I used Michael Porter’s Five Factors framework analysis to evaluate what the case of Research in Motion: Managing Explosive Growth HBR is primary about and determine the issues facing its key product BlackBerry, and its complete organization, from a Human Resource Development perspective. I determined that the case is primary about business strategy and globalization and further application of the theory directs my attention to the key concerns within the strategic category, and shows that RIM is faced with four crucial tasks: 1) It must identify BlackBerry’s distinctive competencies, or things it does better than the competition. 2) It must decide on what basis BlackBerry plans to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage in its industry; 3) The overall organization must set long-term objectives and decide what actions should be taken to achieve them; 4) And finally, RIM must determine the connections between its financial strategy and its HR policies.
The External Environment Plays a Role
The Five Factors defines the “external environment” as social, political, legal and economic pressures that affect organizations. Baron, J., & Kreps, D. (1999) It points out that it is difficult to evaluate how each individual category influences an organization because boundaries tend to intersect. But irrespective of how they are studied, either individually or as a single unit, these pressures profoundly impact organizations, as is seen in the case of RIM. I looked first at the category of social pressure and identified three crucial topics impacting BlackBerry. The topics are social trends, social media and, what I define as “A New Worldview.” Next I looked at the economic pressure. I surmise that the economic pressure that affected Blackberry was a direct result of the dynamic and overlapping forces of the three social trends identified above and I will show you why. Social Trends. RIM was negatively affected by rapidly changing social trends. At its inception, BlackBerry’s client base consisted of the upper class, and it was a sign of privilege within this demographic to own a BlackBerry or use a corporate issued one. Affluent stay-at-home moms who lived on Chicago’s tony North Shore, for example, sported their BlackBerrys at the local Starbucks or their children’s soccer games. It was an anomaly to see a BlackBerry in the hands of an average Joe.” I observed store clerks and coffee bar workers looking on with wonder and amazement as their customers flaunted the newest, unattainable status symbol. White collar professionals saw their BlackBerrys as recognition of their power and influence within the firm. At companies such as Morgan Stanley & Co. only top Directors and Analysts were deemed worthy of a company BlackBerry, while lesser-ranked employees looked on enviously. A BlackBerry was a metaphor for indispensability; your colleagues and clients needed dependable, uninterrupted access to you at all times. If you were not given one, it was simply because you were not “important enough!” But when these social trends began to change so did the success of RIM’s top product. BlackBerry was no longer the “it” item. Social Media. As social media expanded, software applications became the newest innovation and therefore the must-have status symbol. They were available through cell phones and therefore more accessible and less expensive than a BlackBerry. It was customary to see users comparing their phone applications, and one upping each other based on what their phones could do. Many people admitted to not needing, or ever using some of the applications, but they still boasted about owning them. BlackBerry could not offer these new applications, and consumer interest in it declined – very rapidly. A New Worldview. At the same time the new smartphone application and social media trend were at their pinnacle, I think it is safe to say, Steve Jobs and Apple were changing the world - literally. According to...
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