and downloaded everything that looked interest- ing’, he said. Later, realizing Michel was suspi- cious, the boss would say only that he had obtained ‘electronic access’ via a colleague and had not personally broken any passwords. Maybe not, Michel thought to himself, but this situation wouldn’t pass the 60 Minutes test. If word of this acquisition of a competitor’s confidential data ever got out to the press, the company’s reputation would be ruined.
Michel didn’t feel good about using these materi- als. He spent the afternoon searching for answers to his dilemma, but found no clear company policies or regulations that offered any guidance. His sense of fair play told him that to use the information was unethical, if not downright illegal. What bothered him even more was the knowledge that this kind of thing might happen again. Using this confidential information would certainly give him and his com- pany a competitive advantage, but Michel wasn’t sure he wanted to work for a firm that would stoop to such tactics.
What Would You Do? 1 Go ahead and use the documents to the com-
pany’s benefit, but make clear to your boss that you don’t want him passing confidential infor- mation to you in the future. If he threatens to fire you, threaten to leak the news to the press.
2 Confront your boss privately and let him know you’re uncomfortable with how the documents were obtained and what possession of them says about the company’s culture. In addition to the question of the legality of using the information, point out that it is a public relations nightmare waiting to happen.
3 Talk to the company’s legal counsel and contact the Competitive Intelligence Professionals Asso- ciation for guidance. Then, with their opinions and facts to back you up, go to your boss.
SOURCE Adapted from Kent Weber, ‘Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold?’, Business Ethics (January–February 2001): 18.
CASE FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS 3.1
Change of Culture at Westcode Semiconductors Melanie Schmidt, 36 years old; promoted to the position of EMEA Manager for IXYS Semiconduc- tors in charge of R&D was soon moved to West- code Semiconductors in the UK, the company recently taken over by the German counterpart. She was trained to follow the German business practice which values clear frameworks, facts and proof. She also knew full well a company’s top executives were largely responsible for determining a firm’s cor- porate culture. But these were early days of the merger. As she got into her office having been greeted by a pro- fessional but cold secretary Ms Smith, she wondered what it would be like for her to work here . . .
The first few months seemed easy, as she took such personal pride in the culture of the UK-based counterpart. From day one she introduced team meetings, brain-storming sessions with her product designers and customers; all the things that worked really well for her in Germany. The company didn’t just pay lip service to the values it espoused: integ-
rity, honesty and a respect for each individual em- ployee and customer. Her team set a good example by living those principles. At least that’s what she’d believed until the other day.
One of her colleagues from Germany sent Mela- nie the registration link to the facebook.com web- site, as he suggested that lots of IXYS employees used this social networking tool for communication. She was quite keen to get in touch with some people she was not in contact with during her last few months in Germany. To her surprise she found a group site called ‘Melanie Schmidt Appreciation So- ciety’ created by one of her current UK employees, where he was slating IXYS, the merger and Mela- nie’s approach to management. She could also see which people subscribed to this group, and that all the managers from her team were there, and some had left one or two comments on the page. She at once decided to discuss this issue with the team in the UK and the German office, as her reputation of capable manager was at stake, and she felt she had not done anything wrong. But she needed to have a plan of action.
CHAPTER 3 THE ENVIRONMENT AND CORPORATE CULTURE 115
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Questions 1 What environmental factors have helped to cre-
ate the situation Melanie Schmidt faces? What factors does Melanie need to consider when deciding on her course of action?
2 Analyse Westcode’s culture. In addition to the expressed cultural values and beliefs, what other subconscious values and beliefs do you detect?
Are conflicting values present? When values are in conflict, how would you decide which ones take precedence?
3 Assume you are Melanie. What are the first two action steps you would take to handle this situa- tion? How would your role as a cultural leader influence your decision? What message will your solution send to the other managers and rank- and-file employees?
The self-test questions are based on ideas from R. L. Daft and R. M. Lengel, Fusion Leadership (San Francisco: Ber- rett Koehler, 2000): Chapter 4; B. Bass and B. Avolio, Mul- tifactor Leadership Questionnaire, 2nd ed. (Menlo Park, CA: Mind Garden, Inc., 2004); and Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001).
Betsy Morris, ‘The Accidental CEO’, Fortune (June 23, 2003): 58–67; Pamela L. Moore, ‘She’s Here to Fix the Xerox’, BusinessWeek (August 6, 2001): 47–48; and Ann Harrington and Petra Bartosiewicz, ‘The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business: Who’s Up? Who’s Down?’, Fortune (Oc- tober 18, 2004): 181–188; Ann Carns, ‘Point Taken; Hit Hard by Imports, American Pencil Icon Tries to Get a Grip’, The Wall Street Journal (November 24, 1999): A1, A6.
Christopher Palmeri, ‘What Went Wrong at Mattel’ Busi- nessWeek Online, August 14, 2007, http://www.business week.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/aug2007/db20070814_ 154726_page_2.htm (accessed February 5, 2008).
David Barboza and Louise Story, ‘Dancing Elmo Smack- down’, The New York Times Online, July 26, 2007, http:// www.nytimes.com/2007/07/26/business/26toy.html?_r¼1& scp¼1&sq¼dancingþelmoþsmackdown&st¼nyt&oref¼slog in (accessed February 5, 2008).
This section is based on Richard L. Daft, Organization Theory and Design, 8th ed. (Cincinnati, OH: South- Western, 2004): 136–140.
L. J. Bourgeois, ‘Strategy and Environment: A Conceptual Integration’, Academy of Management Review 5 (1980): 25–39.
Pete Engardio, ‘A New World Economy’, BusinessWeek (August 22–29, 2005): 52–58.
Robert Rosen, with Patricia Digh, Marshall Singer, and Carl Phillips, Global Literacies: Lessons on Business Leadership and National Cultures (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000).
Engardio, ‘A New World Economy’. 11. Cliff Edwards, ‘Wherever You Go, You’re On the Job’,
BusinessWeek (June 20, 2005): 87–90. 12. Stephen Baker and Adam Astor, ‘The Business of Nano-
tech’, BusinessWeek (February 14, 2005): 64–71. 13. William B. Johnston, ‘Global Work Force 2000: The New
World Labor Market’, Harvard Business Review (March– April 1991): 115–127.
Peter Coy, ‘Old. Smart. Productive’, BusinessWeek (June 27, 2005): 78–86; Danielle Sacks, ‘Scenes from the Culture Clash’, Fast Company (January–February 2006): 73–77; and Ellyn Spragins, ‘The Talent Pool’, FSB (October 2005): 93–102.
US Census, www.census.gov/. 17. Michelle Conlin, ‘UnMarried America’, BusinessWeek (Oc-
tober 20, 2003): 106–116. 18. Sebastian Moffett, ‘Senior Moment: Fast-Aging Japan
Keeps Its Elders on the Job Longer’, The Wall Street Journal (June 15, 2005): A1.
Samuel Loewenberg, ‘Europe Gets Tougher on US Compa- nies’, The New York Times (April 20, 2003): Section 3, 6.
Jeremy Caplan, ‘Paper War’, Time (January 2006): A11. 22. Linda Himelstein and Laura Zinn, with Maria Mallory,
John Carey, Richard S. Dunham, and Joan O. C. Hamilton, ‘Tobacco: Does It Have a Future?’, BusinessWeek (July 4, 1994): 24–29; Bob Ortega, ‘Aging Activists Turn, Turn, Turn Attention to Wal-Mart Protests’, The Wall Street Journal (October 11, 1994): A1, A8.
Etzion, Dror, ‘Research on Organizations and the Natural Environment’, Journal of Management 33 (August 2007): 637–654.
116 PART 2 THE ENVIRONMENT AND CORPORATE CULTURE OF MANAGEMENT
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