Oil and Wasser

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Case Analysis:
Oil and Wasser

There are two major barriers that are leading to an inevitable failure in the Royal Biscuit and Edeling merger. The first, and most important, is the lack of cultural competency between Brighton and Wallach, the two merger officiators. Both parties are displaying characteristics of ethnocentrism and misperception. Second, is the lack of corporate competency resulting from dissimilar corporate cultures, histories and business strategies. If the merger of the two companies is to be successful then corporate synergy must be realized; otherwise the union is doomed to failure.

In the case of the merger between Royal Biscuit and Edeling, there is clearly a lack of cultural competency between the two merger officiators, Brighton and Wallach. The body language described in the first paragraph demonstrates some of the major differences between the English and German cultures. Brighton and Callahan, both native Englishmen, are vocal, direct, and compulsive. Callahan throws a “tantrum” about the lack of collaboration on the leadership development plan that was assigned to the two men, and verbally expresses his frustrations in a compulsive manner making direct, glaring, eye contact with Brighton. However, their German counterpart, Wallach, does not make eye contact with or defend himself against Callahan as Brighton does. Instead he stares “stone-faced at the conference table” (Reimus, B., 2004, p. 1). It can be deduced from this initial scene that one of the major contentions between the two parties involves patience, compulsion and meticulousness. Brighton’s frustrations are derived from what he perceives as Wallach’s meticulousness for processes. When speaking to his colleague he goes as far as to engage in stereotyping and states that Wallach is “stubborn and incredibly process driven, and – well, just so German” (Reimus, B., 2004, p. 4). Moreover, Brighton negatively compares the German culture to that of his own and states, “they don’t think, act, work, or manage like we do. They take themselves far more seriously” and then he goes on to generalize Germans as being controlling (Reimus, B., 2004, p. 5). Brighton has a strong misconception of the German company and its management team and is displaying ethnocentrism and cultural dominance. Firstly, Brighton explicitly states that he believes that the management team of his company is more qualified than those at Edeling. It was his conclusion that the task he was faced with was not finding a way to reach collaboration or synergy with the merger, but “to design a program that could remake those plodding Germans in the image of his best leaders;” he felt that “the talent exodus he would witness over the next two years- and the dilution of the culture he had worked to build-was depressing” (Reimus, B., 2004, p. 3). This summarizes Brighton’s stance on the matter, which is that Royal Biscuit has more competent workers, has the best management and business approaches and that he plans to continue with these methodologies after the merger.

Brighton, however, is not the only person who is demonstrating a lack of cohesiveness in the decision-making process. Wallach is adamant about delaying the decision process as long as is needed to come to a compromise on the merger’s major components regardless of the time constraint. When Wallach voices his opinion on the matter with the German proverb “what’s the use of running if you’re not on the right road?” (Reimus, B., 2004, p. 2) it demonstrates his reluctance to compromise the manner in which he believes the situation should be handled. He also displays ethnocentrism when he discusses the way that Egeling creates its leaders. His detailed and proud description expresses his belief that their way is the “best way.” Additionally, both parties are placing the blame on each other; Wallach believes that Brighton “fail(s) to appreciate that [they] are an old company, and...
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