Business organizations have persistently survived through different means of business operations (Rhodes and Westwood 9). Modern organizations rely on their corporate culture, management practices, and organizational structure to maneuver in the increasingly competitive business markets (Moore 656).
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Organizational culture and organizational structure are two important facets of running modern companies, where specific corporate values and norms remained inculcated and nurtured by individuals in an organization within the corporate structure (Moore 658). Structure is the organizational administration set up, where individuals follow certain hierarchical or leadership trends in practicing their organizational duties.
As business practices keep evolving, companies continue to differ in their structure and culture. Organizational ethnography is a scientific method of analyzing companies using direct observation and assessment via multiple research methods, including interviews and representations of artifacts (Walby 160).
Eberle and Maeder state that, “organizational ethnography is the description of the culture and the everyday lives of people in organizations share” (68). Therefore, this study provides a virtual organizational ethnography of Google Company.
Brief Overview of Google Company
Google Company is one of the most famous companies that almost each internet user literally knows (“Google: Company” par. 3). The history of its development began when two innovators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, coincidentally met and become friends at Stanford University in the year 1995 (“Google: Company” par. 1)
. The two undergraduate students combined their innovative minds to construct a search engine that they named Backrub, which used the Internet links to investigate the significance of personal webpage on the Internet (“Google: Company” par. 1).
The name changed to Google as the official name of the company in 1998, when Page and Sergey decided to receive sponsorship from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, who provided a check of $100,000 to boost the public expansion of Google.
By 1998, the company managed to introduce the Google doodle initiative that enabled web visitors to interact with the Google homepage freely, resulting in massive growth of doodles on the Google homepages worldwide.
Google Company introduced the AdWords self-service program that intended to create online ad campaigns to act as advertising solutions for businesses (“Google: Company” par. 4). The AdWords program has transformed and expanded to accommodate display webspace, mobile and video ads and the commonly utilized text ads that assist thousands of entrepreneurs to advertise their businesses (“Google: Company” par. 4).
By 2004, Google Company introduced Gmail, which is currently the most preferred internet email-service tool that supports speedy search, holds huge online data storage, and sends threaded messages (“Google: Company” par. 5).
With the growing demand for social networks that connect people regardless of their geographical distance, Google introduced Google+ that is currently trending among the global preferred social media networks. Google is currently the leading internet search engine that operates in almost every modern technological device (“Google: Company” par. 5).
Being a multinational company with an established corporate system, Google Company has a corporate culture and structure. The following are the artifacts that define leadership, structure, and culture of Google.
Main Artifacts of Google Company
To understand organizational culture, a foremost aspect that one must understand is that corporate culture depends on a communication of artifacts. According to Eberle and Maeder, “doing ethnography means using multiple methods of data gathering, like observation, interviews, collection of documents, pictures, audio-visual materials, as well as representations of organizational artifact” (54).
Organizational artifacts may refer to the physical corporate layout, cultural assumptions, espoused values, shared norms and beliefs of a company that are normally inherent in an established corporate culture (Argyris 5). Artifacts are generally the visible structures that are apparent in an organizational culture.
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Understanding the organizational culture often require a thorough appraisal of major artifacts associated with a certain organization (Nussbaumer 3).
Fundamental to such assumptions, this analysis considers evaluating the main artifacts associated with Google Company for the benefit of understanding the formal and informal dimensions of leadership, structure, and culture of Google, which Tran and Tian consider appropriate for the ethnographic assessment (231).
Mission and Mission Statement of Google
One of the most significant elements of corporate culture that defines the intentions of an established organization is the corporate mission, which is among the main artifacts of any operating company (Eberle and Maeder 57). A mission and mission statement of an organization normally reflect the intended practices and defines the line of operation of an organization.
Mission normally defines the practice of a company or area of specialization (Schein 128). Google has an established corporate culture with distinct service charter that contains an articulated mission.
The website indicates that “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (“Google: Company” par. 2). The company seeks to maintain a liberal culture, which promotes sharing of ideas and opinions for the growth of robust innovations.
Espoused Beliefs of Google
In the organizational culture, espoused beliefs are shared norms, perceptions, philosophies, principles, ideologies and rationalizations that members of a certain organization mutually understand and uphold (Nussbaumer 2).
An espoused belief sets organization on a platform where members remain connected to the ambitions of the company and make members become committed towards achieving the overall goal of the organizations they serve (Olusoji, Oluwakemi, and Uchechi 38).
Espoused beliefs have the ability to influence individual actions at work and make organizations stronger in terms of the social association of workers, as shared convictions guide the attitudes and behaviors (Scott et al. 924). Google has a set of espoused values that act as the major artifacts and a medium of communication among members of Google Company.
According to “Google: Company” (par. 3), Google Inc has vested its foundation on the notion that organizations need to espouse ten important things that Google and its management believe are the foundation for exemplary organizational performance.
Google Company believes in customer satisfaction and attention to customer demands and ensures that its innovation team and employees focus on what deems imperative and significant for the consumers (“Google: Company” par. 2). Google believes on working tirelessly towards solving problems, cracking complex issues, and providing continuous improvement of its operations (“Google: Company” par. 3).
Another significant belief of Google is being fast and reacting towards change is their basic assumption towards success. Google believes that democracy extends beyond dealing with employees, and providing an opportunity to its workforce to contribute to innovation is important (“Google: Company” par. 5).
The company believes that technology and innovation are significant to organizational success in information sharing and communication. Google also serves on the notion that a lucrative business can strive without exercising evil and legitimacy is requisite for any organization (“Google: Company” par. 7).
Google assumes that information and knowledge are diverse and that they are borderless, so innovation and iteration are vital tools of maneuvering in the modern world of business.
Underlying Values and Assumptions
Google is a company that believes in modernizing its operational techniques. The company has a culture with assumptions that are crucial to human resources and the power of organizational cohesion (Annika and Alange 247). A major assumption shared by managers and employees of Google is that organizations become what they are, through the influence of human socialization.
The company hires, employs, and retains its workers based on their professional abilities, but not based on their deemed professional experience in their areas of specialization. “We hire people who are smart and determined, and we favor ability over experience” (“Google: Company” par. 1).
Google Company assumes that innovation and creativity do not associate with people of certain creed, race, religion, or nationality, and believes that cultural diversity makes an organization extra competitive.
Google employees have shared values of embracing innovation, promoting racial inclusivity, improving technological communication, putting extra effort in achieving individual and communal objectives (“Google: Company” par. 1). Google also believes that cohesion in an organization is vital for mutual success.
The Organizational DNA in Analyzing Google
Organizational DNA is another analytical tool that helps analysts to undertake an assessment of an organization. Organizational DNA involves four sets of important building blocks that combine distinct identities and facets necessary for organizational survival (Soulsby and Clark 1430).
The DNA organizational building bands include the organizational structure, decision-making actors, motivators to the workforce, and information or knowledge sharing (Tran and Tian 231). Apparently, the four DNA bands are practicable in Google Company.
Google has both informal and formal structures, leadership, and culture, with the two dimensions well integrated and mutually supporting its operations without any odds. In the organizational DNA, the structure band comes into play with the formal dimension, where Google seems to have a definite hierarchical structure.
Another DNA band is right to decision-making, where it associates with formal dimension in Google appears mostly in top-down decision-making, since managers and top executives have the highest authority in decision making. Motivators as a DNA band come into play with its informal leadership where Google seems to empower its employees.
From a theoretical perspective, there are formal and informal components of the organization that are inherent in organization, but they are very subtle to identify and understand at times (Soulsby and Clark 1430).
The formal structures of an operating organization are the permanent feasible laws, principles, practices, and the intra-organizational structures and procedures that facilitate accomplishment of desired goals and objectives (Bertocci 10).
Formal organization structure supports maintenance of the logical authority of a surviving organization and permits the concept of job specialty and labor division in an organization. Formal organizational structure has a set of established rules and regulations, the hierarchical order of governance, stipulated principles, a scalar chain of communication, and strict observance.
The informal structure of an organization is the cross-functional and interpersonal interaction or association that exists between members of an organization without barriers of hierarchical arrangement of an organization (Scott et al. 924).
The informal structure of the organization or the informal dimension represents the autonomy, mobility, and sovereignty of members of an organization and the impact they have on the general decision-making process in the organization.
A closer look at Google and its corporate culture, Google is both a formal and an informal organization that is relying on a combination of two leadership techniques in its management practices. What depicts the formalness of Google is the form of leadership that is hierarchical and dictatorial.
Authoritatively, Google has several laws and regulations that govern the actions and behaviors of workers in their professional practices (Annika and Alange, 247).
Hierarchically broken down from executive officers, senior leadership and a list of board of directors, the power of leadership in governing people and resources in Google is eminent.
Nonetheless, democracy is also practicable in Google as the organization has embraced informal leadership, structural, and cultural dimensions, which have some employee motivation, empowerment, and recognition, as clearly demonstrated in its leadership (Pescosolido 80).
The top management contains democratically elected leaders, with a significant cultural mix. Annika and Alange postulate that such leadership techniques have placed Google among the fortune 500 companies (250).
The Formal Dimension of Google
Formal dimensions of an organization involve the mechanistic structure that is hierarchical, which consists of top, middle, and lower levels of leadership (Dwyer 1234). Clear ties of chain of command are one of the aspects that demonstrate the formalness of an organization.
Hierarchically, Google has a management team that is responsible for ensuring that the company continues to perform and survive in the highly competitive technology industry where the company has invested most (“Google: Company” par. 1).
The founder, Larry Page, is the Chief Executive of the company and is responsible for overseeing the entire operations of Google throughout its continued existence. Larry is responsible for incorporating sensible changes in the organization, product development, and designing technology strategies that are imperative for growth and survival of Google (“Google: Company” par. 3).
The organization has been able to maintain a stable management order with a strong foundation of shared values and order of power that almost each board member of Google understands, with decisions made in a top-down manner.
From its website information, Google is a formal organization with an established chain of command and corporate principles that guide the actions of all stakeholders inclusive of its workforce (“Google: Company” par. 5). Apart from the general CEO in charge of overseeing the overall operations of the organization, Google has some structural elements that depict the mechanistic structure of administration.
To enhance corporate ethics and to control the behaviors of its employees, Google has a code of conduct that all employees must strictly adhere to the stipulated norms of practice (“Google: Company” par. 3). Directors, officers, and all employees of Google Company must follow the Google code of conduct that contains set principles of practice, which guide professional duties.
Google’s code of conduct states that “we expect all of our employees and board members to know and follow the code, failure to do so can result in disciplinary action” (“Google: Company” par. 4). According to Brose (15), formal organizations consider companies as rational entities, where corporate design is an operational science, while people are economic facets.
The first building block of organizational DNA is right towards decision-making processes in organizations (Dwyer 2). The process of decision-making is authoritative, with main decision process depending on agreed issues among the top executives of the organization, which comprise of board of directors and governors.
The board of directors is responsible for developing corporate principles, punishing law offenders in the organization, and ensuring that the workers adhere to the philosophies established by the organization (“Google: Company” par. 6). Google has a set of rules and regulations that demonstrate the formalness of Google Inc.
The company expects that all employees and directors respect and adhere to the rules and regulations governing Google organization (“Google: Company” par. 3).
The board members are hierarchically responsible for development of laws and corporate governance guidelines that form an important framework for effective management in Google Company (“Google: Company” par. 4). Such ideologies indicate that Google is an organization with formal leadership, structure, and culture, since employees follow guiding principles, hierarchy, and rules in their operations.
The Informal Dimension of Google
Informal organization structure involves interlocking social structures that influence the relationship of workers and managers in an organization (Lunenburg 2). From the information found on the webpage of Google, the company has a mixture of mechanic and organic structures, which means that both formal and informal dimensions are practicable in its administrative techniques.
Despite having a formal arrangement in its organizational structure with clear ties in the order of command, Google has an informal arrangement, which are components of organic structure (“Google: Company” par. 5).
Organizations that have an organic structure dwell on the notion that people are emotional creatures, and organizations are cooperative social systems or units that need informal structure with rules, shared norms, and official practices or procedures that govern firm operations (Lunenburg 4).
Among the significant four organizational DNA bands, motivators at workplace are important aspects of organizations that spur change and development. “Google: Company” respects the fact that humans are rational beings with feelings and emotions that need maximum recognition and protection (par. 3).
Intrinsic motivation comes from the notion that members of an organization are capable of making autonomous decisions and contributing to the organization through applying their creativity in designing innovations (Cameron and Quinn 25).
Empowerment is a key component in an informal organization and Google has maintained a close relationship with its employees while also considering the importance of empowering workers (Cameron and Quinn 25). According to “Google: Company”, the management team believes that investing on empowering employees is important as it motivates the workforce towards achieving individual and corporate goals (par. 8).
The aspect of power decentralization is evident in Google Company as the company partially encourages employees to participate in managerial innovation decisions. The company believes that employees come from diverse backgrounds, and therefore, they have different abilities that are capable of fostering creativity and innovation (“Google: Company” par. 11).
Google managers have fostered a culture of empowering employees to participate proactively in ensuring trust and loyalty by having the authority to report misconduct without the fear of prejudice or intimidation.
An informal organization that perpetuates cultural, social and relationship values in the organization normally remain unbiased, unrestricted, and fair, irrespective of the individual’s power (Pescosolido 82). The informal dimension of leadership, structure, and culture is evident in Google through its corporate collaborations and interactions that do not alienate the subordinate staff (Dubois par. 3).
Although the responsibilities of decision making at Google remain bestowed mostly to the top executives and board members, who are responsible for policy formulation, a sense of collective decision-making is inherent. Informal organizations promote open communication. Google has fostered open communication between subordinates and top officials, as laws and regulations in Google are supreme (Dubois par. 5).
The corporate policies allow employees of Google to report misconduct and violations among officials, without any fear of intimidation (Dubois par. 9). Directors are independent but regularly advised to observe ethical leadership while managing the workforce and resources of Google Company.
Personal Analysis of the Findings
From the assessment done, Google seems to be a competent organization that requires professional expertise in handling its workforce that seems well informed. The assessment reveals that Google Company is an organization that utilizes informal and formal administrative techniques in its operations, where both mechanistic and organic forms of arrangement are inherent.
Effective managerial skills are significant in an organization with this form of structure (Barley and Kunda 82). To be a competent manager in Google Company to fit within the hierarchy, one would have to possess professional management skills that include exemplary leadership skills, interpersonal communication skills, and innovative skills (Barley and Kunda 82).
As a manager working within the formal structure of Google, where decision-making is one of the responsibilities the management team holds, having great innovative skills and decision-making skills would make someone proficient.
Such skills would enable a manager to communicate effectively with others within the line of command, enable the manager to actively engage in decision-making processes and manage their area of specialization confidently.
Since Google also contains the informal organizational structure, where aspects of organic arrangement are inherent in the organization, having effective skills to deal with aspects of intrinsic motivation among employees is significant (Mackenzie 50).
Managers working in companies with an informal organizational structure normally have the responsibility of empowering their subordinates to participate in organizational management (Bertocci 13).
In essence, working with Google would involve dealing with the informal component that examines the motivation of employees being the foremost aspect. Effective leadership skills, interpersonal communication skills, team building, coaching skills, sociability, monitoring skills, and conflict resolution skills would be important skills needed to motivate workers.
Currently, I personally can fit into Google as an employee because its set of principles, ethical leadership, and operational practices are adaptable and thus, they promote individual and corporate growth. The company has a reasonable authoritative form of leadership and democratic leadership.
As a recommendation, although most appropriate, Google’s leaderships seem heavily hierarchical and struggle for power among managers may lead to detrimental repercussions. As Prosser (40) recommends, forming autonomous worker-groups within the structures would effectively support innovation, ease decision-making process, and enhance trust among the workforce.
Organizational leadership, culture, and structure are three significant aspects that depict the operational nature of an organization. Established organizations have different forms of leadership, culture, and structure. Google is an established company with a hierarchical leadership system, organization culture with shared values, espoused beliefs, and common ideologies.
Through a virtual ethnology of Google Company, the study concludes that Google Inc is an organization that operates on formal and informal structures with both formal and informal components of the organization inherent in its leadership, culture, and structure.
The formalness of Google is evident from its hierarchical arrangement in the decision-making process, order of corporate governance, its regulations, ethical principles, and the Google code of conduct. From the informal perspective, Google believes that employees are rational beings with emotions and empowering the workforce, makes workers highly efficient.
As a recommendation, forming autonomous worker-groups within the structures would effectively support proper innovation, ease decision-making process, and enhance trust among the workforce.
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