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Case Study: W. L. Gore and Corporate Culture - Essay Example

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Chosen as one of Britain's best companies to work for in 2004, and the winner of numerous awards for human resource management, W. L. Gore prides itself on the way it treats its people and structures its operational units.1 That pride is well-placed, as one of the company's products, GORE-TEX, is a household name all over the world and the company continues to prosper with annual revenues topping $1.5 billion (Gore 1)…
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Case Study: W. L. Gore and Corporate Culture
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Download file to see previous pages W. L. Gore did not invent the idea of altering its human resource management methodology from a top-down model to one that uses a team approach; companies like Southwest Airlines have been doing that since the 1970's. The particular corporate culture of Gore is unique, however, in the way that it permits associates (never "employees") to determine their own role within the prescribed work area and communicate with their sponsors (never "bosses") on a peer level. Focused on providing fairness to all individuals and giving them the freedom to try new ideas in a non-threatening environment, Gore characterizes its structure as "a flat lattice" organization" (Gore 1). This means that there are neither specified superior/subordinate relationships nor hierarchical lines of communication. Where, in a traditional company, an assignment would be overseen by a manager and a task carried out by employees, Gore allows "teams [to] organize around opportunities and leaders [to] emerge" (Gore 1). This environment of fairness and freedom seeks to draw the very best out of each individual and the resulting contribution positively impacts the company's performance.
The efficient and profitable operations of Gore are a direct result of its unique corporate culture. ...
W. L. Gore stands as a classic example of the advantages inherent in employee empowerment. Its unique communication model, for example, permits the cross-pollination of ideas and input across all segments of the team. The fact that any person on that team can speak to the entire work group is an effective empowerment tool. At Gore, a contrary supervisor is not allowed to bottleneck a good idea, or to discourage innovation from underlings by taking their ideas and presenting it up the chain of command as the supervisor's own. The freedom to speak out on the particulars of a project give Gore's associates the opportunity to take personal ownership of the project; which encourages maximum interest and effort. Similarly, this same structure provides an environment for innovation. In a traditional corporate structure, an administrative assistant would never have the opportunity to speak to a department head regarding a product design idea. At Gore, however, the team that operates in any particular work area has no such restrictions. Any person can have a good idea; with the team approach encouraging open communications, that associate's product development concept gets heard by the whole group. Once the group begins to discuss the suggestion, product innovation is dramatically increased as good ideas are incorporated and bad ones eliminated in a non-threatening way.
Gore's corporate culture seems a little odd at first sight. To a traditionalist, the idea of allowing employees so much freedom is foreign indeed. Upon closer review, however, it is obvious that Gore's corporate culture is working. Based on the comments contained in the case study, as well as a review of the numerous ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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