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Laetitia Chaynes

Tiphaine L.
Alexandra L.
Tim F.
Pierre J.
Daniel P.
Tristan S.

27/02/2009

1) Analyze the organizational culture at Google and how it contributed


to the success of the company.

To analyze the organizational culture at Google, it seems that first we should ask What is
Organizational culture. If we refer to Edgar Shein, organizational culture is a pattern of
shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems that has worked well
enough to be considered valid and is passed on to new members as the correct way to
perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems1."
In a simple way, we could say that it is the workplace environment formulated from the
interaction of the employees in the workplace. Organizational culture is defined by all of the
life experiences, strengths, weaknesses, education, upbringing, and so forth of the employees.
While executive leaders play a large role in defining organizational culture by their actions
and leadership, all employees contribute to the organizational culture. It can be seen as the
identity of a company.
Lets now have a look on Googles specific organizational culture and try to understand how
it has brought the company to this world-known success.
First of all, lets say that from the very beginning, the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
wanted to make Google a fun place to work. When they were students, both of them enjoyed
making roller skater2. They decided to keep this young and dynamic spirit within their
company. So, they organized roller skater hockey matches for employees, allowed people to
have their pets in the work place, provided recreational facilities (workout gyms, assorted
video games, pool table).
This aspect of Googles culture has became very popular among employees and all over the
world. Larry Page and Sergey understood well the fact that good work conditions result of a
good harmony among employees, and allow better result. The fact that people are allowed to
arrange their office exactly as they want, all the freedom given to them contribute to Googles
atypical culture and also to its success. Indeed, a good work environment is a key factor for a
companys success.
As said in the article Leadership that gets result, written by Daniel Goleman, the
organizational climate is the only driver of performance, economic conditions and
competitive dynamics matter enormously 3. What does the term climate mean? The author
defines 6 key factors that influence an organizations working environment: flexibility,
responsibility, standards, rewards, clarity, and commitment. This organizational climate
1

Edgar Schein, Organizational culture and leadership, 2004

http://www.webinventif.fr/google-le-reportage-diffuse-sur-france-5/

Goleman, Daniel (2000) Leadership that gets results, Harvard Business Review, vol. 78, vol. 2, p.80

accounts for a third of the result of the company. In fact, Googles culture could be seen as
one of the main factor of Googles success. In increasing the freedom given to the employees,
giving them idealistic work conditions, let them opportunities to work on project they like,
giving them autonomy and so on, Google increased its own success.
One important point in Googles organizational culture is the fact that its ethic has never
changed since its creation. This is a part of the specific culture of Google. The spirit of the
company has remained simple, and even after it went on the stock market, which is very rare
for such companies. But this spirit is also emphasized by the fact that both Page and Brin has
developed, also from the beginning an open communication across the organization.
Indeed, they believed in the fact that people should be able to discuss without any restrictions
with the top manager of the company. Moreover, communication was encouraged between
the different department of the company, to allow people to learn and improve on their skills
and knowledge. Everything is made to create a strong team spirit, commitment for Google: by
offering great cafeteria where googlers can meet googlers from various departments, making
googlers work by team on different projects
Then, putting the person in the center of attention is also part of Googles culture. Indeed,
there is no management structure, because they dont want to have someone telling people
what to do or not to do. Leadership at Googles is rotating among team members, no one is
managed. The fact that at Google everybody is the boss, that people can take initiative is a
great part of Googles Culture.

So we can say this organizational culture with open communication and wellbeing is the key
factor of the Google success. If we referred to an old theory described by Elton Mayo, we can
see the link between this organizational culture and this success.
Mayo went further in the Taylor theory called Scientific management. Taylor explained
how to improve productivity without take care of the labor conditions. Mayo studied effects to
add advantages for employees in the Taylor system. After many experiences, the Hawthorne
works is the most famous; Mayo proved that the productivity of workers improves when we
take care of them4. This is a thing that Sergey and Larry understood pretty well and they
applied this method in their company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elton_Mayo

2) Analyze the leadership at Google and how it contributed to the


success of the company

To become a good leader in the today business world it is expected more than just to show
the direction of the company. Leaders should motivate, build a culture, solve problems, set
strategies and overall, they are responsible for the outcome of projects or the business
workflow.
In our Case study about Googles Organizational Culture it is illustrated that Googles kind
of leadership is different compared to other companies. With over 20.000 employees the
company needs a good working leadership and organization.
To achieve this enormous growth and permanent innovations of their products and features
Google uses a mixture of distinct leadership styles.
Referring to the article Leadership that gets results by Daniel Goleman the author
distinguish between six different leadership styles: Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative,
Democratic, Pacesetting and Coaching leadership. These styles have a big impact on the
climate and the result of a company. 5Through the open communication across the
organization which implies e.g. open office doors and a huge cafeteria, the employees get the
possibility to talk and discuss directly with the top management. It also enables to create a
relationship between the people who work in various departments.
This kind of style represents the Affiliative style which creates harmony and builds
emotional bonds. By creating the open atmosphere in the company, Google profits from
employees who communicate. According to this they share their ideas and concepts. As a
result this style increases flexibility. People dont get under pressure and can work in the most
effective way. The positive environment makes people happier; there is more harmony and
loyalty between the people. This supports the communication and finally, labours are more
productive. 6
Another important style that Google uses in its leadership is called Authoritative style. Here
the leader gives employees a lot of leeway to develop their own ideas and the freedom to
innovate and to experiment. The leader mobilizes the teams towards a clear vision. Within
this vision he expects to get feedback from the people where all kind of responses are
welcome. Google implements this style by forming teams who are allowed to act freely and to

Goleman, Daniel (2000) Leadership that gets results, Harvard Business Review, vol. 78, vol. 2, p.80
Goleman, Daniel (2000) Leadership that gets results, Harvard Business Review, vol. 78, vol. 2, p.84
Subhadra, K (2004) Googles Organizational Culture p.5

handle their projects in a sense of complete freedom. This concept let people feel that they are
useful for the company and that their ideas lead to a part of the success.7
By involving and encouraging the employees to share their ideas concerning new product
developments and features, Google creates a collaboration atmosphere. This Democratic style
drives up responsibility among the employees. They have a say in decisions and a realistic
view of how to achieve a goal. 8
To sum up, Googles leadership is based on various styles which have the best climate and
business performance. In that way it makes it easy for the company to encourage their
employees and get a permanent growth.
For Google their employees are very special. In the recruitment process they only take the
best. However they are focusing very strictly on the analytical intelligence (IQ) of their
candidates. Emotional intelligence is ignored in the recruitment process. Although the
company tries to create emotional intelligence among their employees by using open
communication across the organization. Emotional intelligence consists of Self-Awareness,
Self-Management, Social Awareness and no Social Skills which are important and necessary
skills. Leadership can be found in every level of the organization; sometimes you cannot see
it directly. This could be one problem of Googles organization. Analytical intelligence is
only one part of intelligence. Analytical intelligence is not the only intelligence which a
person has. People have to manage and use their emotions, perceiving and understanding the
emotions of colleagues and customers.9
Solutions
In our opinion Google should focus more on emotional intelligence (EI) and cultural
intelligence (CI) than exclusively on analytical intelligence. We see that the environment is
very important for Google. Compared with our Leadership styles we can notice that Google
uses just Styles which have a positive effect on the companys climate. The Coercive Style
which drives to achieve and the Pacesetting Style which sets high standards for
performance are not relevant in the Leadership culture of Google, because they affect the
climate in a negative way.
Otherwise should Google integrate a better understanding of peoples relationships through
support of emotional intelligence e.g. experience improves EQ. The interaction between
different components of business leadership tends to companys success. Therefore is
motivation, Cultural Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence and analytical intelligence
important.

Goleman, Daniel (2000) Leadership that gets results, Harvard Business Review, vol. 78, vol. 2, p.83

Goleman, Daniel (2000) Leadership that gets results, Harvard Business Review, vol. 78, vol. 2, p.85

Alon, Ilan; Higgins, James M.(2005). Global leadership success through emotional and cultural intelligences.
Business Horizons, vol. 48 Issue 6, p501-512

3) Analyze the relationship between organizational culture and


leadership at Google.

First of all, we can say that Google doesnt use a traditional leadership like for example one
manager for a team. Normally the manager meets his team and discuss about different
problems, but in Google the person are directly faced with their problems. There is flat
hierarchy, so they dont need to referred to their boss because there are own boss. The two
founders defined a different way to work within the organization. The basis of their leadership
is that there is no manager but everyone is a manager. As it is said in the text case You are
the boss. Dont wait to take the hill. Dont wait to be managed.10
Furthermore at the beginning of the foundation, Larry and Serguey, worked together as a
team without organization and hierarchy. Both of them were equal in decisions making. This
led to a lot of innovations and product varieties.
As they could see this concept drove to success and to the increase of their company. They
carry on using an open atmosphere among the employees and avoid implementing
management structures.
They still focus on a working atmosphere in teams where each team member has the same
influence of the project. Team work has always been an important an efficient way of creating
and inventing new thoughts. This has been the theory of the founders already from the
beginning of the establishment.
In this case, leadership and organizational culture are strongly linked because this kind of
management became their organizational culture. This way of leading became a reference
within google organization and for other companies.

4) Is this type of organizational culture and leadership a long term


option for an organization? Can such an organization survive? Is it even
possible to maintain such an organizational culture long term or is
bureaucracy is inevitable? If yes, How? If no, why? Justify your stand.

In on hand we thought that this kind of organization can survive in a long term period
because we saw that Google is a very powerful company and increase its benefits every year.
Moreover, Google is the only company that did not experience any turnover because their
employees love working for the company and so they dont leave. And as everyone knows,

10

Hammonds, Keith H., How Growsand Growsand Grows, Fast Company, April 2003.

its very important to keep the same employees for financial or productivity reasons for
example.
Furthermore, the framework, Googleplex, is ideal. They have also lot of advantages
like free food, or many sport and pleasure area in the Googleplex. People who work in
Google are young, motivated, clever, smart and sociable. The two founders want a fun
atmosphere at work and it works because the Googlers can do almost everything for the
company and that lead to the success of Google that we know today. Thats why we can say
that this kind of organization could work.
However, there are a lot of critics about Google organizational culture and leadership.
A lot of people are septic about the future of Google. First of all, this kind of organization
could work with very responsible and autonomous persons. In this case, the Googlers do what
they want, for example they are late to the meeting, they play or talk during presentations
Maybe they are too free in their work, thats why we can notice a lack of respect and too
much arrogance from the employees.
Google Company is very good at advertising giving a good image from itself but
sometimes the reality is different. As it is said in the paper Googles organizational culture,
it is common for the employees to work 12 hours per day.11
Besides, the recruitment process is focus only on the academic record and graduate
ranks of the applicant rather than on experience.12
About bureaucracy we think that, in a long term period, no bureaucracy at all, is not
really possible. People need a minimum of structure to work well and in this case, the
organization is pretty fuzzy with a lack of hierarchy and a lack of unity of command at the top
level. Many people are recruited by Google for the same work, and they have same
qualification. So if we have to refer to too many persons at the same time it difficult to take
good decisions.13
We think that for this moment, Google is economically a huge success so they dont
have any problem with their organizational culture but it could be a problem if they do less
profit one day. It is not good to have too much pressure, but we consider that some pressure
and some behavior rules (for the meeting for example) are better if its correctly proportioned.
Google started to realize that it gave maybe too much to its employees and maybe realized
that its not a good way to work for its budget. Thats why some month ago they decided to
offer free breakfast and lunch but not free dinner anymore.14

11

Googles organizational culture by K Subhadra. P 7

12

Googles organizational culture by K Subhadra. P 7

13

Googles organizational culture by K Subhadra. P 8

14

http://valleywag.gawker.com/5040986/googles-food-perks-on-the-chopping-block 2009/02/25