Data Storage

Chapter 9.

Question 1.

I have had contact with many large bureaucratic organizations such as _____________. These are large multinational companies, and their focus has always been customer oriented. I can not recall any situations when the demands of the customers were not met. If it was not possible to satisfy the customer’s need at that time, there were people within the company who would discuss the issue with the customer and would eventually come to some sort of a resolution.

Among the companies which have not always provided flexible response to customer demands I can name some USPS departments (although it is possible to contact their head office, and they eventually find an appropriate solution), and European oil companies, the bureaucracy of which results in rather slow decision-making. In my opinion, responsive and non-responsive organizations differ in their attitude to customers and customer relationship management; responsive organizations are focused on meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations, taking into account its internal resources and competition, while non-responsive organizations might fail to react timely, develop slower than their competitors (or slower than the market), or fail to find attractive solutions for the customers.

Question 2.

If I was doing business for myself, my core competencies would be knowledge in technology, the combination of project management skills and MBA knowledge, and innate flexibility allowing to adapt to virtually every business situation. These are current competencies, and I would also like to develop such competencies as team-building skill, Project Management Professional certification and associated knowledge, systems engineering and risk evaluation/management skills.

My role in the network organization would probably be the technical project manager of product department (pr R&D department, depending on the state of the industry). Other firms which would be useful in this network are design company, a group of distributors, marketing firm and QA firm. The competencies of these firms should correspondingly be attractive, convenient and unique design concepts and vision, staff able to effectively represent and distribute the product, focus on customer needs and experience and ability to forecast future demands of target customer groups, maintaining superior quality and functionality in a variety of situations.

Question 3.

To work effectively in a learning organization, I would have to develop such skills as problem-solving, disciplined thinking and attentiveness of details, should establish a habit of analyzing the successes and failures, both personal and from others experience, would have to improve my communication and information sharing skills, and establish contacts with more experienced colleagues, to learn from their experience.

In order to become effective in a high-involvement organization, I would need to improve my teamworking and collaboration skills, establish feedback mechanisms with my subordinates and supervisors, and would have to practice such activities as brain storms and idea generation mechanisms in order to receive feedback and ideas of line employees, thus increasing their commitment.

Chapter 10.

Question 1.

The situation in the case shows that working conditions and salaries of the operating staffers in the university have declined compared to other labor groups, although the enrollment to the university has increased. This fact shows that some processes of redistribution of financing are taking place. From the point of view of the school administrator, it will be useful to consider the financing issues, and request a more fair distribution of funding for operating staffers. The reorganization of health care plans and providing most cost-effective health care options to operating staffers might also help to solve the situation. Volunteer services and nonprofit community service organizations currently rely a lot on the resources of operating staffers, and it would be good to attract the representatives of other labor groups to these activities (thus reducing the pressure on operating staffers). The problem of vacant positions should necessarily be addressed; most likely, work organization in the university might need some restructuring, and it might be good to adopt divisional approach to labor organization for operating staffers. Finally, it might be useful to compare working conditions and wages in similar job positions in the region to the university conditions, and to communicate the results of the comparison to the operating staffers; in addition to this, it will be very useful to consider the costs of subcontracting and describe the perspectives of unionization to the community.

Question 2.

If the perspective of unionization is imminent, this is a clear indicator that job dissatisfaction and the lack of trust in the ability of university authorities to improve the situation takes place. In this case, it would be better for the management to recognize the union without holding elections, and collaborate in order to develop solutions suitable for both sides. It might happen that unionization will help the university’s management team to develop a more effective policy for their employees and improve job satisfaction, motivation and performance, so it is best to select a collaborative position and to keep in mind that the resulting goals of the union and the university are similar.

Question 3.

The answer to this question would largely depend on the financial position of the university and its future plans. If the tendency to increase the workload for the same amount of compensation continues, then the services of subcontractors or outside recruitment will not help to quell the union movement, as the employees might benefit more from becoming subcontractors or finding some better off jobs. However, if it was a temporary situation, then the use of subcontracting and organizing the operating staffers as a network structure can be a reasonable remedy against the union movement. Moreover, even the perspective of such transformation might stop this movement (if the situation with working conditions is unlikely to get worse).

Chapter 11.

Question 1.

Vivian Noble can emphasize the diversity and special approach of the company in the hiring campaign, thus establishing the reputation for the store chain. Posting the vacancies and delivering the information on the new job openings to the regions with high concentration of minorities, and including translated job openings for those employees who have low level of English might also help to attract minority representatives. The company can offer flexible schedule to women and young employees who have to devote time to studying; providing child care and elderly care assistance for employees will also increase the diversity within the company. For young workers, the focus on career opportunities, internship practices, internal trainings and certification might be effective.

Question 2.

Ms. Noble should create a positive image of the store chain, and show how their company is different. The company might organize trainings and actions on diversity, perform surveys of customers’ opinion and provide a quick response to the customers’ needs. Charitable actions such as delivery of goods to senior or disabled citizens or volunteer activities in support of impoverished groups of citizens might be very effective for establishing the company’s image. Finally, effective advertising showing cultural diversity and communicating the mission and vision of the company will greatly help to reach out to the community.

Question 3.

The new region is the area where several cultures are combined, which allows to reach high diversity of the workforce. By attracting and retaining employees from different cultures, Fresh Foods Supermarkets can build a highly creative, innovative and flexible team. The company will be able to address more target customer groups and will be able to understand the needs of minority groups better. Finally, Fresh Foods Supermarkets will develop a positive reputation both in this region and globally, and will be able to market their goods and services to diverse consumer groups.

Chapter 11 – part 3

Question 1.

I would prefer a defined contribution plan, according to which I would be able to get the total amount accumulated during the working period. These plans have a number of benefits over predefined pension benefits. First of all, the employees can choose the amount of contribution, and can thus balance their income both during the working period and after retirement. Secondly, the total sum might be invested and create additional revenue, unlike fixed pension benefits. Finally, after retirement the whole sum will be transferred to the employee, and if the company goes bankrupt, this will not affect its former employees, as it happens in the case of fixed pension benefits.

Question 2.

In order to protect pension benefits, the companies can choose different approaches. One of them is to use combined plans, where the employee invests 50% of the retirement contribution, and the employer compensates the other half. The companies can also invest these funds and create a diversified portfolio, thus creating a protection for pension benefits against bankruptcy and market fluctuations. Using the methods of pension insurance with the help of such companies as PBGC is also an acceptable method of creating protection for employee pension plans.

Question 3.

In my opinion, the government should bail out pension funds for the companies which have gone bankrupt, because the retired employees of these companies have made their contribution during their work period, and now deserve for appropriate compensation. Since the practice of predefined benefit plans is slowly disappearing, this coverage might create significant economic pressures only for the transition period. At the same time, the government should not encourage the use of predefined pension payments, and motivate employees to switch to contribution plans or to combined methods of saving for retirement.