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Celestial Corporation’s Global Customer Team Essay

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Updated: Feb 16th, 2021

What role do cultural differences play in this case? Specify which values are responsible for some of the virtual team problems and for the tension between Celestial and Voila

Initially, most of the members in the Celestial’s Voila team were French nationals. Out of ten members, nine were French nationals while the other member was English. The team carried out business using French language only. The team had the duty of negotiating the terms and conditions for selling with Voila. One thing the team of ten did was the failure to neither create nor carry out global strategy. Instead, the team was engrossed in networking with key persons at Voila as well as with clients in Paris and Europe in general. The team was under the leadership of Henri Couture.

Inferring from the composition of the initial team, business was carried out based on the French model which emphasized dependence on long-term, personal relationships and networking for carrying out business deals. In addition, the French model was emphatic on respect for the hierarchy in the company for easier communication and coordination. The American model, on the other hand, emphasized action-oriented approach and as such the Americans were practically focused on executing a task. To the Americans, company hierarchy was not as pronounced as it depended on company culture and prevailing conditions.

Further, the French were so bureaucratic and restricted business to units. They were also not keen on treating their suppliers well; rudeness was extended to suppliers. However, they upheld the idea that all suppliers should be treated equally, regardless of stature. Complacency had also crept in the Voila team because to them, all was well yet the Americans believed there was room for improvement. The French were not ready for change, they were rigid.

These differences in culture had their bearing on the business. Business based on personal relationships instead of value was bound to collapse if the key people like Couture left the job. Continuity would be affected as customers would look for other alternatives. Hierarchical attachment by the French and restricting business to units meant that members would not learn any more since members would learn routine and become rigid. Rudeness to suppliers implied loss of business constantly. Sticking to power and authority by the French and fear for the loss of the same featured too.

Values that resulted in problems and tension between Celestial and Voila were: lack of respect for suppliers by Voila yet the Celestial valued respect. Secondly Voila were more stuck to bureaucracy while Celestial believed in working across the business without necessarily appealing to hierarchy. Celestial valued global strategies while Voila valued personal relationships to get business done.

What typical problems of virtual teams can be seen in this case?

In the case study, various problems which are inherent in virtual teams are exhibited. Key among them is mistrust. It is a pure case of mistrust that Voila had for the Celestial Voila new team in regard to restructuring of business operations. Resistance to change was another problem. The Voila was deeply into traditions and quite rigid as they were said to be more bureaucratic.

Team work or lack of it was another problem. While Voila believed in team work, the Celestial Voila was keen to pursue individualistic approach to business. They opposed the hierarchy which had been working as a team to approach customers. A difference in corporate culture was another typical problem evident in the virtual teams.

How effective was Morris in leading Celestial’s global customer team? Describe his leadership style.

Morris was very effective in leading Celestial global customer team. His leadership style would best be described as participative or democratic. As much as he was the leader, he incorporated others like Cathleen and allowed members to freely cooperate and give ideas. He was also out to demolish hierarchy as it usually resulted in authoritative leadership. Through Cathleen, Morris sought to do away with relationship-based business so that more people with different skills would be incorporated into the team to offer what they could do best.

Analyze the role of power and influence in furthering or hindering the acceptance of PFM. Which individuals were powerful and why?

Power and influence have played a key role in ensuring that PFM is not accepted at all. The Managers at Voila were very powerful in rejecting PFM. They fully controlled their customers through personal relationships and holding of what the author calls ‘Power dinners’ where the customers were entertained as they received information against PFM. The Voila executives have been trained to reject PFM in totality and since hierarchy was so powerful in the French tradition, the executives had no option but to toe the line of the powerful managers.

Initially, mistrust, lack of cooperation, lack of communication, lack of clear roles, prejudice and a sense of superiority were factors that lack of collaboration on the team. The French did not trust the intended overhaul of the way of doing business yet the French believed so much in personal relationships and hierarchy. Building from the mistrust factor, the French were not willing to cooperate with their American counterparts. They wanted to do their business they way they knew best.

The intended changes were not communicated properly to the Voila team. This lead to Couture to feel like authority had been taken away from him when Cathleen was also named a director. This lead to conflict in roles since it was not communicated clearly. We are informed too that prejudice also contributed. The insistence on shifting from using French language to English was interpreted along the lines of American imperialism which made the French uncomfortable. At best, the Americans adopted a superiority attitude since they had succeeded in re organizing Americart through PFM.

What factors contributed to the initial lack of collaboration on the team? What factors and interventions eventually resulted in successful team collaboration?

Several factors and interventions resulted in collaboration. First, the members agreed to share knowledge. There had been a website in place yet it had not been utilized at all. Henceforth, the website would be used to share ideas and organize activities. Mutual respect came in handy too. The Americans gave up trying to bulldoze other teams into accepting their ideas without consultations. They realized for instance that they could not force PFM on the French team, voila. As such, interactive dynamics were adopted to enhance dialogue. Hanover initiated individual talks with all the members concerned with very positive results. These chief factors lead to real collaboration.

What should Morris, Drummond, Couture, and Hanover have done to avoid the PFM-Nourriture Excellente conflict that developed on the global customer team and between Celestial and voila?

Morris, Drummond, Couture, and Hanover should have engaged in interactive dialogue where attitude would be leveled. For instance, ambushing Couture and trying to reorganize everything without consulting him was detrimental as was imposing Cathleen to facilitate PFM without proper consultations. They should have engaged various managers who were on the ground to share what the customers really needed. A give and take exchange of ideas would have prevented the confrontations experienced later.

For a virtual team to stand, communication, respect, change of attitude, accommodation of each other’s views is of utmost significance. Deeper understanding of different cultures and patience in trying to change or modify them goes a long way in enhancing virtual teams.

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