The Mississippi Power Company: Organizational Culture

Introduction

This paper will discuss the Mississippi Power company and its organizational culture. In 2005, the Mississippi Power company, just for twelve days, managed to restore electric power after Hurricane Katrina despite high levels of destruction. The company was able to accomplish that difficult task thanks to its approach to working and organizational processes. Mississippi Power established a strong can-do organizational culture through company values and efficient employee training. The company managers created an effective plan and chose 20 “storm directors” who had the authority and responsibility to respond sufficiently to the disaster.

In addition, the company used a decentralized decision-making approach that allowed employees to complete their work faster. Mississippi Power achieved impressive results and was honored with an “Emergency Response Award” by the Edison Electric Institute. This situation shows that a well-built organizational culture can help the company not only efficiently and effectively conduct its everyday work but also successfully cope with difficulties and force majeure. It is necessary to analyze organizational processes to understand what principles are the most important for successful company performance.

Background

Being a corporate subsidiary of utility holding company Southern Company, Mississippi Power provides electric services in the U.S. state of Mississippi. Founded in 1925, it is the organization of 1250 employees. The chairman, president, and CEO of the company is Anthony Wilson (“About President”). As a provider of electric services to more than 190000 customers, the company faced a serious issue after Hurricane Katrina and had to act immediately to restore electric power.

Case Analysis

Types of Organizational Culture

It is important to analyze Mississippi Power in the context of organizational culture types. The researchers distinguish four types of organizational culture: clan, adhocracy, hierarchy, and market (Lund 221). The clan culture is aimed at developing human resources, commitment, and morale. It is characterized by such factors as cohesiveness, participation, teamwork, and a sense of family. The clan participants follow principles of loyalty, tradition, and interpersonal cohesion, and the leaders are seen as mentors, facilitators, or parent-figures. The adhocracy type is characterized by entrepreneurship, creativity, and adaptability.

With the aim of innovation, growth, and new resources, the participants possess the flexibility and are ready to take risks. Leaders also play the role of risk-takers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. The hierarchy culture is built on rules, policies, and procedures emphasizing stability, predictability, and smooth operations. The leaders act as coordinators and administrators, helping to maintain order and controlling other employees to follow the rules and regulations. The market type is aimed at competitive advantage and market superiority, and the company stands on competition, goal orientation, and production. Competitiveness and goal achievement go first, and the leaders are oriented on these principles.

Mississippi Power’s Organizational Culture

Mississippi Power, building its everyday work and solving the problems after the hurricane, used principles of different organizational types. As for the clan culture, the company and its employees show teamwork, commitment, and cohesiveness. The workers were doing their job despite suffering damage to their own homes, which shows their total commitment to their work. This principle is also reflected in employees’ identification tags: “Unquestionable Trust, Superior Performance, Total Commitment.” Thus, commitment plays a significant role in the company’s working processes influencing their effectiveness.

In addition, “unquestionable trust” echoes with the sense of family that is also typical for the clan culture. Following the mentioned values, the workers also showed the teamwork and cohesiveness. For instance, the crew working to restore power had a common mission — “get the power back on.” It is possible to agree that they managed to do it because of following that common idea and working together. Thus, one may conclude that the principles of the clan culture became crucial for the successful response to the disaster.

The flexibility and innovation, entrepreneurial decisions of the company’s leaders and employees echo with the characteristics of the adhocracy culture. The company used the approach of decentralized decision-making. It allowed a certain level of flexibility for workers when deciding what to do with the issues they face. They also were acting creatively and entrepreneurial to do their best for problem-solving. For instance, according to the paper, “one crew stripped a generator of an ice machine to get a substation working.” Giving some freedom of action to their workers, the leaders took certain risks. However, these actions were adapted to the situation and, as a result, led to a faster and more effective response to the disaster.

Nevertheless, it was also necessary to follow the rules for employees. Working in difficult and often dangerous environments, they likely followed some safety regulations. In addition, the company’s management appointed 20 “storm directors” who had a sufficient level of responsibility and authority to coordinate employees’ actions. In this regard, the company also followed some of the principles of hierarchy culture, such as rules and regulations, and coordinators’ presence.

The organizational culture of the company also includes the features of the market type. The mentioned employees’ identification tags have the phrase “Superior Performance.” It is possible to agree that superior performance implies competitiveness and market superiority. In addition, the training process of employees, according to the article, instilled in workers such habits as “be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first and think win/win.” These habits echo with the idea of goal orientation and achievement that is one of the key elements in the market culture. Thus, the market type characteristics in Mississippi Power’s organizational culture also play a significant role in the company’s work and achievements.

All in all, the discussed company is characterized by employees’ commitment to their work, cohesion, and goal orientation to provide superior performance. It is also worth noting that Mississippi Power is able to use a creative and entrepreneurial approach for some situations. Thus, one may conclude that using principles from different types of organizational culture, the company managed to respond to the disaster and perform its work successfully.

The Framework of Organizational Culture

Having its own framework, a company’s organizational culture is based on several key elements. The researchers distinguish the following elements: environment, mission, socialization, information, strategy, and leadership (Tierney 8). The environment implies the working atmosphere and the company’s attitude towards the working process and employees. The mission includes the company’s mission statement and the level of agreement with this statement.

The mission also can be used as the basis for the organization’s decision-making. The socialization refers to the ways of new members becoming a part of the company and socializing there. In addition, it implies what is needed to survive and excel in the organization. The information defines what constitutes the information in the company, who possesses it, and how it is spread. The strategy implies decision-making processes, penalties for bad decisions, and the identity of decision-makers. The leadership refers to the leaders’ personality, company expectations from the leaders, and the level of formality of the leaders.

Organizational Culture Framework in Mississippi Power

Analyzing the Mississippi Power environment, one may assume that the company has a respectful attitude towards its working processes and employees as people are ready to work with total commitment. In addition, based on the “unquestionable trust” statement, one may also conclude that the company is focused on achieving reliability and trust between workers. The organization has an established values system that includes already mentioned commitment and trust.

This system defines the company’s environment, and all bosses and employees follow the company values. They know what is expected from them and what they can expect from the others. The environment the managers of Mississippi Power has created also allowed the company to accomplish difficult tasks when solving hurricane consequences. As was mentioned above, the workers performed their work even despite having problems with their own houses.

When meeting problems caused by the hurricane, all company members had an absolute agreement regarding their mission. They all knew they needed to do their best to get the power back on. This mission also became the basis for decisions on all levels of the organization. The company’s management replaced the old approach of top-down decision-making to complete the mission as quickly as possible. When engineering their solutions, the employees also managed to act more innovatively and entrepreneurially, as can be seen from the already mentioned example with an ice machine generator.

One may agree that the workers’ socialization in Mississippi Power is achieved through employee training organized by the company. This training helps them to understand what is required from them during the working processes and what they need to do to survive and excel in the organization. The training and managerial example encourage them, for instance, to be more proactive, synergize and seek understanding of all processes. In addition, the training can help new workers to learn company values, which can be helpful for successful socialization as well.

Through the training process, the employees also can get necessary information regarding the working process and leaders’ expectations. Besides, employees’ identification tags can be considered a significant information element representing company values and reminding of them. Given the quick response at all levels of the organization during hurricane-related problems, it is also possible to conclude that the information is distributed efficiently and sufficiently regardless of the situation.

Analyzing Mississippi Power’s strategies, one may conclude that the company can adapt to different circumstances. During the liquidation of damage from the hurricane, the company’s management changed the strategy of decision-making. They assigned tasks to the selected 20 “storm directors” who did not need to ask permission from upper bosses when deciding how to solve these tasks. During the working process of getting power back, crews also were allowed to make their own decisions. As for everyday work, employees’ decisions are also guided by the company’s principles that include, for instance, already mentioned proactivity, beginning work with the end in mind, and putting first things first.

The leadership of Mississippi Power includes the company’s management team that responded to the hurricane problem “with a style designed for speed and flexibility, for getting things done amid confusion and chaos.” In this regard, it is possible to agree that the organization expects from its leaders’ commitment to the company values and effective problem-solving. Storm directors also got an unquestionable trust from their bosses for decision-making. This trust shows that the company is sure of directors’ responsibility and authority, which implies that “a leader” is not just a status for Mississippi Power.

One may conclude that Mississippi Power competently builds its organizational culture at all levels. All key elements work together, providing superior performance and high-quality service. The company is aimed not only at its customers but also at its employees, creating a healthy working environment. Thus, it is possible to agree that all concepts of organizational culture work effectively and help Mississippi Power to accomplish even the most difficult tasks.

Answers to the Questions

Joining the company, new employees “learn” the Mississippi Power culture. They can do it, in my opinion, not only through training provided by the company but also through clan and adhocracy principles the organization uses. I consider that the clan type features play here the most significant role. When seeing commitment and teamwork, having a sense of family, it can be easier for new employees to socialize in this working environment. As for adhocracy culture principles, new employees can see the managers as innovators and entrepreneurs, which can encourage them to guide their actions and decisions in a similar way.

Discussing the framework of the organizational culture, one also should note that all its elements work towards accepting company values by new employees. The company working environment is built on trust and strong performance; the workers do not argue the company mission, and training is aimed at making the socialization process more comfortable. The workers possess the necessary level of awareness as the information is spread adequately and sufficiently.

The company strategies provide an effective process of decision-making, and leaders are chosen in accordance with their skills. Thus, the company culture is built very effectively that allows new employees to believe in the reliability of the organization. Valuing trust and commitment, Mississippi Power inspires confidence that helps new workers to understand the organizational principles and learn its culture.

For achieving higher performance and effectiveness, other companies can learn a lot from Mississippi Power regarding the importance of organizational culture. For instance, it is crucial to pay attention first of all to workers’ skills and personal features. Having professional people with a sufficient level of responsibility, the company can have reliable employees. It also leads to the opportunity to allow workers to take risks and make their own decisions.

In many cases, it may have a beneficial effect on the working process, as can be seen in the situation with the hurricane. Another principle that other companies should take into consideration is establishing of company values and following them. Mississippi Power employees understand what is expected from them, and they also know they are important for the company. This is reflected through the “unquestionable trust, superior performance, and total commitment” values. All in all, the mentioned company’s features come down to honest and professional work observed at all levels of the organization, which should be the key element for other companies as well.

Conclusion

One may conclude that Mississippi Power has a strong organizational culture and does not give up its values. It provides effectiveness, superior performance, and high-quality service through well-organized working processes on all levels of the organization. Workers’ commitment and professionalism allow them to accomplish difficult and dangerous tasks such as the liquidation of damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. They are guided by the company’s principles in everyday work aiming at goal-achievement and superior performance. It is possible to agree that, when building their own company, others can learn a lot from Mississippi Power. Thus, well-built organizational culture has a significant meaning for all company working processes and all its members.

Works Cited

“About the President.” Mississippi Power. Web.

Lund, Daulatram B. “Organizational culture and job satisfaction.” Journal of business & industrial marketing, vol. 18, no. 3, 2003, pp. 219-236.

Tierney, William G. “Organizational culture in higher education: Defining the essentials.” The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 59, no. 1, 1988, pp. 2-21.

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