March 27, 2011
Gung-Ho And Office Space: How NOT To Manage
Chapter 1 of James C. McCroskey’s “Organizational Communication for Survival” states that “some people believe ‘competent communication’ is ‘competent communication’ no matter where it is practiced”. (1) I believe this to be entirely untrue. Subordinate to subordinate communication differs greatly from subordinate to supervisor communication. As is true for different cultures communicating. In the movies “Office Space” and “Gung-Ho” we see two different work places with different management styles, different office culture, different everything. They both are similar in the way that they feature a clash between management and the employees. While both feature a flair for the dramatic (obvious considering these are movies for entertainment not factual purposes) they both do offer a semi-realistic work place, perfect to study for this class. Both feature management styles and more in-depth styles of leadership straight out of our book. I believe both movies are a crash course in how NOT to manage your employees. The movie “Gung-Ho” Is about a Japanese company that purchases a factory in an American town. The Japanese send their management to make the factory up to their standards. There is a severe culture clash made worse by the stereotypical American employees and the stereotypical Japanese bosses. The book states when “organizations branch into new cultures and try to make things work the way they do in their home culture. They virtually always fail.” (142) the movie offers several examples of the dangers of poor intercultural communication and organizational communication. The Japanese use a Theory X management style, in our book, McGregor’s Theory X management style is described as, “assum(ing) most people had little capacity for creativity in problem solving, most personnel needed to be closesly controlled and often coerced to achieve goals, work was inherently distasteful to most people, most people were not ambitious and had little desire for responsibility”. In the movie the character Oishi Kazihiro is a moderate leader placed under the watchful eye of his boss’s nephew. Unfortunately for Oishi and the americans, his boss is a Task leader and management has little concern for the American way of life. The Japanese workplace culture (atleast according to this movie) has no time for personal relationships or anything other than accomplishing tasks. The Japanese decide to use an American liaison named Hunt Stevenson to get everyone up to speed on the new way of doing things. Hunt is a social leader. The difference of leadership from level to level causes a great deal of miscommunications and issues. The Task leader executives demand the Americans do many things they were never expected to do before and give them little leeway. One worker can’t even leave work early to take his son to get his tonsils removed. When the executives aren’t happy Oishi (the moderate leader) attempts to let Hunt know the Americans must work harder. Hunt asks for incentive, if they can produce 15,000 cars in a month he asks for a pay raise. Oishi agrees. The semi-lazy and at this point fed up Americans are discouraged at the amount they have to produce for a raise, Hunt attempts to get them to work harder by lying and saying 13,000 cars still gives them half a raise. Most of the movie you can clearly see whether it is Japanese or American workplace culture that is flawed depending on the situation, this is a perfect example of when Hunt, attempting to be a social leader and as such too much of a friend to his employees rather than a stern leader is the one causing problems. Hunt placed more value in friendship than in the work place; this caused him to end up getting his friends into trouble at work. Oishi and his bosses placed all value on work and absolutely none on personal or social lives. This movie offers opposite ends of the spectrum, in...