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Webster Industry Case Study

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In any organization it is essential to understand the relationship between organizational culture, leadership behavior and job satisfaction. This understanding allows management to know what cultural factors drive the organization and can be used to align the organization with its strategy allow for a good reward system. Culture within organizations is important as it plays an enormous role on whether employees are in happy and safe environments and can perform at the full capacity. Strong cultures are based on two characteristics, high levels of agreement among employees about what’s a valued and high level of intensity about these values. Although it seemed as if it had a great culture and a reward system, Webster’s had its fair share of flaws within its culture. Of the things working in Webster’s culture, is its family like culture. One employee was quoted saying that there was a sense of family here, meaning at Webster. Employees often spent time together outside of work in places such as churches and civic positions. Carter and his family often dealt with his co-workers at various community and civic activities. This sense of belonging served as huge role in employee motivation as stated by Maslow. It also allows employees to form an even closer relationship among themselves even at work. The company was often viewed as one that values employees and is willing to go out of its way to do what’s best for employees.

By encouraging employees to hold civic positions it further strengthened its culture. The company’s culture allowed it to meet the employees’ safety as it was well known that if you have a problem, you can take it to the company and it will be considered. Webster’s organization culture contained norms which seemed to hinder the organization’s ability to perform. Within the organization, information sharing did not seem to be encouraged, Carter was charged with an important task; however, did not seem knowledgeable about the company’s financial performance. Based on its financial statements, Webster’s financial performance was showing signs of recovery by October 1975. Its reported quarterly revenues and net income during 1974 and 1975 were showing an upward trend, had Carter known this he would have proposed a less aggressive reduction plan. The culture seemed to be militaristic; this was evidenced by how directions were handed down and were never questioned. This is not surprising as the founder of the company, Colonel Jeremiah Webster, had a military background something that is clearly being passed onto his successors. In addition, employees were not informed of the evaluative function of the audits.

There was poor or minimal oversight of the management leading to accountability issues on the part of the organization’s PAS and Audits. This also led to unequal treatment of employees and a system that’s open to manipulation especially given the misuse of its open door policy. Some employees used the appeals process to get what they needed and undeserved promotions. Although a great, the appeals process disempowered managers as its likely that they feared that they will be viewed as incompetent if a decision they had made was overturned by their superiors. To better manage the restructuring efforts, the team should have used its understanding of the organization’s culture to show that restructuring was necessary for the organization to continue caring for its employees. Employees should be told that in order for the organization to continue supporting the community it needed to reestablish itself as a leaner organization. Since the company is known for going out of its way to support employees, it would be credible if it tells the laid off employees that it will support them and will call them back once the business conditions improve.

This statement will likely be accepted as its in line with a report in the local press which stated “that the potential cuts were intended to make Webster more adaptable to rapid changes in economic conditions”. The company will also need to support this by making a case and highlighting what it has done for the employees such as its promotion of good employee relations and being a first class place to work. This premise will be strengthened by the fact that “management spared little in its efforts to make work at Webster rewarding and productive,”. In order for the Webster to emerge as a competitive organization it should overhaul its organizational culture. First the company must identify current norms and values in the organization; this will allow it to see what parts of the organization need to be changed. Based on the current norms and values, the company should then plot a new direction it will follow as well as make some enhancements to its norms and values and the reward system to make it more goal oriented.

Selection, socialization, and rewards should be used as opportunities to convey what’s important to organizational members. The new direction, norms, and values should allow the organization to be in a position where employee buy in is achievable and can fully execute its strategy. In addition, the company should identify and close any culture gaps among its subgroups as it will ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal and a strong culture. Strong cultures boost performance by shaping and coordinating employee’s behavior. Finally, the company should place mechanisms to measure and monitor cultural revolution. The following are ways this can be done: business performance, critical behaviors, milestones, and assessment of underlying beliefs, feelings and mind-sets by examining employee behaviors.

Works Cited


Chatman, J. A., & Cha, S. E. (2003). Leading by Leveraging Culture. California Management Review, 23. Roosevelt, T. R. (1976). Webster Industries (A). Harvard Business School, 3.

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