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DEVELOPING GLOBAL TEAMS TO MEET 21ST CENTURY CHALLENGES AT W.L. GORE & ASSOCIATES OVERVIEW Due to the challenges of a global market place, business teams are spread over three continents. The challenge of having a successful global presence requires virtual teams to enable a high degree of coordination in the development, production and marketing of products to customers across the world. Growth and globalization present significant challenges for W. L. Gore as it strives to maintain a family-like, entrepreneurial culture . Gore’s culture maximizes individual potential in a creative environment. The culture results from a commitment to technology for developing quality products. This strategy is carried out through a unique approach to leadership. What practices have to change to accommodate changing realities?


Describe Gore’s global organizational design challenge? What should Gore do to build effective global teams? How will Gore’s culture affect the virtual global teams? What is Gore’s strategy for the 21st century?

DISCUSSION 1. Describe Gore’s global organizational design challenge (Exhibit 6.8). The first challenge is that Gore has to accept a high level of environmental complexity in the international domain and address the differences that occur among countries. Gore might need to set up specialized departments to deal with the diverse government, legal, and accounting regulations in various countries. The second challenge is coordination. Gore has become differentiated, with multiple products and divisions across countries, which means that managers face a coordination challenge. Gore’s global virtual teams are divided not only by goals and work attitudes but by geographic distance, time differences, cultural values, and language. Gore will have to achieve the integration and collaboration and get all the pieces working together. The third challenge is how to share knowledge and innovations. Gore team members can learn from their international experiences. The diversity of the international environment offers extraordinary opportunities for learning, the development of diverse capabilities, and startling innovations in products and services

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2. What should Gore do to build effective global teams? Global teams consist of multiskilled, multinational members whose activities span multiple countries. Virtual global teams have members in separate locations around the world and conduct their work electronically. Gore will face challenges when building global virtual teams because cultural and language differences can create misunderstandings, and resentments and mistrust can quickly derail the team’s efforts. Gore’s global teams can be effective only if members have the patience and openly share information and ideas. Gore’s global teams should be made up of people who are culturally astute and want to coordinate and communicate with counterparts in other countries. At Gore associates share technical knowledge and put effort into connecting informally and formally across boundaries. A core leadership team gets together, reviews each other‘s plans and looks for connections among the upcoming products. Scientists and engineers from different divisions present information to other associates and colleagues. Gore could replicate these monthly meetings in its global virtual teams. 3. How will Gore’s culture affect the virtual global teams? Elements of the culture at Gore are captured in Figure 1. The core belief in the need to take the long-term view in business situations, and to make and keep commitments, drives cooperation among individuals and small teams. The ultimate focus is on empowering talented associates to deliver highly innovative products. Gore has an egalitarian culture which uses a unique lattice rather than a hierarchical structure. Gore’s culture fits well with the transnational model (Exhibit 6.10).. Based on interdependence, the transnational model is a desire to make a worldwide learning system work. Gore’s culture should be very suitable for virtual global teams. 4. What is Gore’s strategy for the 21st century? In addition to globalization, Gore has a strategy of continued growth. Growth is expected to come from two sources. One source will be from Gore associates contributing innovative ideas. The Gore culture is designed to foster innovation and allow ideas to be pursued, developed and evaluated. These ideas will lead to new products and processes. Within Gore this form of growth is referred to as organic. Gore encourages both new products and extensions of existing products. To encourage innovation all associates are encouraged to ask for and receive raw material to try out their ideas. Through this process multiple products have come from unexpected areas. A second source of growth can come from external acquisitions. Gore evaluates opportunities to acquire technologies and even companies based on whether they offer a unique capability that could complement an existing, successful business

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RONDELL DATA CORPORATION OVERVIEW The Rondell Data Corporation considers centralization and decentralization which pertains to the hierarchical level at which decisions are made. In a mechanistic design, the structure is centralized, whereas an organic design uses decentralized decision making. This case presents an excellent opportunity to have the class apply the concepts of mechanistic and organic designs, centralization and decentralization, and formal and informal organizations as described in the text. Use the following three questions to guide the discussion and analysis.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS TO ASSIGN 1. Describe the management style at Rondell Data Corporation. 2. Would you classify Rondell Data Corporation as a mechanistic or organic design? 3. What challenges does Rondell face? 1. Describe the management style at Rondell Data Corporation. Bill Hunt took great pride in preserving the “family spirit” of the old organization. Informal relationships formed the backbone of the firm’s operations; Hunt often insisted that the absence of bureaucratic red tape was a key factor in recruiting. The highest turnover job in the firm was Frank Forbus’s. The firm had experienced disputes between research, engineering, sales, and production—on new products. 2. Would you classify Rondell Data Corporation as a mechanistic or organic design? Rondell has an organic design which has few rules or formal control systems. Communication and information sharing is informal. Knowledge and control of activities are located with workers rather than with supervisors or top executives. Employees are encouraged to take care of problems by working with one another.. 3. How does the organizational culture affect this situation?

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The company has prided itself on having a stable and well-defined clan culture. Strong cultures can have a profound impact on a company, which can be either positive or negative for the organization. Culture provides people with a sense of organizational identity. The clan culture has a primary focus on the involvement and participation of the organization’s members. .This culture focuses on meeting the needs of employees as the route to high performance. Involvement and participation create a sense of responsibility and ownership and, hence, greater commitment to the organization. Proposed changes would disrupt this culture. Employees feel that this is a fantastic place to work with a great crew, and they can deliver when the chips are down. Bill Hunt and Doc are likely to find as many people at work at 10:00 p.m at night. as at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The important thing here was the relationships between people; they’re based on mutual respect, not on policies and procedures. Administrative red tape was considered a “pain” by Doc because “It takes away from development time.” However, as the Rondell grew and became more decentralized, deadlines were missed and conflict grew. Doing things collectively and informally no longer worked, and things gradually got worse. The company had to start thinking in terms of formal organization relationships .which would require a change in the Rondell’s culture. 4. What challenges does Rondell face? To reduce conflict and stop management turnover, Rondell will have to adopt a mechanistic design with standard procedures. Formal systems will have to be in place to manage information, guide communication among engineers, research, sales, and production to detect deviations from established standards and goals. Policies that every department understands should reduce conflict, improve coordination and help Rondell meet obligations to its customers by having new products working correctly and delivered on schedule. Centralization means that decision authority is located near the top of the organizational hierarchy as opposed to decentralization in which, decision making authority is pushed down to lower organizational levels. Formal systems in mechanistic organizations emphasize vertical communication whereas. Informal Systems, organic organizations, emphasize horizontal communication. A mechanistic design has a formal chain of command. An organic design, emphasizes collaborative teamwork.

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