!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Turnover Due to Unfairness in the Workplace

The San Francisco-based Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) has published an important report concerning the role of workplace unfairness in precipitating a manager's or professional's decision to leave a job. "The Corporate Leavers Survey: The Cost of Employee Turnover Due Solely to Workplace Unfairness" inquired about "every-day inappropriate behaviors such as stereotyping, public humiliation, and promoting based upon personal characteristics."

LPFI extrapolates rather dramatically from their survey of 1700 managers and professionals to arrive at an estimated $64 billion annual cost to employers of turnover due solely to workplace unfairness. This $64 billion is net of costs due to decreased sales and damage to the company's reputation when the aggrieved parties deter friends and acquaintances from buying their ex-employer's products and services and from seeking employment there. The $64 billion also leaves aside any costs incurred to replace managers and professionals for which workplace unfairness, while not the sole consideration, was a major contributing factor to the decision to resign or volunteer for layoff.

According to the executive summary (pdf), other survey findings include (slightly edited):
  • People of color are three times more likely to cite workplace unfairness as the only reason for leaving their employer than heterosexual Caucasian men and twice as likely as heterosexual Caucasian women.

  • Gay and lesbian professionals and managers are almost twice as likely to cite workplace unfairness as the only reason for leaving their employer as heterosexual Caucasian men.

  • Among the specific types of unfairness the survey inquired about, the behaviors
    most likely to prompt someone to leave were: (1) being asked to attend extra recruiting or community related events because of one’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation, (2) being passed over for a promotion due to one’s personal characteristics, (3) being publicly humiliated, and (4) being compared to a terrorist in a joking or serious manner.

  • More than one-fourth (27%) of respondents who experienced unfairness at work within the past year said their experience strongly discouraged them from recommending their employer to other potential employees; 13% said their experience strongly discouraged them from recommending their employer’s products or services to others.

  • Responses concerning what employers could have done to keep them varied across demographic groups. For example, almost half of gay and lesbian professionals and managers said that if their employer offered more or better benefits they would very likely have stayed; 34% of people of color said they would very likely have stayed if their employer had offered better managers who recognized their abilities.
When considering what type of training could help reduce workplace unfairness, it is important not to think simply in terms of training people about behavior they must avoid in order to protect the company from lawsuits. Training must also cover behavior that, if roles were reversed, would come across as unfair even though not illegal or provable in a civil suit.

The full LPFI report, which I have not read, is available for purchase for $200 (with discounts for volume orders).


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thomas Vander Wal on Tagging

Thomas Vander Wal gave a presentation at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in June that provides a good overview of how tagging fits into business use of Web 2.0 capabilities. The presentation slides for "Bottom-up All the Way Down: How Tags Help Businesses Organize" are available here.

I'd highlight Vander Wal's summary of the benefits businesses can realize from making use of tagging:

Company's Internet site
  • Improve understanding of your customers' interests.

  • Stay on top of current terminology used by your customers.

  • Identify market segments.

  • Target your messages to the language, needs, and tastes of each segment, and adjust messages in light of trends.

  • Follow your customers' thinking via aggregation and correlation analysis of the tags they use.

  • Monitor and analyze how customers are using various tagging services (e.g., del.icio.us).
Company's intranet
  • Improve refindability of information.

  • Use people's annotations to understand the context in which they are interpreting content on the intranet.

  • Make it easier to share resources in ways that are responsive to different perspectives.

  • Build an information taxonomy cost-effectively.

  • Facilitate shared use of terms within and across organizational silos.

  • Facilitate networking.
The bottom line is that businesses that are not already using customer and employee tagging to help organize company information and marketing should look carefully at whether this is a practice they would benefit from supporting.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Using Simulated Interactions to Forecast Decisions in Conflict Situations

J. Scott Armstrong, whose work on forecasting came up in yesterday's post, is a proponent of using simulated interaction to forecast what decision will emerge in a conflict involving a small number of parties, such as a hostile takeover of one business by another.

Most of Armstrong's work on simulated interaction has been done in collaboration with Kesten Green (pdf) of Monash University in Australia. They define simulated interaction (SI) as:
the acting out of interactions among people or groups who have roles that are likely to lead to conflict. ... An unaided expert must try to think through several rounds of interaction in order to make a forecast. In contrast, SI can realistically simulate interactions. SI can be used to forecast the effect of different strategies. For interactions involving role conflict, research has shown that SI provides forecasts that are substantially more accurate than those from game theory and from expert opinions (Green, 2002).1 ["game theory" link supplied]
Simulated interaction involves four main steps:
  1. Describe the roles of the key people in the conflict.

  2. Describe the target situation.

    Include information about the parties to the conflict, their goals, relevant history, current positions and expectations, and the nature of their interaction. Make sure that the details in the description cover what is needed to understand and address the issue to be forecast. If the relevant options for decision-makers can be identified, provide a list of the options.

    Expect to spend considerable time crafting the situation description.

  3. Simulate the situation.

    Conduct as many as ten independent simulations, in parallel if feasible. Allow an hour for each simulation.

  4. Derive the forecast.

    Record the final decision made by the role-players in the simulation(s) and, in the case of multiple simulations, combine the decisions to arrive at the forecast. For example, if seven out of ten simulations end in a decision to accede to a hostile takeover, predict that the hostile takeover will succeed.
You can find an admirably streamlined self-certification course in simulated interaction, prepared by Armstrong, here (beta version in MSWord). Armstrong and Kesten provide an extensive complilation of information on conflict forecasting at http://www.conflictforecasting.com/.

1 Kesten C. Green, "Forecasting Decisions in Conflict Situations: A Comparison of Game Theory, Role-Playing, and Unaided Judgement,: International Journal of Forecasting, Vol. 18, pp. 321-344. "Expert opinions" are defined as "predictions of how others will behave in a particular situation, made by persons with knowledge the situation."


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Delphi Technique

You can get a quick introduction to the Delphi technique for forecasting in the September issue of the Harvard Business Review. Robert Duboff, CEO of HawkPartners, a marketing consulting firm, explains that the Delphi technique involves recruiting about 20 experts in the area you are assessing (e.g., the prospects for an investment that is under consideration) and asking them — by phone, email, or in person — to evaluate possible outcomes.

First, the experts are asked to identify the outcomes they consider possible, and then to rate the likelihood of each. Duboff suggests that this initial set of ratings be made in the absence of any comments from the experts explaining their predictions. Your choice concerning whether to solicit comments at this stage of the process depends on whether you think allowing comments will inhibit or enrich the generation and consideration of ideas.

The experts' ratings are tabulated and presented to them. After discussion, the experts rate the predicted outcomes again.

Additional rounds are conducted until a pre-determined stop point is reached. This can be consensus on the ratings, or it might be a maximum number of rounds if consensus does not emerge.

You can read a history of the Delphi technique in its Wikipedia entry, which also provides a helpful comparision to prediction markets, reproduced below in slightly edited form.

Advantages of prediction markets, relative to the Delphi technique, include:
  • They can motivate people to participate over a long period of time and to reveal their true beliefs.

  • They aggregate information automatically and instantly incorporate new information into the forecast.

  • Participants do not have to be selected and recruited by a facilitator; they themselves decide whether to participate.
Advantages of the Delphi technique include:
  • Delphi allows a broader range of problems to be formulated.

  • For many people, it is easier to reveal one's opinion in response to a questionnaire than to translate it into market prices.

  • It may be easier to maintain confidentiality with Delphi.

  • Delphi is not vulnerable to manipulation by participants.

  • The transparent exchange of knowledge in Delphi allows participants to learn from each other and to introduce new ideas into the discussion.

  • Only 5 to 20 experts are necessary for conducting a Delphi session.
You can find a wealth or information on the Delphi technique and other forecasting methods at http://www.forecastingprinciples.com, a site created by J. Scott Armstrong, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School. Prof. Armstrong has also created the Delphi Decision Aid, an easy-to-use tool for implementing the Delphi technique.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Upward Influence in the NAFTA Countries

One last piece of research on upward influence that caught my eye as I was surveying the work social psychologists have done in this area, is a 2000 paper by Carolyn Egri, David Ralston, Cheryl Murray, and Joel Nicholson.1

Using the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument, these researchers found that U.S., Canadian-Anglophone, Canadian-Francophone, and Mexican managers generally
have similar perspectives in terms of the relative acceptability of various influence strategies. However, examination of absolute ratings of influence behaviors suggests that Canadian-Francophones could serve as a cultural "linking-pin" along a continuum anchored by Anglo cultures at one end and the Latin-American culture of Mexico at the other.
Based on their own and previous research, the Anglo end of the continuum is said to be characterized by "a self-oriented, high-trust culture with democratic ideals," while the Latin-American end is said to be characterized by "an autocratic, group-oriented and low-trust culture."

The researchers were surprised to find significant differences between the U.S. and Canadian-Anglophone managers. The latter had more extreme scores than the former on three of four influence style dimensions — organizationally sanctioned behavior, nondestructive/legal behavior, and destructive/legal behavior. It was only on the destructive/illegal behavior dimension that the U.S. managers were more extreme — in rating the behaviors negatively — than the Canadian-Anglophones.2 The researchers took this result as a challenge to the notion that there is a universal Anglo cultural attitude toward upward influence strategies.

In making suggestions for future studies, the researchers point to a need "to better understand the control mechanisms that best regulate ... cross-cultural influence relationships." Based on previous research, they argue that
concerted efforts to develop a mutual organizational culture based on common values, beliefs, behavioral norms and practices would be advisable. The first step in this process could be a culture audit to determine facets of cultural convergence and divergence with potential partner organizations. The next step would be making explicit mutually acceptable managerial practices and codes of conduct. The importance attributed to kinship and friendship ties in Mexican culture (Gabrielidis et al., 19973) suggests that developing personal and social relationships would be an essential aspect of cross-cultural organizational relationships. In effect, the impetus would be to widen the radius of trust to encompass an organizational culture ingroup to counterbalance societal familialism.
I would add that training in support of initiatives aimed at cultural change, coupled with effective communication and modeling by top management, would also be essential.

1 Carolyn P. Egri, David A. Ralston, Cheryl S. Murray, and Joel D. Nicholson, "Managers in the NAFTA Countries: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Attitudes Toward Upward Influence Strategies," Journal of International Management, Vol. 6 (2000), pp. 149-171. Previous posts dealing with the research on upward influence done by social psychologists are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

2 "Organizationally sanctioned behavior is viewed as the 'organizational man' approach to upward influence because it prescribes behaviors that tend to be directly beneficial to the organization. ... Non-destructive/legal behaviors epitomize the 'me first' approach, in that these behaviors show self-interest being above the interests for others or the organization, but are behaviors that tend not to be harmful to the organization and may actually turn out to be beneficial to the organization. ... Destructive/legal behaviors can be categorized as the 'get-out-of-my-way-or-get-trampled' approach because, while these behaviors are basically legal, they often tend to directly hurt others or the organization. ... [D]estructive/illegal behaviors identify a 'burn, pillage, and plunder' approach to gaining influence because these behaviors, which are harmful to others, also tend to be illegal."

3 Cristina Gabrielidis, Walter G. Stephan, Oscar Ybarra, Virginia M. Dos Santos Pearson, and Lucila Villareal, "Preferred Styles of Conflict Resoulution: Mexico and the United States," Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol. 28 (1997), pp. 661-677.


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Sunday, August 26, 2007


For the 500th post, a favorite poem ...

            Christina Rossetti


Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
       Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
       From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
       A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
       You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
       Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
       They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
       Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
       Yea, beds for all who come.

                                   – Christina Rossetti



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Training to Improve Exercise of Upward Influence

Research published by David Ralston and colleagues in 2001 reinforces the idea mentioned in an earlier post that broadly defined cultural features of different countries cannot get us very far in understanding the reasons behind similarities and differences in strategies of upward influence employees choose to try in various situations.

Ralston et al. looked at Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, and the US. The primary goal of their study was to
identify culturally inherent differences in subordinates' choices of influence tactics, which in turn may contribute to our understanding of the relationships between superiors and subordinates from different cultures.
The tool used was the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument. Their findings, in brief:
  • In almost all cases there is agreement across the cultures on whether an upward influence tactic is viewed as a positive or negative type of behavior. However, there is divergence in the degree to which the various tactics are preferred across the six countries.

  • In the US and the Netherlands, there was consistent support for soft strategies (Good Soldier and Image Management) and a consistent rejection of hard strategies (Information Control and Strong-arm Coercion).1

  • German and Indian managers were more balanced in their moderate use of all tactics than were managers in the other four countries.

  • Hong Kong and Mexican managers were more open to using the negatively perceived hard strategies and did not perceive the soft strategies to be as productive as did managers in the other four countries.
A more theoretically oriented study Ralston published with Jane Terpstra-Tong in 2002 offers further thoughts on the factors that determine preferences concerning upward influence tactics. After a review of the literature, Ralston and Terpstra-Tong put forward a "Cross-Cultural Model of Upward Influence Selection" adapted from pioneering work of Lyman Porter, Robert Allen, and Harold Angle.2 The model postulates that a subordinate (the "agent") who has decided to try to influence a superior (the "target") will select a strategy based on five factors:
  • the target's characteristics, which are influcenced by the environment in which the target is operating. These characteristics include the target's power, his/her leadership style, and the cost involved in approaching the target.

  • the agent's own characteristics, which are influenced by the environment in which the agent is operating. These characteristics include the agent's personal and organizational goals, age, gender, need for power, need for achievement, propensity to take risks, etc.

  • the relationship that exists between the agent and the target, i.e., how much the target likes the agent, how much the target perceives similarity with the agent, how much the target and the agent trust each other, etc.

  • situational characteristics, including the organization's structure, the ambiguity of the situation, resource scarcity, and how big a personal stake the agent has in affecting the target's decision.

  • the agent's belief system, i.e., the agent's expected cost and benefit of the attempt at influence, and the perceived societal and organizational norms endorsing or discouraging various influence behaviors.
After the agent has made the attempt at upward influence, there are two feedback mechanisms — adjustment in the agent's:
  • willingness to undertake subsequent efforts at upward influence.

  • beliefs concerning what strategy best fits a particular constellation of the five factors listed above.
As indicated in several earlier posts, many businesspeople and trainers around the world have adopted practices and interventions that reflect an analysis implicitly, if not explicitly, akin to that embodied in the model outlined above. For example, trainers in multinational companies commonly teach employees to take their bosses' preferences into account in deciding how to present proposals, and teach managers to facilitate employee input in order to tap employees' knowledge and ideas.

In my view, the social psychologists whose research I've been reviewing would benefit by adding to their research agenda investigation of how subordinates and superiors respond to training directed at improving use of, and response to, upward influence strategies.

1 Good Soldier: Get ahead through hard work that benefits the organization. Image Management: Actively present oneself in a positive manner across the entire organization. Information Control: Control information that is restricted from others in order to benefit oneself. Strong-arm Coercion: Use illegal tactics, such as blackmail, to achieve personal goals.

2 Lyman W. Porter, Robert W. Allen, and Harold L. Angle, "The Politics of Upward Influence in Organizations," in L.L. Cummings and Barry M. Staw (eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 3 (Greenview CT: JAI Press, 1981), pp. 109-149.


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Friday, August 24, 2007

William Kamkwamba at the 2007 TED Conference

There is now video available of William Kamkwamba's conversation on-stage with TED Curator Chris Anderson at the TED conference held in June in Arusha, Tanzania. As explained in an earlier post, Kamkwamba is a young man who, at the age of 14, built a windmill to power lights and radios in his family's home in a village in Malawi.

(Note that an ad starts at 4:20)

William's mother Agnes, William, William's mentor Dr. Hartford Mchazime (deputy head of the Malawi Teacher Training Authority), William's father Tryell
Credit: TED Global

You can read William Kamkwamba's blog here.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

A New Style in Korea

Right on cue, the Wall Street Journal published an article this week describing how SK Telecom, South Korea's largest cellphone-service provider, has flattened its organization in an effort to stimulate the creativity and innovation the company needs for continued growth. This news fits well with the discussion in earlier posts of similarities and differences between Asian and non-Asian business practices — and of how the similarities seems to be increasing as globalization proceeds.

Reporter Evan Ramstad describes SK Telecom as a company where previously there were five staff ranks. It was
a rigid top-down structure where people with a lower title weren't allowed to question [a higher-ranked person's] decisions in meetings. In turn, if anyone above [a person in rank] asked him to do a job, or even just go out drinking after work, he couldn't say no.
As of this past October, the ranks are gone. Now everyone in those staff positions has a common title, the English "Manager" (see graphic below). Executive titles are unchanged, and managers in charge of projects or people are "Team Leaders" as well as Managers.

Source: Wall Street Journal 8/20/07

Kim Shin-bae, SK Telecom's CEO, explains that the company recognized a couple of years ago that they had to make changes:
To let new ideas bubble up, we needed a new business culture. It requires different incentive schemes, an organizational structure, a financial-resource-allocation process and a business-development process.
Ramstad makes clear that the change at SK Telecom is by no means a universal phenomenon in South Korea, though "Smaller companies, particularly in high tech, long ago embraced flat hierarchies and openness."

There have also been changes in compensation at SK Telecom. Base pay used to be based on rank, but now other performance measurements are taken into account. Bonuses for those working in new ventures are now calculated by looking at how the ventures fare over a three-year time frame, rather than a single year, which is generally too soon for a venture's potential to be realized.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Doing Business in Vietnam

Since Vietnam introduced its "renovation" (doi moi) liberalization policy in 1986, there has been a spottily documented increase in use of management styles and practices associated with market-oriented economic activity.

A street in Hanoi
Source: http://live.huymoller.com/

One study, focused on strategies of upward influence, was published last year by the prolific David Ralston and four colleagues.1 The authors explain that in their paper
We explore the ethical facets of within-company upward influence behavior. Our focus is Vietnam, where only minimal research has been conducted, with comparison data from China, France, and the U.S. — countries that have had both past and present relationships with Vietnam. Our hypotheses are developed within the contexts of the historical, business ideology [political, economic and technological orientation], and socio-cultureal relationships that Vietnam has shared with these countries. The findings indicate that Vietnam is largely unique unto itself regarding the perspective on upward influence ethics that is held by its professional workforce.
The authors' measurement tool is the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument described in earlier posts. Their most interesting finding is that the professional and managerial-level employees from Vietnam registered distinct differences from their counterparts in China, despite the centuries-long influence exerted by China on Vietnam, and the continuing similarities in the countries' socio-cultural and business ideologies.

Another finding of note was the similarity in perceptions of destructive upward influence behaviors on the part of the Vietnamese and US respondents, who gave significantly lower ethical ratings to these behaviors than did the Chinese and French respondents. (As the researchers expected, the US managers scored significantly higher than the Vietnamese both on the organizationally beneficial behaviors and on the self-indulgent behaviors.)

A final, key conclusion of this study is that "general knowledge of history, business ideology, and culture, while very important, is not sufficient to predict behavior."

An earlier study, by Truong Quang of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and Nguyen Tai Vuong of the Hanoi University of Technology, introduced in yesterday's post, looked at management styles and practices used by businesses in Hanoi.2 Specifically, the authors address three questions:
  • Which management styles typically prevail in Vietnamese companies?

  • Are there any differences in management style between state-owned enterprises, private companies, and joint ventures?

  • What is the relationship between the management styles and organizational effectiveness of these companies?
To answer these questions, Truong and Nguyen used seven of Khandwalla's ten management styles: bureaucratic, familial, conservative, participative, authoritarian, intuitive, and entrepreneurial. (The professional, organic, and altruistic styles were omitted as irrelevant for Vietnam's situation of evolving away from central planning toward a market economy.) The authors also used Culpan and Kucukemiroglu's taxonomy of management practices.

Truong and Nguyen find that:
  • There were statistically significant differences in management style among the three sectors, though none of the differences were large in practical terms.

    State-owned companies were most likely to use the bureaucratic style, but the familial style was almost as widely represented.

    In the private sector, the familial style was the most widely used.

    For joint ventures, the most widely used style was the participative, followed closely by the bureaucratic style. (Note that most of the Vietnamese partners of the surveyed joint ventures were state-owned enterprises.)

  • With respect to management practices, only supervisory style showed statistically significant differences among the three sectors. (I.e., there were no statistically significant differences for decision making, communication pattern, control mechanism, interdepartmental relations, and paternalistic orientation.)

    All three sectors showed the highest scores for "Leader pays attention to employees' interests" and "Close supervision." Conversely, the lowest scores for all three sectors were for "Delegation of authority to subordinates."

    The only notable difference in practical terms was between the state-owned enterprises and private enterprises on the one hand, and joint ventures on the other. The former showed higher scores than the latter on "Amount of direction given from the top." Conversely, the former showed lower scores than the latter on "Encouraging work teams."
Truong and Nguyen conclude by recommending that "a comprehensive change strategy, applicable for all enterprises in Vietnam, should be generated and led by a more dynamic and creative contingent of managers who are willing to facilitate active employee participation and to take personal responsibility." It remains to be seen how much scope for such changes the ongoing implementation of the doi moi policy allows.

1 David A. Ralston, Jane Terpstra-Tong, Isabelle Maignan, Nancy K. Napier, and Van Thang Nguyen, "Vietnam: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Upward Influence Ethics" (pdf), Journal of International Management, Vol. 12 (2006), pp. 85-105.

2 Truong Quang and Nguyen Tai Vuong, "Management Styles and Organisational Effectiveness in Vietnam," Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, Vol. 10, pp. 36-55.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Management Styles and Management Practices in Asia

A useful study of the prevalence of various management styles in Vietnam (more tomorrow) builds on previous work by Asian researchers concerning management styles and management practices.1 This work is of interest because it reflects first-hand familiarity with the cultural characteristics of businesses located in Asian countries.

In a 1995 paper, Pradip Khandwalla, former director of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, defines these ten management styles (slightly edited):2

  • Bias for preserving and extending whatever has worked.

  • Cautious in innovating and/or changing status quo.

  • Predisposes the organisation to related diversification and growth in familiar directions.

  • Uses traditions that preserve the strengths of the past.
  • Indulges in calculated risk taking, pioneering, innovation, and rapid growth.

  • Necessary for a developing country to diversfy its industrial base and expand its output rapidly.
  • Adapts scientific optimisation-oriented approach to management.

  • Uses sophisticated management tools and techniques.

  • Undertakes long-range planning.

  • Useful for managing new and complicated technology-intensive industries in complex, globalisation environments.
  • Emphasises orderly management, accountability, and formalisation of rules, regulations, and procedures.

  • Used widely in large organisations and the public sector to ensure accountability, equity, orderliness and operating efficiency.
  • Deep commitment to flexibility, innovation, responsiveness to change, teamwork, and interactive feedback-based decision making.

  • Useful for operating in fast-changing environments.
  • Emphasises discipline and obedience.

  • Perceived to be useful in situations of weak work ethic and a hostile task environment.
  • Committed to an ideology of collective, consensus-based decision-making.

  • Useful in ensuring that diverse perspectives are voiced and that information is shared by those affected by a decision before taking the decision.

  • Tends to foster motivation and cooperation.
  • Shows faith in experience, common sense, and intuitive judgment based on good rules of thumb or heuristics learned from experience.
  • Anchored in the notion that for cohesiveness and loyalty, the organisation must treat its employees like members of the family and look after their needs.
  • Believes in the philosophy that the organisation is an instrumentality of some larger social good, not just aiming for profit maximisation.

  • Of particular relevance in developing societies that have embarked on major nation-building and poverty alleviation goals.
Refik Culpan and Orsay Kucukemiroglu, management professors at Pennsylvania State University, define these six categories of management practices (slightly edited):3

Supervisory style — assessed in terms of:
  • Amount of discretion given to subordinates

  • Degree of delegation of authority to employees

  • Consistency in soliciting worker inputs

  • Freedom of employees to schedule their own work

  • Democratic supervision

  • Only supervisor handling work problems

  • Decisions and work problems delayed in supervisor’s absence

  • Supervisory back-up for his/her employees

  • Amount of direction given from top

  • Closeness of supervision
Decision making — assessed in terms of:
  • Consistency in soliciting worker inputs

  • Tackling unusual work problems

  • Trying innovative methods and products

  • Number of suggestions from employees

  • Wasting time and effort by incorrect estimates

  • Accepting unpopular projects

  • Initiating improvements

  • Decision delegation to the lowest level

  • Consensus decision making

  • Employee participation in decision making

  • Amount of supervisory direction

  • Individual decision making

  • Employee freedom to select their own course of action
Communication pattern — assessed in terms of:
  • Supervisory awareness of unit performance in meeting standards

  • Free flow of information

  • Supervisors’ awareness of things happening within unit

  • Complaints reaching top management

  • Employee unawareness of changes in policies and directives

  • Frequency of communications being blocked
Control mechanism — assessed in terms of:
  • Managers being on top of everything

  • Emphasising production as a goal

  • Freedom of workers to schedule their own work

  • Democratic supervision

  • Relying on the unit without checking

  • Follow-ups and checking on goal realisation

  • Closeness of supervision
Interdepartmental relations — assessed in terms of:
  • Providing assistance to other units for favours

  • Making trades and deals with other units

  • Bargaining with other units

  • Frictions with other units

  • Criticism by other units for being uncooperative

  • Getting into conflict with other units
Paternalistic orientation — assessed in terms of:
  • Involvment in family matters of employees

  • Helping employees with non-work-related matters
In reading through the above categorizations, one gets a good sense of what variables need to be considered in cross-cultural management research.

1 Truong Quang and Nguyen Tai Vuong, "Management Styles and Organisational Effectiveness in Vietnam," Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, Vol. 10, pp. 36-55.

2 Pradip N. Khandwalla, "Effective Management Styles: An Indian Study,"Journal of Euro-Asian Management Vol 1 (1995), pp. 173-184. An abstract of the working paper version is here.

3 Refik Culpan and Orsay Kucukemiroglu, "A Comparison of US and Japanese Management Styles and Unit Effectiveness," Management International Review, Vol. 33 (1993), pp. 27-42.


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Multi-Cultural Social Psychology Research

After spending considerable time reviewing the academic literature on upward influence (previous posts are here, here, and here), I can't help but be struck by several points, namely that this body of social psychology research has little impact on real-world management practice, its results have relatively short shelf-life because of the dynamism of global business, and, all the same, its measurement tools, such as the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) tool, can be quite useful both conceptually and practically.

The 1993 paper that introduced the SUI1 is illuminating for the details it provides concerning how David Ralston and David Gustafson developed this measurement tool. The results they obtained are also thought-provoking, even if probably largely out-of-date at this point.

I was particularly interested in what they learned about the upward influence strategies for which the US and Hong Kong managers they surveyed had significantly contrasting views concerning riskiness.

Hong Kong managers, on average, rated four upward influence behaviors significantly higher in riskiness than US managers:
  • Dress the way successful business people dress.

  • Volunteer for undesirable tasks to make him/herself appreciated by the superior.

  • Demonstrate the ability to get the job done.

  • Help subordinates to develop their skills so that the subordinates, in turn, will be in a position to help this individual attain his/her objectives.
Note that all of the above behaviors are organizationally beneficial.

There were eight strategies that US managers, on average, rated more risky than the Hong Kong managers did:
  • Offer sexual favours to a superior.

  • Try to develop contacts who might be able to provide detrimental information about one of his/her competitors for a promotion.

  • Spread rumours about someone or something that stands in the way of his/her advancement.

  • Blame another for his/her own mistake.

  • Withhold information to make someone else look bad.

  • Make another person look bad by supplying this other person with inaccurate information.

  • Threaten to give valuable company information to someone outside the organisation if his/her demands are not met.

  • Use detrimental information to blackmail a person who is in a position to help him/her get ahead in the organisation.
All of the above behaviors are at best self-indulgent and, in the case, of the last two, actually destructive.

For the remaining 18 behaviors on the original version of the SUI, there was, on average, no significant difference between the US and Hong Kong managers in perceived riskiness. These items were:
  • Do not make an enemy of the superior by bypassing the superior and going to someone at a higher level in the organisational chain of command.

  • Become well known within the organisation by volunteering for high profile projects.

  • Maintain good working relationships with other employees, even if he/she dislikes them.

  • Work overtime, if necessary, to get the job done.

  • Seek to build a relationship with a senior person who can serve as a mentor.

  • Ask to be given the responsibility for an important project.

  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of work assignments.

  • Identify and work for an influential superior who can help him/her gain promotion.

  • Threaten to leave the company if his/her demands are not met.

  • Use his/her technical expertise to make the superior dependent upon him/her.

  • Support the views of important people in the organisation, even when he/she does not agree with these views.

  • Behave in the same manner as his/her boss, for example, wear similar clothes.

  • Use his/her network of friends to discredit a person competing with him/her for a possible promotion.

  • Leave the company and take a job with a new company.

  • Attempt to act in a manner that he/she believes will result in others' admiration of him/her.

  • Make sure that the important people in the organisation hear of his/her accomplishments.

  • Learn the likes and dislikes of important people in the organisation in order to avoid offending these people.

  • Increase his/her credibility by obtaining an advanced degree, such as an MBA.
My own surmise is that this last list, the one containing items for which perceived riskiness is basically the same for the US and Hong Kong managers, is getting longer as time goes by. I'd also hypothesize that country-level assessments are less and less meaningful; I expect that most actionable information on cultural habits and constraints comes from assessments carried out at the organization level.

1 David A. Ralston, David J. Gustafson, Lisa Mainiero, and Denis Umstot, "Strategies of Upward Influence: A Cross-National Comparison of Hong Kong and American Managers" (pdf), Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, Vol 10 (1993), pp. 157-175.


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Laughter is the Best Medicine VIII

I have found it virtually impossible to find bona fide humor in the daily "Pepper ... and Salt" cartoon in the Wall Street Journal, so yesterday was something of a red letter day. I actually laughed. Herewith the August 18 offering:



Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some Research on Upward Influence Tactics

As noted in an earlier post, the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument was introduced in a 1993 article published by David A.Ralston, et al., in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Management.1 The research in question
compares American and Hong Kong Chinese strategies for advancing in organisations. Evaluated are the likelihood of using a particular strategy, the perceived risk associated with each strategy, and the ethical appropriateness of the strategy. ... For example, the Hong Kong Chinese were more likely to use informal information networks. The Americans were more likely to employ more individual strategies, such as image management, in order to differentiate themselves from the competition in their organisation.
This article has been frequently cited by other researchers. A recent example — dating from March 2007 — is an article by Pol Hermann and James Werbel of Iowa State University.2
Drawing on person–environment fit and national identity theory, the article proposes that person–national culture fit is likely to influence the promotability of host-country nationals in multinational firms. Focusing on fit with upward influence tactics, it suggests that the parent company's national culture influences managerial expectations of host-country nationals in foreign subsidiaries. It argues that host-country managers who demonstrate upward influence tactics that are culturally appropriate to the parent company's national culture will be more promotable than those who do not. Higher-level supervisors were asked to assess the promotability of two direct subordinates, who were independently surveyed about the upward influence tactics they used. The study contrasted ingratiation, exchange of benefits and coalition, and directness influence tactics of host-country nationals in domestic Ecuadorian firms with American and German multinationals in Ecuador. Compatible with our hypotheses, data from a sample of 79 firms suggest that exchange of benefits and coalition are more likely to be associated with promotability in German than in domestic Ecuadorian firms. In addition, upward-appeal assertiveness is more likely to be associated with promotability in American than in domestic Ecuadorian firms.
The results reported by Hermann and Werbel indicate that national culture plays a role in how superiors respond to various upward influence tactics, a connection that other researchers, including Ralston and colleagues in their 1993 article, have also found. However, the literature on upward influence indicates that culture is by no means the only important variable. For instance, Ralston et al., report in a 2005 article that the life stage of the subordinate is also significant in determining the choice of tactics.3 Clearly, it is essential to understand both the factors underlying subordinates' choice of tactics and superiors' receptivity to various tactics before an organization undertakes to train its employees and managers on how to build healthy working relationships.

1 David A Ralston, David J Gustafson, Lisa Mainiero and Denis Umstot, "Strategies of Upward Influence: A Cross-National Comparison of Hong Kong and American Managers," Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, Vol. 10 (1993), pp. 157-175.

2 Pol Herrmann and James Werbel, "Promotability of Host-Country Nationals: A Cross-Cultural Study," British Journal of Management (OnlineEarly Articles, March 16, 2007).

3 David A. Ralston, Philip Hallinger, Carolyn P. Egri, and Subhatra Naothinsuhk, "The Effects of Culture and Life Stage on Workplace Strategies of Upward Influence: A Comparison of Thailand and the United States" (pdf), Journal of World Business, Vol. 40 (2005), pp. 321-337.



Friday, August 17, 2007

"Antony & Cleopatra" at Shakespeare & Co.

This evening, friends and I went to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass. (the subject of an earlier post) to see Antony and Cleopatra.

Obverse: ANTONI. ARMENIA. DEVICTA, bare head of Antony right; Armenian tiara behind. Reverse: CLEOPATRA. [REGINAE. REGVM.] FILIORVM. REGVM., draped and diademed bust of Cleopatra right; prow before. Issued after the so-called "Alexandrian Donations."
Source: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~ekondrat/Octavian3.html
We were all underwhelmed by this particular production, but I'm glad to at least have been introduced to the play, which I had never seen before. After I came home, I brushed up on the story by reading the synopsis published by Charles and Mary Lamb in their Tales from Shakespeare:

Antony and Cleopatra

In Egypt there once reigned a beautiful and ambitious queen, named Cleopatra, of such rare charm and strange attraction that she seemed to cast a spell over all men that came into her presence; and Cleopatra used her beauty with a deep and artful cleverness to win whatever she desired — in a manner beyond explanation, almost magical.

Cleopatra had been placed upon the throne of Egypt by Julius Caesar, who won her kingdom from her brother Ptolemy — for Caesar had been stricken with instant and blinding affection for Cleopatra, who overpowered him with the amazing wonder of her beauty until he became bound hand and foot to do her service. But when Caesar was murdered, his control over the Roman dominions of which Egypt was part, was taken by three men who called themselves triumvirs, one of whom was Caesar's former friend, Mark Antony.

When the triumvirs divided the Roman territory, Egypt and the kingdoms of the east were given to Mark Antony, and Cleopatra determined to win his heart as she had won the heart of Caesar before him, until like Caesar, Antony should be fast fettered in her love to do her bidding. For Cleopatra intended through the love of Antony to become the mistress of the eastern kingdoms that he ruled, and she resolved to spare no pains to win this power for which purpose she must first become the mistress of Antony's affections.

So, when Antony came into the east, Cleopatra surrounded herself with a display of wealth unparalleled even in that day, when kings and queens spared no splendour in their adornment; and she sailed down the river Cydnus to meet him, in a barge wonderful with gold until it seemed to burn upon the water. The oars were all of silver and kept stroke to time of flutes that played in pleasing melody; the sails were of purple silk, perfumed until the very winds were love-sick with them and a strange and subtle scent was blown to the shore. On deck, in a pavilion of gold cloth, where were embroidered the loves of Venus, Cleopatra lay in great magnificence, waited on by boys like Cupids, while her handmaidens, who were her sailors, pulled at the silken ropes until the great sails swelled and flared like flame above her head.

That night Cleopatra invited Antony to a great banquet, where she won his heart as she had won the heart of Caesar before him; and Antony became her complete slave, forgetting all save his desire to serve and to be near this marvellous queen. Antony thought no more of his fellow triumvirs, to whom he owed the duty of safe keeping the great countries in his charge; he forgot his wife, Fulvia, or if thinking of her wished her dead, and spent his time revelling and feasting with Cleopatra. She, who saw that Antony was held in love of her, would laugh him in and out of patience; and once, while he was in his cups, she arrayed him for a jest in her mantles and head-dress, while she buckled to her waist his Roman sword. By her side the nights of Antony were made light with wine and revelry, but his days were spent in idle slumber and dull ease, ill fitting his great fame and his honour as a Roman general. For Antony, in his affection for Cleopatra, forgot his duties as a soldier and the care of the great countries that had been entrusted to him; and in his way of life, the ease in which he took his pleasure and the luxury that surrounded him, Antony became as womanly as the queen he loved.

The love-making of Antony and his utter subjection to the idlest whim of Cleopatra, were soon born to the ears of Octavius Caesar and Marcus Lepidus, his fellow triumvirs, who were greatly angered by his misconduct. For Antony's lieutenants were more powerful in deed than their commander, who would, moreover, insult the messengers from Rome and pay but little heed to their most urgent tidings. Antony preferred to reel the streets of Alexandria at noon, brawling and exchanging buffets with the idle rogues that he encountered, and he cared not that his feasting and luxurious ways were the shame of his friends at Rome and had become the common theme of gossip in the Roman market-place. Antony's wild revels and carousings were the more marked and brought more sharply into public disfavour by his former greatness, for until he met with Cleopatra, he had been a skillful and brave commander, capable of any hardship, disdaining not the rudest berry on the roughest hedge for food, prepared to couch himself on flint and sleep there as in a bed of down, with action and purposes all strong and resolute, as befitted a great soldier.

If any time could have awakened Antony from his revels, affairs in Italy should then have called him thither, for Rome was threatened with the swords of civil war, and Caesar and Lepidus were in sore need of the troops that Antony had with him in the east. The son of the great Pompey who had been Julius Caesar's enemy, now threatened the triumvirs as his father had threatened Caesar, and all discontented persons who hoped to repair their fortunes by a war, had flocked to Pompey's banner. Antony's wife, Fulvia, had raised an army against Caesar, hoping by this means to call her lord from Egypt; but Fulvia had been stricken with a grievous illness and suddenly in the midst of her preparations she had died.

Word of these ill tidings came together to the court of Cleopatra, and Antony determined that he must break his strong Egyptian fetters, as he named her charms, and hasten to Italy, where the times, he said, cried out to him to leave his idle love-making. So Antony bade Cleopatra to use no means to withhold him for he would go; and he took his farewell fearfully lest even then she might dissuade him. For Cleopatra cared not if his Roman fortunes were destroyed forever so long as he remained with her and had the power to do her bidding in the east. She feared that if Antony departed, her control over him would be lost, and she sought to change his purpose with all her skill and all her arts. She said that eternity had spoken from their lips and eyes; that love such as theirs could bide no separation. When she found him still resolved in spite of all her pleadings, she wished him smooth success and laurelled victory, and bade him, although in anger and sadness, to leave her. And Antony left in haste, flying like a fugitive from Egypt, lest the persuasion of Cleopatra weaken him and force him to forego his purpose.

When Antony arrived at Rome, he found that his long continued absence and the evil repute that preceded him had harmed him not a little in all Roman eyes, while Caesar was enraged to the point of taking up arms against him. Were it not for their common enemy, Pompey, Antony and Caesar then and there would have made war upon each other, but Pompey had gained control of all the sea and was proud in his new strength. Antony and Caesar, therefore, became reconciled, and to seal their revived friendship, Antony married Caesar's sister, Octavia, a matron of high and noble character, ill suited to become the wife of such a reveller as Antony. For even then Antony was planning to acquit himself against Pompey with the utmost speed and return to the gorgeous pleasures of the east and to the arms of Cleopatra.

In the meanwhile, Cleopatra was love-sick and restless at the absence of her beloved Antony. She told her maids that she would drink mandragora and sleep till his return; yet how then, said she, might she hear about this paragon of men, his bearing, his words, his actions, how he appeared and what he spoke; for the slightest thing when graced by his dear presence became, she said, a matter for an empire. Cleopatra sent to Antony each day a troop of messengers with letters for him, saying that she would unpeople Egypt before he should lack many daily greetings from her; and Antony sent to her a priceless pearl that he had kissed, with the message that her throne should be increased with conquered kingdoms, to mend what he was pleased to call the poorness of his present.

In such manner did Antony receive the renewed friendship and confidence of Caesar, who had been willing to strengthen the bonds between them by the hand of his own sister, whom he loved tenderly. For Antony had spoken to Caesar so like his former self, with such apparent readiness of purpose and so many promises of reformation, that Caesar had no thought of his future intentions, which he believed to be honourable. But the friends of both knew that Antony was still in Cleopatra's bondage, proposing to return to Egypt on his first opportunity; and they knew likewise that this would mean instant war between Caesar and Antony, whose new relationship by marriage would become a very sword between them.

When Cleopatra learned that Antony had wedded Octavia, she was angered so greatly that she endeavoured to slay with her own hand the messenger who brought the tidings; but when she learned how this Octavia appeared — the colour of her hair and eyes, what were her years and features, she knew that such a wife could never keep her Antony away from Egypt. She determined that when Antony returned, she would confuse his senses with the utmost luxury until he could nevermore escape, even should he desire to; and she believed that if war should come between Caesar and Antony, that with her aid Antony could overthrow his enemies and win a power even greater than before. Her days were spent in talking with her maidens of Antony's virtues, her nights in dreaming of Antony; and she fed her mind by night and day with love, as with delicious poison.

With Caesar and Lepidus, in the meanwhile, Antony had prepared to overthrow the force of Pompey and regain control over the Roman empire. But conflict was no longer necessary, for when Pompey knew that Antony had joined the others against him instead of remaining idly in Egypt, he made peace with the triumvirs, for he knew likewise that Antony was a better general than either Caesar or Lepidus, and he feared that against their triple strength his own power would be useless.

When peace was made, it was not long before Antony bade his wife Octavia farewell, saying falsely that he would go to the city of Athens, and he returned to Cleopatra to spend his time with her in feasts and revelry of such profuse extravagance that the like had never been beheld. Antony caused himself and Cleopatra to be publicly enthroned on chairs of gold, making her absolute queen of the dominions that had been entrusted to his care. Not only did he break all promises to Caesar and with his own hand sever all ties that bound him to his country, but he demanded money from the eastern kingdoms and prepared for war with Rome, showing in all his deeds how far he had been betrayed from his former self.

All this while Antony became more and more bound in his love to Cleopatra, and indeed it was nothing but his blind affection for her that had caused him to become a stranger to his honour and his patriotism. Love had overpowered all his senses. His skill as a commander, his soldierly pride and judgment forsook him. His thoughts, that should have been directed to the war that threatened him, hung on Cleopatra; and to all appearance he cared little that Caesar with a powerful force of soldiers had come into the east to conquer him, for he believed that with Cleopatra to aid him, Caesar would be driven back to Rome.

In spite of the entreaties of his lieutenants, Antony conceived the mad purpose of fighting Caesar by sea instead of by land; and this intent showed plainly that his former skill in war had been destroyed. For the Roman fleet was infinitely stronger than Antony's, with experienced seamen and captains, while the Egyptian vessels were manned for the most part by reapers or ploughmen, slaves who were unused to ships and soldiers, who while brave on land would lose their courage in the untried action of a fight at sea. Also Cleopatra determined to be present in her own galley at this conflict — an act unheard of in the customs of war and greatly disapproved by Antony's commanders, who feared, not without cause, that Antony might be distracted by her presence until his fleet should suffer as a consequence. But Antony, however, would hear no reasons to the contrary, and accompanied by Cleopatra prepared to meet Caesar in a naval engagement.

How far Antony's commanders had been justified in their fears was soon beheld, for in the terrible encounter with the Roman vessels, while the conflict was at height, before advantage had been given to either side, Cleopatra took fright at the confusion of battle, which was new and fearful to her, and she sailed away with all her vessels, leaving Antony to overcome his enemies as best he might without her further aid. When the ships of Cleopatra had departed, the Roman fleet soon began to prevail over the lessened number of their enemies, and it was plain to see that Caesar would be victorious.

But a calamity even more terrible than Cleopatra's flight had befallen the ill-fated ships of Antony, for Antony himself, when he saw the retreating sails of the Egyptians, showed the complete ruin that Cleopatra's magic had wrought within him, and to his eternal disgrace followed her out of the conflict, leaving his fleet without an admiral at the mercy of the Roman vessels. By this act Antony not only undid the fame that he had won in many battles, but lost forever his chance to defeat Caesar. For many kings that would have remained loyal to Antony in case of his success, now offered their allegiance to Caesar, while many of Antony's own officers and soldiers deserted in shame and anger to the Roman ranks.

In this way did the strength of Antony's blind love which was akin to madness work the complete ruin of his fortunes. But after flying from his enemies, Antony seemed to awaken as from a dream to a sense of his past conduct. In bitter shame he called his friends about him, bidding them to fly and save themselves, for by his own example, as he said in sorrow, he had taught them how to turn their shoulders to a foe; and he blamed himself so pitifully that all who heard him were compelled to weep and wonder at the ruins of his former self; Cleopatra herself wept and begged him to forgive her, saying she little thought he would have followed when she fled.

Antony bade Cleopatra, although with tenderness, to be ashamed for leaving him in such a manner. He said that she knew his sword had become weak through love of her alone and that he would follow where she led, even against the bidding of the gods. But when Cleopatra made as though she would weep again, Antony could blame her no longer and bade her kiss him, saying that such a kiss repaid him utterly for all that he had lost, and he called for food and wine with a sad attempt at cheerfulness, commanding his dismayed followers to be merry in spite of their ill fortunes.

To Caesar Antony sent a messenger who in his own person showed the pitiful state to which his lord had fallen, for while Antony could once have ordered kings to do his bidding, this messenger was no other than a poor schoolmaster, who begged of Caesar that Antony should be allowed to live in Egypt, or if not, that he might retire to Athens and remain there, a private citizen.

Cleopatra also sued for favours from Caesar, and she worded her message in most gracious terms, acknowledging his greatness. She said that she craved of him her kingdom for her heirs, for that in Caesar's voice she heard the doom of Egypt; and she framed this message in such manner that Caesar believed she was prepared to forsake Antony. Caesar was partly right in this surmise, for Cleopatra would indeed have been both ready and willing to keep her power through his love could she have won it, even as she had ruled through Antony's affection. And while she was not yet prepared to forsake Antony, she smoothed her way with Caesar with her utmost skill, and it was plain to see that when he finally should triumph, she would turn to him for favour.

Caesar replied that for Antony's request he had no ears. If Cleopatra would renounce her disgraced friend and slay him, or at least drive him from Egypt, he would consider what she asked him. Caesar also sent an officer named Thyreus to Cleopatra in the endeavour to win her away from Antony, and with smooth words Thyreus tempted her until she sent by him another gracious message to Caesar.

It chanced, however, that when Thyreus prepared to leave her he begged her hand to kiss, and Cleopatra gave it to him, saying that it was a hand that Julius Caesar and the great Pompey had often stooped to honour. But while Thyreus bent over her hand, Antony came before them, and beholding Caesar's messenger in such favour he partly realized Cleopatra's faithlessness. Antony cried out in grief and anger, demanding of Cleopatra how she dared to stoop so low as to bestow upon a servant, his own playfellow, her hand — that kingly seal and plighter of high hearts. He commanded his attendants to bear Thyreus from his presence and whip him until he cried aloud for mercy; and turning to Cleopatra, Antony gazed on her in a terrible manner and asked if he had sacrificed his fame in Rome, forsaken all his fortunes and forborne the getting of a lawful race by a gem of women to be made at last the rival of a slave in the pay of Caesar. When the attendants returned with Thyreus, Antony said to him that the next time a lady's hand should fever him, he would do well to shake with fear in looking on it; and he bade Thyreus return with his stripes to Caesar, and bear him word of his entertainment.

Cleopatra, however, with words of affection contrived to soothe the angered heart of Antony — an easy task, when Antony did so desire to believe in her true love. For as a flame will flicker into life before it dies, men in evil fortune entertain wild hopes that never can come true, and Antony now was ready both to believe Cleopatra and to think that he could conquer the army arrayed against him. He prepared for a final encounter with Caesar and called his disheartened followers about him to spend one more night together in revelry and drown their fears in drinking to the battle that was imminent.

That night, while Antony and his lieutenants were carousing, a sign of his approaching ruin was given to the soldiers of his guard without the palace. For a noise as of music filled the air, and muffled drums and hautboys sounded underneath the earth. The sounds grew dim in distance until they faded into silence, and the soldiers said in fear that they were caused by the great god Hercules whom Antony had loved, and they signified, said the soldiers, that Hercules was leaving Antony to his fate. When the soldiers approached others who were on guard in different places about the palace it seemed that all had heard the unearthly music, and everywhere it had waned and died away as though played by someone taking leave of them.

The fighting that followed between Antony and Caesar was brief and final; for while Antony at first seemed to conquer, Caesar soon prevailed. And now a further proof was given to Antony of Cleopatra's hollowness, for again her Egyptian vessels that were to aid him in his battle which was partly fought by sea gave way speedily, surrendering to Caesar; and the sailors of both fleets shouted in joy, more like friends that met after a time of separation than enemies that had contended against each other.

Antony was resolved bitterly to upbraid Cleopatra who had a second time been false to him, and when he saw her she had become so hateful to his eyes that he warned her away quickly lest he should blemish Caesar's triumph by slaying her. He called her the greatest spot of all her sex, most terrible and monster-like to have betrayed him; and his rage increasing almost to madness, he could no longer withhold his vengeance but resolved to follow her and slay her.

Cleopatra, in the utmost terror at his anger, fled with her women into one of the great monuments of stone that were near her palace, and there she barred herself so that Antony might not follow her. She sent to Antony a slave who was to tell him that his anger had made her do the deed that he intended, for that she had taken her own life; and she bade the slave to word his message piteously, thinking that when Antony should hear this false report, his anger would give way to instant grief, and then learning the truth, he would do nothing but rejoice that she was still alive.

Cleopatra's deception, however, had an effect far different from what she had believed, and with most fatal consequence to Antony; for when he learned of her death, although he himself had purposed to effect it, he could no longer bear to live but stabbed himself with his own sword; and learning before he died that Cleopatra still was living, he was carried, mortally hurt, to the monument where she had taken refuge. For the tidings of her death had completely reawakened his great love.

There Antony was lifted to Cleopatra's side, and lay dying with her arms about him; and as he died, he bade her with his last breath to seek her safety from Caesar. And Antony begged her never to remember him as he was then — crushed, despised and at the point of death, but to think of him as he had been in former days when he first loved her,— strong to give her what she wished and powerful in pride with all the eastern world at his command. Then the tormented heart of Antony could bear no more and in the midst of his words he became silent; even his love could no longer withhold the death that was swiftly coming upon him, and he died.

Cleopatra did not long survive Antony, for when she knew that Caesar was resolved to bear her as a captive to Rome and lead her through the open streets in his triumph, she also determined to end her life; and she caused a slave to bring her in secret a snake that was called the asp, whose sting is almost instantly fatal to its victims, causing them to die as though they fall into a sudden slumber with no pain. Cleopatra laid one of these snakes upon her breast, keeping it there until she seemed to fall asleep; and her handmaidens did likewise; and when the guard came upon them, only one of her attendants remained alive, who breathed out faintly that such a death was well and fitting for a princess like her mistress, who was descended from so long a line of royal kings.

There remained nothing for Caesar but to perform the funeral rites of Cleopatra and of his former friend and confederate, Antony, and Caesar laid them together in one tomb so that Antony might sleep forever in the presence of the queen whom he had loved so well.

Source: Google Book Search.



Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taxonomies of Job Tactics and Ethical Values for Influencing Up

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I've listed below the seven categories of "Job Tactics" into which Ralston and colleagues group the 38 upward influence tactics in their Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument:1

Good Soldier — Getting ahead through hard work that benefits the organization.

Rational Persuasion — Demonstrating with facts and skills-related accomplishments that one should be given consideration.

Ingratiation — Using subtle, indirect tactics to make oneself appear interpersonally attractive to someone at the superior level.

Image Management — Actively presenting oneself in a positive manner across the entire organization.

Personal Networking — Developing and utilizing an informal organizational social structure for one's own benefit.

Information Control — Controlling information that is restricted from others in order to benefit oneself.

Strong-Arm Coercion — Using illegal tactics, such as blackmail, to achieve personal goals.

In developing the SUI, Ralston and colleagues also identified a taxonomy, consisting of four hierarchical dimensions of "Western values," that would serve as "a baseline for comparing acceptable and unacceptable behavior using an American perspective." The four values dimensions are:

Organizationally Sanctioned Behaviors — Behaviors, such as working hard, that are usually prescribed and sanctioned for employees in organizations.

Non-Destructive, Legal Behaviors — Behaviors that do not directly hurt another person, but that are self-serving for the individual within the organization.

Destructive, Legal Behaviors — Self-serving behaviors, such as spreading rumors, that directly hurt others but are not extreme enough to be illegal.

Destructive, Illegal Behaviors — Extreme self-serving behaviors that directly hurt other and are illegal, such as stealing business documents.

Note that these four values dimensions are the source of the three dimensions used by Ralston and colleagues in their 2005 study, cited in an earlier post.3

It is also important to note that the SUI is not the only instrument used in research on how people attempt to exert upward influence. You can read about other instruments in the literature review included in an article Jane Terpstra-Tong and David Ralston published in 2002.2

1 David A. Ralston, Robert A. Giacalone, and Robert H. Terpstra, "Ethical Perceptions of Organizational Politics: A Comparative Evaluation of American and Hong Kong Managers" (pdf), Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 13 (1994), pp. 989-999.

2 Jane Terpstra-Tong and David A. Ralston, "Moving Toward a Global Understanding of Upward Influence Strategies: An Asian Perspective with Directions for Cross-Cultural Research" (pdf), Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, Vol. 19 (2002), pp. 373-404.

3 David A. Ralston, Philip Hallinger, Carolyn P. Egri, and Subhatra Naothinsuhk, "The Effects of Culture and Life Stage on Workplace strategies of Upward Influence: A Comparison of Thailand and the United States" (pdf), Journal of World Business, Vol. 40 (2005), pp. 321-337.



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Assessing Strategies of Upward Influence

I've been looking into research on how people in business try to influence those above them in their organization. A measurement tool frequently used, especially for multicultural studies, is the Strategies of Upward Influence (SUI) instrument.

The SUI, developed by David Ralston and David Gustafson,1 has 38 items (pdf), representing types of behavior in which a subordinate might engage in an effort to influence a senior person.

As categorized in a 2005 study by Ralston, et al.,2 eleven of the items are organizationally beneficial behaviors:

3. Volunteer for undesirable tasks to make themselves appreciated by the superior.

8. Become well known within the organization by volunteering for high profile projects.

16. Demonstrate the ability to get the job done.

20. Help subordinates to develop their skills so that the subordinates, in turn, will be in a position to help them attain their objectives.

23. Dress the way successful business people dress.

28. Develop an in-depth knowledge of the work assignments.

30. Ask to be given the responsibility for an important project.

32. Not bypass the superior and go to someone at a higher level in the organizational chain of command for fear of alienating the superior.

34. Maintain good working relationships with other employees, even if they dislike these other employees.

35. Seek to build a relationship with a senior person who could serve as a mentor.

37. Work overtime, if necessary, to get the job done.

Sixteen of the items are self-indulgent (self-serving) behaviors:

2. Spread rumors about someone or something that stands in the way of their advancement.

5. Try to influence the boss to make a bad decision, if that decision would help them to get ahead.

9. Support the views of important people in the organization, even when they do not agree with these views.

10. Use their network of friends to discredit a person competing with them for a possible promotion.

11. Withhold information to make someone else look bad.

12. Identify and work for an influential superior who could help them get an advancement.

13. Attempt to act in a manner that they believe will result in others admiring them.

14. Take credit for a good job that was done by their subordinates.

15. Use their technical expertise to make the superior dependent upon them.

17. Threaten to quit the company if their demands are not met.

21. Offer sexual favors to a superior.

22. Blame another for their own mistakes.

26. Put false information on a job resume to make themselves look better than they really are.

29. Try to develop contacts who might be able to provide detrimental information about one of their competitors for a promotion.

31. Make sure that the important people in the organization hear of their accomplishments.

38. Quit the company to take a better job with a new company.

Eight of the items are destructive behaviors (behaviors, some illegal, that are extremely self-serving, directly hurting others and, perhaps, hurting the organization):

4. Hire a criminal to seriously injure a competitor for a promotion.

7. Use detrimental information to blackmail a person who is in a position to help them get ahead in the organization.

18. Put a listening device, such as a tape recorder, in the office of a competitor for a promotion to get information about this person.

19. Threaten to give valuable company information to someone outside the organization if their demands are not met.

24. Try to create a situation where a competitor for a promotion might be caught using illegal drugs or engaging in some other illegal activity.

25. Try to get the answers to a job promotion examination to insure that they would score higher than the others taking the exam.

33. Steal secret corporate documents and give them to another company in return for a better job at the other company.

36. Make anonymous, threatening phone calls to psychologically stress a competitor for a promotion.

Three of the items are behaviors that do not fit cleanly into any of the other three groupings:

1. Try to increase their credibility by obtaining a diploma or advanced degree, such as an MBA.

6. Learn the likes and dislikes of important people in the organization in order to avoid offending these people.

27. Behave in a manner that is seen as appropriate in the company.

Typically, researchers survey individuals about how acceptable they believe it is for co-workers to engage in each of the 38 behaviors. (The assessment is made in terms of co-workers, since asking individuals what they consider acceptable behavior for themselves is apt to elicit responses that are too shaded to be useful.) The researchers then use the responses to test hypotheses concerning what might determine differences from one person to the next in assessment of the various behaviors. I'll report on some of this research in upcoming posts.

1 David A. Ralston, David J. Gustafson, Lisa Mainiero, and Denis Umstot, "Strategies of Upward Influence: A Cross-National Comparison of Hong Kong and American Managers" (pdf), Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, Vol 10, No. 2 (1993), pp. 157-175.

2 David A. Ralston, Philip Hallinger, Carolyn P. Egri, and Subhatra Naothinsuhk, "The Effects of Culture and Life Stage on Workplace strategies of Upeward Influence: A Comparison of Thailand and the United States" (pdf), Journal of World Business, Vol. 40 (2005), pp. 321-337.



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On-the-Job Savoir-Faire

Kelly Pate Dwyer, writing for bnet.com, has compiled a well-crafted list of approaches (reg req) you can use to win credit for your accomplishments on-the-job and to elicit cooperation from colleagues. The list isn't surprising, but it is a model of wise selection of principles to keep in the front of your mind.

In brief:

Claim credit in "We" mode — If you share credit as you spread the word about something you've accomplished, you'll likely come across more gracefully than if you toot your horn making overly free use of "I".

The Huddle — Invite a coworker to coffee or lunch. If you're going to use the occasion to ask for a favor, or for feedback on an idea, explain that in advance; you don't want the other person to think you're the type who operates with a hidden agenda. Start the conversation by talking a bit about the other person's interests and sharing something of your own life outside work. "Casual conversation establishes the rapport you need to speak openly about a work problem or an idea you have. You can also tactfully promote yourself by relaying recent accomplishments in the context of what you’re working on."

The Critical Inch — "Dive in and spend most of your time and energy on the company’s most important problem or initiative. If you succeed, the 15 smaller issues you’re charged with resolving become a lot less important to the CEO. Show you’re someone with vision and someone who takes action." But be careful: "Before you do it, you must be confident your effort will make a significant difference for the company. Otherwise, you’ll be that person with the monumental flop who also fell short on a long list of responsibilities."

The Power Reverse — Use the time-honored technique of reverse psychology to defuse resistance to an idea you're promoting. For example, suppose "your company’s other offices have installed new software that reduces customer response time. The team in your office is resisting it. Instead of pushing harder, ... say, ‘This software has worked for five offices, but it might not be right for everybody. Maybe this group isn’t ready for it.’ People think, ‘Why isn’t it right for me?’” and are apt to decide they'd like to adopt the idea after all.

The Option — "If you’ve got teammates who get defensive when told what to do, give them a choice about how to approach a task or which task to do first. This requires them to think it through, it acknowledges their capabilities, and it gives them a sense of control." But be careful: "Some people want to be told what to do. Watch how people work: Do they like to make decisions, and do they make good ones?"

The Silent Strategy — Let colleagues play devil's advocate in response to an idea you present. "Say enough to show you’re receptive ('I see your point,' ...) but don’t argue." Instead, as suggested by a consultant Dwyer quotes, "stay quiet, a lot of times the group or the individual will come up with reasons they should help you.” But be careful: If your audience doesn't come around on their own, redirect the flow of the conversation by asking "an open-ended question like, 'That’s great input. So how can we integrate these suggestions into the proposal?'"

The Chance Meeting — Take advantage of chance encounters with people on whom you want to make a good impression. As suggested by a COO with whom Dwyer spoke, "Say an influential leader asks to share your taxi at a conference. Introduce yourself and explain what your job is, who you work for ... Mention a point from the conference you found valuable." Do this briefly, and then let the other person pick up the conversation. Ask him/her questions so that your chance companion ends up with more airtime than you. Be genuine.


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Monday, August 13, 2007

A Company in the Adhocracy Quadrant

George Lopez is CEO of ICU Medical, Inc., a company he founded in 1984 that seems to be a good example of an "Adhocracy," as defined in the competing values model of organizational culture outlined in my post from two days ago.

As reported by Erin White in today's Wall Street Journal, Lopez has made a point of promoting flexibility and external orientation at his company, the two characteristics of an adhocracy, i.e., an organization that particularly values creativity and risk-taking.

White explains,
At the San Clemente, Calif., maker of medical devices, any worker [out of total employment of about 1,480] can form a team to tackle any project. Team members set meetings, assign tasks and create deadlines themselves. Chief Executive George Lopez says he's never vetoed a team decision, even when he disagreed with it. These teams have altered production processes and set up a 401(k) plan, among other changes.
What is particularly interesting to me is how well ICU Medical illustrates an important aspect of the competing values model, namely that there is no preordained advantage to creating a pure (= extreme) culture at your organization. While Lopez allows employee teams considerable leeway in managing their activities, there are definite ground rules, including:
  • Challenge the issue, not the person.

  • Consider all options.

  • Stand up for your position, but never argue against the facts.

  • Allow yourself the opportunity to seriously consider opposing views.

  • Lose the words "I" and "they" once a decision is reached.
Codifying rules for teams (there is now a 25-page handbook) was part of a change process that moved ICU Medical from an initial free-form approach to teamwork that was a performance flop, to the current approach, in which the company is now a bit closer to the stability end of the flexibility/stability continuum. This seems to be a reflection of George Lopez's competitive personality and of the competitive environment in which the company operates.

The culture ICU Medical has built, including use of employee-initiated and -run project teams, is paying off in terms of such indicators as manufacturing innovation and sales revenue.



Sunday, August 12, 2007

Scorsese on Antonioni

Since Martin Scorsese is one of my heroes, I was more than pleased to see that he has written a memorial in honor of Michelangelo Antonioni, another of my heroes.

Scorsese begins by recalling his reaction to Antonioni's L'Avventura when he saw it in 1961 (the year after its release):

Where did I see it? Was it at the Art Theater on Eighth Street? Or was it the Beekman? I don’t remember, but I do remember the charge that ran through me the first time I heard that opening musical theme — ominous, staccato, plucked out on strings, so simple, so stark, like the horns that announce the next tercio during a bullfight. And then, the movie. A Mediterranean cruise, bright sunshine, in black and white widescreen images unlike anything I’d ever seen — so precisely composed, accentuating and expressing ... what? A very strange type of discomfort. The characters were rich, beautiful in one way but, you might say, spiritually ugly. Who were they to me? Who would I be to them?

Throughout his memorial, Scorsese emphasizes Antonioni's aesthetic decision to leave his films' stories "unresolved in any conventional sense." You can read the rest of the piece here (New York Times, August 12, 2007).


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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument

The subject of organizational culture is obviously a large one, but it's also of such importance that it's essential to take the time to develop a practical understanding of its dimensions and its impact on organizational performance.

A good starting point is the competing values model developed by Kim Cameron and Robert E. Quinn, professors of management and organizations at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Cameron and Quinn posit two principal values continuums along which an organization's culture can vary, as shown in the graphic below.

Conflicting Values Model
of Organizational Culture
The two values continuums interact to produce four general types of organizational culture:
  • Hierarchy culture[internal/stability] traditional command-and-control model, best suited to achieving efficiency in a stable, uncomplicated environment.

  • Market culture[external/stability] aims for period-by-period profits, highly competitive.

  • Clan culture[internal/flexibility] emphasis on good working relationships and harmonious work environment.

  • Adhocracy culture — [external/flexibility] emphasis on creativity and risk-taking.
Cameron and Kim provide a validated tool for assessing organizational culture — both the current culture and the desired culture. This tool, the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), defines culture in terms of six dimensions:
  1. Dominant Characteristics

  2. Organizational Leadership

  3. Management of Employees

  4. Organizational Glue

  5. Strategic Emphasis

  6. Criteria for Success
As you can see by looking at the OCAI here (MSWord), each dimension is provided with four descriptors, one for each of the cultural types listed above.

Cameron and Quinn present their competing values model in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework, originally published in 1999 and now available in a 2005 revised edition.