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Buckman laboratories is a small privately owned company. The company itself is a laboratory which manufactures more than 1000 specialty chemicals. It is a fast growing company. It has grown from 50 gallon reactor in the basement of a small house to a world wide company serving industry in over 80 different countries, with 1200employees and an annual revenue of $300 mill. The CEO of the company Bob Buckman transformed the company from an old pyramidal, bureaucratic, command-and-control structure to a structure in which everyone in the organization has complete access to information and in which no one told employees what to do all the time. While transforming the company, Buckman took consideration of various factors, such as organization design, organization structure, technology etc. As a result Buckman was able to stay global, efficient and effective.
However, transforming the company into a structure in which everyone would have complete access to information and where no one would be telling employees always what to do was not an easy task. Before the change , the company was based on an old pyramidal structure, which was bureaucratic and command- and-control. For the change to occur Buckman radically changed the six key elements of organizational design. Work specialization passed from high work specialization to a lower one thus allowing the increase in the sharing of knowledge between employees. This also makes employees more satisfied with their job and strengthened the relationship between themselves in accomplishing a common goal. Because of the fast changing environment due to increase in competition caused by globalization, the company must strengthen its geographic departmentalization. This is vital for the company, because by doing this it will strengthen its knowledge of the local realities thus creating products more adapt to those realities. Process departmentalization instead should remain strong due to the many different products sold by the company. It is important that each product be treated as a different business units to dont loose contact with the competitive market.
The chain of command evolved from a traditional one to a more open one where employees are being empowered to make decisions that previously were reserved for management. In fact, the chain of command concept has become less relevant because of self managed employees and team work. This also brings to larger spans of control which reduces costs, speed up decision making, increase flexibility, gets closer to customers- all necessary for the survival of companies in todays extremely competitive markets. This of course brings a company to strongly decentralized its structure. Through Buckmans knowledge (KNetix) contributions are necessary from managers to employees. A low level of formalization is also necessary in the structure because employees need freedom in how they do their work . Because all employees are connected through KNetix together, if an employee needs help or asks advice through the forums, the others should feel free to give advice to solve the problem. Due to the points above mentioned, we can see that organic organization is the only one that fits Buckmans network which necessarily has to be highly adaptive and flexible with little work specialization, minimal formalization, and little direct supervision of employees to allow the free flow of information.
K Netix is based on technology and communication and thus the organization has evolved to its needs. This technology has radically changed the way employees within the organization communicate worldwide. It allows employees to have more complete information to make faster decisions. In fact, if an employee of Buckman located in Singapore has problems with the product he can asked advice to all of the employees of the organization thorough the on-line forum and anybody who has experienced the problem can easily help him out. The systems strength is to connect all the employees worldwide in a fast and efficient way. Communication and the exchange of information among the employees of the organization are no longer constrained by geography, and this makes the employees work in the best, most efficient and most effective way they can.
To conclude, Buckman is surely a learning organization, it has developed the capacity to adapt and change because all employees take an active role in identifying and resolving work related issues. Through the KNetix, employees are continually acquiring and sharing new knowledge and are applying that knowledge in making decisions in their everyday work.. In this type of boundaryless environment, the organization is fast in reacting to the changing environment. This is Buckmans competitive advantage.
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