Hewlett-Packard – the New Way?

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Having been cited in business and management literature as being ‘visionary’, ‘exemplar’, ‘innovative’ and ‘cutting edge’, Hewlett-Packard has long been recognized as possessing a successful organizational culture. However, what the founders could not account for was the changing global economic climate and the ever-present need to adapt their original business model to ensure the company relevance as a leader in the technology sector. As the long-established cultures within Hewlett-Packard were being challenged and new management ideas and personalities were introduced, many employee-related difficulties were observed. The conflict appeared to reach its climax with the presence of CEO, Carly Fiorina at the helm. In order to better understand the impact Fiorina had on the ingrained corporate culture of HP, the primary focus of the investigation should be directed at cross-examining the ‘HP Way’ in light of the abrupt changes imposed during Fiorina’s reign. Moreover, to better conceptualize the root of conflict, a closer analysis of the principals associated with each organizational culture - including the personality traits of those formulating those corporate value structures and a review of the present economic climate - is necessary. Only with a better appreciation of the relevant organization culture and the importance of fostering encouragement and autonomy, can HP rematerialize itself as the exemplar corporate climate. It has been suggested that the historical success of HP was in large part due to the well executed promotion of its corporate culture coined, ‘The HP Way’ by the company founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The values associated with HP’s brand of corporate culture became institutionalized in a way that bonded all levels of employees together to make them feel part of the organizational experience (see appendix 1 and 2). The original company culture was based on a mandate of supporting individualism in an otherwise collectivist organization. The ‘HP Way’ of doing business was based on long-term orientation principles and was the embodiment of trust and loyalty – giving respect for individuals and their responsibilities while creating an environment that both celebrates individualism and supports teamwork. Furthermore, the ‘HP Way’ was an objective-oriented philosophy in which each division could share the same values and work toward similar goals. HP focused on employee involvement and teamwork, fashioning a highly collaborative workplace through effective cooperation between employees and management. In this environment, the company was extremely entrepreneurial and allowed for large amounts risk-taking (see appendix 5). This resulted in a ‘gentler brand of capitalist ownership’. To HP staff, co-founder Dave Packard was known to be very tough and made unpopular decisions but maintained the status of a much loved and effective leader. However, the original leadership offered by Hewlett and Packard was able to strike a balance between being nice and being goal-focused, with Bill considered ‘friendly’ and Dave referenced as ‘tough’ (see appendix 3). When Carly Fiorina became the CEO in 1999, she integrated a more structured-based culture to reform HP’s current inward (employee-focused) and overtly reminiscent culture. Presenting herself as a realist regarding the effects of globalization, Fiorina’s customer-oriented approach focused on restructuring the company and moving purposefully away from the original ideals of the ‘HP Way’. To reinforce these values, Fiorina introduced a customer-focused bonus system, integrated the company’s 83 decentralized business units which resulted in the laying off of thousands of employees. Fiorina’s plan also included the extremely controversial acquisition of Compaq in 2002. To many, Fiorina’s corporate vision for HP was in direct contrast to the business model established by Hewlett and Packard who believed that profit was not the fundamental driving...
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