First Union: An Office Without Walls
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the Integrative Case 5.0, “First Union: An Office Without Walls,” found on page 589 of the text book Organization Theory & Design, by Richard L. Daft, and to respond to the questions relating to the case study.
First Union Federal is a large savings and loan banking organization at which Meg Rabb has been employed with since she was 18. Meg has been recently promoted to Vice President of her division after serving the last five years as assistant V.P. At the time Meg was hired as an assistant V.P. there had not been a single female in the position of V.P. After a week in her new position, Meg was notified by her boss Dan Cummings that she would be moving into a new office. After three weeks of construction, Meg’s office was complete; however, only a day after settling in, Meg was summoned to her boss’ office yet again. She was informed that the First Union president had performed a walkthrough of the building and ruled that Meg’s office was too large and would have to be torn down and rebuild from the current 12 feet by 12 feet specifications down to the new 10 feet by 10 feet specifications outlined in the new regulations. Meg was angry and questioned herself how this would effect and damage her department’s morale, and how she could possibly lose the respect from her peers she worked so hard to earn. Meg also wondered if this had to do with her being a woman in a position of power – especially when her promotion came after an intervention from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC discovered that First Union did not have any female executives at or above the level of V.P. prior to Meg’s promotion and encouraged First Union to seek out qualified female candidates for promotion to executive status.
This paper will identify the main issue at First Union, discuss the forces for cultural change, explain the use of power, and finally determine what political tactics Meg should use to resolver her office situation at First Union.
What is the main issue in this case?
The main issue in this case is First Union’s corporate culture, the accompanying ethical values and how these are motivated by organization managers. According to Daft (2013), organizational culture exists at two levels – on the surface are the visible characteristics and observable behaviors and below the surface are the underlying values, assumptions, and beliefs that make up the second level (p. 393).
At First Union, the issue with corporate culture touches on both levels of organizational culture. The observable behaviors include office layouts, the type of control systems and power structures used by the company and the ceremonies organizations share (Daft, 2013, p. 393). The office layout in Meg’s department was split up into sections and partitioned off for each of her 12 staff. Depending on their level in the organizational hierarchy, employees had variable office furniture for their individual section. The lowest-level employees received minimal second-rate quality furniture and often had to share the space with other employees. Robertson argues with the right approach, a company can become forward-thinking by creating a workspace with flow and function that motivates and inspires people and their business (2006, p. 35). Today, forward-thinking companies are turning to egalitarianism to get the job done. Rather than acting like the office space is symbol of status, all office spaces should be equal, cutting down on costs of space, equipment and furniture (Robertson, 2006, p. 34). Secondly, Meg’s boss, Dan Cummings, is senior V.P. of human resources. With his position, he organized the first annual “Dan Cummings Golf Invitational” now in its fourth year setup. Invitations to this prestigious event indicated status in the organization – only those V.P.s and assistant V.P.s close to...
References: Daft, R. L. (2013). Organization Theory & Design (11th ed.) Mason, OH: South-Western.
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