Evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally challenging existing organizational structures and cultures

Essay, 2012

15 Pages, Grade: 1,8


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Definitions and Explanations
2.1. Family friendly policies
2.2. Organisational structures
2.3. Organisational cultures

3. Range of influence of family friendly policies to challenge organisational structures and cultures .

4. Conclusion

5. List of references

6. Statement of Acknowledgement

1. Introduction

Growing shortage of skilled labour, emancipation and the ongoing increasing desire of equal opportunities for women in executive positions, requires a rethinking of companies concerning their working conditions. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the relevance of family friendly policies in current organisations. The paper will start by pointing out a definition and explanation of family friendly policies, organisational structure and organisational culture. The range of influence of these policies on organisational cultures and structures will be discussed. With the help of these facts it can be shown to which extent family friendly policies challenge the structure and culture of existing organizations.

2. Definitions and Explanations

2.1. Family friendly policies

“Family friendly is a term used to apply to all staff, male/female, full and part-time [...] who are seeking to achieve a balance between their home and working lives. Throughout their career [...] individuals will have differing demands on their time and energies at home as well as work” (PIN, 2001, p.5). Establishing rules and norms in the organization to realize this balance between home and working life is the aim family friendly policies want to achieve. The definition implies that every employee passed through a development process during his or her working life with special and different requirements in each part of the process. It starts with young people, who are mainly interested in improving their knowledge, their professional status and their salary when they enter into employment. Facts such as job sharing, ability to change from full to part time hours and help with child-care costs (Dex and Smith, 2002, p.5) plays a tangential role for these job starters. Things such as money, a company car job advancement and job satisfaction are of much higher interest (Hankin, 2005, p.33). However, after these young people raise a family there is a shift of priorities 3 from the hard facts towards to more social needs. Accordingly, temporary or permanent switch to part time work and the possibility of working away from the workplace (University of Kansas, 2012) receives a higher significance. Nevertheless, payment and status symbols are still important, but a company which enables their workers to spend more time with their families creates much higher staff retention. Furthermore, the less time a worker spends on the business the less conflict there is between job and personal life (Lu et. al., 2011, p.68). However, these policies are not only designed to support young parents or families. It is also possible that a member of staff must care for its parents or other dependants. Furthermore, domestic difficulties could make it impossible for an employee to attend work for a certain time (PIN, 2001, p.5). With the help of family friendly policies these employees do not lose their job and the companies keep their well educated workers. As a result, not only workers but also organisations benefit from these policies.

2.2. Organisational structures

The definition of organisational structures consists of three components:

1.”Organisation structure designates formal reporting relationships, including the number of levels in the hierarchy and the span of control of managers and supervisors.
2. Organisation structure identifies the grouping together of individuals into departments and of departments into the total organisation.
3. Organisation structure includes the design of systems to ensure effective communication, coordination and integration of efforts across departments” (Draft, Murphy and Willmott, 2010, p.94). Within small companies it is easier to overlook all departments and to coordinate each process. Employees are most often able to work in different positions (Sinclair-Hunt and Simms, 2005, p.6). Accordingly, these businesses are very flexible and able to arrive at a decision fast. If the company is successful and starts growing there is a much higher need of control and administration.

For example managing 500 employees, 50 departments in 20 branch establishments is much more difficult than to organizing 10 employees at only one location. This highlights that it is impossible for all organisations have the same structure. Most of the companies are based on one of the following forms:

- “The entrepreneurial structure
- The functional-based structure
- Product-based structures
- The divisional structure
- The holding company structure
- The matrix structure” (Sinclair-Hunt and Simms, 2005, p.8).

Which organisational structure is the most suitable one for an enterprise depends not only on its size. Many facts such as market segment, strategy, type of technology, and the number of products are relevant (Fahmi, 2006). Every enterprise has to choose this structure which best supports their aims. To come back to the family friendly policies, it seems to be more simple to establish such policies at bigger companies. Employees are much more powerful against the executives and they are probably organized in a workers representation (Cardiff University, 2008, p.37). Furthermore it is easier to replace an employee in a huge enterprise than in a smaller one. On the other hand small and medium-sized businesses are heavily dependent on their well educated workforce because they are not able to pay such high salaries like large companies (Network World, 2000, p. 62). As a result, they support their employees as much as they can to create a sense of identification with the business. Moreover, small enterprises do not have so many decision levels. That enables them to change their organizational structure and implement family friendly policies more easily. However, it becomes much more difficult when comparing a small and a huge organisation from different countries. Structure also depends on national circumstances and conventions of the population. That means the culture of the region also has influence on the structure (Fahmi, 2006). Accordingly, the choice of the right structure depends on many facts and the power of family friendly policies to influence organisational structures falls when more treats are added.

2.3. Organisational cultures

Defining organizational culture is very difficult. On the one hand it depends on size, technology and the products of an organisation and on the other hand also feelings, believes values and needs of the workforce are relevant (Schultz, 1994, p.25). Because of this complexity it is impossible to cover all components of culture in only one definition. Edgar Schein (2010, p.18) defines the culture of a group “as a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.” Gerte Hofstede (1991) explained organisational culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one organisation from another” and Marvin Bower (1966, p.22) defined it just as “the way we do things around here.” This little extract demonstrates the diversity of culture and highlights how difficult it is to incorporate all employees in one organisational culture. On top of that, every author also characterizes organisational culture in a different way. That implies that it is impossible to give a universal characterization of organisational culture. To get a feeling how organisational culture could be characterize the paper will draw attention to Schein’s analyse. He defined three different levels of culture. The first one is artefacts, the second one is espoused beliefs and values and the third one is basic underlying assumptions (Schein, 2010, p.24). All structures processes and concepts that are visible, palpable or audible belonging to the artefacts. Accordingly, they are shaping the surface of the culture (Schein, 2010, p.23). That would mean family friendly policies are artefacts (Lewis, 1997, p.18). Below the artefacts, espoused beliefs and values are located. Norms and rules of behaviour belong to this second level. Basic underlying assumptions make the third level. Beliefs and values that are self-evident or become taken for granted belong to the basic underlying assumptions (Schein, 2010, p.28).


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Evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally challenging existing organizational structures and cultures
Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh  (School of Management and Languages)
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MSc International Business Management with Logistics Thomas Bauer (Author), 2012, Evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally challenging existing organizational structures and cultures, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/205707


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