One of the most prominent instrumental values of 3M’s culture, and which has contributed to its success is employee risk-taking and encouragement of the same (Mitsch, 1990). 3M’s policy of creating room for employees to experiment and conduct research means that the researchers are more exposed to the risk of failure than they would be were risk-taking not encouraged. However, risk-taking also enhances chances of making improvements on existing products and developing new products. Another instrumental value in 3M is efficiency.
Management of new technologies and innovations, assessing, reacting to and anticipating market trends, and assessing customer needs can be very challenging for the management. Research and Development can be costly yet some results are not always positive or available for immediate use. The management of available resources requires efficiency in management. Efficiency is therefore central to 3M’s culture. An important terminal value of 3M’s culture is high quality of output to meet customer expectations. 3M improves the quality of its output by encouraging research and development for long-term and short-term purposes.
By encouraging risk-taking, allowing researchers to spend 15 percent of their time researching for new products and technologies, and scaling up R&D budget from 4. 6 percent to 6. 5 percent within a decade, 3M declares its intention to ensure that consumers get a continous supply of high quality products (Mitsch, 1990). A second terminal value is innovation. As noted above, 3M attaches high premium on research and development of new technologies and improvement of existing technologies and products (Mitsch, 1990).
Innovation is one of the factors which separate market leaders from mediocre organizations and 3M invests heavily to sharpen its innovative edge. Question 2: Human interactions, property rights and ethics do influence 3M’s cultural values. The involvement of marketing, manufacturing, quality, laboratory, financial and packaging staff in production of new products promotes healthy relationships between staff members working with the different units. This team-work reduces the frequency of inter-departmental rivalry and exchange of blame for mistakes and failures.
Healthy interactions among units and sub-units are instrumental to increased productivity and staff motivation. An important property right at 3M is access to and right to use laboratory resources and technologies developed within one’s operating unit, as well as technologies developed by other units. A leading cause of failure in many organizations is unhealthy rivalry among units, which lead to some units keeping technologies and resources to themselves and barring others from accessing them.
The management of 3M ensures that workers, regardless of which unit they come from, can access laboratory resources and technologies easily (Mitsch, 1990). Such property rights encourage inter-unit co-operation and cohesion, reduce R&D costs, and promote productivity in the long-term. They also enrich the organization’s cultural values. Reference Mitsch, R. (1990). Case: Three Roads to Innovation. Journal of Business Strategy (Sept/Oct 1990), pp 18-21.
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