Discussion Board

You will create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 400 words, demonstrate course-related knowledge, and integrate at least 2 peer-reviewed articles. In addition to the thread, you will reply to the threads of at least 3 classmates. Each reply must be at least 250 words and contain at least 1 citation from a peer-reviewed journal and 1 from the textbook

In the case, Dennis Hightower – Walt Disney’s Transitional Manager, you are introduced to how Hightower knit together a federation of independent country operations and created an effective center linking local subsidiaries to the center. As noted in the case, the process was extremely complex and placed immense demands on Hightower. Specifically it required him to demonstrate intensive management of relationships, appropriate position of people, careful delegation of responsibility and active nurturing of a healthy work environment. As you reflect on the overall change in company culture; respond to the following prompts as you prepare your DB thread for this assignment:

  • Evaluate the pacing and sequencing of Hightower’s actions from 88 to 94’
  • How would you evaluate his approach to bringing about change in his organization? Compare his approach with that of Jack Welch.
  • What should Hightower do about the apparel business?
  • What are some of the challenges of building a transnational organization?                        

SIMMONS POST…………………………………………

Evaluation of the pacing and sequencing of Hightower’s actions

            The pace and sequences at which Hightower implemented change was fast for that time period. The conditions of the under which Disney was operating in Europe needed immediate attention in order to produce the desired results. Hightower was able to produce those results, at first, through his direct leadership style, and afterwards, by highlighting the results of his efforts. Essentially what Hightower did was used a model to promote and mandate dissatisfaction within the organization and used the positive results of his efforts to gain momentum to inspire change (Jick & Peiperl, 2011, pg 138).

Hightower’s to change versus Welch

            Hightower believed that once provided the tools, training, experience, and vision that his subordinates were empowered to make decisions in his absence. What this did was instill trust throughout the organization and caused everyone to provide their best efforts. While at the same time he demanded a uniformity of effort from everyone. Anyone who did not support or believe in the overall direction that the company moving towards were eventually identified and separated. Welch believed in setting the conditions for every member of the team to excel. He believed that every member was equally valuable and could contribute to success of the organization.

What should Hightower do about the apparel business?

            Hightower should continue his to improve relations with the apparel business. The challenge with the apparel business is creating synergy and in an environment of many cultures. There are not only the various country cultures, but the cultures within each organization and to further compound or complicate issues there are the many different legal and regulatory obstacles that need to negotiated in order to move forward. Co-operation and trust based on cultural and religious affinity and ethnic affiliation obviously provide a more stable fundament for successful business ventures than do Western relations rooted in rationality (Dahles & Stobbe, 2004).Create a single identity that resonates throughout the organization, regardless of where they are on the globe.  

Challenges of building a transnational organization

            The most significant challenge to building a transnational organization is communication. Developing a means or systems that facilitates communication to a transnational organization that allows for ease of translation and equality in understanding. The next challenge is synchronization of operations across multiple countries and time zones, which further contributes to the challenge of communication. Culture is the next challenge along with regulatory and legal challenges. The link between transnational organizations and management and the lives and social constructions of such researchers have become increasingly important in the conduct, understanding and theorization of transnational research on transnational organizations and management.

BERRY POST……………………………….

Pacing and Sequencing of Actions from 88 to 94’

Dennis Hightower follows Bob Knowling’s change model by not announcing a change agenda, but by just taking action by revealing several high impact things at the beginning (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). For example, Hightower rolled out a plan to centralize DCP-EME in to “mega-deals” to bust up traditional individual country managed licensing issues that had slowed down performance and growth, and negotiated broad transnational deals with other corporations.  Second, Knowling acknowledges that there may be personnel shake ups in the beginning of a change effort. The text is not clear if Hightower made any specific personnel moves, but he did explain to the country managers that the pan-European goals were designed to achieve directed goals and that they “will take the pan-European deals route” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011 p. 417).  

Third, Hightower and Knowling are aligned in that there is a need for reorganization to achieve better results; the divergence is the amount of time between moves. Knowling takes a faster approach, while Hightower waited a few years to make major changes to the structure; however, as a microcosm Hightower made the changes rapidly once the decision was made and not advertised it a change program. Finally, both Hightower and Knowling agree that for an organization to sustain change there must be a new attitude, but it is more important to achieve rapid results first.    

Hightower’s Approach to Change the Organization

Both Hightower and Welch (and Knowling for that matter) are similar in their approach to change insofar as they both instituted change by presenting a vision, establishing measureable goals, and put those milestones and goals on a timeline. All believed in ‘results first, attitudes next model’ (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Finally, all recognized that “a company can boost productivity by restructuring, removing bureaucracy and downsizing, but it cannot sustain high productivity without cultural change” (Jick & Peiperl, 2011 p. 572). In Hightower’s case the cultural change was instituted by organizing from the top down in a centralized manner to bring a culturally, economically, and historically diverse organization in line under one structure. In Welch’s case, the cultural change took advantage of a more culturally alike group by emphasizing empowerment and decentralization from the bottom up.

What to Do About the Apparel Business

Hightower decided that a top down pan-Europe ‘mega deals’ were the right way to organize and conduct business. However, he should have adjusted after assessing the results of his pan-European policy on the apparel business. In most cases a pan-European policy facilitated his vertical alignment model to bring the organization together, but in this case the apparel plan is not consistent with the corporate target of 20 percent growth every year. Kunc, Sopelana, and Rivera Hernáez explain in their article “Towards a Dynamic Model of Organizational Flexibility” that the key to survival in a dynamic world economy is flexibility (Kunc, Sopelana & Rivera Hernáez 2010). They argue that corporations must not only be flexible, but that they need to routinely assess their flexibility rating to determine if they are flexible enough in the right areas to stay consistent with their goal achievement plan, and to retain market relevance. If Hightower was willing to accept the challenges of a pan-European model to get to his goal of 20 percent annual growth, then he should have been willing to find another solution to the apparel business.

Challenges of Building a Transnational Organization

In the study “The Organizational Design of Transnational Professional Service Firms” by  Boussebaa, M, Fairclough, S, Greenwood, R and Morris, T (2010), the authors describe several challenges to building a transnational organization that include regional or national norms, gender and socioeconomic barriers, language barriers, legal issues, customs and tariff issues, and political and economic differences. Additionally, world events can impact alliances and distribution networks, and differences in technology compatibility, operating systems, and information networks can cause huge disruptions in coordination and performance. The key, they argue, is maximizing specialties “to customize their services to meet the specifications of their international clients” (Boussebaa, Fairclough, Greenwood, & Morris 2010). Hightower’s challenge was getting formerly autonomous elements to become part of a homogeneous organization, and getting them to focus on “the revenue-production side of their business, and let me worry about the back office”, and to do so according to the parameters that Hightower had laid out for them (Jick & Peiperl, 2011 p 417). This is the essence of what Boussebaa, Fairclough, Greenwood and Morris meant by locally customizing to service the client according to specific regions and areas.

LOCKLEAR POST……………………………………

Evaluate the pacing and sequencing of Hightower’s action from 88 to 94

During this period through his efforts, Dennis Hightower brought Disney

Consumer Products-Europe out of the shadows and into the limelight. One manager

noted, “Dennis has made them realize the richness, complexity, and potential of

Europe” (Jick & Peiperl, 2013). One of his approaches to management was to ensure

that throughout the region, the various parts of the organization, moved in concert with

each other. His unique combination of strategic thinking and organizational skills

contributed to a diverse group pulling together and all operating in the same direction.

Hightower implemented a culture in which he never directed by barking out

orders, his approach was to influence his followers because they believed in the logic

behind his thinking.   

             Hightower’s approach to Change/Comparison of Jack Welch?

His approach was exemplified in a belief that subordinates should be

empowered. He often delegated major decisions down to lower levels, thus allowing

employees a stronger sense of belonging and without interference from his level.

Empowering subordinate leaders brings out the best in them, while at the same time

preparing them to assume future positions of increased responsibility and authority.   

Jack Welch believed in creating an environment where people could excel. He thought

that people must have self-confidence, along with having a high level of self-assurance.

He often preached that companies are only as strong as the people who keep them

running. They both possessed the unique ability to connect with people, by creating a

sense of fairness and being honest at all costs.  

           What Should Hightower Do About the Apparel Business?

Hightower’s strategy to the apparel market should focus on instilling a sense of

being fearless into the manufacturers, along with a sense of improved product quality.

Product quality improvements could have significant positive impacts on sales, not only

in the respective countries but across the region. There has to be a level of conviction

within the manufacturers that their product is the best.  This conviction must be

accompanied by investments in resources, manpower, materials, and external support.

Furthermore, it is imperative that attention be given to the underexploited markets. 

Formulate a team of personnel whose sole responsibility is to review and examine this

area, as these areas could be ripe for explosive growth.     

           Challenges of Building a Transnational Organization

Adaptation is a critical component in order for transnational organizations to

achieve success across culturally and demographically diverse areas. They must also

build new capabilities and periodically transform their organizations, all while investing

in new technologies and operations and warding off potential competitors. (Stahl, 2011)

However, continued improvements in technology such as teleconference, voice over IP,

and email have eased some of the burden and made operating in a transnational

environment easier. Finally, there are some of the natural challenges that exist to

include language barriers, cultural nuances or competencies and time and distance.

These areas can create difficulty with regard to conflict resolution or discussing

solutions. Managers must fully understand the organizational culture in which their

business is operating and its potential impacts on the organization.  

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