Study Questions

The case and study questions below are provided to guide you through some of the Readings.

2 Case: eBay
  1. What is eBay's strategy, and how is its organizational design related to this strategy?
  2. Who are eBay's potential competitors? How would you analyze eBay's strategic advantages and disadvantages relative to these competitors?
  3. How did eBay's organizational design contribute to its success? To what else would you attribute eBay's success?
  4. Can you think of new ways an eBay-like structure could be used in other industries?
4 Case: InnoCentive For background, you are encouraged to go to the InnoCentive website, register as a solver, and try to identify one challenge you might find interesting.

Applying basic organizational designs

Case: Procter & Gamble

  1. Why did the US organizational structure shift from product grouping in the 1950s to a matrix in the 1980s? Why did the European organizational structure shift from geographic grouping in the 1950s to category management in the 1980s? Why were the two structures integrated into a global cube in the 1990s?
  2. What are the key distinguishing features of Organization 2005? Why did P&G adopt this structure?
  3. Should Lafley make a strong commitment to keeping Organization 2005 or should he plan to dismantle the structure?

Designs for exploration — Product innovation

Case: Google Inc.

  1. Do you think Google's organizational structure is well-designed to maximize product innovation? Why or why not?
  2. Using any information you have about Google (from the case or other sources), please describe the processes and other managerial actions that Google uses to encourage product innovation.

Hint: Additional information about Google's organizational structure is available from the following websites:

  1. Google's official list of their management team members, including titles
  2. The unofficial organization chart of Google on the CogMap website. This version is definitely not completely accurate, but it will give you at least some sense of what the Google org chart looks like.

Using lateral coordination processes

Case: Cisco

  1. Why did Cisco centralize marketing and research and development in 2001?
  2. What were the tradeoffs and biggest downsides of the reorganization?
  3. Why did Chambers create business councils? And why only a handful of councils? What challenges did Cisco likely face in establishing the business councils? How did Cisco anticipate and deal with some of these challenges? Finally, what issues do you think remain unresolved?
  4. If you were Chambers, how would you redesign the business councils to make them more effective? Pick one of the initial three councils and develop a detailed design; specify whom to select, as well as the council's governance structure, resources, and incentive systems. What skill sets do employees working on the council need? Make sure to justify your choice for each dimension.

Maximizing employee motivation and creativity

Case: AES

  1. Why is Sant feeling pressure in the summer of 1992? As Sant, what would be your concerns?
  2. What are the origins of Sant's problems? What is your diagnosis of the Cedar Bay and Shady Point episodes?
  3. What changes, if any, would you advise Sant to endorse? Be sure to consider whether Sant should: (a) reorganize the company, (b) hire the recommended staff specialists, (c) revamp and strengthen the internal controls, (d) drop the emphasis on values.
  4. The founders of AES thought they were creating a new form of business enterprise. In your opinion, is there anything new or distinctive in the AES approach?

Organizing global companies

Case: Siemens

  1. What were the key organizational design changes Loscher made?
  2. Did these changes make sense? Why or why not?
  3. What advice would you give Loscher about which, if any, organizational changes he should make next?

Designing networks that cross firm boundaries

Case: Proctor & Gamble

  1. What is the organizational design for P&G's R&D?
  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach for P&G?
  3. What other examples can you think of where outsourcing is a good or bad idea?
  4. If you were an independent contractor, would you like to be part of a "guild"?

The process of organizational design and change

Case: Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather

  1. What is Beers trying to accomplish as CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide?
  2. What is your assessment of the process Beers and her team went through to create the vision?
  3. What are the key challenges facing Beers at the end of the case?
14 How are things changing?
  1. For each gene listed in the first reading, can you think of at least one other example (not mentioned in the article) where this gene could be applied successfully?
  2. Be prepared to brainstorm in class about how the different genes might be useful in the situation you are analyzing for your team project.
15 Case: Threadless
  1. What are the similarities and differences between a community-driven product development process and a traditional product development process within a firm?
  2. What motivates community members to participate? What is Threadless offering its community members?
  3. How are winning designs currently selected? Figure 1 and Table 1 show sample designs and their respective scores. How would you go about selecting winning designs?
  4. What are the barriers to entry for this kind of business?
  5. In what other areas might this model work? How might you leverage or exploit this model or innovation and product development in your business?
  6. What should be Threadless's response to the offer from Large Retailer?

Harnessing democracy

Cases: W. L. Gore and others

  1. What are the conditions under which democratic voting is or is not likely to be useful in organizations?
  2. What other examples can you think of where democratic voting could be useful but isn't currently used?
17 Case: TopCoder
  1. How is the organizational design of TopCoder similar to and different from Threadless and InnoCentive?
  2. What advice would you give Jack Hughes about how to scale TopCoder to larger size?
  3. Can you think of other industries where an organizational design like TopCoder's could be useful?

Harnessing markets

Cases: Intel scenario, Cambrian House

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Intel scenario described on pp. 98-104 of The Future of Work?
  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the overall organizational design Cambrian House uses?
  3. What would you recommend about whether Cambrian House should adopt the new market they are considering?
20 Organizational change in crowds
  1. What elements do you think contributed to the successful creation and growth of iStockPhoto?
  2. How would you evaluate the way iStockPhoto's management handled the organizational change of increasing prices?
  3. What lessons can you learn from comparing the organizational change processes at iStockPhoto and Current TV?
  4. How is the process of organizational change in crowds similar to organizational change in hierarchies? How is it different?