Saturday, 29 March 2008

Communication enhanced through technology

Communication is now enhanced by means of technology, e.g. by email or by using web pages. In addition to business-oriented communication, it can be used for private communication as well. Do you see a difference between the following situations?
a) An employee is using email and web services from his/her office during working hours for private purposes (dating with a friend, shopping, organizing a holiday trip, etc).
b) He/she is using them for the above purposes from his/her office before or after working hours.
c) He/she is a telecommuter and uses them from his/her home through the computer his/her company has provided to him.

I think that the best way to explain the differences in the following situations is to
perform a rudimentary risk analysis on all three. I think that there are three risks in
situation A, B and C. The first is the risk to productivity. The second is the risk to the
network. The third is the risk to the computer equipment that acts as the communication

Situation A actually contains all three risks. By using email and web services on a
non - work related task the employee's productivity is effectively zero. The employee may
counter this argument (like I do) by insisting that if they are at their desk they are still
working - they can answer the phone, speak to people that approch them. But their extra
curricular activity is affecting the outcome of whatever project they are working on. There
is also the question of what material the employee is looking at. The New York Times website
may be harmless enough, but a recently foiled terrorist plot in the UK meant that "police
seized computers and other material from two hospitals in western Australia in connection
with the failed terrorist plot in Britain" (McConville, 2007).

By shopping or organising online the employee is also presenting a risk to the network;
resources are tied up in whatever he or she is interacting with. Again, an employee could
argue that visiting the easyJet website represents maybe a percentage of one percent of the
total internet bandwidth available to their organisation but it is still an overhead
affecting network performance. An employee could also be unwittingly downloading spyware or
malware while browsing websites. These could have serious network implications in terms of
compromising sensitive data or spreading viruses. These risks also cover the computer
equipment that the employee is using, although in the modern world computer threats are
rarely limited to one machine.

It's interesting to note, I think, that the greatest overall risk is posed in scenario A,
yet only the network and equipment risks are really taken seriously by an organisation.
Internet filters and traffic monitors can stop employees visiting blacklisted sites and flag
up if their non - work related internet use is excessive. But in my experience little is
done to stop employees reading an online newspaper or checking their personal email while
working. One thing that this evolved communication means is that employees abuse their
telephones and the office photocopier / fax machine less (although I'm sure that plenty of
people print off maps, tickets etc.).

Scenario B poses less of a risk. If the employee is trusted then I'm sure that most
organisations are happy for them to use the internet facilities in their own time. Scenario
C is slightly different - I'm assuming that the worker has their own broadband connection at
home and is using their work - provided computer to connect. In this case the organisation
has no idea what websites or material the employee is accessing because this is outside of
their control. A great deal of trust needs to exist between the organisation and the
employee for this to happen. It could be tempting for the employee to download music or
other files for personal consumption; in reality each time this is done it presents a huge
risk to the organisations network. Staff who are experienced in the field of IT should know
enough for this not to be a problem - I am allowed to use my work laptop on my own network
at home to access Embanet, for example, but know full well the consequences of downloading
something 'dodgy'. Staff who are not IT savvy may not fully understand the risks and have a
worryingly blaze attitude.


McConville, B (2007) British look for links in failed plot [Online] San Francisco: Hearst
Communications Inc.
Available from (Accessed 29th Marh 2008)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Variable pay as a motivational tool

Variable-pay programs are an effective way of motivating people. For that reason, it has been implemented in many companies. For example: in IBM the Salesmen are rewarded according to such a program, while the System Engineers are not. Is that a wise decision? Why do you think it was adopted in such form? Illustrate your position by your experience.

I think that the management in IBM who decide to reward salesmen with a variable-pay program and reward system engineers with a fixed pay program understand the different personality types and motivations of these two groups of employees. From personal experience I would say that salesmen traditionally fall under the banner of extraverts, whereas system engineers fall under the banner of introverts.

Salesmen have to be social animals because their role requires them to meet with all kinds of different people all the time. It requires them to be expressive - they have to get their point across in a way that will make them hard to ignore - and to take risks. Each sales call that a salesman will make in a day is in essence a gamble; they can use their skills and knowledge to improve the odds that they will 'win' (i.e. make a sale) but they have no way of guaranteeing the outcome of the meeting or pitch. You are encouraged to bet on higher risk horses by bookmakers offering a bigger return on your bet if your gamble pays off; similarly the management at IBM know that offering variable pay will encourage their salesmen to take bigger risks with a potentially bigger pay off. Salesmen are encourage by extrinsic rewards - "valued outcomes that are controlled by others, such as recognition, promotion and pay increases" (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). Working in a sales - oriented job can be stressful, and variable pay is a way of compensating the employee for this stress.

Systems engineers, on the other hand, are usually textbook introverts. They enjoy the
responsibility of designing and maintaining computer systems that they understand and their superiors don't. They tend to be pretty unsociable - being able to work on their own for large periods of time. Working with computers gives them control because the computer is only ever going to do what they tell it to do. Systems engineers, I think, value intrinsic rewards ("valued outcomes within the control of the individual, such as feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment" (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007)) much more than extrinsic rewards - they enjoy the feeling that they have implemented something that is clever or well designed, and get a kick from the fact that the people in 'userland' have no idea how it all works.

From a personal point of view I would definitely class myself as an introvert. I tried working as a telephone salesman and found all the aspects of the job - the lack of control, the need to be chatty and engaging with total strangers - a complete turn off and lasted two weeks before I quit. I was on a variable-pay (commission based) program but the money did not motivate me one iota. Contrast this with my current job where I am the technical lead on an organisation - wide change agenda, a job I would happily do for free most of the time (if I won the lottery I would probably still keep working and donate my salary to charity). Is it wise for IBM to offer salesmen variable pay and engineers fixed pay? "Mr. Garcia [a salesman at CompUSA], too, is already thinking about what's next, especially once he earns
his degree. He sells technology, but he could be selling anything, really" (Hafner, 2003). IBM have to offer the best variable pay packages to attract the best salesmen because variable pay is what motivates them. Similarly, they have to offer different incentives to engineers - which could be working environment or the chance to learn a specific technology - because that is what motivates them.


Huczynski, A & Buchanan, D (2007) Organizational Behaviour (6th Ed.) Essex: Pearson Educational Ltd.

Hafner, K (2003) A PC salesman who pushes the right buttons [Online] The New York Times Company.
Available from (Accessed 23 March 08)

Creative thinking skills

It has been shown that tolerance for ambiguity is closely related to creative-thinking skills. In other words, creative persons are not convinced that “there is only one truth” and are ready to challenge “the current truth”.
(1) Do such approaches really work? Is it worthwhile to give the “creative” a free hand? To what degree?
(2) Can cultural differences affect this view on the world around us? Under what conditions? Give examples and discuss them.

Apple Computers Inc. had a total revenue of $24bn in the financial year 2007 and was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The latter invented the Apple I and Apple II, computers that made the company huge. Although no longer a full time employee, Wozniak made the following comments about his time there: "we both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world, we were both smart enough to think things up for ourselves" and "being the sort of designer I was, I was designing things all on my own, working alone...I could still hang around and do any project I felt like" (Moon, 2007).

Apple is one company that proved the approach of giving a creative genius 'free hand' can pay huge dividends. Wozniak was given all the time and materials he needed to create a commercially viable product that he was absolutely fascinated with. This weeks lecture spoke about intrinsic task motivation - 'the main source of motivation for creative people is in their souls' (Laureate Online Education, 2005 - 2007). I am sure that Wozniak would have sat and worked on his designs for Apple for free, it is unfortunate for these sorts of people that real life (the need to eat, sleep, pay the rent) tends to get in the way. "Truly creative people are intensely career oriented, pay particular attention to the intrinsic satisfactions in their work, look for interesting, stimulating, challenging, and creative projects, need a variety of problems, professional and organizational recognition of their achievements, ascending degrees of responsibilities and steady advancement and self-realization" (Raudsepp, 1978).

But genius still needs to be channeled properly. After all a company has strict deadlines to meet and profits to make. Managing creative people can be easy in one respect because they don't view what they do as 'just a job', they view it as a very important part of their lives. So getting them to turn up for work and focus on what they are doing is usually not a problem. I have a friend in Canada who designs routers for Cisco and as he puts it 'they pay me to play with computers every day!' However, creatives can also require careful man management. They have a tendency to go off at tangents - working on things that they find interesting but are not strictly realted to the work they are supposed to be producing. They often have egos that require careful massaging - 'you just don't understand me' syndrome. They can sometimes be difficult to communicate with and because they are very good at working in a virtual vacum on their own can struggle in team situations.

I think that the biggest barrier in terms of cross - cultural creativity is the pre-conception that only the creative efforts of your native culture have any relevance to the world around you. This has been a pretty consistent theme throughout history - at the time when British foreign policy could be succinctly described as 'make the world England' missionaries from the Protestant church did their best to drive out local religions in Africa, China and anywhere else the Union Jack was raised. Dr. M. K. Raina describes 'Torrance Phenomenon' "which advocates giving honour where honour is due, as opposed to universalising a particular culture and ridiculing others" (Creativity Centre Ltd., 2007).
In modern globalised business managers are sent to work in offices all over the world and work with people who come from numerous cultures and this exposure to different ideas and viewpoints can only enhance creative thinking.


Moon, P (2007) Wozniak on Apple, AI and future inventions [Online] London: IDG Communications Ltd.
Available from (Accessed 23rd March 2008)

Laureate Online Education, 2005 - 2007 Seminar for Week 3 - Decision Making and Motivation

Raudsepp, E., Characteristics of the Creative Individual, Princeton Creative Research, 1978.
(I have cited the original publication but I took the paraphrase from

Creativity Centre Ltd. (2007) Creativity & Cultural Diversity International Conference 15 - 19 Sept 02 [Online] Leeds: Creativity Centre Ltd.
Available from (Accessed 23rd March 2008)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Expressions of self-esteem

Let us consider you saying to your colleagues: “I am likely the best Java programmer in this company.”Presume for now that your statement is correct. Discuss the following questions:
  • How would your colleagues probably react to such a statement of yours?
  • Is their expected (positive or negative) reaction the local cultural habit in your company or is it a wider position common for people in your country?
  • If your opinion is opposite to the common view, what makes you certain about the rightness of your position?
If I were to stand amongst a group of my colleagues and announce to them "I am likely the best Java programmer in this company" then I would expect a pretty negative response.

There are a number of contexts in which my outburst should be viewed before deciding why I received this negativity. The first of these is to consider the attitudes of my peers towards me. If I am not very close to them personally - if I am a newcomer, or if I have worked with them for years but never really got to know them (I suffer from the latter) then my statement will only reinforce in their minds why we are quite so distant. If this is the case I could expect to be ignored, or challenged aggressively by a more established member of the pack. On the other hand if I am pretty close to my colleagues then my statement is still likely to be received negatively but the response will come with an understanding and a willing to either forget it or forgive it - "that's just Mark being himself".

The manner in which I communicated the statement is incredibly important in understanding how it is received by others. The tone of delivery should be looked at. I could put the opinion forward very seriously, leaving others in no doubt that I mean what I say. I could put it forward obviously jokingly, or obviously sarcastically (this would be if I had never programmed anything in Java before in my life, which is actually true). The differences in these - and other - types of delivery are often subtle and can be easily misinterpreted by someone who is not used to it. Sarcasm, I think, is a particularly British trait. "Both nations [Britain and the USA] liked positive humour, but only the British appreciated sarcasm" (Hamilton, 2008). I have stayed with a family in Canada and my habit of saying that something is especially wonderful when in reality it is not is met with "are you kidding"; a lady from Norway that I used to share a flat with at University had lived in Britain for a number of years and was tuned in to my British brand of humour (and Fawlty Towers). These differences in misinterpretation can easily mean that my statement is misconstrued.

Non - verbal communication will also determine the way that my message is decoded. This will be done sub-conciously by my colleagues but will have an influence on how they react. An open stance that shows I am not trying to hide anything coupled with eye contact will make people more likely to believe what I am saying, but putting the message across with my arms folded or while I am jigging around or looking at the floor will probably make my colleagues take the information with a pinch of salt.

The external influences to my message may also come to bear. For example, there may be competition for jobs among Java programmers - say that two positions are going to be made redundant and the management have yet to announce who will be axed. If the statement is true then one could probably conclude that the company is unlikely to get rid of its best programmer. In this case my statement will cause angst among my colleagues who are less secure about their future. Alternatively, there could be a rumour going around that the company is outsourcing all its Java development to a company in India - a rumour I may not have heard about. My statement may make people feel amused or superior (or upset to lose me) because they know that I am unlikely to be in the office for much longer.

There are a wide range of reasons as to why a statement is interpreted by others in one way or another; just taking the content of the statement is not enough to reason why.


Hamilton, A (2008) Brits are glad to be grumpy, but the Americans are not amused [Online] London: Times Newspapers Ltd.
Available from (Accessed 19th March 2008)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Machiavelli vs. Ghandi

Machiavellians believe that “The aim justifies the means” While Gandhi maintained that “The end is not important, only the means are important.” Do you agree with either of the statements? Why yes or why not?What about your neighborhood? Do many people believe in it or is there a resistance against such attitude?In your opinion, does the attitude differ among nations?

The film A Few Good Men ends with a powerful final courtroom scene where Gen. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) is on the witness stand and being interrogated by Lt. Dan Kaffee (Tom
Cruise) over the death of Santiago (a US Marine) in suspicious circumstances. Jessep spits
the following line as part of a monologue "You have the luxury of not knowing what I know:
That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives" (Sorkin, 1991). I am a firm
believer that the aim justifies the means especially when difficult decisions are made that
affect the lives of others. Few people could argue that the Allied forces were not justified
in sending so many of their young men to their deaths in order to achieve the higher aim of
stopping the evil that was the Nazi party; before the war began both Britain and France had
the opportunity to make this decision but were unwilling to face the horror that would be
unleashed as a result. The irony is that taking the viewpoint of Machiavelli before 1939
would probably have saved many, many lives.

I think in the business world too the aim justifies the means whatever those means may be.
From my studies in economics I think that a free market is stronger and healthier than one
that is restricted by trade or employment practices. If a company such as Siebel, "known for
its annual 5 percent cull of those employees who are seen to be underperforming" (Thompson,
2002), finds that this employment practice improves profitability then I think this is to be
encouraged. Much is made in the UK (by the Prime Minister himself, for starters) about the
inefficiency of the public sector. Introducing a structure where performance could be
measured and the chaff weeded out would be unpopular but it would make a huge difference to
the value that tax payers receive for their contributions.

The actions of Ghandi and his followers and those of protestors in the American Civil Rights
movement also achieved their aims so the sentiment contained in the statement "the end is
not important, only the means are important" cannot be written off either. But to go back to
a point I made above, Ghandi's advice to the people of Western Europe who elected to fight
against the AXIS was "if these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them"
(Ghandi, 1972). Millions of black people in America still live in poverty and the attitudes
of the government towards them after the hurricane in New Orleans does raise questions as to
how far they still have to go to win equality. Mao Tse Tsung said "political power grows out
of the barrel of a gun", Al Capone said "you can get much farther with a kind word and a gun
than you can with a kind word alone". I am inclined to agree with these two more.

I live in the North West of England and think that if you visited any large city here -
Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington - and conducted an opinion poll you would find the
Machiavellian viewpoint taken much more than Ghandi's. One issue causing much tension is the
issue of immigration - British people perceive that illegal immigrants get a much better
deal than nationals who need help from the state. Much of this furore is whipped up by the
right wing press but when people's livelihoods are threatened they are unlikely to take it
with good grace. I believe that this attitude is held by the people of pretty much every
nation on the planet - but I also believe that most people are quite willing to live and let
live until clever and manipulative leaders are able to bring out the worst in people.


Sorkin, A (1991) A Few Good Men (Screenplay) [Online]
Available from (Accessed 16th March 2008)

Thompson, E (2002) Siebel: 800-Pound Gorilla or Sitting Duck [Online] Gartner Inc.
Available from (Accessed 16th March 2008)

Ghandi, M (1972) Non-violence in peace and war, 1942–[1949] Garland Publishing
The quote is available online at

Both quotes of Mao Tse Tsung and Al Capone were taken from www.brainyquote.com

Friday, 14 March 2008

Learning and training methods

Learning is characterized as “any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience”. This also means that it also happens outside of schools, e.g. at workplaces. Give us an example of such a “lesson” that helped you to improve your job performance. Try to generalize this isolated experience of yours into a “training method” that would help others to improve their performance as well.

I am lucky enough to work for a 'learning organisation' - an organisation that I believe
"enables individual learning to create valued outcomes such as innovation and efficiency"
(Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). I am encouraged to learn on the job - the work that I do
(managing and developing middleware engines and data hubs) is a little specialised and there
is more information to acquire than a week long course could ever hope to teach. One of the
biggest advantages (to me at least) of the Internet is that it allows other specialists to
blog their experiences and methods for achieving different results and I just have to tap
into this via Google.

Yesterday I was faced with a problem - one of the processes that I had set up for getting
data from point A to point B in a format that point B would understand was not working
properly. After looking at the problem with a colleague I came up with an action plan, one
item of which was to make the middleware engine talk directly to the source database and
poll information, rather than writing the data out manually and having the middleware engine
poll that. This is a much more efficient way of doing things, but was marred by the fact
that I had never engineered a process in this way before.

So I had to give myself a lesson on how to make this work - no one else in my office knows
how. My first step was to use Google to try and find some examples that other people have
done. Getting the search terms correct is an art in itself - using as many technical words
as possible really focuses the search results. I found one promising blog post straight away
from a blogger whose resources I have used in the past. His method was based on an older
version of software but I gave it a go. However what he prescribed didn't work - there
wasn't sufficient detail for me and some of the concepts he used I know nothing about.
I started looking for other examples and found another a few minutes later by a well
respected blogger who has recently left Microsoft. His example was perfect - he gave a step
- by - step guide but also relied on the fact that the reader (i.e. me) had plenty of
background knowledge. I started working through his example on my computer and trying to
mirror exactly what he was doing. Some of it required a little guesswork and the first
solution I ran failed completely. But I got there in the end and after about two hours of
training I was able to implement a technique that would a) solve my immediate crisis and b)
stay with me and be re-usable again on other problems.

This self - teaching training method requires patience to work - it's not the same as having
someone teaching you face to face because bloggers quite often concentrate on just the
important steps in a process and leave the rest to you. But I would definitely advocate it
to all software professionals - for me classroom training is a waste of time because what
you are learning is quite often out of date.

Huczynski, A & Buchanan, D (2007) Organizational Behaviour (6th Ed) Essex: Pearson Education

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Predicting behaviour

Behavior of people cannot be predicted with 100 % precision.

a) What causes people to behave differently in similar situations?

I think that the reasons why people behave differently in similar situations are too diverse and numerous to list here and I don’t for a minute think that I could list every single one. If I were to narrow the boundaries of this question and undertake an experiment to see the differences in how a group of people behaved in one similar situation I would try to examine the subject through either variance theory or process theory depending on which school of social scientific thought I subscribed to.

If I were to take the variance theory approach I would base my experiment on my belief that “human behaviour should be studied and explained with the same scientific methods that are used to study natural phenomena” (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). Take, for example, an experiment designed to see how a group of ten randomly selected students in a class each reacts to being offered $5 in exchange for letting me take a digital photograph of them, measured in the strength of their willingness ranging from totally willing to totally unwilling. In this experiment the dependent variable will be the reaction of each student and the independent variable will be the act of making them the offer. I would also have to define the operational definition of willingness – in this case I would see it as first time acceptance with no questions asked by the student.

Of course it can be argued that this experiment is invalid because of the combination of external factors that come to bear on the experiment have indeterminate effects. For example, one students’ total willingness may be down to the fact that he left his wallet at home and was unable to pay for a bus ticket. Another students’ total unwillingness may have been caused by the fact that she had been a victim of identity fraud and was very, very wary of her personal details. The positivism approach that my experiment takes would not be able to account for these factors.
A second approach to take would be process theory which studies how “a sequence of events, unfolding in a particular context, contribute to a series of outcomes of interest” (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). None of the factors external to my variance theory experiment could be considered stable and process theory takes a probabilistic view in that it attempts to show how there is a greater or lesser probability that certain combinations of explanatory factors will lead to an outcome (but it will never say the probability is 0% or 100%).
Constructivism is an alternative to the positivism idea in that it sees many elements of objective reality as being socially constructed. In the case of my experiment I would have to ask how the willingness of different students to accept my offer is socially constructed. It may be the case that if I asked another person to observe the experiment with me and rate the reactions that they may rate a student who I rated as ‘reluctant’ as ‘totally willing’. The interpretation of individuals is more important than a pre-determined operational definition, which within a constructivist world is irrelevant.

b) To what degree can we predict their behavior? Give an example of a situation in which the prediction is simple and one in which it is difficult or impossible.

Prediction of individual behaviour becomes harder as more external factors become part of the prediction. An example of a situation where prediction is simple would be this; sit a person at a desk with two overturned cups in front of them and tell them that one has a $20 note underneath it. Tell them that they can choose one cup to lift up and if the $20 note is underneath they can keep it. I think it’s pretty simple to predict that a person would choose to lift up one of the cups rather than elect not to bother – human nature is pretty consistent in its fondness for something for nothing.

I would imagine that a situation in which prediction of human behaviour is difficult or impossible is sending men into battle for the first time. There are hundreds of influencing factors that will decide how each man reacts – will they head towards the enemy, or turn and run, or try and hide; will they be calm and rational or irrational or will they go berserk.

c) Can Organizational Behavior help us to increase the probability of some predictions? Why do you think so?

After reading the introduction to the topic of Organisational Behaviour I think that the answer to this question is ‘yes’. This is because Organisational Behaviour doesn’t treat the people that make up an organisation as islands that are cut off from the rest of the world, rather it tries to understand the different aspects of the environment – political, economic, social – that may cause certain behaviour to happen. By taking this approach and removing uncertainty the probability of certain predictions will increase.

I was enthused by the section in the text on the post – modern organisation and think that this concept will increase the probability of certain predictions because it brings the workforce and those managing them closer together and therefore provides management with more information on which to base decisions. In a post – modern organisation, for example, employees are empowered to make decisions and are usually doing their job because it was something they chose to train for at college or university and therefore it is something that they enjoy doing. Management knows then that the reaction to being offered more responsibility in their chosen area of expertise for no more money will probably not be turned down. In a post - modern organisation employees’ work in small teams and the managers help and facilitate their work rather than being draconian. Concepts like being at work on time or dressing appropriately are becoming increasingly outdated and managers take an interest (and are maybe a part of) their workers private lives too. This means that managers are better placed to understand how different individuals will react to certain changes that are forced upon them.

Also, if an individual works in an organisation that responds positively to change – very elastic to borrow the term from economics – then the employee too is likely to respond positively to change. The behaviour of the organisation has increased the probability of the prediction in this case. The organisation that I work in tends to be one that attracts people because of the relative stability within. This in turn creates workers who only respond well to stability. In recent months the pace of change has been quickening and the organisation is critical of people who do not respond well to it – but this is simply a failure of the organisation to equip its people to deal with change. The behaviour of the organisation increases the probability that its workers will deal well with change by implementing more frequent change.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Enhancing ethical behaviour with IT

Ethical behavior is an important part of a company’s culture. Can you enhance it by using IT? Discuss.

I think that before IT is used to enhance ethical behaviour within a company the company
first has to make the decision on just how far reaching its code of ethics will be. "We find
that firms using ethics-related terms [in their annual 10-K reports to the Securities
Commission] are more likely to be “sin” stocks, are more likely to be the object of class
action lawsuits, and are more likely to score poorly on measures of corporate governance"
(Loughran, McDonald & Yun, 2007). Companies like this - that allude to considering ethical
implications in its day to day business but don't actually follow this through will never
enhance anything through IT.

What about when a company decides that it does actually have some moral backbone? Take Gap
as an example. "An undercover Observer investigation in the back streets of New Delhi
exposes how, despite Gap's rigorous social audit systems launched in 2004 to weed out child
labour in its production processes, the system is being abused by unscrupulous
subcontractors. The result is that children, in this case working in conditions close to
slavery, appear to still be making some of its clothes" (McDougall, 2007). Gaps' obvious
good intentions in 2004 contained loopholes that subcontractors were able to expose and
profit from. My answer to closing these loopholes would be the implentation of a watertight
IT - based supply chain system.

Thinking out loud I would expect that only Gap - endorsed factories could enter production information into Gaps databases and tag the items with barcodes / radio frequencies that only Gaps computers would understand. Any exceptions to this can be quickly reported - to the manager of a warehouse taking delivery, or to the team of executives that run the company. A spokesperson for Gap said "At Gap, we firmly believe that under no circumstances is it acceptable for children to produce or work on garments" (McDougall, 2007). I believe that if the company were more thorough in checking its processes - and all processes in multinationals now involve IT, it's a fact - then its ethical behaviour could have been enhanced much sooner than the point where it was taking some stock off the shelves.

A company's IT recycling policy can also greatly enhance its ethical behaviour. It is one
thing to ensure that old computer equipment is correctly disposed of rather than just ending
up on a landfill, but it is another to donate obsolete equipment that has been written off
to companies such as Comm-Tech in London (which helps charities with IT requirements and
refurbishes the obsolete kit for them at a low price).

Loughran, Tim , McDonald, Bill and Yun, Hayong (2007) A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: The Use of
Ethics-Related Terms in 10-K Reports [Online] University of Notre DamAvailable from (Accessed 9th March 2008)

McDougall, D (2007) Child sweatshop shame threatens Gaps ethical image [Online] London:
Guardian Media Ltd.Available from
(Accessed 9th March 2008)

The contribution of IT to Organizational Behaviour

Information technology influences the behavior of organizations. Name one effect of IT implementation and long-term usage you assume having a positive contribution and one having a negative consequence. Explain why you see them as such.

"Honey, I'm leaving for the psychic prison, see you tonight". Genius.

I work as an IT specialist within a local government organisation. Historically these
organisations have been considered poor when quantifying their performance in terms of
'Organisational Effectiveness'. "We live in a world in which the resources available to us
are not sufficient to meet all of our desires" (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). This statement
has never been truer in local government where a series of reports commissioned by
parliament are forcing organizations like mine to do more with less - at the moment my
workplace really is a system of change and transformation. The implementation of IT is
probably seen as the biggest factor in realising efficiencies - bigger than improving the
workforce, bigger than giving better service to customers.

The IT implementation that I see having a positive long term effect is CRM (Citizen
Relationship Management). Organisations like mine provide an incredibly wide range of
services - administration of housing benefit, environmental health, domestic and commercial
waste and social care are just four of hundreds. A computer-based CRM system allows the
council to join all these services together and means that the citizen only has to
communicate with the council once to engage with any or all of these services, rather than
having to deal with a number of discrete departments. The implementation has come as a
result of environmental pressure in terms of the needs of citizens - when they deal with a
private sector organisation such as a bank or telephone company they expect to communicate
with a single representative who can sort out all their queries. The same expectation comes
when dealing with the council, and the idea of a 'one stop shop' for services is being
embraced nationwide and backed up with an effective CRM system. Work is now being done on
creating 'one version of the truth' - in reality a single unified view of a customer which
combines all their interactions with different council departments. There is also a drive to
include georgraphic information in an effort to further improve customer service. This IT
implementation is definitely a long term investment.

An IT implementation with negative consequences has been the IT system used by Human
Resources to administrate workforce - related issues. I usually take a dim view of human
resources officers but having read the introduction to organisational behaviour I realise I
am falling making 'fundamental attribution error' and should look at organisational - based
reasons as to why I find them difficult to deal with. Certainly their IT system was forced
upon them with absolutely no consultation at ground level. It is difficult and unintuitve to
use making their organisational structure slow to respond. They don't get much support at
all - one IT specialist is available to help with their problems. Contrast this to CRM which
has as many as ten specialists available on the phone to answer all manner of queries (be
they to do with functionality, training, development or error handling). I know from talking
to some of the officers that the system stops them doing their job well because they know
that no matter how hard they work at a task the system will limit its overall effectiveness.
And management constantly talk about replacing it, but because the system is bolted onto the
payroll infrastructure its very hard to do so. This sort of 'will they, won't they' talk
saps morale to the extent where people quit their jobs which causes even more problems.

Huczynski, A & Buchanan, D (2007) Organizational Behaviour (6th Ed.) Harlow: Pearson
Education Ltd.