflict and power (Morgan, 2006). Politicsaccepts the reality of multilateralism. Therefore, the concept of politics is strongly connectedwith the diversity of interests. Projecting that on organizations generally, they could beregarded as arenas for reconciling different interests (Culbert & McDonough, 1980). Differentinterests are natural and must be handled. For that purpose, the general interests are analyzedas individual interests. There are three types of individual interests including task, career, andextramural interests. Task interests are connected with the work once has to perform, whilecareer interests are connected to what the person want to achieve with the work. Theextramural interests are connected what we want to achieve as a private self’s. There is a -1-
structural diversity of interests in organizations. That could be bounded by two extremesalong hierarchical scales, where bureaucrats’ tendency represents the upper part, andprofessionals’ tendency dominates the lower wide areas (Benson, 1973). When interests collide, conflicts arise. The political perspective admits the presence ofconflicts. There are three major forms of conflicts including, conflicts between person,groups/departments, and value systems/structures (Brown, 1983). There are five mainapproaches for conflict resolution, including avoiding, competing, accommodating,compromising and collaborating styles (Burrell & Morgan, 1979). Power is the medium through which conflicts are resolved (Bacharach & Lawler, 1980).There are two relevant perspectives of power forms including resources and social relation ordependency. Moreover, there are 14 sources of power. That may involve formal authority;control of scarce resources; use of organizational structure, rules, and regulations; control ofdecision processes; control of knowledge and information; control of boundaries; ability tocope with uncertainty; control of technology; interpersonal alliances, networks, and control ofinformal organization; control of counterorganizations; symbolism the management ofmeaning; gender and the management gender relations; structural factors that define thestages of action; and the power one already has (Morgan, 2006).4. ANALYSIS4.1. Interests When looking through the case of Chattanooga Ice Cream Division, many manifestationsand reflection could be analyzed from the political system metaphor perspective. One of therealities that politics accept is that all political systems embrace different interests (Culbert &McDonough, 1980). The meeting Moore conducted reflects this reality as well. As wenoticed, many vice presidents of the division’s departments tried to describe and analyze theproblem the division experienced in a way that made their departments out of contributingcauses. For instance, Billy Fale, the vice president of production, tried to vindicate hisdepartment by explaining their huge effort to get inventories manageable despite the limitedefficiency the division’s information systems had. Whereas, Stephanie Krane, the division’scontroller, blamed the complexity of the information systems that required long time todevelop, test, and install. Moreover, for pushing herself away of the causing factors, Kraneexplained her experience to recover previous troubles. The other vice presidents manipulatedthe description of the situation so that the possible solutions go in their departments’ favors orinterests so to speak. Barry Walkins, the vice president of marketing, attributed the problem to -2-
the neglect of his recommendations. He asked considering mixed-ins in the division’sproduction plan, basing that on his marketing research. He might be seen as a manager whowanted to record a victory for his way of thinking, researches, or departmental domain.Another reflection could be built on the reaction of Les Holly, the division’s sales manager.He tried to drive the opinions judgmentally. Holly started reflect the root causes of theproblem from the sense that the rest of managers didn’t have the wide image he had, since heused to spend most of the time in the stores. He focused on operational deficiencies, such asstockouts and back orders, to make it rational to compensate that with the promotionalallowances, regardless any other contributing factors. Moore has accepted the difference of interests of the managers. This is apparent from theway he dealt with their opinions. He considered all solutions in spite of his acquaintance tothe background of motives for each manager. The individual interests could be classified intotask interest, career interests, and extramural interests (Culbert & McDonough, 1980). Faleshowed his interests of keeping everything under control by rejecting the change Walkinsproposed. All his reactions during the meeting seemed to be operational and numericalreflections. That kind of interests could be seen as task interests. The same is to be said forKrane. Her comments reflect her interest of sticking to certainty and not making faults. On theother hand, Holly’s interests may be classified as career interests, as he emphasized on thepromotional allowances many times. Perhaps, he wanted to improve his external personalrelationships using such allocations. In the same context, we think that Walkin’s interestscould be classified as extramural interests, since he wanted to prove his talent of marketingresearch practically. His proposal was rational and strongly relevant to the problem. He triedto show his loyalty through his honest attempts to make the division changes positively. Thisway of classification doesn’t necessarily mean that this classification is an absolute matter.All of them may have overlapped interests that belong to each category.4.2. Conflicts Another common aspect of the political system is conflicts. Conflict will always bepresent as long as the interests collide. That may include conflicts between persons,departments, and structures (Coser, 1956). In Chattanooga, the conflict arose between Faleand Walkins were more personal. Walkins criticized Fale’s neglect to his suggestion, and Falein turn criticized Walkins’ ideas. Both critiques were directed to the personal behaviour.Additionally, Holly criticized the policy concerned with cost reduction at the expense of salesdepartment. The conflict arose between him and Krane could be seen as departmental conflict. -3-
There are five common styles of conflict resolution including avoiding, compromise,competition, accommodation, and collaboration (Burrell & Morgan, 1979). For Chattanooga,and before the age of Charlie Moore, his father led the show entirely. He was the firstresponsible for almost everything, while Charlie wanted to move the division toward thecollaborative style. During the meeting, he gave way for everybody to show their reflections.But they were still unfamiliar with this kind of communication. When conflicts arose, Mooreplayed the role of moderator, which was making sure that everybody would express abouttheir thoughts and opinions fairly. However, he kept the final decision to himself. We find thebehaviour Moore showed in conflict resolution is more like the accommodation style.4.3. Power Power is a very significant actor in the political systems. It is the medium through whichconflicts are resolved. There are 14 sources of power (Morgan, 2006), many of them could beprojected on the case. One of that is control of scarce resources including money, material,personnel, and technology (Emerson, 1962). Krane, as the division’s controller, had thecontrol to allocate resources including salaries, expenses, and information systems. She hadadditional source of power that represents a structural factor that defines the stage of actors(Bachrach & Baratz, 1962, 1970). This source of power came from her being monitored, notonly by Moore, but also by Arthur Silver, the chief financial officer. Therefore, she had moreconsiderable power to accept or reject any idea, which interprets her confident reactionsduring the meeting. Fale, as the vice president of production, had also the power oftechnology (Child, 1985), boundaries (Millar & Rice, 1967) and resources control (Emerson,1962). He had also the ability to cope with uncertainties (Hickson et al., 1971). His reflectionswere central and referral, since he managed the production processes and could judge anysuggestion wanted to be implemented. Fale had additional power of interpersonal alliances(Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978), which is represented by his friendship with Frank O’Brien, thevice president of personnel. They used to hang out with each other for fishing. When Frankchanged his position during the meeting, Fale became more flexible to adapt with Walkins’proposal. That reflects a serious impact of interpersonal alliances within the organization(Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978). Krane and Fale had the power of Moore’s trust in meeting theirpromises (Bachrach & Baratz, 1962, 1970). In the same context, Walkins had also the powerof information and knowledge (Crozier, 1964), which is represented by his acquaintance tothe market trends and competitive advantages. Moore admitted his talent and that was alsoadditional credits for Walkins. Being the division’s sales manager, Holly had also the powerof knowledge and networking (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978). He could contribute in the solution -4-
by finding new customers. His direct exposure to the market added more power to him. Ingeneral and as a management team, all managers had the power of the use of organizationalstructure, rules, and regulations (Crozier, 1964). But Moore might have the biggest part ofpower, not only due to him being a general manager, but also as a descendant of the familyfully owned the division (Kanter, 1977). He controlled the decision making processcompletely (Bachrach & Baratz, 1962, 1970). He started that by analyzing the problem. Then,he motivated the managers to share their thoughts. Finally, he ended up with selecting themost efficient solution that might suit the customer orientation and budget.5. CONCLUSIONS Even though the organizational politics may be recognizable by everybody within anyorganization, it is very rare to discuss it openly (Morgan, 2006). The case of Chattanoogashows clear examples of topics discussed privately, as we found when the heads ofdepartments questioned the competence and trustworthiness of each other. As discussed earlier, we can recognize that it is inevitably that politics is essential featureof organizational life. The political metaphor emphasizes that the use of power is central oforganizational analysis. The metaphor helps to better understand organizations’ rationality, asit enforces the idea that actions within organizations are more political than rational (Morgan,2006). In Chattanooga, each manager suggested solutions so that to increase the benefits forhis/her department rather than the benefit for the division as a whole. Moreover, the politicalmetaphor helps to find solutions to the idea that organizations are integrated structures, whichis not always the case (Morgan, 2006). Moore failed to simply apply the collaborative valuesof team work in Chattanooga, while that worked successfully when he worked at NationalGeographic. The political metaphor focuses on interests, conflicts and sources of power inorder to understand and manages them (Morgan, 2006). That also helped Moore to understandthe force drivers within the division. Finally, the metaphor has great influence to motivateindividuals to act politically. The main drawback of using the political metaphor is fears of converting every activitywithin organizations into political acts. This may sometimes create atmosphere of uncertaintyand mistrust (Morgan, 2006). That appears in the Chattanooga case when most of mangersreflected negative impressions about each other. Another limitation is that the generation ofinsights through different interests maybe misused to achieve personal goals. Last, but notleast, it is complex to deal with pluralism’s question. As a result, the political metaphor mustbe used carefully (Morgan, 2006). -5-
6. REFERENCESBachrach, P. and Baratz, M. S. (1962). ”Two Faces of Power." American Political ScienceReview.Bachrach, P. and Baratz, M. S. (1970). Power and Poverty. New York: Oxford UniversityPress.Bacharach, S. B. and Lawler, E. I. (1980). Power and Politics in Organizations. SanFrancisco: Iossey-Bass.Bacharach, S. B. and Lawler, E. I. (2000). Organizational Politics. Stamford, CT: IAI Press.Benson, I. K. (1973). "The Analysis of Bureaucratic-Professional Conﬂict.” SociologicalQuarterly.Brown, L. D. (1983). "Managing Conﬂict Among Groups,” pp. 225-237 in D. A. Kolb, I. M.Rubin, and Mclntyre, I. Organizational Psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NI: Prentice Hall.Buroway, M. (1979). Manufacturing Consent. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Burrell, G. and Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis.London: Heinernann Educational Books.Child, I. (1935). "Management Strategies, New Technology and the Labour Process,” in D.Knights, H. Willmott, and Collinson, D. Job Redesign. Aldershot, UK: Cnnlpr.Coser, L. A. (1956). The Functions of Social Conﬂict. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Crozier, M. (1964). The Bureaucratic Phenomenon. London: Tavistock.Culbert, S. and McDonough, I. (1980). The Invisible War: Pursuing Self-Interest at Work.Toronto: Iohn Wiley.Emerson, R. M. (1962). "Power-Dependence Relations.” American Sociological Review.Hickson, D. 1., Hinings, c. R., Lee, c. A., Schneck, R. E., and Pennings, J. M. (1971). "AStrategic Contingencies Theory of lntra-organizational Power.” Administrative ScienceQuarterly.Kanter, R. M. (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books.Miller, E. I. and Rice, A. K. (1967). Systems of Organization. London: Tavistock.Morgan. G. (2006). Image of organization. Schulich School of business, Toronto.Pfeffer, J. (1978). Organization Design. Arlington Heights, IL: Al-1M. -6-
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