Organizational Design Analysis: General Motors

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Over the recent past, General Motors (GM) has experienced numerous challenges which have declined its competitiveness in the market. Some of these challenges have arisen from an increment in the intensity of competition and economic changes. Additionally, the firm’s failure has also arisen from the management teams’ ineffectiveness. GM’s management team has been very complacent regarding changes occurring in the global marketplace. For example, the firm has not been responsive to changes in the market such as the increase in fuel prices. This is evidenced by the fact that the firm continues to produce fuel-inefficient vehicles. The quality of the firm’s products has also been on the decline. In its operation, the firm has adopted a decentralized management structure. However, the structure is marred by different challenges such as poor communication, internal competition, and duplication of effort such as excessive automobile lines. A further evaluation of GM’s organizational design and structure revealed the importance of integrating change in the firm’s operation. For example, the firm’s decision-making process is limited by a high level of bureaucracy within the firm.

In light of these challenges, it is paramount for GM to integrate organizational paradigm shifts in order to regain its lost glories. This paper entails an analysis of the system thinking paradigm from the organization’s design perspective. The advantages and disadvantages of using a system thinking paradigm are evaluated. The paper also aligns the system thinking paradigm to the appropriate images of the organization as indicated by Morgan in his text. The paper also evaluates the successes and failures of our teams’ collaboration through Morgan’s use of images for example the systems or images that caused failures and the systems that helped in the creation of successes.


Advantages and disadvantages of system thinking paradigm

The system thinking paradigm plays a critical role in an organization’s management team’s effort to identify and deal with the actual causes of the problems that an organization may be going through. If firms’ management teams fail to understand the actual causes of the organizational problems, they may focus on the wrong causes. For example, they may only focus on behaviors and events that led to the occurrence of the problems. Failure to understand the actual causes may result in firms’ management teams being ineffective in executing their leadership roles.

The system thinking paradigm emphasizes the fact that one of the most vital components in the success of any system such as an organization is continuous communication within the firm. Communication contributes towards a firm developing a highly competitive advantage (Gallos, 2006, p. 5). This arises from the fact that information is transformed into knowledge which enhances a firm’s operation. In its operation, GM is suffering from poor internal communication. Therefore, the integration of the system thinking paradigm will be of great importance.

For an organization to achieve its organizational development objectives, it must incorporate different operational strategies. Some of the elements that a firm should consider include leadership and management development, team building and effective management of teams, strategic planning, and supervisory development. Additionally, it is paramount for firms’ management teams to make a decision on the type of business on which they should focus. This will enhance the firms’ success upon venturing into other sectors since they will operate as a system. The resultant effect is that the firm will be able to achieve its organizational development objectives. In its operation, GM deals with different product lines. However, the management team lacks focus which has culminated in inefficient operation of the system.

Most organizational designs experience a challenge arising from the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the business environment (Jones, 2009, p.54). To succeed using the system thinking paradigm, it is paramount for system thinkers and practitioners to emphasize processes rather than products. One of the systems thinking paradigm limitations is that it focuses on products. Another limitation of the system thinking paradigm is that it is not broad and multidimensional. This is evidenced by the fact that it does not utilize the rich resources available in a firm’s innate System Intelligence. This makes it to be narrow and impoverished.

System thinking paradigm to the appropriate images of organization design according to Morgan

The appropriate image that aligns the system thinking paradigm with regard to organizational design in the case of GM Company is culture. As an organizational image, culture enables one to focus on the most important elements of human processes such as motivation, organizational leadership, and perception to determine how an organization operates (Morgan, 2007, p.115). In their operation, organizations integrate different aspects such as organizational routines, structures and rules. However, the success of all these aspects is dependent on the relationship that exists between the various parties within the organization. In the context of organizational design, GM needs to integrate a strong corporate culture and subculture in order to regain its market. For example, by developing a culture of innovation across its entire departments, GM will be able to develop its competitiveness. This arises from the fact that the firm will be able to produce high-quality and efficient automobiles. Additionally, GM will also benefit by developing a culture of exchanging information within the departments.

Success and failure of team collaboration

In executing the project, the team was very collaborative. The degree of team collaboration can best be explained by the holographic metaphor. According to Hodgkinson and Ford (2010, p.117), holographic metaphor entails developing an integrated corporate communication within an organization. The team was successful because each member encouraged each other to listen and to participate in the discussion. The resultant effect is that there was a high level of team cooperation. During the discussions, we presented ourselves as a firm that had the capacity to empower team members. By integrating the holographic approach, the team was successful in that the team members were able to appreciate the multidimensional information. For example, team members were able to take advantage of external information. Despite these successes, the main failure of team collaboration is related to time management.

Conclusion on the value of using images and metaphors

In their operation, organizations have a wide range of possibilities and processes at their disposal when making decisions regarding their vision, relationships, and cultures compared to the information available. Metaphors present firms with an opportunity to develop a concrete understanding of the implications of the information and how it can utilize it to create a learning organization. Additionally, metaphors help students to understand new information well by associating it with something that they are familiar with. Metaphors stimulate managerial students to evaluate the core management principles in a way that contributes towards the development of new management theory. Therefore, metaphors contribute to the development of a learning organization. For example, the brain metaphor stimulates managers to be innovative thus enhancing their ability to deal with changes in the business environment.

Reference List

  1. Gallos, J. V. (2006). Organization development: A Jossey-Bass reader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Hodgkinson, G. & Ford, J. (2010). International review of industrial and organizational psychological. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. Jones, G. (2009). Organizational theory, design and change. New York: Pearson Education.
  4. Morgan, G. (2007). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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