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Organizational Behavior: The Walt Disney Company

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Walt Disney’s decision, to call all his employees by their first names and not their job titles, fostered a referent-expert type of power structure. Walt Disney and his brother Roy, run their company without implementing hierarchical positions. Although it was understood that they were the “big bosses” of the company, they eliminated being distinguished or being known in the company through their titles, but through their names. Thus, Disney’s company fosters a relaxed and lenient working environment that is motivating and encouraging. The referent power structure that worked in Disney’s company earned him a lot of supporters and loyal employees that even during their toughest times wherein the company experienced having insufficient funds, his employees still displayed commitment for the company.

This only proves that the referent type of power structure is an efficient way of producing quality performance outputs and a stable workforce, willing to work for the company at all costs. The referent type of power structure promotes respect and appreciation for the workforce, which in turn, becomes a great motivational strategy to enhance employee loyalty and dedication to the job. Moreover, the referent power structure in Disney’s company was also merged with the expert type of power structure. As Disney has said, their employees do not need to be recognized through their titles or their job descriptions, but they will know if they are important and highly needed by the company. This means that the company employs the expert power structure as well because working relationships are also based on expertise, or an employee’s knowledge of the business.

Although Disney’s company experienced failures in the business, the combination between referent and expert power structures still plays a significant role in the success of a company because of the qualities and values that it establishes within the members of the organization. Employing the referent-expert type of power structure offers a lot of advantages for both the employees and the company. For instance, being called by one’s name, as a subordinate of the company leaders lessens stress and pressure in the work place. Although employees should always remember who the authority figures are, and at the same time, although employing a referent-expert power structure, company leaders should be able to exude the quality of being a person in authority. Even in this type of power structure, there should always be a boundary between being professional and not.

Moreover, aside from being relieved of work-related stress and pressure, employees perceive company leaders to be approachable and open to suggestions and opinions that they might have regarding the company. Communication in the workplace is best facilitated by this type of power structure because nothing hinders it, such as fear of authority, lack of self-esteem, etc. Open communication also makes it easier for the company to communicate company goals and objectives to their employees, thus saving time and effort.

The downside of implementing the referent-expert type of power structure is that the boundaries of professionalism might be crossed and the line of authority might not be discernible to the employees. There also lies an issue in the performance outputs of employees. If they get comfortable with the leniency within the company environment, they might not exert great efforts to perform well and exhibit quality outputs for the success of the company and its realization of its goals and objectives. Therefore, employing this type of power structure requires strategic planning, implementation, and monitoring. Moreover, power structures should be flexible, such that the implementation of different types of power structures should be leveled with the type of workforce and company goals and objectives. A particular power structure does not always work in all companies; however, companies should employ different types of power structures in order to produce desirable results according to company goals and objectives.

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