1. How far have the problems of Dr Barfuss been caused by differences between the management styles of two distinct national cultures? What other factors could be influencing attitudes displayed in the case study? Austrian Communication
Austrian’s enjoy quiet and privacy
French bosses favour a dictatorial and authoritative leadership style
Austrian behaviour in public is usually reserved and formal
French express themselves with more gestures and emphasis
Public displays of affection limited
Public displays of affection emphasised
Personal contact is rare between Barfuss and staff
Legris regularly seen and engaging in jokes
Barfuss not good at social conversation
Very social manager
Decision making now a joint activity, introducing a participative style of management Decision making made by Legris
Barfuss young and has limited experience
Legris much older and been in business for a very long time, with many staff over 45
Business culture can vary greatly between different cultures, so it is no surprise that trouble has arisen during the transition between M.Legris’ (French) dictatorial but very socially aware management style and the limited experience of Dr Barfuss and his participative focused style of management, with much less emphasis on acting in a socially driven manner. Having a French lead team of staff who were used to a leadership style with decision making the sole responsibility of M.Legris then suddenly made to engage much more with the decision making of the business will obviously have been a big shock to the French staff. French business culture is well known for upper management utilising a very authoritative leadership style, with the workforce (who are mainly over 45) mostly being used to this leadership style.
For example, in Hofstede’s model of the five dimensions of culture, M.Legris’ leadership style would have a high PD score, suggesting a very centralised structure, with the desired answer found at the top of the organisation. In contrast, Dr Barfuss’ leadership style would have a low PD score, emphasising more on teamwork and decision making being much more a group effort. Having such a stark change in leadership styles may prove quite difficult for team members to adapt to easily. It could be suggested however that Dr Barfuss may be able to enact a leadership style similar to M.Legris, but struggles to enact such a dictatorial leadership style due to the age difference between himself and his staff.
Being only 32 and many staff being over 45, Barfuss may feel uncomfortable making decisions for people more experienced then himself. This may be in relation to French and Raven’s idea of ‘Expert Power’, which is based on a subordinate viewing the leader as someone competent and expertise in a given area. Barfuss may not feel he has this over longer standing employees. He may have the academic mastery of printing, but he hasn’t got the tacit management knowledge to command a workforce of those older than himself, thus opting for a more democratic leadership style. 2. Use a specific model of cultural difference to explain the events in this case study.
1. Universalism versus particularism.
2. Individualism versus communitarianism.
3. Specific versus diffuse.
4. Neutral versus emotional.
5. Achievement versus ascription.
6. Sequential time versus synchronous time.
7. Internal direction versus outer direction.
3. If you were in M.Giraud‘s position what would you do now? Give reasons for your proposed courses of action.
The first thing to note before making any kind of drastic decision is that ‘levels of productivity have remained stable’ which therefore suggests that even though areas of Barfuss’ relationship with staff members is not at an adequate level, the business isn’t actually performing at a lower level compared to previously, which would be more indicative of a serious problem within Chatroux. However, staff have reported unhappiness and Barfuss’ was cited as a contributing factor to an employee leaving, therefore to prevent circumstances deteriorating, M.Giraud should investigate. The first course of action M.Giraud should take is to send an anonymous questionnaire, to all of Barfuss’ subordinates to ascertain both positive and negative feedback on Barfuss. This should allow M.Giraud to see the personal views of all the subordinates, not just Aznavour, who may have a personal issue with Barfuss which is not shared by fellow employees.
Following on from this, a group meeting should be arranged with Barfuss and his subordinates to allow Barfuss to personally discuss feedback from the questionnaire. One of Mullins’s strategies for resolving conflict is ‘Group activities’. A group based discussion about Barfuss and his management style may help to bring to the attention of Barfuss areas he could improve. Then again, Aznavour’s views may be shared by his fellow staff members and these issues can then be identified. Although this meeting may be difficult on the young Barfuss, it is vital to his success as a manager that he understands how to better satisfy his employees and perform his role to the best of his ability. We can assume that Aznavour’s views are shared by his fellow staff, therefore, Barfuss needs to adjust his management style.
M.Giraud should look to consult with Barfuss on how he can adapt this. Firstly, it is quite clear that the staff at Chatroux are motivated by social interaction with their manager ‘Legris was always to be seen in the production area and would joke with us’. The Chatroux staff clearly feel motivated by a sense of belonging (social needs: Maslow) and thus when this hasn’t been consistently applied by Barfuss the staff have registered their discontent. It should be suggested by M.Giraud to Barfuss that he spends more time on the production floor personally communicating with staff, getting to know each member of staff on a more personal basis, replicating the manner of Legris before he left.
This may be difficult for an Austrian who enjoy quiet and privacy, but Barfuss in this situation needs to adapt to the needs of his staff, rather than them adapting to himself. The staff are mostly long-termers with experience, who will be much less willing to change their working environment. Another frustration raised by Aznavour was how many meetings Barfuss was organising. Although 40% of April consisted of meetings, the productivity of Chatroux hasn’t been reduced, suggesting that the meetings aren’t causing a negative effect on the businesses productivity. The main impact is on staff satisfaction. It could be suggested to Barfuss that meetings are done on a less frequent, timetabled schedule, which is agreed upon by staff. This should allow Barfuss still to communicate his ideas to staff, with staff being satisfied at the amount of time being in meetings.
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