Employee Motivation Case

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The University of Birmingham

The Birmingham Business School

An investigation into whether organisational culture is directly linked to motivation and performance through looking at Google Inc.

David Towers

Supervised by Suzana Rodrigues

Word count: 7359

Extended Essay 2005-2006
(07 14747 & 07 14748)

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This article examines the relationship that exists between organisational culture and performance, and how these factors influence employee motivation. The issues are discussed at length, firstly through a review of the current literature relating to the topic, and secondly by means of investigating the organisational culture of Google.

Through examining the work of Denison (1990) and Truskie (1999) it is shown that some authors believe certain cultural aspects are important for organisational cultures to be successful. The frameworks of Martin (1992) and Goffee and Jones (1996) show that strong cultures exist where employees’ values are aligned to the values of the organisation. Though looking at the empirical evidence of Kotter and Heskett (1992), it is shown that there is indeed a link between strong organisational cultures and performance, but only strategically appropriate cultures are successful. Finally, it is suggested that there has been a trivialisation of organisational culture, (Alvesson, 2002) and culture is a facet of an organisation not an object of an organisation.

Consequently, the manifestations of Google’s culture is analysed by evaluating the artefacts at Google (Gagliardi, 1992). Through looking at the various aspects of Google, it is shown that Google has an integrated culture (Martin, 1992), and one which comprises of four key elements; mission, innovation, fun and reward. Through selecting the four core components which summarise Google’s culture, it is proven that the work of Denison (1990) and Truskie (1999) is fallible as the key to Google’s success differs to those suggested by the authors. Furthermore the culture of Google shows the importance of having a strategically appropriate culture, a culture which ‘fits’ the needs of the organisation and the marketplace.

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As Joanna Martin (1992) comments, the objective of studying organisational culture is to help understand organisational life more. Understanding organisational life is important as it is widely acknowledged that organisational cultures have an impact upon company performance (Denison, 1990; Kotter and Heskett, 1992; Truskie, 1999; Schein, 2004). However some critics, such as Alvesson (2002) cite that the extent to which organisational cultures have a direct link upon performance is somewhat ambiguous. These issues will be discussed at length, firstly through a review of current literature, and secondly by means of investigating the organisational culture of Google. Through the literature review and the case study, the importance of ‘culture fit’ will be demonstrated as a key concept in how performance and motivation can be affected by organisational cultures.

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