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					     “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”

               Komlan Ezunkpe
        Dr. Alan R. Tillquist, Professor
BUS 520: Leadership and Organizational Behavior
              Strayer University
                 Winter 2010
                          “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”


This paper is about a case study, “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line.”

It tries to examine five specific issues. First, it describes the culture at BMW. Second, it

discusses the model of leadership illustrated at BMW and the related impact on the

organization culture. Third, it analyzes why employees derive high job satisfaction at

BMW, using specific job characteristic models. Fourth, it Discuss the attributes of

organizational creativity that are fostered at BMW. Finally, it discusses how culture and

work environment impact the performance results of BMW. These issues are interrelated

in substance and are not discussed disjointedly.
                          “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”

“Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”

       Until recently, leadership in organizations was the classical hierarchical,

divisional and bureaucratic model based on the leaders on the top holding the power of

control over the employees. At BMW organization, this could be evident. However, in

the case study, “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,” the paradigm shifted from

divisional type of leadership to organic type of organization. In this model, the power was

distributed in various parts of the organization; it was not just emanating from the top, but

also from the bottom including the factory workers themselves. Also various models of

reinforcements were used to motivate workers. These models were not just designed to

motivate the employees, but also to meet the needs of the company. Based on this

transformation, a culture of change, openness, and fairness was created in the company.

       After acquiring Rover factory, the first transformation made by BMW was

environmental, in terms of physical space, technology and work ambiance. The company

expanded the parking lot, upgraded the production technology and created a more

enjoyable work environment. The second transformation was to change the old culture of

top management decision making without consulting with workers. The new

management introduced a culture of openness and trust by accepting new ideas generated

from workers within the company. Therefore, the management model and the culture

became an associate or team paradigm, which operate in an organic or collaborative

way. The third transformation was to use new reinforcement systems to enhance

production and revenue, such as the creation of new pay systems to motivate employees.

These systems were not only created in the interest of the workers, but increased the

production and business of the company. Therefore, the culture at BMW was a culture of

openness, trust, motivation, fairness and mutual understanding.

Corporate Culture is important to a company’s success. In social studies, culture is
                          “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”

defined as a set of symbols, norms and beliefs shared by a group of people. This

definition is similar to business corporate culture which stipulates that culture is as clear

outlines of appropriate behaviors for members or employees of an organization. This

outlines of behaviors include the beliefs and standards which the company wants to

communicate to the public (Kelly & McGowen 2009). The understanding of this culture

at BMW was the key to the company success; it is keeping quality employees and

encourages them to give feedback. Hellriegel and Slocum (2009, p. 140), argue in their

job characteristics model that “A job without meaningfulness, responsibility, and

feedback is incomplete and does not strongly motivate an employee.” Furthermore,

Hellriegel and Slocum (2009, p. 140), in their organizational rewards discussion three

types of rewards outstand: material, from the task, and self-administrated rewards. These

were some reinforcements used at BMW to encourage workers. First, material rewards

include pay and incentive plans. Second, rewards from the task including sense of

achievement and job with more responsibility. Third, self-administrated rewards which

includes greater sense of self-worth.

       Also, there was a sense of self efficacy used by the management to establish a

relationship between the workers qualities, production and reward. A sense of

determination and teamwork was built among the workers. They were motivated because

they were given the impression to be part of the ownership of a company. In this instance

they act more with responsibility, they believe in the company products and services, and

act with excitement. The workers at BMW play the role of members or shareholders. For

example, while upper management is responsible for the ordinary bones of the business,

at the assembly level several creative workers make suggestions which are used at the

corporate level. So, it is crucial for managers to understand the business because they are

active participants in the life of the company.
                          “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”

         Avery, G. C. (2004) says that moving from hierarchical culture to culture of

teamwork and collaboration made BMW’s leadership to move closer to employees; this

provides the workers with a better understanding of how the organization operates and

thinks in business terms. And BMW's management expects from their employees at all

level to think in business terms, to be responsible, business focus, self managed,

innovated, problem solving, to communicate, set their goals and expectation and to make

their own decisions. As well as to be responsible for quality assurance, production,

maintenance and logistics, this was the responsibility of external different departments.

         The operation at BMW’s Assembly Line was transformational, changing from

hierarchical to associate type of management. This new approach requires from the

leadership and workers to develop new ways to meet the challenges of the new changes

and demands. Reward programs such as the suggestion program and the new pay systems

are supported by team work and rewards the individuals for their contribution to the team

changes the organization are being through. Under the old pay style, workers were paid

either they work or not, but within the new paradigm, employees earn vacation time for

working long hours. The effectiveness of these pay systems were the results of learnt

behaviors; the workers were more likely to be consistent in their behaviors because the

reward was beneficial (Hellriegel, D., & Slocum, J W, Jr. 2009).

         Change in companies can be challenging, but if the leadership understands

organizational behavior and translates its psychological aspects into a vision it can be

rewarding. At the BMW’s Assembly Line, the vision of transformation became realistic

because the management moves from the hierarchical leadership model to teamwork

                        “Working on BMW’s Assembly Line,”


Avery, G. C. (2004). Understanding Leadership. London: Sage.

Baltzan, P., & Philip, A. (2009 Custom Edition. 2nd ed.). CIS500: Business Driven
       Information Systems. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Hellriegel, D., & Slocum, J W, Jr. (2009). BUS520: Organizational 2010 custom edition
       (12th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Centrage Learning.

Kelly M., & McGowen J., (2009). Business. Ohio: Cengage Learning.

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