Comparative Study of Teamwork at Toyota Manufacturing Company and Microsoft Company

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1. Introduction

Modern and prudent organizations realize that the best way to achieving business goals, effectively and efficiently, is to organize work in definable units by pulling together various talents and skills. In fact, Ian Brook (2003) confirms that no one can be the best at everything, however when all of us combine our talents, we can be the best at virtually everything. Palmer, A. (2004) adds that such benefits, like improved customer service, increased staff motivation, low turnover, low absenteeism, improved and increased quality of output cannot be gained if organizations stick to traditional ways of production and management. A team, therefore, has been proved to be an ideal way of managing work process.

2. Purpose

This paper aims at examining team working in TMC and MSC by comparing them on the basis of the types of teams they use, why they use teams, degree of autonomy of their teams, how spread is the use of teams in these organizations; and possible indications of their teams successes.

3. Definition
The concept of teamwork allows multiple interpretations. Creif, M (1991) claims that in some instances, teamwork pertains to groups whose daily activities are extremely autonomous. Others suggest teamwork as weekly meetings to keep abreast of current events and problems. However, Mullins, L.J.(2006) claims that teams occur when a number of people have a common goal and recognize that their personal success is dependent on the success of others. Teamwork, therefore, can be defined as a process of having organization work done by small groups of employees while keeping the organization overall goal at heart.

4. Historical Background of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Microsoft Company (MSC)

TMC, one of the largest car manufacturers, was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 in Japan and started manufacturing cars in 1947 (Hayami, Y. 1998). MSC, a software developer, was founded by Bill Gates in 1975 in America. Both companies, currently, control large market shares in their respective industries. Kim, L (1997) claims that it is impossible to understand the company's present situation without some knowledge of tumultuous history. Therefore, history of TMC and MSC should enhance our understanding of the differences that are uncovered in due course.

5. Analysis of Team Work Systems at TMC and MSC.

a)Overall Management Style.

TMC management practices and instills, on its members, a sense of immediate -problem –solving culture (Chalice, R 2005). Management encourages fast problem solving, develops workers with multiple skills to enhance quick problem solving and workers who are flexible to learning and doing multiple jobs (Reif, M. 1991). At TMC workers are encouraged to work in units that assist each other all the time in a family – culture fashion. TMC declares that it strives to achieve an organization in which all employees can develop to their full potential (Belbin, R.M. 2000). The management structure at TMC, therefore, seems to be very bureaucratic. Contrary, the Japanese culture is of respect to authority. Culturally, Japanese respect their authorities and this is also reflected in the "Toyota Way" teamwork system (Buchanan, D and Huezynski, A. 2004).

Contrary, the American Society practices an open culture with not rigid respect to authority (Richard A. 1994). However, MSC has a hierarchical structure and practices quintessential heroic program culture (Yourdo, E. 1996). The company maintains almost 11 management layers from a developer to the top executive as claimed by Philip Su (Microsoft Blogger Blames Culture for Vista Delay, 2006). Expectedly, this is a structure that expects total respect to authority and Su referred to MSC's corporate culture as of belittlement and aggression. He further revealed that there is no room for dissenting views and developers...
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