Case Study : No Bosses at W.L. Gore & Associates
You’ve probably bought a garment made of W. L. Gore & Associates’ flagship product, Gore- Tex, a fabric that blocks wind and water, yet is highly breathable thanks to Gore’s patented technology. But you might not know that the company offers a host of other products, from heart patches and synthetic blood vessels to air pollution filters and fuel cells. In fact, W. L. Gore & Associates makes more than 1000 products. Though its financial data are not publicly available, a spokesperson for the company said that Gore had double-digit revenue growth the past three years. With this type of performance and extensive product line, you might expect Gore to be structured like big companies such as Westpac, SingTel, Microsoft or Goodman Fielder. But it’s not, and it never was.
Wilbert L. Gore founded W. L. Gore & Associates in 1958. Gore believed that too much hierarchy and bureaucracy stifled creativity and adaptation, a view he formed during his 17- year career as a DuPont engineer. He stated once that “communication really happens in the car park,” meaning informal arenas allowed employees to share their ideas openly without fear of criticism from management. So Gore decided to eliminate the hierarchy found in most organisations. Instead, he instructed everyone to communicate openly, with little regard to status differences. In fact, Gore eliminated status differences altogether. At W. L.
Gore & Associates, there are no job titles. Each employee works on projects collaboratively, while at the same time is given the freedom to develop new ideas. Ideas that are deemed worthy of pursuing by team members are then developed. In addition to the lack of bureaucracy, Gore also kept his facilities staffed with a small number of employees to promote information sharing and foster teamwork. For example, he limited staffing at manufacturing plants to 200 employees, which is smaller than typical manufacturing firms. Gore believed the number was low enough for employees to get to know one another, allowing them to talk freely about their knowledge and ideas. The result of such a corporate structure has been tremendous growth and profit. Gore has also been an industry leader in innovation. Gore’s unique structure does take some getting used to, particularly for new employees. Diane Davidson recalls that the lack of a formal hierarchy was bewildering at first. As a sales executive in the apparel industry, Davidson was hired by Gore to promote its fabrics to designers such as Prada and Hugo Boss. Davidson states, “I came from a very traditional, male-dominated business—the men’s shoe business. When I arrived at Gore, I didn’t know who did what. I wondered how anything got done here. It was driving me crazy.” Instead of a formal supervisor, Davidson was assigned to a “starting sponsor.” As opposed to a traditional supervisor, the sponsor at Gore helps new hires learn the ropes—which primarily consist of getting to know one’s team. “Who’s my boss.” she repeatedly asked her sponsor. Her sponsor would reply, “Stop using the b-word.”
Davidson eventually got used to Gore’s structure. “Your team is your boss, because you don’t want to let them down. Everyone’s your boss, and no one’s your boss,” she explains. Not only are there no formal supervisors at Gore, but employees’ job descriptions are conspicuously absent as well. Employees at Gore perform multiple tasks to create a new product. Davidson, for example, is involved in marketing, sales, and sponsorship—roles that typically are separated in other organizations. As John Morgan, an employee of Gore for more than 20 years, states, “You join a team and you’re an idiot. It takes 18 months to build credibility. Early on, it’s really frustrating. In hindsight, it makes sense. As a sponsor, I tell new hires, ‘Your job for the first 6 months is to get to know the team,’ but they have trouble believing it—and not contributing when other people are.”
Case Study questions:
1. Identify the characteristics of Gore’s Organizational structure with the help of examples from the case study, what type of Organization structure is found at Gores Associates.?
2. How does the authority delegation and control work at Gore’s Associates in the absence of a formal hierarchy?
3. How does the organization structure at Gore Associates allow it to be more productive as an organization?
4. Considering the ‘Big Five’ personality dimensions and four MBTI types, analyse what types of employees might respond more or less favourably to Gore’s lack of hierarchy?
5. Analyze the main issues facing managers at external companies that are more hierarchical in nature in dealing with Gore’s Organizational design.
6. How do the no Bosses and no hierarchy affect the employees working at Gores?
Your analysis will need to include the concepts outlined in the questions above. Analysis should be based on the questions in the case study and should be appropriately answered, logically and clearly linked to the relevant theories.
The report should be in proper report format as shown in the sample report format. The Report should be the outcome of the group effort, analysis and findings .The Report should be uploaded through moodle:
You must include:
- Research using at least 2 academic journal articles
- Carefully select appropriate theories and concepts
- Construct an in-depth and analytical discussion
- Use evidence and examples to support your work
- Write in a clear and logical manner.
- Cite all references using the APA referencing system
- Prepare and format a reference list.
Your assignment will be assessed on the following:
Quality of the research and analysis undertaken
Quality of the discussion, how many aspects of management and organisational behaviour have been covered in your overview
Creativity and consistency – how well your argument holds together