OCR A2 Economics Unit F585 June 2013 | AQA A2 BUSS4 | AQA AS Applied BS03 | IB B&M Royal Danish Bearings | OCR AS Business F292 | OCR A2 Business F297 | OCR AS Applied F242 | OCR A2 Applied F247
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How far did the management style of Roberto Mancini contribute to his removal after the FA Cup defeat?
Mancini was the most successful manager of Manchester City's 23 managers hired after the retirement of Joe Mercer in 1971. He took the club to 2 FA Cup Finals, and City thrashed Manchester United 6-1 on the way to winning the Premier League with almost the last kick of the 2011-12 season.read more...»
We've previously highlighted the arrival of Harriet Green as the new CEO of Thomas Cook as a great research example for business students. New CEOs - particularly those recruited externally - tend to dive straight into "strategic reviews" which then result in changes in strategic direction, disposal of non-core businesses etc. Harriet Green is no exception. And in this YouTube clip, she outlines her proposed strategy for the ailing travel industry business.
The clip is almost two hours in length. However, it is the first section (from about 3 minutes 30 in) which is particularly interesting and relevant for business students. You get a strong sense of Harriet Green's personality from the presentation and a clear statement of her strategic objectives for the business.read more...»
Can Apple's CEO Tim Cook provide the right leadership to sustain the firm's reputation for innovation?
That's the question posed in this short Businessweek article which looks at three key factors which may determine whether Apple's innovative culture can be sustained and nurtured.
It's a good piece and well worth reading not just as an example of analysis and evaluation!read more...»
That may be over-stating it a bit, but it's not often that the BBC's Political Editor calls a football manager "...the mastermind of one of Britain's greatest brands." Nick Robinson is clearly somewhat biased, as a self-confessed Man United fan, but the piece he wrote on Thursday to justify his off-the-cuff comment, in which he did jokingly suggest that Sir Alex Ferguson was 'the greatest living Briton', suggests that students of leadership, management and business culture should reflect on what led to his success.
One of the strengths and a key component in the Co-Op Bank's USP after recent banking problems - sub-prime lending, collapse of Northern Rock and LIBOR rate fixing, was its emphasis of ethical banking.
This new blog entry from the HBR is useful research material for students wanting to develop the link between organisational culture and competitive advantage.read more...»
Students attending our BUSS4 exam coaching workshops on Organisational Culture will be familiar with Jeff Skilling - the former CEO of Enron which collapsed so spectacularly over a decade ago.
The Enron collapse was closely linked to a strong, through ultimately toxic organisational culture that developed at Enron, which was an online energy trading business that rose quickly to become the 7th most valuable firm in the US.
The culture at Enron, described so powerfully in the film The Smartest Guys in the Room (and Broadway play of the same name) was a tough culture - a VERY tough culture. Students may recall the infamous policy of "rank and yank" in which 15% of Enron staff were dismissed each year as a result of Jeff Skilling's PRC (Performance Review Committee).
Skilling rose to the position of CEO in 2001 only to abruptly resign six months later. Soon after that, Enron collapsed in one of the most notorious corporate scandals of all time.
Jeff Skilling was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment back in May 2006 after he was found guilty on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.
However, it now looks likely that Skilling will end up serving only 10-11 years of his sentence. The news clip below explains why in more detail as does this news article from the BBC.read more...»
I've become increasingly convinced from recent discussions with major accountancy firms and other major employers that workplace learning is going to challenge the preeminence of universities and colleges when it comes to obtaining higher level qualifications. The emergence of some industrial-strength Higher Apprenticeship programmes recently is a sign of that. And so to is the news that John Lewis Partnership is to extend its programme of workplace learning to offer Level 6 (university degree level) qualifications for some of its management.
This story would provide the basis for some excellent analysis by students exploring how and why John Lewis Partnership has decided to extend its internal training programmes.
Some clues can be found in extracts from the JLP press release: for example;
The so-called "University of John Lewis" will also offer a number of other development initiatives through its ‘skills programme’, which will include training in product knowledge, line management and leadership. read more...»
"Our partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment."
For Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - a promise is a promise.
Back in April 2012, when Kazou Hirai took over as CEO from Sir Howard Stringer, he pledged to restore Sony's troubled Consumer Electronics division to profitability within one year.
In a significant programme of retrenchment, Sony has shed over 10,000 jobs (about 6% of the workforce), sold off major property assets and substantially cut production at the heavily loss-making Sony Television business (which is a significant part of the Consumer Electronics division). The result is expected to be Sony's first corporate profit for five years when it reports final result for the year to 31 March 2013 in May. However, the Consumer Electronics division remains unprofitable - Sony has not met its objective.
The reaction by Hirai? It is reported that forty of Sony’s top executives, including Hirai, are to give up bonuses worth between 30 and 50 per cent of their pay. The decision will save Sony around $10m, which is not particularly significant in financial terms.read more...»
It is often claimed that the organisational culture of a business is formed and developed in the "shadow of the leader". And perhaps nowhere is this more true than the organisational culture of Ikea which was founded by Ingvar Kamprad. Here is a some evidence which helps explain the concept and also tells us more about the core values that have been used to build the Ikea business.read more...»
Kazou Hirai took over as CEO of Sony on 1 April 2012 replacing Howard Stringer. Hirai inherited a business with many problems and experiencing heavy losses. What has he done in his first year?read more...»
Lots of great information from Schultz here and insights into his business strategy. Many insights too into Schultz's personal background and his views on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Put simply, this interview has everything! Organisational culture; entrepreneurship; CSR; emerging markets; retrenchment; ethics.read more...»
Here is one of my all-time favourite video clips for business studies, featuring one of my business heroes - Herb Kelleher.
You might not have heard of Herb Kelleher. However, I highly recommend that you take a little time to find out more about him and the business he founded - Southwest Airlines. It is a fantastic example of a business which has identified organisational culture as a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Kelleher identified the need for an employee-centered culture at Southwest as the way in which his airline could deliver outstanding customer service. Put simply, Herb believes that the "business of business is people".
In this short, five minute video, Herb explains why putting employees at the centre of Southwest's culture is so important to him.
About a minute into the video, Herb demonstrates a superb example of "analysis" using a logical chain of argument. The argument goes something like this:
...If the employees come first, then they’re happy…. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders.
A simply stunning video, that stands the test of time.read more...»
The organisational structure and organisational culture at John Lewis Partnership, based around employee ownership, is distinctive and highly successful. But why? What is it about the "partnership" model at JLP which drives sales and customer service so high?
In these JLP videos, the partners themselves explain their perspectives on the business benefits of partnership in a highly competitive retail environment. The business benefits of the model are examined in more detail in the second video.
Some fantastic insights into culture here as well as the motivational impact of employee ownership.read more...»
Terrific insights here from Andy Street, the CEO of John Lewis Partnership, about how the concept of trust is so important in business success. Some short, sharp points here which help identify elements of the organisational culture at John Lewis Partnership and perhaps point to some of the reasons why JLP has been so successful in recent years despite the economic downturn. Essentially Andy Street sees trust as a source of competitive advantage. But it is hard won, and easily lost! Businesses - take note!read more...»
This is superb stimulus material for any business lesson strategic change and change management. The short animated video reports back on a recent Economist debate about whether businesses are too slow to adapt to change. It features some of our favourite examples and case studies, including Kodak and HMV. Some great quotes and simple, powerful ideas here.read more...»
This week's edition of The Bottom Line, hosted by Evan Davis on Radio 4, is about business turnarounds. The three guests this week have all been involved in rescuing companies and they share
their experiences, in which the culture of the organisation feature heavily. For those who are picking up on the tutor2u 10 companies to study, it is particularly useful as the first of these is Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV
(and former CEO of Royal Mail). Different scale is offered by James Eden, Chief Executive and owner of
clothing brand Private White VC, and Nick Sanders, Head of Portfolio at
private equity firm Better Capital. Well worth getting students to listen and to write some compare-and-contrast notes.
Right. That's it. I'm off to work at Ikea. I just know I'd fit in...read more...»
Royal Mail is fast becoming a must-cover case study for advanced business students. Royal Mail is now well into a significant transformation programme under the leadership of CEO Moya Green. The business is preparing for and approaching privatisation and faces intense competition in the profitable parcels business.
So I thought I'd dig out a few links which might help students get started with exploring the Royal Mail case study.read more...»
The stated mission, vision and values of a business should (in theory) provide a key insight into the strategy and culture of a business. Of course, it's not always the case that stated vision & values are consistent with the way a company does business (think...Enron). However, for many successful businesses there is a clear and sustained link between the two.
Set out below are a selection of web links that provide insights directly from the featured businesses into their vision, values and culture.read more...»
Bureaucracy. It’s a pretty unloved word these days (not least because it’s quite tricky to spell). It suggests red tape, barriers to action, paperwork, process, and lethargic responses to change, with petty jobsworths hindering progress. It’s anti-innovation, it’s a means of state control, it’s a Kafka-esque, rule-based system ignorant of common sense. We talk of companies that have become too slow and have a deeply entrenched bureaucratic or role culture, and need slimming down to become more responsive to the market. We’re told it’s a bad thing.
Or is it?read more...»
Teleworking is a great concept to discuss in Business Studies, as the topic covers everything from organisation to leadership, motivation and business culture. Recently I wrote about trouble for teleworkers, following after the findings of a report that suggested that many potential teleworkers fret that time away from the office means missing out on promotion opportunities. Apparently, the report by the London Business School finds that companies still reward ‘presenteeism’; telecommuters are less likely to be promoted because they aren't present in the office.
Now we learn that Yahoo are to place severe restrictions on opportunities for teleworking, promoting more interesting debate and coverage. For one thing, the boss of Yahoo is female. You might think this point irrelevant, but to many commentators, this is yet another angle to a fascinating debate….read more...»
We've been focusing on Southwest Airlines during our BUSS4 CPD workshops on Section A Organisational Culture - and in particular on Herb Kelleher, the enigmatic CEO of the highly-successful low-cost airline.
Kelleher's obession with building an employee-centred culture provides stunning evidence for students who want an example of how a positive corporate culture can lead to business success.
Can flying be fun? That's the goal of Kelleher, who is determined to offer reliable on-time service at an affordable price. In this classic archived video from CBS, Steve Kroft profiles the airline president and his innovative approach to the business.
Stick with this video - it is quite long and little dated. But the insights for business students are priceless.read more...»
What is the link between organisational culture and long-term, sustained business success? The evidence of the corporate culture at Germany's mittelstand companies might help answer this question.
Mittelstand firms employ almost two-thirds of workers in Germany, so they are core to understanding the relative success of the German economy.
Most companies in the mittelstand are family-owned. They are "not too big, not too small". Family control enables quicker decision-making and a longer-term perspective to be taken.
Germans use the word "mittelstand" for the millions of middle-sized companies that form the backbone of their booming economy, and some in Britain reckon the model could teach UK industries a few lessons.Below are a three short videos which explain the mittelstand sector in Germany - packed full with useful evidence and insights for students! read more...»
I am regular listener to Cambridgeshire’s Star FM Business Hub, which covers some amazing topics for small businesses and is a regular feature of my BTEC lessons. This week's episode however contained a large segment on the importance of culture in a business' success, which is particularly pertinent for BUSS4.
The interview with William Rogers, CEO of UKRD group (owner of Star Radio), gives a fantastic insight into how leaders can create the right culture for a business to succeed. It can be found here and starts 27 minutes in.read more...»
I've been researching the rapid growth of Chinese technology firm Huawei this week and came across a feature of Hauwei#s leadership structure which stopped me dead in my tracks. Most big companies have one CEO (Chief Executive Officer). But, Huawei has decided to do things differently. It has decide to have three!read more...»
Johnson & Scholes in their model of the Cultural Web of an Organisation point to the importance of stories as powerful descriptors and shapers of the culture of a business.
The more organisations you work in or with, the more you come across stories. They are told about a business to reinforce (or deny) a company's vision, values and way of doing business. Told well (and often) they help send strong messages to those who hear the stories, particularly those who work inside the business or customers who build loyalty to a business & brand.
One of the most famous "stories" in corporate culture is that of the Hewlett-Packard Garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, California. The HP Garage is known as the "birthplace of Silicon Valley".
As HP today describe the Garage:
Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined residential street near Stanford University, the HP Garage stands today as the enduring symbol of innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. It was in this humble 12x18 -foot building that college friends Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard first pursued the dream of a company of their own. Guided by an unwavering desire to develop innovative and useful products, the two men went on to blaze a trail at the forefront of the electronics revolution.
Barclays new CEO Antony Jenkins has announced details of his strategic review in the wake of Libor-rigging, the bank's role in PPI mis-selling and other scandals.
Jenkins has pledged to rebuild the bank's reputation by fundamentally changing the culture under which its traders operate, including changes to payment protection insurance selling and staff bonuses.read more...»
Is there a better example of a firm that failed to embrace the need for change in the face of rapid technological advances than Kodak?
Kodak is a great example to use with students to introduce the concept of technological change and this video provides a thought-provoking piece of stimulus material!read more...»
A brief interview here with Stephen Elop in January 2013 which will be useful for teachers & students following the progress of Elop's turnaround strategy for Nokia.
Nokia is currently going through a significant change programme. Elop explains how the firm has focused Nokia employees on three key behaviours that are expected to drive the change in culture that Nokia needs: accountability (taking responsibility), urgency (doing things quicker) and empathy (being less arrogant).
Elop also explains briefly how the external environment is providing increasing threats to Nokia which needs increased planning and thinking.read more...»
When Judith McKenna (COO Asda) joined us for the Business Teacher National Conference in June 2012 I remember noting down how a strong corporate culture was identified as being a key competitive strength of both Asda and its parent company Walmart.
It's interesting looking through a series of useful resources on YouTube how the corporate culture of the firm, now the world's largest retailer, comes through particularly strongly from the annual Walmart "shareholders" meeting.read more...»
The banking sector has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as a result of a series of scandals which have lifted the lid on excessive risk-taking, illegal and unethical behaviour. Corporate culture has been blamed for many of the issues that have come to light.
In this article in the Guardian, five "experts" are asked for their views on how banks can change their culture.read more...»
If you had lasagne last night you might be wondering if it was the last remains of the non-running hurdler "100% Pure Beef". Findus have a major problem to resolve after tests showed that their lasagne had been made from horsemeat.
If there is a better video introduction to the concept of organisational culture than this one, please send me the link!read more...»
The Royal Bank of Scotland has fined been fined £390m for attempting to rig Libor, the inter bank lending rate. The Financial Services Authority says wrongdoing was taking place two years after it was bailed out by the tax payer.
Stephen Hester, chief executive at RBS, said after the settlement: "Libor manipulation is an extreme example of a selfish and self-serving culture that took hold in parts of the banking industry during the financial boom."
The corporate culture inside RBS during the financial boom has certainly been laid bare by the Libor rate-fixing scandal.read more...»
Strong & iconic brands appear to be a big part of the attraction of the corporate culture at Mars, as illustrated in this super short video:read more...»
At times, it seems that Yahoo has had more CEOs than Chelsea FC have had managers. Yahoo has tried several times to change strategic direction through new leadership but has struggled to compete with Google in search engine and email.
However the appointment of former Google director Marissa Mayer appears to be working. Yahoo's share price has risen 30% since her appointment and for the first time in four years, Yahoo's revenues are now growing.read more...»
What a powerful but also distressing story this is. The loss of so many lives because of a failed organisational culture at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.
The news has been packed with reactions to the findings of a public inquiry into the failings of Stafford Hospital. The Francis Report has called for sweeping changes (290 recommendations in total) to the culture and regulation of the NHS in England.
The Mid-Staff scandal illustrates so explicitly the link between organisational culture and leadership - they are two sides of the same coin.
Below are some resources which help students understand the background to the Francis Report and also gather evidence on the reasons for, and effects of the inadequate organisational culture at Mid-Staffs.read more...»
A thought-provoking video from CNN here in which the interviewee (Adam Lashinsky from Fortune Magazine) explains how he sees the role of secrecy in the organisational culture of Apple. Of course, we have to take what he says with a pinch of salt - how well-informed is the journalist?read more...»
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V appointed Frans van Houten as Chief Executive in April 2011. The new CEO has reviewed the group's operations, and has taken decisions to reshape the firm.
For students researching BUSS4 the arrival of a new CEO at a large, well-known business is great news!
Whether the candidate is an internal or external appointment (itself an interesting angle), the new CEO will undoubtedly generate lots of coverage in the business media as she/he takes charge. Just as inevitably, the new CEO will instigate a strategic review designed to analyse and evaluate the strategic position of the business and the options for change.read more...»
Here’s a funny story to accompany a more serious post about the future of outsourcing – which is where a firm hires the services of outside companies to perform a business process currently completed ‘in house’.
Apparently one US worker hired people in China do his work. Having outsourced his job, 'Bob' would spend the day at work browsing sites on the internet. (If you believe it), the US-based software developer has been caught outsourcing his work to China for less than a fifth of his six figure salary - while he spent his time messing around on Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay and Reddit.read more...»
Is it possible for a new CEO to achieve significant change in the culture of an organisation? Managers and employees at Barclays are about to find out!read more...»
Global multinationals like Starbucks, Amazon and Google have faced intensive pressure in recent months for their perceived tax avoidance activities. Why has this become such a big issue? What are the implications for those businesses and what should government do?
This boardroom discussion from Reuters is well worth watching to enable students to update their understanding of the commercial, legal and ethical issues raised by corporate tax avoidance.read more...»
This short video interview with Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is business studies gold dust.
Jeff Bezos was recently named Fortune Magazine Business Person of the Year for 2012. Here he talks about his long-term strategy for Amazon. Bezos has always maintained that the success of Amazon is based on long-term thinking, recognising that not every innovation or invention will work.
Bezos defines the success of Amazon as being based on the following cultures and beliefs:
- Start with the customer - Amazon's goal is to be the most customer-obsessed business in the world
- Have a willingness to invent
- Think long-term: allow 5,6,7 years before you expect to see financial returns on investment (Bezos is dismissive of short-term payback criteria)
- Be inspired by what competitors do, but don't be afraid of them ("your margin is my opportunity")
Do I sense a few green shoots emerging from Finland - the home of Nokia which recently lost its position as the world's largest maker of mobile phones (a position it had held for 14 years).
Readers of the business blog will be familiar with the story of Nokia in recent times. The arrival of a new CEO Stephen Elop and his famous "burning platform" speech which set out this new strategic direction for Nokia. We've documented the resulting strategy of retrenchment which led to the loss of 000's of jobs at Nokia around the world and Elop's decision to enter into a strategic partnership with Microsoft as he chose Windows 8 as the mobile operating system ("ecosystem") for Nokia's new range of smartphones.
2012 was a pretty bad year for Nokia in total. However, there is is some evidence that the launch of the Lumia smartphones may have heralded a change in fortunes for the business. The Guardian reports here about very strong sales for the Lumia phone over the crucial Christmas trading period. And in the short video interview with Stephen Elop below, you can sense the emergence of a quiet confidence that things might be getting better.read more...»
The Harvard Business Review provides some excellent resources on the role of strategic leadership and I was taken by this short video on the HBR Channel in which Gareth Jones from the London Business School considers what is required for "exceptional leadership".
Gareth Jones explains that there has been a general decline in trust in leaders - including business leaders. He goes to provide a definition of leadership and then outline the four attributes which he believes followers want from their exceptional leaders: These four are:
or CASE if you are looking for a simple acronym with which to remember the attributes!read more...»
Looking ahead a little to teaching BUSS4 topics next term, the ongoing spats between BA and Virgin Atlantic provide a consistently rich seam of resources for exploring the themes of business culture and leadership. And in the last few weeks, they have done it again. Willie Walsh and Sir Richard Branson have been sniping at each other in an entertaining and characteristic manner.
It started with reports that Branson might sell some of his 51% share of Virgin Atlantic. Walsh suggested that Virgin would not be around as a brand in five years time. Branson was in conciliatory mood; he responded that he would not bother to sue Walsh for his comments on this occasion but instead he would put up £1m, to be distributed to BA staff should Virgin Atlantic cease to exist, if BA agreed to pay Virgin Atlantic staff the same amount should the brand still exist in five years. Rather more aggressively, Walsh's counter-offer is a knee in the groin, on the basis that he considered the loss of £1m would not hurt Branson's personal fortune, whereas the physical assault would be equally painful for either recipient.
Some more background to the altercation is needed for any student wanting to use this example as evidence in an essay; it will only count as anecdote without accompanying analysis. This article will offer that background, along with a brief history of previous bickering and legal challenges between the two airlines - essential detail to strengthen student analysis.
This looks like a really useful series of short videos from the BBC which explore some of the challenges facing CEO's. The series covers:
Followers of the Business Blog and attendees at our BUSS4 revision workshops will know that we're big fans of Sony as a case study in business strategy. And this resource - an interview by BusinessWeek with Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - provides another useful addition to the research resources which students ought to use if they want to develop their understanding of the strategic challenges facing Sony and the options Hirai is choosing.read more...»