WL Gore and Google: Comparison of Vision and Culture

Google

Google’s vision

To be the best provider of search services for all World Wide Web users through innovation and creativity

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To provide advertisement services that will reach the greatest number of people

Improve technology through funding of all projects that are technology-oriented

To alleviate poverty, climate change, and other catastrophes through funding institutions that assist in detection, prevention, informing, empowering, encouraging, and developing renewable sources

Google’s Ergonomics and Physical Working Environment

For two years, Google came up in the Fortune magazine’s top 50 companies to work for. According to Fortune magazine, Google experiences low staff turnover with the employees having great job satisfaction. This could be attributed to the good working conditions where every worker from whichever department is valued.

One rule at Google is that workers should always be within a distance of 100 feet from a food source. The food is not just junk but real food that is healthy and prepared by qualified chefs. Apart from getting such motivation, employees at Google are allowed to come with their favorite pets to the workplace provided they are well trained and bound not to cause any trouble

Describe the working culture at Google

An organization’s culture can be termed as the organization’s values and norms, assumptions, and other tangible signs of the organization’s members and their behavior. Generally, it could be termed as the organization’s personality. This could range from its furniture arrangement in the office to the way they wear during work. Within the corporate world, culture can be viewed as a system that includes inputs, processes, and outputs.

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In this case, inputs include feedbacks that the organization gets from society, from the law, and other professionals while processes include the values, assumptions, and norms of the organization. Finally, the output includes the products offered, strategies, appearance, and image of the organization.

Although Google is a big company with different levels of management, all employees are brought up within a culture of oneness. Employees at a lower management level are free to mingle with and talk to members in higher ranks during lunchtime meals that are held together in the office café where there are no seating ranks and everybody sits anywhere as long as there is free space. Apart from lunching together, they are allowed to play together with the availability of such games as volleyball, foosball, ping pong tables, pool tables, and many other games. In addition, employees are allowed to join several organizations and societies including film clubs, salsa dance clubs, meditation classes, and even wine tasting clubs (Google).

At Google, every employee is given the opportunity to contribute his ideas that lead to the growth of the organization. Every employee feels free to air his views which will be taken note of as most of the employees are hired to meet the needs of the diversity of the service users.

The Google offices contain small rooms with different team members sharing them. In fact, there are very few single offices in Google offices all over the world. Some items happen to be identical in all the offices, these are lava lamps, bicycles, laptops, massage chairs, and dogs (Google). In addition, Google employees are given opportunities to get holidays and vacations often. Also, they have flexible working hours where one can choose to work during his most comfortable time.

The contributions from each of these workers are considered important for the general growth of the organization. This was achieved through the development of good communication channels and the availability of activities that allow for winding up during work (Fortune).

The financial and non-financial support offered to Google employees

Working at Google is associated with great benefits. Apart from the employees employed for less than a year earning a median salary of $83,535, the stock option has been termed as one of the greatest benefits. The following shows the median pay for Google employees.

Google Employee Remuneration.
Google Employee Remuneration (Payscale, 2009).

Google has been known to create to transform its employees into paper millionaires. Through having shares of the company, the employees benefit a lot due to the great value of the company’s shares which stand at about $424 per share. Among the greatest services and support, programs include health care services for their employees and their families. Apart from the services, at their headquarters in California, there are always dental care services and a physician on-site (Google).

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In the event of a new baby, Google employees are able to get maternity and parental leave with the new parents being accessible to a $500 meal take-out within their first four weeks after the child has been born. With the growth of a child, those employed within the headquarters have the accessibility to a Child Care Center that is situated just close to the headquarters- about five minutes walk.

Employees who embark on the adoption of a child are expected to benefit from adoption assistance. Google gives its employees $5000 which can be used to settle legal fees and other payments to the adoption agencies or professional fees. These employees are also subject to parental leave and other benefits. As mentioned earlier, a worker at Google is not supposed to work at a distance of more than 100 feet away from a source of food.

The food is provided for free and it costs the organization about $72 million per year. There are several other benefits for Google employees including free financial training, insurance covers, retirement savings plan, getting support for further education, transport services for the employees working at East Bay, South Bay, and San Francisco locations, oil change, and car cleaning services, hair styling, bike repair, dry cleaning, massage therapy, fitness classes, etc (Google).

Google’s motivation and empowerment toward its employees?

There are several steps that have been taken to ensure that employees at Google are satisfied and motivated and above all empowered. At Google, the employees are recognized and appreciated. This gives them a sense of being part of the team. Feeling like part of the team gives the employee a sense of job security. This is achieved through the fact that all employees’ ideas are valued and every role by any employee is valued too (Google).

In addition, the place accommodates people from all backgrounds including doctors, former US Marines, Matadors, cooks, and Historians, etc. this is because the company serves the whole globe and therefore needs everybody from every culture. This makes every employee important in serving the globe. The company also offers personal development and private learning assistance to all its employees. They are given study fees as a benefit for all the employees who have the need to expand their education. A job opportunity with a successful company is a motivator in itself. With Google serving the whole globe and boasting billions of clients every day, it is a motivating factor for the company employees when they feel that their work is being appreciated.

Doing a great job that is creative and interesting and doing it under good working conditions is a great motivator for employees. At Google, they stand with the philosophy that work should be challenging but fun. They deal with the interests of the billions of people who use their services and whose interests differ greatly from a researcher to a journalist, a student to a fun searcher to an archeologist and the list is endless. This is a job that needs creativity. To improve on things, Google has working conditions that encourage each worker to perform to his best ability. The goals and objectives at Google are clear and this according to Forster (p. 166) is a motivating factor.

At Google, getting as much information into their data as possible is a goal that is very well defined to the employees. This is evident in their reporting on the name Google which was coined from googol that stands for a number that contains a 1 and hundred zeros. Above these, the bosses at Google are so supportive and try to make each employee develop an idea which is later allowed to develop into a useful product.

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The corporate culture at Google is well developed. Forster points out that a well-developed culture is a point of motivation. As highlighted earlier in the paper, the culture of Google is well defined within all its offices. Finally, the bonuses and benefits are essential in the motivation of employees. Google boasts among the greatest benefits both financial and non-financial including free food, a rare benefit to say. All these show that Google has strategies for employee motivation.

General expectancy in the process theory dictates that the level of performance relates directly with the effort directed in the activity. It also stresses that human beings believe that more effort results in desirable outcomes. It also stresses the instrumentality part which states that the effort of a person relates directly to the outcomes ensuing from this task. Finally, it stresses the importance of valence which dictates that valued courses of action stand a high chance of positive outcomes and rewards (Forster, p. 176).

With results from studies showing that employees who were satisfied with the culture of the organization standing a high chance of retaining the job while those feeling that they were not fitting in the culture standing a chance of working less than a year in the company, it is important to realize the role of expectations.

With most of the workers at Google working under favorable culture which is rewarding, they are likely to be motivated. Fitting in the culture alone serves as a motivating culture. The earlier outlined working culture at Google could therefore be attributed to the low staff turnover.

Goal setting can also act as a motivator. When employees achieve their set goals, they develop self-confidence and also self-belief growth which makes them even aim for higher goals. The cycle goes on and on (Forster, p. 178). Achieved goals at Google which catapulted them from a small garage office to a great company with offices worldwide could be attributed to their continuous success. The achieved targets gave them the confidence to set new and higher goals.

Equity is also a form of motivation. When workers perceive that they are getting less as compared to their counterparts in other firms, they feel less motivated (Forster, p. 181). The employees at Google usually feel motivated through the great benefits they accrue as compared to other industry players. Although the basic salary could be comparatively less in relation to their greatest rivals Yahoo, the extra benefits are great and thus sustaining their motivation.

Forster points out that good leaders should not subject their workers to total control every time. They should allow their workers to do the right thing even without the boss’s presence. He points out that such conditions as total control and distrust of employees lead to demotivation. This is evident at Google where employees are given the freedom to work out their staff without too much interference. Bosses are seen as colleagues and not as a form of intimidation. This makes them develop a sense of trust and hence get motivated.

In terms of enforcement, research has proved that positive feedback is essential in the effort of employee motivation (Forster, p. 182). A human being will always want to do things that will reward them and avoid those that will land them into punishment. With Google employees seeing the positive outcomes from their activities and receiving great benefits due to their good performances, they are likely to be motivated. One of the best motivators is the sharing of profits every time they get beyond the set targets.

Google Encourages Innovation and Creativity

Google encourages Innovation and creativity in several ways. Communication flow is identified as one of the ways through which this can be encouraged (Forster, p 365). At Google, employees always share offices that are situated in single working spaces. This encourages members of groups to easily communicate and also facilitates inter group communication. An organization can make itself home of innovation when it hires the best and talented work force. This is clearly portrayed by Google which hires people not in specific roles. Geniuses are hired and then placed in good positions that fit them most (Giles).

For an organization to achieve good creativity and innovation climate, it must give its employees extra time to try on their new ideas that will eventually result into something tangible (Hamel & Breen, p 8). In addition to this, Forster argues that the right culture and working conditions are very essential in the encouragement of creativity. This is evident at Google where employees are given 20% of their work time to do their own works that interest them. The 20% time program at Google allows the employees to come up with great idea that eventually develop into innovative products (Google).

An organization that encourages brain storming will always achieve in creativity and innovation. Under this, all the stupid looking ideas should be brought to the drawing board before being discarded. In addition, criticism should not be allowed (Forster, p 361). This is practiced at Google where every idea that has even a 10% chance of succeeding is given a chance to be further developed.

Employing the most creative and talented group of people is identified as one way to encourage creativity and innovation. The employees should have identified technical skills and creativity which will be essential for the organization (Forster, p 356). At Google, they believe that hiring knowledge workers is the greatest weapon for any company that has long term goals and which wants to float above competition. They believe that getting and retaining knowledge workers is the greatest competitive advantage that they have for the coming 25 years (Schmidt & Varian).

Fun and humor are so integral to innovation and creativity. Every organization that dreams of encouraging these virtues within its culture must ensure that humor and fun are incorporated in their activities (Forster, p 360). At Google, one will always come around different sports, societies and organization that are set up to help the employees unwind. At Google, they believe that, “work and play are not mutually exclusive.” When it comes to fun, you can as well spike a hard one over the CEO during a volleyball game.

Finally, risk taking is important in creating an innovative atmosphere. However, the risk taking should be cautious and calculated (Hamel & Breen, p 12). This part of innovation is very essential at Google. Here, short term earnings are not an impediment to investing into high risk projects that have great potential.

Policies that Affect Business Performance of the company

Google has been a profitable. In 2001, the company experienced a net income of $6985 before experiencing a great leap the following year which stood at $99,656. This was later followed by a net of $105,648 in the year 2003. The year 2004 experienced an increase in net profit which clocked $399119 and moved to $1,465,397 in 2005. The years that followed experienced an increase in net profit of $3,077,446, $4,203,720, $4,226,858(unaudited) for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Revenues have also increased a lot since formation. In 2001, the company experienced revenue of $86,426 before improving drastically to $439,508 in the following year. In 2003, the company had total revenue of $1,465,934. This increased to 3,189,223 in 2004 and a whooping 6,138,560 in 2005. The years that followed had a revenue increase of $10,604,917, $16,593,986, $21,795,550 (unaudited) for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

On the stock market, the first initial public offer by Google was in 2004 with the price going at $85 a piece. At the close of the day, the public valued it at 100.34 at the close of the day. In June 2005, the company shares were trading at $350 Dollars a piece. The price then rose by 7% in 2006 after it was listed on the Standard and Poor’s 500 index listing. In June 2008, the stocks had soared to $546.43 before dropping to an average $325 during December the same year with a total volume of 7,199,994 shares exchanging hands. Slowly, the stock prices recovered to the current 424 as per June 2009 with a total volume of 2,918,429.

With such policies well put in place, a company will always succeed in beating competition. As Google puts it, hiring mavericks is their “competitive advantage for the next 25 years.” This shows that when an organization puts much of its emphasis on motivating its employees and encouraging innovation and creativity it increases its productivity and also retains the top cream of the workforce. This is evident in Google which experiences a very low staff turnover. Apart from reducing staff turnover, these policies lead to flexibility within the production process and the overall profitability (Forster, p 338). With an increase in profitability, stock and financial reports will be great and will attract investors which will contribute for more capital.

W.L. Gore

W.L. Gore Vision

W.L. Gore’s vision is to ensure value and uniqueness in the products for their clients, attracting and retaining talented workforce, improving working environment, maintain company reputation and ensure profitability. Their vision is also to lower the energy demands and cut down on the green house gas emissions through reinforcing laws and developing alternative means of fuel.

A brief organizational structure of WL Gore

One of the greatest features of WL Gore is its organizational structure. At Gore, there is no CEO; all the employees are called associates. The lattice structure as favored by the Founder, Bill Gore puts no one on top of the other thus no body plays the role of assigning duty to others. The associates are organized in groups which have a leader who is elected by the group members. No employee has a title in this organization thus all the employees are equal. In addition, Gore does not have any organization charts and it does not have a defined communication channel. Communication therefore takes place within the groups and directly to the person with which one wants to communicate.

The Working Culture at W.L. Gore

Gore is known for its friendly working culture. With a team based approach and lack of hierarchies and supervisors, the associates are usually accountable to each other and not to a boss. Hands on approach to assignments are the order of the day at Gore and all the members taking part in a project have the mandate to contribute innovatively towards the success of the project. Believing that the abilities of the people are the key to the organization’s success, all members are given an atmosphere where they can maximize their potential while encouraging each other.

At Gore, associates are hired without a specific job description and it is therefore the work of sponsors who have an idea of the needs of the company who later assign the new recruit in the place that suits him best. Four basic principles guide the associates in their day to day work: Fairness between associates and every other person, encouraging, assisting and letting fellow associates expand in knowledge, skill and responsibility score is encouraged, making own commitments and sticking to them and finally consultation between associates before any action.

Motivating and empowering employees

Every employee at Gore has a role to play. They are all involved in one form or another in the effort to ensure that the company succeeds in its endeavors. They are all recognized and appreciated because of their contribution to the company. Forster (p 165) identifies this and several other factors among the factors that motivate workers. At Gore, every idea from every associate is valued and given a chance to prove its worth (WL Gore).

He also identifies personal development and availability of learning and self advancement opportunities as employee motivators. At Gore, among the major principles that command the day to day activities of workers are the principle of encouraging, allowing and assisting fellow associates to expand their skills and knowledge. This shows that the associates are encouraged to learn and advance their knowledge base (WL Gore).

Forster further points out that working for a successful organization with great working conditions acts as a form of motivation. This is evident at Gore. No one can deny the fact that Gore is one of the most successful companies owing to the fact that it has been ranked among the hundred top companies in America by the Fortune magazine and also that their products are used so extensively starting from shoes, to electric cables, guitar strings, astronaut outfit, army outfits, divers etc. these are signs of success. The workers are subjected to great working conditions with none feeling greater than the other, no bossing around, no imposition of assignments, no dictation from above, open communication channels and great benefits mark the working condition at Gore (WL Gore).

Work that is creative and interesting under a corporate culture that is empowering gives workers motivation (Forster, p 165). This is what defines the working conditions at Gore. The work in this company is creative and interesting. It gives workers the chance to develop new products which differ greatly in their use. This is what has led to great diversities in their products ranging from medical apparatus to astronaut outfit. The culture at Gore is encouraging.

Supporting each other and encouraging each idea intermingled with mutual respect dominates the working culture at Gore (WL Gore). Finally, he points out that rewards and bonuses in the event of a good performance is essential in the motivation of employees. At Gore, employees are ranked against each other and paid according to their performance. Depending on the contribution of an associate to a given project, he will consequently get a pay that is relative to that contribution.

Expectancy theory plays an important role in the motivation of the employees at gore. With the company leading in most of their products on the market, the employees thus feel that their effort is being rewarded. In addition, their effort is being rewarded through high sales returns that have equally translated in their high pay and other benefits which in the same act as motivators. Their effort is translated in their leading products like Gore-Tex and the guitar strings.

Equity is greatly having an implication in the general motivation of the Gore employees. An employee is rewarded according to his contribution in the projects (Gore, 2009). Good performance leads to a better reward. This is a form of motivation because the workers who are good performers will not be feeling short changed by those who are less contributive by getting the same salary and benefits.

Goals at Gore are clearly set. Every person has the knowledge that he must be creative and innovative. This has resulted into great products like the guitar strings and the main product which is Gore-Tex (Gore, 2009). This motivates the workers because they know that their efforts will be rewarded through development of great products that will improve the company revenues.

In terms of reinforcement, Gore’s target to motivate its employees has been clear. Feedback on their efforts has been clear. All employees who come up with good projects that contribute to revenues for the company are usually rewarded. Also payment in the company is based on the overall performance. This means that employees are motivated to work harder so that they end up with better pay and benefits.

Benefits for Gore Employees

Compared to the other organizations, Gore is ranked among the top three in benefit accrued by its employees. The benefits are clearly outlined in their website. Among these benefits is Associate Stock Ownership Plan which gives associates ownership of the company through shares. This gives them financial security during retirement. The 401(k) Plan allows the employees to have investment accounts to which the company saves 3% of their salaries. This is also essential during retirement. Employees at Gore receive vacations ranging from 5 days to 25 days depending on the period by which the associate will have worked for the company. Apart from the vacations, the workers are also given 11 holidays per year. When the associates meet the targeted financial objectives, any other extra profit is shared between the associates.

Three months service to Gore justifies an associate to continue earning in case of a sickness or injury that is not related to the job. Also, the associates are given several insurance options from which they benefit. Associates and their families are accessible to free counseling services that are short term. After one year of service, Gore associates are eligible to receive up to $5000 in the aid of adoption. Gore also has a program called Health Advocate that assists in identification of physicians and other medical related assistances for its associates (WL Gore).

How the company encourages creativity and innovation

Understanding creativity and innovation is one way of encouraging innovation in an organization. As a leader, one should ensure that workers are encouraged to come up with as much small ideas as they can. The ideas should be appreciated and developed by pushing them through all the possible stages until a good and viable product is developed (Forster, p 357). At Gore, the culture demands that associates are innovative. This is encouraged through appreciation of each associate’s idea. No idea is put away before being given a chance top prove its ability. This is an atmosphere that teaches workers to understand innovation and creativity (WL Gore).

Hiring of great minds and mavericks is another step towards encouraging creativity and innovation. A good organization must be able to attract and retain the most valuable and talented workers in order to encourage innovation (Forster, p 158). The hiring should base on the needs of the organization and thus hire a diversity of talents. This is maintained at Gore. Creative people are employed not in narrow job descriptions. Instead, they are employed and taken through several departments before settling for a most comfortable and efficient department (Gore).

Play, humor, fun and games are synonymous with organizations that encourage innovation. When this atmosphere is cultivated within the culture of an organization, innovation is encouraged (Forster, p 159). Basing on their basic principle of make money and have fun, it is evident that the organization encourages fun. Brain storming should be encouraged within an organization to promote innovation and creativity. This can be done through encouraging of the employees to base their development of ideas not on quality but on quantity. Also no idea should be criticized. All ideas should be given equal hearing chances so that they can prove worth (Forster, p 160).

At Gore, every idea is given a chance to prove its chance. No criticism is allowed at Gore. According to the working philosophy, all ideas are to be encouraged and developed until they come up with something tangible.

Communication forms the basic foundation of innovation. In fact, this is the bloodline because ideas cannot grow with a single person. It calls for different people to contribute their different ideas so that the final product comes into existence (Forster, p 165). At Gore, the associates are given time to work alone but later come together within their groups to discuss on the ideas. When a person comes up with an idea, he brings it forth before others try to find the logic behind it and develop it appropriately. This is encouraged by use of good management structure which assumes a lattice model. Also, the associates work in single rooms that allow them to communicate easily and efficiently.

Finally, good organizations which encourage innovation usually reward those who come up with great ideas (Forster, p 357). At Gore, the employees are rewarded according to their contribution in the company. This means that those who contribute greatly come up with salaries and other benefits that reflect their hard work WL Gore).

How these policies affect the company

At Gore, most of the shares are owned by the family and the employees. The private company owns most of the shares while the workers own shares through the Associate Stock Ownership Plan. This has its pros and cons. Fro the employees, it very encouraging as most of them become committed to their job. They co own the company therefore indicating that the failure of the company means that they have also suffered the loss. Private ownership also leads to easier decision making as compared to public ownership of the company. This could be taken to be advantageous to the company as the workers will be energized to perform as compared to those that find the job demanding. This according to Hamel & Breen causes motivation and thus improves performance (Hamel & Breen, p 10).

Lessons for business leaders

From the whole lesson, it is clear that leadership plays an important role in the general performance of an organization. Changes are necessary and they are what triggers one into learning and trying to improve on self performance. It is also important because it makes the leader understand what leadership method to apply where (Forster, p 68).

Apart from self awareness, the ability to balance the physical and mental health is very important for business leaders. Stress can greatly and negatively implicate on the general performance of the leader who will eventually translate it to the workers leading to a poor performance. In case of stress, The leader must be in position to seek appropriate attention to control it (Forster, p 98).

Communication has also proved important in the overall process of management. The leader must understand the complexities of interpersonal together with those of the organizational communication. They should also learn how to effectively come up with communication strategies that will be instrumental to the general performance of the organization. This is a skill that is learnt with time. With organizations containing a diverse workforce and the issue of communication transcending to almost every aspect of management, it is very essential therefore that leaders learn the communication skills (Forster, p 159).

Next important level of management is the issue of motivation and empowerment of employees. With communication in place, the leader must be in position to understand the needs of his workforce and how they can be motivated. The leader must identify the drives that lead one into being motivated and capitalize on them. (Forster, p 200).

Team work is essential for the general performance of an organization. However, managing this does not happen as a miracle, it takes learning to become a master in the art. This can be achieved through learning of techniques of motivating and communication between the groups.

He should therefore learn on the important aspects of group management like making the groups manageable, empowering them and not dominating or controlling them, being consistent and giving true promises, creating a team climate and assigning roles for each member, establishing a positive team culture and ensuring that each team member is a participant in team activities and discussion and finally giving each team member special attention (Forster, p 225).

Leaders should also realize that making changes in an organization is not an easy work. For example, they have to be flexible and ready to face the different changes in the business environment, they should be able to understand the workforce dynamics that implicate on the organizational culture and therefore major on this to make the appropriate changes. They should also understand the context under which they are operating so that they are able to adopt the conditions. Finally, they should understand that change is a gradual affair that slowly takes its toll on the organization (Forster, p 334).

Finally, the management should understand that innovation is essential in the process of ensuring good performance and profitability. They should also understand that innovation does not appear by itself, it is created through making of a good atmosphere. This can act as a strong weapon and competitive edge over other organization (Forster, p 376).

All these outlined points have proved important in successful companies such as Google and WL Gore. Through their dedication on employee motivation and innovation, they have come up as great companies on the Forbes and Fortune Magazines lists of 100 greatest companies. While most of the companies would have struggled to put up means of supervising and managing workers to work from eight to five, the workers in the two companies are not pressured by the management to come to work at nine. Instead, self motivation and desire to excel make them arrive earlier than they could have been required.

This means that managing workers is more than seeing their physical presence but also ensuring that one understands their mental positions so that he can ensure that they are in position to perform. Copying from Google and WL Gore, companies should give a high priority to innovation and creativity and all the factors that encourage this. They should also ensure that their employees are motivated and empowered. These are aspects observed closely by Google and WL Gore who achieved these and consequently excelled above the competition.

Not much has been said about the financial information of Gore due to its private status but the scanty available information shows that the company has had a steady increase in profit since its inception. In 2005, the company had total revenue of $1,840,000 which later improved to $2,120,000 and $2,400,000 in 2007. This shows that company has been on the rise in terms of revenue for the past several years.

References

Deutschman, A. “The Fabric of Creativity.” Fast Company Magazine. 2007. Web.

Forster, N. Maximum Performance: A Practical Guide to Leading and Managing People at Work. 2nd ed. (2009). Web.

Fortune. “100 Best Companies to Work For.” CNN Money. Web.

Giles, Jim. “Careers: Searching Out Success.” New Scientist Magazine. 2007. Web.

Google. “Letter From the Founders.” Web.

Google. “Top Ten Reasons to Work at Google.” Web.

Hamel, G. and Breen, B. “Building an Innovation Democracy: Management Innovation in Action” (2007). from The Future of Management. New York: Harvard Business School Press.

Schmidt, Eric and Varian, Hal. “Google: Ten Golden Rules.” Newsweek, 2005. Web.

Smith, N. “Profile:WL Gore” Institute of Engineering and Technology. (2008). Web.

Stern, S., and Marsh, P. “The Chaos Theory of Leadership.” Financial Times. Web.

WL Gore & Associates. “About Gore.” (2009). Web.

WL Gore. “A Leader in Flexible Benefits.” (2009). Web.

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