Cameron Mechanical & Automation, Inc. (CMA) is a fictional company that has been in business and operating in the Silicon Valley since 1998. The company began as a successful Internet-based company (dot-com) and experienced great success with the introduction of high technology. The company also experienced decline with other dot-coms in 2001. As a result, CMA restructured and focused on its primary products; that is, computer components. The early changes in the company were done quickly to downsize. Although many other companies failed during this time, CMA managed to move forward.
CMA rebounded and continued to manufacture and sell its components to computer manufacturers worldwide. The company structure was divided into product divisions, with each division focused on specific components. For the company, this structure was meant to streamline sales and delivery worldwide.
In 2008, the economy had an effect on company profits, but the chief executive officer (CEO), Jared Smith, was in a position to focus on several internal strategic areas, including structure, work design, motivation, conflict, and company culture as a whole. To stay profitable, the company had to eliminate several management positions in an effort to flatten the organizational chart. Many of the responsibilities fell to the employees, and many people resisted the change.
As the economy recovers, CMA continues to rebuild. Since 2012, the company has been divided into a functional structure that includes four departments: Research and development (R&D), marketing, production, and finance. Each department is headed by a vice president who has responsibility over each of the functional areas. The company currently sells components to computer manufacturers. As technology continues to advance, the CMA R&D department and its vice president, Kevin Adams, are feeling pressure to keep up with the competition. However, because of the differentiation and separation between the departments, the CEO is concerned that communication is hampered.
Because of the current structure and culture, the vice presidents who run each division of the company have autonomy and are able to use different leadership styles. For example, the vice president of marketing, Jim Stevens, uses a more democratic leadership style, while the vice president of production, Melissa Simons, is adamant that her autocratic or transactional style is the only way to get results. Each leadership style has advantages, but the lack of consistency between divisions may be causing problems for the company as a whole. Further, the CEO is concerned that the workforce may not be as diverse as it should be, but he is not sure how to address the issue.
It is the end of the day, and you are meeting in Jared’s office to talk about his conference with the vice presidents.
Jared, the CEO, says: “We talked about how we can change the infrastructure so that it helps organizational culture run efficiently and consistently. Everyone is getting the same message now about how structure and culture need to work in a healthy company.”
“You know, it would help if I had something that explained the link between culture and structure. I need to talk to the board about the changes we’re making, and I will be talking to staff about what they can expect to happen over the next 6 months. You’re a better writer than I am, and I could use a well-written explanation for my discussions.”
Jared also says, “Besides explaining the link between culture and structure in this assignment, and based on the problems that CMA has had, what additional changes would you suggest for the company? I want to include your recommendations in the agenda for the next quarterly meeting with the board.”