Apple vs. Microsoft

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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the leadership, structure, and culture of two of the most influential and newsworthy companies in the technology sector: Microsoft and Apple. We will examine how the differences in the three aspects make companies different, and how leadership, culture, and structure influence each other in determining how the company operates and performs. Microsoft is the world’s leading supplier of computer software, specifically focusing on development, manufacturing, licensing, and support. The company operates in three primary divisions: Platforms and Services, Microsoft Business, and Entertainment and Devices (Yahoo! Finance). Microsoft has been extremely successful by staying continuously innovative in its products and services. Microsoft’s chief competitors are in the Systems Software industry, including companies such as Apple, Oracle, and IBM. Microsoft’s mission is to help people and businesses realize their full potential ( Microsoft’s leadership is heavily tied to the leadership of its founder, Bill Gates. Although Microsoft named Steve Ballmer CEO in 2000, it has undoubtedly been Gates’ vision that truly has been guiding the company. Gates has been known to be extremely controlling, with an extreme concentration on detail. Initially, Gates led by working with and supervising small research groups, controlling most aspects of the process. More recently, the company has been making changes in its leadership style in order to foster creativity, and transition Gates out of the company by 2008 so that Ballmer can assume full control over day-to-day operations. More responsibility has been placed upon managers, and attempts are being made to motivate employees within the company to be creative and innovative in their work, highlighting the nature of transformational leadership. Some aspects of control and attention to detail are still present within the company, leading us to believe that the process of communication is very formal and regimented, with a clear-cut chain of command. In Microsoft’s old system, Gates and Ballmer used legitimate power to influence the employees because of their position within the company. They have transitioned to expert power by having department managers who are specialized and experts in their respective areas. Based on limited information, our group believes that Microsoft can fit under a number of different categories for “accepted politics.” Their past actions in trying to acquire competitors and deceitfully acquire Apple’s strategy highlight political categories such as a “embrace-or-demolish” and “backstabbing.” Backstabbing is where the company or individual pretends to be sincere, while planning someone’s demise, as Gates did when working with Jobs in order to gain valuable information on their products. Embrace-or-demolish is a strategy where rivals are removed from the competition. Our group believes that Microsoft “walks the talk” by implementing programs designed to address their mission statement through helping customers reach their full potential. We also believe that the preaching of creativity and perfection is genuine due to the fact that Gates has been a role model of both creativity and perfection throughout his career in developing the company. Microsoft was initially very centralized, with most major decisions going through Bill Gates. Ballmer’s new structure of the company is less centralized, but still very mechanistic. This structure is derived from the military’s theory of divide and control, with eight customer-oriented divisions. The new divisions help the company increase the focus on customers and software services in order to meet the company’s mission (AcademicDB). Each division has a top manager who is supposed to exercise delegated, autonomous power over his domain (Thinking Managers). The eight divisions are to follow the rules and regulations provided to cover all of the transactions likely to take...
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