Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR

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1. Introduction


In this paper we are dealing with the case of collaboration in a group of fifteen members from multiple nations. This international strategy research group (ISRG), as we can realize from the case study is facing serious cohesiveness problems. There is a lot of conflict and diversity among its members. Especially from Susan’s point of view there is another problem of her being treated as a minority due to the fact that she is a woman.


We do know that in order for a team to succeed cohesiveness among its members, it should fulfill some very important preconditions a) Similarities among its members, b) Smaller teams tend to be more cohesive than larger teams, c) Members need to be interact, d) Team’s success, because cohesiveness increases when the team is successful in what is doing. Failure is logical to cause conflicts and fragmentation among its members.


Most of these preconditions are not satisfied in our case study. We are dealing with a large team of fifteen people, something that is normal to cause problems because of the differentiation of cultures. There are many differences among its members, especially perception differences. There are three basic elements presented in this case


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1. Groups and teams


. Cultural organizational behavior


. Managing diversity





. Problem Definition


As we analyze the case there are many points, which we should labor


A. The form and the type of the ISRG team


Firstly the ISRG group it is formal because it serves a specific organizational purpose and performs a specific task. (Shermerhan � Hunt � Osborn, (7th edition O.B)


Furthermore is a temporary group specially created to solve a task appointed by the E.U. and its members are going to be desponded after the completion of the task. (Shermerhan � Hunt � Osborn, 7th edition O.B.).


As far as the sire of the group is concerned, is rather big. According to theory, big groups have the advantage of accomplishing the task easier due to the fact that is many members and so they can divide up the work. On the other hand there are many disadvantages. Firstly there is a problem in communicating among the members because they are all from different cultural environment. Secondly, we can detect serious coordination problems. This is a result not only of extensive number of members but also of the cross-cultural differences that exist among them (Shermerhan � Hunt � Osborn, 7th edition OB). In the case of our group it is obvious that the disadvantages overcome the advantages. There is a disagreement among its members and especially among French, American and British. Instead of working together they create great conflicts, which leads them to luck of cohesiveness and corporation. Pierre who is the French coordinator and, therefore, responsible for improving the coordination among the group members, is opposed to any of the ideas coming from American or British members.


B. Effectiveness of ISRG Group


In order for a group to be effective, members need to work together and separate the responsibilities, so as to complex different tasks. It is also important the task to have an intensity, which is the case here because our team has a specific and known to every member task to complete. Moreover, the task needs to be significant in order to provoke group’s interest and enthusiasm. Again in our case study, ISRG team is dealing with a task of a great significance. (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition OB).


Moreover the composition of the team is very important for its effectiveness. In order to perform effectively a team requires members with three major abilities.


1. Technical abilities, . Problem solving abilities .Decision making skills. The combination of these abilities helps the team to deal with the problem presented, find alternative solutions, evaluate and select the right solution. Furthermore, team members need to be good listeners, open-minded persons that accept different aspects and have the ability to prevent any kind of conflicts (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B.).


In our case ISRG team has not achieved this kind of composition. There are many members who want to have the lead as far as the decision process is concerned. In all three meetings there was not a single member that had the ability of solving the problems that occurred and reduce the conflict. Moreover, it seems that ISRG team has not good listeners and there is not a satisfactory feedback, which is very important for the process of the work and the cooperation among the members.


Very important factor is also the personality of the team members, which is extended to their behavior. (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B.). In ISRG team there are members who are fully conscious and other who are not. This of course reduces the performance of the team. For example Susan had great enthusiasm and conscience at the beginning of the work and she was complying her role more that satisfactory. But during the process of the teamwork she faced with less enthusiasm and cooperation from the other members. So it was inevitable that she would feel less committed to her task during the next meetings.


Moreover for a successful teamwork members should have roles that fulfill their preferences and their needs in order to complete them with success. In the opposite case there is a danger of controversy among team members because they feel that they do not have the role they deserve (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B). This is the case in ISRG team. Most of its members feel dissatisfied with their role and some of them seems that they don’t have definite task to complete. Again Susan’s example is very characteristic. She feels totally lost in the team because they don’t give her a definite task and they try to ignore her. Another striking example is the conflict between Pierre and Kent concerning the editing of the book. They have not defined from the start, who is going to edit the book, and therefore they argue about who is going to take up the role of editing the book. This situation results to luck of communication and enthusiasm and also creates stress and internal conflicts, a phenomenon that is called “Role ambiguity”; conflict with each other (internal conflict); or conflict with the individual’s personal values (person-role conflict). [Steven L. M. (Shane Mary Ann von Blinow; emerging realities for the workplace revolution Irwin McGraw Hill].


The absence of flexibility during the working process is also another characteristic of ISRG team. This absence creates difficulties in team’s adaptability and makes it less reliant on any single member. Taking into consideration all the aggressiveness and competitiveness that is observed during the meetings we can justify the fact that the members will be unable to do each other job, if this is necessary or rely to one another. Along with the luck of flexibility we can also observe that some members prefer to work alone and they select themselves out of the team participation. This leads to the separation of the group and the creation of intergroups, something that threats its existence, because it is opposed to the rules and team’s module. (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B., e-business updated edition). Through all meetings we see only the participation of French, British and Americans. The rest of the members prefer to work alone and not to participate in any kind of discussion and conflict that is created between them. An important result of this is the creation of “Social loafing” which means that members work less had when they are in the team that they would individually. This usually happens when individual’s contribution is not noticeable and recognized from the other members Susan works very hard and she very prompt and co-operative, but her work and effort are ignored and not recognized. Teams behavior makes her work less hard and she finally loses her enthusiasm and willingness.


Finally, there are some main points to be looked at concerning team’s effectiveness. Firstly is important for the team to share a common purpose, which is the case with ISRG team, because they do have a specific and common purpose that they need to fulfill. Moreover, it is necessary for the team to set specific goals and work together in order to accomplish them. But in order for this goal to be fulfilled team’s efficacy it is very significant. All of the members should be able to finish their task with success. Taking into consideration the above analysis we can assume that this is difficult to happen in ISRG team were there is no support and cohesiveness among its members (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B. e-business updated edition).


C. Is conflict necessary to a group or not?


There is a controversy on whereas a conflict is necessary in a group or not. Generally speaking, we can say that the functional type of conflict is important for teamwork, in order to create more constructive level of tension, because it motivates team members to work harder and to do something about solving the problem that created this conflict. Also, conflict creates a sense of good competition, which is very significant for greater performance and effectiveness. [E. Van de Vliert (185) Escalative Intervention in small group conflicts, Journal of Applied Behavior science].


In the case of ISRG group conflict is rather dysfunctional and can lead to the separation of the group. There is a lot of aggressiveness and hostility among the members and specially Br, Americans and French. Another result, as we already mentioned in the previous analysis, is the reduce of participation and teamwork. Most of the members work alone in order not to take place in any kind of controversy and so the all idea of team spirit fades. [E. Von devliert (185) Escalative intervention in small group conflicts, Journal of Applied Behavior Science].


D. Cross cultural behavior


A very significant element, presented in the case is that at cross cultural communication and behavior. In ISRG group there are representatives of ten different countries and therefore ten different cultural approaches in the matter.


As we read the case we pin-point many differences and a lot of disagreement among the French-British-American members during the second and third meeting there was a big conflict between Pierre, who is the French coordinator, Kent the British representative and Susan the only American representative and also a minority due to the fact that she is a woman. Looking into the framework developed by Green-Hofstede about values and National cultures, we can come up with a range of several reasons that explain the above conflict.


Five are the dimensions of national cultures that influence individual behaviors. In our case it’s important to analyze firstly power distance, which reflects the degree to which people accept the rank in an organization and the power distribution in the society. (Shermerhan � Hunt � Osborn, 7th edition O.B.). In this dimension according to cases appendix, French have a high power distance, which means that they do accept power distribution and inequalities, whereas U.S. and British have low power distance. Taking this into consideration we can explain the fact that French coordinator is behaving with highhanded manner and he is rather bossy towards the other members and especially British and U.S. According to Hofstede, societies with high power distance, French in our case do not involve others in the decision making process. This is obvious from the way Pierre is behaving towards the other members of the team � gap. Of course this kind of behavior is unacceptable from Kent British and Susan Americans who don not share the same ideas since they belong to a society with low Power distance.


Secondly uncertainty avoidance is another important dimension, which is related with Power distance. “Uncertainty avoidance is the cultural tendency to be uncomfortable about taking a risk in every day life”. (Shermerhan-Hunt-Osborn, 7th edition O.B.). French have high U.A whereas British and Americans have low Uncertainty avoidance. According to Hofsted, countries with high power distance and uncertainty avoidance, like French, are characterized by authoritarian, hierarchical structures and rigid rules and they are less concerned about harming others. This is obvious in Pierre’s behavior. He seems really bossy and he does not care if he causes problems in the group. Especially towards Susan he is behaving in a way that harms her work and her prestige and creates problems to her ability to communicate in the group.


Individualism Vs Collectivism is a major dimension of cultural variability and it is very obvious in the case of ISRG team. “Individualism Vs collectivism reflects the degree to which people prefer to work as individuals and they put their own values and needs above the needs and the values of the group (individualism) or they prefer to work as a team and they evaluate more the needs, goals and values of the group (collectivism)” [B. Javvenpad, Sirkka L, Ladner, Daothy E., (Nov/Dec ) A Journal of the institute of management Sciences, Communication and trust in global virtual team)


According to the Appendix, French as well as British and Americans are highly individualistic cultures and they tend to be less concerned with self-categorizing and less influences by group membership. This is probably one of the main reasons for which these three cultures cannot co-operate smoothly as a team and they tend to argue and disagree. They set as a major priority their own needs of self-recognition and they overlook the values and needs of the group. They don’t have a team co-operative spirit, which is very significant for the accomplishment of team’s main goal.


Another important cultural dimension is Masculinity Vs feminity, which describes what thins people value. In masculine societies, organizations and individuals emphasize on competition and assertiveness whereas in feminine societies, organizations and individuals emphasize on more tender values and they have interpersonal sensitivity and concern for relationships. [Shermerhan � Hunt � Osborn, 7th edition O.B.].


In our case according to the appendix, France is a (F) society and U.S. and Br. (M) societies. Obviously, is rather difficult for a co-operation to take place since the values from both of the sides differ. The important point in this case is that according to Hofsted, women in (M) societies, Susan in this case, are not as assertive and competitive as men are. This is the reason why Susan faces the dilemma of living the group, whereas Kent has not even thought this possibility despite the conflicts. Susan had to cope with the demands of the team; she is very punctual and hard working. But, on the other hand, she is influenced by her caring and modest values and she is feeling week and unable to handle the conflict and the hostility from Pierre towards her.


We should also mention the incident were Kent had an argument with Pierre concerning the handling of English language. Kent’s behavior was somehow disparaging to the way not native speakers handle the English language. This behavior is easily explained by the combination of masculinity and uncertainty avoidance which characterizes U.S. A striking thing in combination according to Hofsted is that they consider English as the most important and highly spoken language. [Munter, Mary, Business Horizons, (May/ June ) Cross cultural communication for managers, Business Source Premier].


E. Managing Diversity


Workplace diversity refers to the presence of individual human characteristics that make people different from one another. More specifically this diversity is differences based on gender, race and ethnicity, age and able-bodied ness. [Shemerhan � Hunt � Osborn, 7th edition O.B.].


In the case of ISRG group there is a diversity based on gender. From the 10 members there are only women. It is very important for an organization or a team to adopt the concept of managing diversity. “Managing diversity emphasizes appreciation of differences and creates of setting where everyone feels valued and accepted”. (Shemerhan � Hunt � Osborn 7th edition O.B.).


In ISRG team there is an obvious discrimination against Susan. This discrimination is countered productive because it prevents Susan’s contribution in the teamwork. It is obvious that Sussan is being treated as a minority. The main problem is allocated between Susan and Pierre, the French coordinator.


Women in various minority groups are often treated that way, firstly because of their physical difference, which makes male members uncomfortable or less trusting and secondly because they probably feel threatened, because they cannot accept a woman being better or working harder. Pierre is ignoring Susan’s opinion and he is trying to make her feel like she is not useful or acceptable by the team’s members.


During the 1st meeting all her suggestions were rejected as being wrong and inaccurate. At this point Susan felt that this was her mistake and that she misunderstood. The problem becomes more serious during the nd meeting where Susan was totally ignored by French members. They did not inform her about important updates making her feeling uncomfortable and unaware of her role within the group. This incident clearly shows the luck of trust and respect towards her, because she is a woman and therefore different. Also, in the same meeting Pierre insulted Susan by not using her professional title of professor or doctor. With his attitude shows his difficulty to accept Susan as an equal member and considers her as not being capable of dealing with the project. Finally, during the rd meeting, where the luck of enthusiasm is obvious to the all team, French brought an American professor to cope with some of the interviews in the American business, without informing Susan. This is another example of the luck of trust towards Susan. They thought that it will be better for a man to deal with the interviews, despite the fact that this was a task taken up by Susan.


According to Deborah Tanners, women speak and hear a language of connection and intimacy, which is totally different from men’s language. Men speak and hear a language of status, power and independence. (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B., e-business updated edition). From the above we realize that in a conversation or even a project, men and women communicate with a totally different way. It is obvious from the way Susan speaks and behaves, that she is trying to avoid conflicts. She is working about the cohesiveness of the group and she is trying to get support and connection. She believes in mutual understanding and cooperation and she is not competitive and aggressive.


Pierre, in the other hand, is trying to preserve independence and maintain status. He sees, Susan’s behavior as “covert” and sneaky due to the fact that she is not as concerned as he is with the status and one-upmanship that directors often create. (Stephen D. Robbins, th edition O.B., e-business edition).


Furthermore, Susan is downplaying her authority and her accomplishments to avoid appearing as braggart and she is taking the other persons feeling into account. However, Pierre has misinterpreted this behavior and he, incorrect, concludes that she is less confident and incapable of handling the situation. In the end Susan faces a great dilemma feeling insecure and incapable of handling the situation, she is thinking of quitting the group. The question is how much this will affect her carrier and in case she stays what can be done so that she will gain respect, trust and attention.


.Recommendations


Firstly the team should set a high level of goal understanding and acceptance that each member of the group will be aware of. It is very important for all members to know that there is a goal that should be achieved in a specific time. In order for this goal to be completed, all members of the group should participate equally during the meeting. This can be accomplished when each member has a specific and clearly stated task to complete according to its level of expertise. It can be as wasteful to give a specific work to members who are unable to do that particular task, as it is to ignore the most expert member. In ISRG group in order for them to work smoothly and effective they will have to find which member is more appropriate and expert for the completion of each task. (Cohen � Fink � Gordon � Willis 7th edition Effective behavior organization).


Secondly it will be helpful if they create a friendly and informal atmosphere before the meetings, in order to be able to work more effective and cooperative. Especially in this group, due to the fact that is very big and therefore its members are not related between them in any way (Cohen-Fink-Gordon-Willis, 7th edition Effective behavior organization).


Moreover it is of a high importance, for the effectiveness of the teamwork, to share all information and important updates. Otherwise there will be no cohesiveness among the members and they will not be able to finish their tasks since they will luck information and cooperation. We should not forget that this is the meaning of the groups’ existence. (Cohen-Fink-Gordon-Willis, 7th edition Effective behavior organization).


Furthermore, they should try to discuss their disagreements and try to resolve them instead of setting them aside. Especially Susan, who is thinking of living the group, should discuss with the French about their attitude towards her. It is important to discuss her thoughts, feelings and complains with the other members and see if she can find the reason of the negative attitude towards her. This will help her find the best possible solution for her and for the team.


Criticism of performance is also very significant and should be open and direct among all group members. In that way they will be able to spot their mistakes and try to correct them. Members should express their feelings and opinion about a task that has been completed by one member. ISRG group and especially French and U.S. are more concentrated to the leadership instead of working for the success of the team.


In order to improve communication in ISRG team they should create firstly a supportive climate for effective problem solving. This can be achieved in the following specific ways


Firstly they will have to collaborate during the process of problem solving instead of trying to control the other person. For example Pierre should be less bossy and authoritarian and try to listen to his colleagues and be more co-operative and open-minded. (Judith R. Gordon, 7th edition A diagnostic approach).


Furthermore honesty is very important. All members should reveal their goals rather than trying to manipulate others. There is no honesty in ISRG group. Both French and American English should try to be more open and honest between them. This will improve their relations and will reduce conflicts and arguments. It is also very significant to convey empathy for the feelings and problems of their listener, rather than appearing unconcerned or neural about the listener’s welfare. Especially in the case of Susan, French members seem to feel unconcerned towards her feelings. This is a wrong attitude, since it creates serious problems within the team. Pierre will have to put himself in Susan’s shoes. He has to be aware of her values, expertise and frames of reference, before he sends his negative message. He has to try and see Susan as the person that really by putting aside his prejudice. It will be very good if he was trying to find out about her previous expertise, her education, upbringing and background, because this information will give him added insight.


The problem with Pierre and with French, generally, in the group, is that they have the feeling of superiority. He should try to indicate that he feels equal rather than superior from his fellow members.


From Susan’s point of view, I do believe that she doesn’t handle properly the situation. She has to delay her judgment until she has a sufficient time to observe and interpret the situation from the differing perspectives of al the cultures involved. I do not believe that living the group is a good idea or the best possible solution, but on the contrary I think that a hasty decision will damage her career and will be a failure for her as an individual. As we already mentioned it would be a very good idea to try and discuss her feelings and her thoughts with French members, since they are the ones that making her feeling the way she is. Moreover she should try to make an effort to approach the other members as well so that she will have their support. Running away and ignoring the problem is not a solution. She has to face it and try to solve it in the best possible way for her and for the group.


It is also very important to accept criticism and different points of view instead of being dogmatic and obstinate. This will reduce conflicts among members since different solutions will be accepted as possible and will be discussed. In that way members will feel that they do contribute in the teamwork, especially during the meetings. Of course this will have a great impact on their performance.


4.CONCLUSION


In order for a team to succeed cohesiveness among its members, it should fulfill some very important preconditions a) Similarities among its members, b) Smaller teams tend to be more cohesive than larger teams, c) Members need to be interact, d) Team’s success. Failure causes conflicts and fragmentation among its members. In the case of ISRG group there is a diversity based on gender. From the 10 members there are only women. It is very important for an organization or a team to adopt the concept of managing diversity. “Managing diversity emphasizes appreciation of differences and creates of setting where everyone feels valued and accepted”. (Shemerhan � Hunt � Osborn 7th edition O.B.). In order for the goal to be achieved, they should set aside any kind of dogmatism, selfishness, authoritarian behavior and prejudice and try to work collectively and co-operative.


5. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


ISRG group is a temporary group specially created to solve a task appointed by the E.U. and its members are going to be responded after the completion of the task. Firstly there is a problem in communicating among the members because they are all from different cultural environment. There is a disagreement among its members and especially among French, American and British. In order for a group to be effective, members need to work together, separate the responsibilities, complete different tasks. These tasks need to have an identity and being significant In order to perform effectively a team requires members with three major abilities. 1. Technical abilities, . Problem solving abilities .Decision making skills. In our case ISRG team has not achieved this kind of composition. In ISRG team there are members who are fully conscious and other who are not. This of course reduces the performance of the team, results to luck of communication and enthusiasm and also creates stress and internal conflicts, a phenomenon that is called “Role ambiguity”; conflict with each other (internal conflict); or conflict with the individual’s personal values (person-role. Susan’s example is very characteristic. There is a lot of aggressiveness and hostility among the members and especially Br, Americans and French. French have a high power distance, whereas U.S. and British have low power distance. French have high U.A whereas British and Americans have low Uncertainty avoidance. In ISRG group there is also a diversity based on gender. There is an obvious discrimination against Susan. From the 10 members there are only women. In ISRG team the main problem is allocated between Susan and Pierre, the French coordinator. The problem becomes more serious during the nd meeting where Susan was totally ignored by French members. Recommendations Members should express their feelings and opinion about a task that has been completed by one member. In order to improve communication in ISRG team they should create firstly a supportive climate for effective problem solving. All members should reveal their goals rather than trying to manipulate others. There is no honesty in ISRG group. Especially in the case of Susan, French members seem to feel unconcerned towards her feelings. This is a wrong attitude, since it creates serious problems within the team. Pierre will have to put himself in Susan’s shoes.





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