The purpose of this essay is to look at some significant aspects of culture change, evaluate the five firm's current organisation culture, current leadership style, and to analyse the approach, method used by the Strategic Alliances and the outcome, also to establish the arguments / evidence that suggest significant culture change that can be achieved and other oppositions, the difficulties in changing the culture, and type of culture within the firms and finally to draw a conclusion to what extent is possible to change the culture within organization using the best practice programme.
Experience tells us, that getting people to support new ideas and change within the existing culture is a complex and difficult task to the leader. Perhaps the clearest illustration of the attendant of best practice program attempt to merge five firm cultures was a challenge. Culture clash is a key reason of difficulties, therefore the best practice program main focus was to merge five firms with different histories, value, expectations, and beliefs and to adopt a unified perspective and to serve as a cohesive unit.
Among many definitions of organisation culture explained within the article of regional business network ( ogbonna 1992) ; "Organisation culture is viewed as the perception of employees towards various aspects of their work content and context, cultural change is considered as a change in attitude towards the same aspects over time. This approach to organisation culture avoids the superficiality of simply describing behavioural change, while also avoiding the excursion into the unknown which can be encountered when measuring value change".
It is fact that leaders have direct implications in the organisation culture, under the assumption that leader action can influence culture. While employees influences like family, community, nation, state, religion, and education, has a direct impact on organisation culture, it lead to attitude change, behaviour, and identity. Leaders should understand the organisation culture, dimensions and variables of a specific culture.
That will help to plan, organise staff, lead, control culture and understand how culture change can affect work in an organisation. Therefore, changing culture in the organization is frequently a leader response to a need; to adapt powerful external or internal change, to build a culture that supports new mission, strategies, and practices to increase the probability of business success. These changes may include: the rapid pace of technology and innovation, more aggressive competition, fundamental changes in industries and markets, a more diverse workforce, increased organizational complexity, mergers, and meeting customer expectations.
Many writers have supported this argument among them, (Wiener 1988) indicated that "such initiatives imply that culture can be changed to achieve improved organization performance; culture is perceived as the product of management strategy able to affect productivity depending on the strength of the culture"., (Limerick and Connington 1993) recognize the formation of network cannot in itself transform a member from into a dynamic organization, they emphasize the importance of organization development as a necessary ingredient for the change to a more entrepreneurial / flexible culture, And (Fulop and Kelly 1995); A 1994 survey of network general managements revealed the reasons they gave for joining the network were related to, improving competitiveness through sharing management know how, training cost and programmes, engaging in join tendering, and increasing market share.
As a response from the management to globalisation and the strong competitions, Strategic Alliances or Networks (Australian group of enterprises came together they have concentrated on organization design and marketing aspects), they involve range of stakeholders, micro level (the individuals co ordination and co operating between firms), and macro level include (suppliers, contractors, customers, competitors), have introduce the best practice change programs study, aiming to create a program of cultural change, to increase competitiveness, improve productivity, quality, and improve performance and efficiency. The study was to measure the impact of the culture change in each of the member organization and make some comparisons across the network the study was to focus and involve sharing people/ HRD practice among network of five small to medium firms in Australia.
Due to downfall in steel & heavy engineering 1980s the trade unions and employer associations made determined effort to maintain the industries and assist in finding new market both nationally and internationally. As illustrated earlier the study were for five small to medium engineering and manufacturing firms (Sub Net ) part of a larger 29 engineering related firms (network). Two of the five firms was unionisation, the others of the sub net firms were fully unionised, and the majority of the other two firms' workers were union members. The network is to assist local firms in developing their capacity to export and tender for defence and other large contracts. There strategic plan for the study was to develop its member capability, increase market opportunity, and reduce the cost of supplying services.
For elaboration let us present some of the writers descriptions for the best practice change programs study, (Wood) describes the best practice program as high commitment management. "Behaviour is primarily self-regulated rather than controlled by sanctions and pressures external to the individual" (1996; 55), where as (Handy 1990) referred to network as federal. Form of organization and predicted that would become popular in the future as small firms join together to form a strategic mass in order to compete with larger firms, this mass allow firms to use their relationship with other firms, be they suppliers, customer or competitors, to enhance individual business capabilities and provide greater access to market opportunities.
Wood use the term high commitment management (HCM) to describe culture change programmes such as best practice programme where behavior is primarily self regulated rather than controlled by sanctions and pressure external to the individual (1996);55. (Hampson etal 1994) many of the arguments against lean production and the associated work intensity, might apply equally to both HCH and best practice.
(Gust 1987) maintained that HCM was antithetical to workers interests, as it excluded the possibility of collective bargaining in favor of a unitary system. He argued that under HCM workers would be committed to management's vision, and that management would favor individual contracts over collective agreements as a means of furthering worker commitment and dependence, thus making unions redundant.
Study by (storey 1992); established that HCM and unionism could not exist together, while (Gust 1989) argued that the tensions between unionism and HCM must entirely erupt, as unions ultimately would not allow the desired levels of flexibility and job redesign required for the programme to be successful, later on (Gust 1992); defended his earlier position by maintaining that the unions involved with HCM organization could not be strong unions, because, inter alia, they allow management to communicate directly with the work force, thus undermining the unions role.
(Prore and Sadle 1984) culture change programmes are commonly promoted as means enhancing the power of the work, through an emphasis on participative work practices and empowerment. Study by (Wood 1996) of 135 manufacturing organization in the UK tested the proposition that MCM is associated with either non unionized work places or those with weak unions. He found no relationship between HCM and union presence and / or strength. The observation of (Storey 1992) and (Wood 1996) in the UK, that an increase in HCM is not necessary accompanied by union redundancy, are supported by the Australian experience.
To support this strategy, a grant found of $250,000 was offered by the Federal Government part of a broad industry restructuring policy for the development of small to medium business to adopt best practice programme a warded to the five network members who had formed subnet. The above study tell us that, to change culture of small size firms having a traditional culture and traditional leaderships these firms culture usually relied on transactional techniques, financial incentives to comply with management strategy. These different firms culture to be merge as one strong culture which require a powerful lever for guiding behavior to help employees to do there job better, to work harder, and to create one organization culture.
The study aimed to create a program of cultural change, it has used the following approach and elements for the best practice program to integrate management with the shop floor in day to day business, it has use benchmarking as a central management tool to determine performance gap and differences in production processes, and establishment of data bases around which commitment for change can be gathered, improvement in quality, cost and delivery and customer focus, development of closer relations with suppliers to reduce inventories and ensure quality, adoption of appropriate technology strategies, implementation of flatter organisation structures to promote grater speed and directness in decision making, adoption of a team based approach to work and problem solving, involvement of the work force in problem soling and planning decisions, development of innovative human resource policies aimed at removing demarcations, and establishing carrier paths and providing significant training develop a skilled and committed workforce.