Google and its management in times of crisis and confusion

By | April 21, 2014

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Executive summary

As claimed by Daft, Kendrick and Vershinina (2008) that in the ear of uncertainty, global competition and a growing diversity of workforce, the ability to shape culture, communicate goals, and motivate employees is critical to business success. In this assignment, we will focus on what managerial competencies could be used and how they could be used in an actual scenario to deal with the three major trends that are common in the internal and external business environment to many companies with the help of the case analysis on Google, Inc. The three major trends are: Workforce diversity, Globalization and Rapid changes.

 

 

 

 

List of figures

 

 

Figure 1 Headcount growth in Google from 2003 to 2010……………………………………. 6

Figure 2 Global office of Google……………………………………………………………………… 10
Content page

  1.      Introduction of Google………………………………………………………………………………. 4
  2. Diversity…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

2.1       Management theories and current status of workforce diversity……………. 4

2.2       Functions of management…………………………………………………………………. 5

2.2.1       Planning……………………………………………………………………………….. 5

2.2.2       Organizing……………………………………………………………………………. 6

2.2.3       Staffing………………………………………………………………………………… 7

2.3       Skills of management……………………………………………………………………….. 7

2.3.1       Human Relations…………………………………………………………………… 7

  1. Globalization…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

3.1       Management theories and current status of globalization……………………… 8

3.2       Functions of management…………………………………………………………………. 9

3.2.1       Planning……………………………………………………………………………….. 9

3.2.2       Staffing………………………………………………………………………………. 10

3.3       Skills of management……………………………………………………………………… 10

3.3.1       Conceptual………………………………………………………………………….. 10

3.3.2       Political………………………………………………………………………………. 11

  1. Rapid change………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12

4.1       Management theories and current status of rapid technological changes.. 12

4.2       Functions of management……………………………………………………………….. 12

4.2.1       Organizing………………………………………………………………………….. 12

4.2.2       Staffing………………………………………………………………………………. 13

4.3       Skills of management……………………………………………………………………… 14

4.3.1       Human Relations…………………………………………………………………. 14

4.3.2       Technical…………………………………………………………………………….. 14

4.3.3       Conceptual skills………………………………………………………………….. 15

  1. Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16

Reference……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17

 

Google and its management in times of crisis and confusion

 

1.        Introduction of Google

 

Google, Inc. is now one of today’s most publicized, studied and acclaimed firms with considerable influence on the modem business in term of its creative and innovative technology, organization culture, recruiting techniques and so on(Griffin & Moorhead 2010, p.52). But back in 1998, the company was no more than some concepts in the mind of two young PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were then at Stanford University and came up with an idea for an internet search engine using their mathematical model that uses links to determine the importance of individual web pages (Middleton 2006, p.130). And within the very much dynamic industrial environment, Google has been leading the Internet industry not only technologically and also in other areas such as the management of the company structure, diversified labor force and changing environment, basically innovations could be found in every identifiable area of the business.

 

2.        Diversity

 

2.1    Management theories and current status of workforce diversity

 

What make diversity in the workplace a challenge and issue could be the various problems and defects of the nature of our human beings. Take the culture diversity as an example, When we look at behaviors with other cultural features, it is easy for us to make judgments about rules different from our own. And the easily perceived feeling that one’s own cultural rules are more superior or more correct than rules of other cultures is the essence of ethnocentrism (Gardenswartz & Rowe 1998, p.77) which like prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination is one of the critical barriers to workplace diversity and it could be found in both verbal communication or non-verbal communication such as gestures, movement, personal space and eye contact and touching (Hubbard 2004, p.74). To overcome such human defects and pursue an inclusive workforce and culture, management should focus on playing the key managerial roles and use the key skills to reach this goal.

 

Figure 1 Headcount growth in Google from 2003 to 2010

 

In Google, with the increasing staffs from the top talents from across the world which provides help to Google’s expanding strategy globally, there is also increasing difficulties for Google to maintain itself in the top position of the ranking “Best Companies to Work For” (Cnn.com 2011) because the complexity of the staff composition will make the workforce more diversified in term of much difference between individuals to individual and group to group.

 

2.2    Functions of management

 

2.2.1            Planning

 

The concept of diversity has been understood as simple as “being yourself”. The position the diversity in the workplace has been put as an essential component of the culture at Google. As spoken loud and clear on the official website of Google that “building diversity and inclusion into the way we operate around the globe continues to be an essential part of our business and our culture as Googlers (Google.com 2011). Besides the long term target to make the diversity as integral part of the corporate culture, the company also designs a number of programs and detail plans such as Scholarships for Students with Disabilities and Support Program for New Parents to make substantial progress in the workforce diversity direction. For example, the Support Program for New Parents aims at offering help to new parents in the company to be accepted in the working environment, and the helps include the provision of various facilities and options in different forms such as adoption assistance, day care, mother’s rooms, maternal and paternal leave programs (Google.com 2011).

 

2.2.2            Organizing

 

Various tools, ways along with needed resources have been adopted to enable the successful carrying out of the well-designed plan of workforce diversity in Google. For example, Google believes that food can be a tool for supporting an inclusive workplace which can be observed in the array of the menu options (Daft & Marcic 2008, p.320). With the target of satisfying a diverse, technically different palate, the food menus that contain various diversified recipes (many new dishes are from the ideas of the foreign-born employees) reflect the management’s role of organizing the food and menus which enhance an inclusive workplace by providing a chance for employees to know about their co-workers through trying the new and different dishes that are part of another culture. Besides the various tools adopted  to enable the successful carrying out of the well-designed plan of workforce diversity in Google, the company also organizes the company structure to better serve workforce diversity in term of the structural settings featured by launch of a lot of organizational wide groups, association and departmental functions. For example, the launch of the Women’s Leadership Community is to provide a stage on which the women leaders could come together to address the leadership challenges using the resources allocated to the community.

 

2.2.3            Staffing

 

Although facts tell us that Google hires one-third women and one third racial minorities and also support them with benefits like healthcare insurance, childcare assistance, but the staffing strategy is still under criticism for is failure to include enough of old employees into the company as the average age of the employees is 29 which is probably due to the fact that only 2 percent of the labor force is over 40 (Griffin & Moorhead 2010). As early as in 2002, a respected but 52 years old Silicon Valey engineer named Brain Reid was hired in a senior management position but unemployed after two years. And Reid sue Google for its age discrimination because he found it of extreme difficulty to fit in the Google’s youth-focused culture and his was teased as “old guy” and “old fuddy-duddy” (Lowe 2009, p.218). This demonstrates that the management of Google should help building up the culture and environment to support workforce diversity starting from playing the managerial function of staffing to recruit older and experienced staffs to the old age employees become a bigger group.

 

2.3    Skills of management

 

2.3.1            Human Relations

 

One of the ways that the management communicates and motivates a sense of respect for workforce diversity is through the mentorships program which is designed to introduce experienced professionals (“mentors”) to practitioners, new employee to the work and anyone interested in being mentored. Take the first mentorship program as an example which is the Asian Google Network (AGN) Mentorship Program set up with the goal of encouraging the retention and advancement of Asian American employees in the company by promoting discussion on professional development, skill building and career mobility for the Asian American employees. The program has been a success and has been utilized as a benchmark for many other mentorship programs (Google.com 2010).

 

3.        Globalization

 

3.1    Management theories and current status of globalization

 

Globalization can be defined as the process by which markets and production in different countries are becoming increasingly interdependent due to the dynamics of trade in goods and services and the flows of capital and technology (Held 2000, p.92). Since people became familiar with this term, news and studies about globalization all describe it as two blades of a pair of scissors to the world and to the people living within. On one hand, it increases the global capitalization and division of labor and optimal allocation of resources and these positive sides of globalization make it welcome by most countries and governments; on the other hand, the phenomenal increase of the globalization also increase the threats and challenges posed by global interconnectedness such as the ethical considerations, escalating levels of competition and increased scope of business activities (Martin & Fellenz 2010, p.44).

Figure 2 Global office of Google.

 

In the globalization strategy, with the leading search engine technology and other advantages Google raises dramatically to become the world no.1 in the industry with the offices around the world as the figure above shows. But its strategic expansion does not go well in each market that it wants to dominate. And some of the reasons to explain the difficulties it met in the carrying out the globalization strategy are from the management side.

 

3.2    Functions of management

 

3.2.1            Planning

 

The globalization of Google has not been as smoothly as people expect. For example, accordingly to the historical statistics, in 2006, Google’s market reach in Russia – cofounder Sergey Brin’s country of origin – was only around 28 percent, much less than the 64 percent owned by the local market leader in search services, Yandex (Ghemawat 2007, p.15). And it is believed that part of the reason is the linguistic complexities such as the fact that in the Russian nouns have three genders and up to six cases with very irregular forms in verbs, and this partially result in the fact that Google can not provide very customized compared to the local competitors. This disadvantage requires the top management of the company better plan for the local needs. And one of the solutions could be to set up a physical presence in Russia and hiring the local engineers, and similar strategies could be used in other countries as well.

 

3.2.2            Staffing

 

The advertising business is one of the most important core businesses of Google, and Google has been constantly improving the advertising system to maintain the first-mover advantage in customized advertising using the advanced search engine technology (Hill & Jones 2008, p.112). But the customized advertising could be easily copied by the major competitors such as Yahoo because it is not a secret to the public. One strategy to keep the first-mover advantage and enhance the core competitiveness of the company is by utilizing a global staffing function to better understand the key advertiser markets. This function could be used by hiring intelligent staffs globally with the competencies to tailored solutions for clients, including heads of travel, retail and auto in different market segments (Bandt.com.au 2008) because these local intelligent staffs know the market and the cultural much better than foreign employees.

 

3.3    Skills of management

 

3.3.1            Conceptual

 

Conceptual skills refer to the ability to grasp a big-picture view of the overall organization and the relationship between its various parts (Kelly & McGowen 2010, p.208). As a company that is famous for the innovations in each side of its business, conceptual skills are demanded management to relate the complicated business phenomena together and see the big picture of the company before they could make strategic decisions. The conceptual skills are much needed by company in particularly when the company needs to make important decisions that would have severe and influential impacts on the company’s globalization strategy.

 

3.3.2            Political

 

Political skills are important and necessary to Google management when the company expands globally and has to deal with various legal and business situations. One of the most difficult challenges comes from the global market of China. China has one of the most sophisticated and expensive internet filtering systems in the world that identifies and filters out many undesirable materials posted in the websites or sent via emails such as human rights relative issues, and of cause the internet service providers are requested to adhere to the censorship policy (Kinley 2009, p.162). When Google entered China in 2005, it agreed to filter the search results. But in March 2010 Google officially exited the Chinese market due to the censorship issues and moved the search division of their business to Hong Kong, which is free of the political censorship rules that the Mainland’s internet is subject to (Nytimes.com 2010). From the viewpoint of pure business, although Google later express the willingness to return to China which was hinted by the management of the company since the beginning of this year, the fact that it has not yet returned to China has substantially influenced the globalization of the business and profitability of the company. To deal with this challenge and also other difficulties similar to this in other countries, the management of Google has to use the political skills to establish connections and cooperative relationships with the governments and relative departments.

 

 

 

 

4.        Rapid change

 

4.1    Management theories and current status of rapid technological changes

 

Technical change means a change in techniques of production to meet a given quantity and type of service needed by consumers and intermediate procedures (Jain, Bajaj, Gupta & Sandhu 2009, p.259). The challenges of changes not only could be seen from the dimensions of production efficiency, but it could also be seen from structural and reporting system model in which changes are happening.

 

Google has been of the change initiators since its setup by introducing a new generation of search engine, and later similar changes had been found by the company’s other products such as the Google books, Gmail and android hand phone software system which can be used widely due to their creativity.

 

4.2    Functions of management

 

4.2.1            Organizing

 

Two organizing strategies have been utilized by the management of Google to change its corporate culture to get adapted to the ever-changing business environment and keep its leadership are regular meeting with top management and increased number of small teams (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor 2008, p.199). Along the company history of Google, the company has always been encouraging the employees to come up with unconventional new ideas for catapulting the company into the future. And now one more setting is used to boost up this process of creativity which is the holding of regular meetings with the co-founders and the top management, and the employees regardless of what rankings and positions they are in. This kind of meetings helps set up connection between the top management and the employees. These employees are large in numbers and could usually come up with good ideas because they are dealing with the basic jobs and directly in contact with the end users. What is more, with the fast global expansion of the company and success that it gets, there is now a large number of employees and to keep the flexibility of business and avoid the middle-agedom, the management of the company has increasingly organized the employees in smaller sized teams within which considerable freedom and resources are given to encourage creative projects. As one of the software engineers expressed, “I like working at Google because it is a place where I am constantly learning and growing…I also like the freedom and support we get to start projects that are interesting to us”.

 

4.2.2            Staffing

 

In the area of change management, the focus of Google human resource is on giving its employees flexibility to produce results, not just following core job requirements (Mathis & Jackson 2011, p.33). The staffing strategy of Google is to provide support to the fulfillment of the company’s mission to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful by offering efficient, effective and convenient internet service with focus on the dedication to the users (Google.com 2011), as a result, Google’s human resource has contributed to the innovative efforts for the employees and make the administrative part of the human resource efficient by minimizing the numerous human resource forms, data, and reports by using the advanced paperless technology. And the recruitment and selecting procedures in Google also reflects its requirement of the employees to be more flexible and adaptable to fast changing environments. According to Boone and Kurtz (2010), probably due to its great success and its innovative idea in search engine and other internet services development, the company receives more than 760,000 job applications a year and the company has adopted very creative way to select those with needed competency and potentials. During the interview stage, interviewers will ask applicants questions about a typical problem and expect immediate solutions. And the target of the question asking is to check the candidates’ thinking process and the creativity shown in the answers rather than expecting a correct solution to the questions.

 

4.3    Skills of management

 

4.3.1            Human Relations

 

Google’s continual leading position has to be resting on the high creativity of the staffs. Creativity in Google is stimulated by the human interaction. For example, the productivity of R&D laboratories depends critically on the communication networks that the engineers and scientists establish (Grant 2010, p.316). And one important type of human interaction is “play” which is proposed by the company to create an ease and unconventional environment in which new relationship could be formed by rearranging ideas and team structures. This free and easy human interaction is innovative compared to the conventional strictly controlled and well defined human relations in term of reporting system. And the strictly controlled human relations are thought to be constraints towards the promotion of creativity in the workplace because creativity is typically an individual act that establishes a valuable tie between concepts or objects that had not been related before (Crone 2010). Besides the creativity and business flexibility that the company has been promoting, Google also encourage a company culture of risk taking and management will keep communicating the messages to the employees that it is good for Googlers to take on big ideas and high-risk, high-reward opportunities (Cnn.com 2011).

 

4.3.2            Technical

 

Intrigued by the idea of enhancing the ability to extract meaning from the mass of data accumulating on the internet, the two graduate students who are the founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) started the research and development of the search technology that later became a business and known as Google (Curley 2010, p.316). And because of these facts, relative technical skills have always been the core skills of the management since the company was established. Although now many original technicians and mathematics such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin had spent most of their time dealing with strategic and management problems, they will also keep a close eye on the new and emerging technologies that could be influential and innovative to the industry (Griffin 2008, p.7). And technical skills are especially important for the lower-level managers to implement the business plans that are strongly technical relative.

 

4.3.3            Conceptual skills

 

Conceptual skills refer to the ability of a person to observe business as a whole and then to formulate creative and strategic plans (Goodman, Ladzani, Bates, Vries & Botha 2005, p.26). And conceptual skills are important for top managements for them to have overall understanding of the context of a situation and see the bigger picture of the company to help with the strategy making activities. Because of the importance of conceptual skills for top managers, when a top manager capable of turning the dazzling star-up into a profitable corporation Google selected Eric Schmidt as the chairman and CEO who showed the conceptual skills that a complex and fast growing company needs. The conceptual skills and the technical skills of Eric Schmidt keep Google producing cutting-edge products (Daft 2008). Now with the success and fast growth of the company within constant changing environment, it is more and more important for the management to own the conceptual skills to think strategically and serve the overall organization (Griffin 2008, p.7).

 

 

5.        Conclusions

 

Several conclusions that can be made after the analysis above are listed below. First of all, in the area of the labor force diversity management, though the company has been focusing on building up an inclusive workforce especially in the recent few years, it seems that the company has not planned for the recruitment of the older employees which has been enhanced by the young age of the company in business; secondly, in the increasing trend of globalization, Google has been building up a global presence with its fast growth of market share in the major markets but some challenges that it faced such as the dilemmas happened in the Chinese market and the Russian market proved that the management of the Google could have done a better job in managing their performance in the political roles and conceptual functions with long term plan to address these issues; thirdly, in the area of rapid change that has been much more obvious in the internet and IT industry than in other industries. Google’s management could also need to organize the management of change effort in such a way that it encourages flexibility and creativity in the work place.

 

 

 

Reference

 

Bandt.com.au (2008), Google hires follow global strategy. URL: http://www.bandt.com.au/news/google-hires-follow-global-strategy

 

Boone, L. E. & Kurtz, D. L. (2010), Contemporary Business. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

 

Cnn.com 2011, Google plans biggest hiring year in company history, URL: http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/25/technology/google_hiring/index.htm

 

Crone, A. L. (2010), Eros and creativity in Russian religious renewal: the philosophers and the Freudians, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV

 

Curley, R. (2010), The 100 Most Influential Inventors of All Time. New York: Britannica Educational Publishing. p.316

 

Daft, R. L. & Marcic, D. (2008), Understanding Management. Mason: South-Western, Seventh Edition, Cengage Learning, p.320

 

Daft, R. L. (2008), Management, eighth edition, Mason, OH: Thomson Higher Education.

 

Daft, R. L., Kendrick, M. & Vershinina, N. (2008) Management, International Edition, Hampshire: Cengage Learning EMEA

 

Gardenswartz, L. & Rowe, A. (1998), Managing diversity: a complete desk reference and planning guide. New York: McGraw-Hill books, p.77

 

Ghemawat, P. (2007), Redefining global strategy: crossing borders in a world where differences still matter, Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, p.15

 

Goodman, S., Ladzani, W., Bates, B., Vries, C. D. & Botha, S. (2005), Business management: fresh perspectives. Cape Town: Charlotte Imani. p.26

 

Google.com (2011), Diversity in our culture and workplace, URL: http://www.google.com/diversity/culture.html

 

Google.com (2011) Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. URL: http://www.google.com/intl/us/about/corporate/company/index.html

 

Grant, R. M. (2010), Contemporary Strategy Analysis and Cases: Text and Cases. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, seventh edition, p.316

 

Griffin, R. W. & Moorhead (2010), Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.52

 

Griffin, R. W. (2008), Fundamentals of Management. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.7

 

Held, D. (2000), A globalizing world?: culture, economics, politics. New York: Routledge, p.92

 

Hill, C. W. & Jones, G. R. (2008), Strategic management: an integrated approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, p.112

 

Hubbard, E. (2004), The Managers Pocket Guide to Diversity Management. Amherst, MA: HRD Press. p.74

 

Kelly, M. & McGowen, J. 2010, BUSN (Book Only), Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.p.208

 

Kinley, D. (2009), Civilising globalisation: human rights and the global economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pressp.162

 

Lowe, J. (2009), Google speaks: secrets of the world’s greatest billionaire entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, p.218

 

Mathis, R. L. & Jackson, J. H. (2011), Human Resource Management, 13th edn, Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.33

 

Martin, J. & Fellenz, M. 2010, Organizational Behaviour & Management. Fourth edition, Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. p.44

 

Nytimes.com 2010, Google Faces Fallout as China Reacts to Site Shift, URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/technology/24google.html

 

Pride, W. M., Hughes, R. J. & Kapoor, J. R. (2008), Business, Eleventh Edition, Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, p.199