Just as companies were forced to realize that they could not operate successfully without making their employees a priority, they are now realizing that they must equally support and integrate all functional departments within their organization to become and remain leaders in their industry. Competition in the business world continues to increase and many firms must operate globally just to keep pace with their competitors. At the heart of global business growth is information technology. Developments in technology have allowed corporations to increase the amount and variety of information they can process; increase the amount and variety of information they can store; and increase the amount and variety of information they can share with individuals and businesses around the world. These new communication channels have allowed firms to communicate with one another even when the difference in time zones and geographic locations is vast. The internet, electronic mail (E-mail), and electronic business (E-Business) have pioneered the bridge between all gaps of time and distance.
The intensity of competition accelerates the need for strategic management, and a company must be better or more innovative than their competitors in developing their strategy and reaching their goals and objectives. Competitive intensity requires that the parts that make up an organization work more effectively and efficiently together. This means that the functional departments of the firm such as management, marketing, human resources, production and operations management, accounting and finance, research and development, computer/management information systems, among others must integrate their tasks to promote a synergistic effect that will take hold throughout the organization. Synergy is captured through employees working together to reach a greater common goal (2+2=5), the magnitude of which they would not otherwise achieve working independently of each other. Synergy (2+2=5) capitalizes on the assets of all employees and suggests that when people work together they achieve not only more results, but also hopefully better performance than if they work alone.
Successful firms use synergistic effects as leverage in their operations. A lot of the literature supports this view, with authors such as Boyd, Walker and Larr(eche( (1998) going so far as to suggest that as more firms embrace the use of multifunctional teams or network structures, the boundaries between functions are likely to blur. When these boundaries begin to blur the effect of synergy has largely been established within the organization. Objectives
This paper suggests a Business Integration Model (BIM) that outlines and demonstrates the relationships that should exist in an organization in relation to functional areas; how educators should emphasize the importance of integration to future managers in business courses, especially in the Business Policy & Strategic Management capstone course; the methods for achieving the said integration; and finally the problems that arise with integration. Possible solutions to integration related shortcomings are also suggested.
Introducing the Business Integration Model (BIM): Essential Features
As mentioned earlier, integration is the key to capitalizing on the strengths of personnel from all of the functional areas that make up an organization. Given the fact that integration is vital to survival, managers must facilitate the integration process, while business schools must not only stress the importance of integration, but also ensure that their business students cover it widely as part of their capstone course (Strategic Management) requirements.
Both a tabular and a graphical version of the integration model are introduced, shown in this paper as Table 1 and Figure 1 respectively. Both representations of the Business Integration Model (BIM) show how the various disciplines should assimilate, liaise,...
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