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Mark Bergfeld - Case Study (IC), Knowledge and Innovation

Mark Bergfeld - Case Study (IC), Knowledge and Innovation

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Published by Mark Bergfeld

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Published by: Mark Bergfeld on May 14, 2014
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Table of Contents: Case Study IC Companys
1.
 
Introduction 2.
 
Theoretical Background 3.
 
Understanding Power in IC Companys 3.1.
 
Conflict, Power and the Multi-Brand Strategy 3.2.
 
Decentralized Power? 3.3.
 
The Hegemony of Niels Martinsen 4.
 
Recommendations 4.1.
 
Strategic Positioning 4.2.
 
Organic Cultures 4.3.
 
Communities of Practice 5.
 
 Appendix 6.
 
Bibliography
 
1.
 
Introduction
In this case study I will analyse the Danish fashion company
 IC Companys
 - a merger  between
 InWear Group
 and
Carli Gry International.
Following their merger,
 IC Companys
 experienced intra-
organizational difficulties which included a “poor working climate”, “inadequate management capacity”, and “tensions between country and brand managers” to
name a few (Foss, Pedersen
et al 
 2012:165). To resolve these issues
 IC Companys
took 
 
a
number of initiatives such as “the re
-establishment of industrial competences, strategic
clarification, and a shift in the managerial paradigm” (
Foss, Pedersen
et al 
 2012:182). Most importantly, CEO Theillbjörn developed a multi-brand strategy. While these initiatives seemed to drive growth, they predominantly based themselves on creating new agency and as a result changing the power relations within the company. For example, the multi-brand strategy entailed giving the brand managers new intra-organizational power at the expense of the country managers; 400 employees were made redundant; and the main shareholder Niels Martinssen was able to install a new management team which included then-CFO Theillbjörn. As part of this academic analysis of
 IC Companys
 I will concentrate on the multiple levels and implications of power within the organization. In recent decades the issue of power has  been of much interest to those studying management practices (Pfeffer 1981, Steetz 1999).
“Central to such a project
 is an understanding of the relations among power, discursive  practices, and conflict suppression as they relate to the production of individual identity and
corporate knowledge” (Steetz
 in
 Alvesson & Willmott, 1999: 22). Thus such an analysis will allow me to give recommendations which can minimise internal struggles and allow
 IC Companys
to overcome its strategic impasse.
 
2.
 
Theoretical Background
Contemporary interpretations of power in and outside management studies emphasize its symbolic, cultural and discursive dimension (Clegg 1989, Alvesson 1987, Laclau & Mouffe 1985). In light of this, key signifiers
such “
autonomous
”, “decentralized”, “supportive”, “own universe and subculture”, “engender feelings of independence”, “blurred”
 (Foss, Pedersen
et al 
 2012:166) cannot be reduced to describing
 IC Companys’s
 
de facto
 management practices. In fact, they create a symbolic order which (1) presents intra-organizational power vis-à-vis employment relations as networked, capillary, enabling, and  perhaps even democratic (2) attempts to win employees to relations a self-regulative exercise
of power or what Peter Drucker would refer to as “greater self 
-
discipline” (
Drucker 1988:47). Too often these discursive and symbolic interpretations of power downplay, or even omit the economic root of unequal power relations at the workplace. While a vulgar Marxist approach would suggest that the economic base determines the superstructure, it is nonetheless necessary to understand the political-economic dimension of power in organizations. Hereby,
I build on Gramsci’s insight that
that
“the old dichotomy between base and superstructure, state and civil society be dissolved into a broad ‘ensemble of relations’ [my italics]” (Boggs
1976:120,121). In the case of
 IC Companys
this helps us to pose the right questions: Is it necessarily the highest revenue-generating brand which wields the most intra-organizational  power? What does the appointment of former-CFO Theillbjörn mean for the strategic orientation of IC Companys? What economic power is vested in the brands?
Gramsci’s
ensemble of relations is then mediated by discourses, symbols, and most importantly, (the (in-)accessibility of)
information. By taking ‘information’ into account we
are able to distinguish between informal and formal power (Greve & Mitsuhashi 2007; Mechanic 1962). This is of particular importance in
 IC Companys
 which I would label an

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