Human Interfaces 

FINAL EXAM CASE STUDY: Spring 2020

Please ensure you are including the course concepts in your answers.

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Newskool Grooves is a transnational company developing music software. The software is used to compose music, play recordings in clubs, and produce albums. The company headquarters are in Berlin, the nerve center for the organization, where new products are developed and the organizational strategy is established. Newskool outsources a great deal of its work to Kiev, and Los Angeles offices. The German team excels at design and production tasks. Because most of Newskool’s customers are English speakers, the Los Angeles office has been the best group to write ads and market products. The Kiev offices are filled with outstanding programmers who don’t require the very high rates of compensation you’d find in German or U.S. offices. The combination of high-tech software, rapid reorganization, and outsourcing makes Newskool the very definition of a boundaryless organization.

The organization has a decentralized culture. With only 115 employees, the original management philosophy of allowing all employees to participate in decision making and innovation is still the lifeblood of the company’s culture. Because so much of the work can be performed on computers, the CEO decided early to allow employees to work outside the office. The senior management in Berlin and Los Angeles are both quite happy with this arrangement. Because some marketing work does require face-to-face contact, the Los Angeles office has weekly in-person meetings. Employees who like Newskool are happiest when they can work through the night and sleep most of the day. Project discussions often happen via social networking on the company’s intranet.

The Kiev offices have been less eager to work with the boundaryless model. Managers say their computer programmers find working with so little structure rather uncomfortable. They are more used to the idea of a strong leadership structure and well-defined work processes.

Some recent events have also shaken up the company’s usual way of doing business. Developers in the corporate offices had a major communications breakdown about their hardware DJ controller, which required many hours of discussion to resolve. It seems that people who seldom met face to face had all made progress—but had moved in opposite directions! To test and design the company’s hardware products, employees apparently need to do more than send each other code; sometimes they need to collaborate face to face. Some spirited disagreements have been voiced within the organization about how to move forward in this new environment.

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Although the organization is not without problems, there is little question Newskool has been a standout success in the computer music software industry. While many are shuttering their operations, Newskool is using its market power to push forward the next generation of electronic music-making tools.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. Identify some of the problems likely to occur in a boundaryless organization such as Newskool Grooves. What are the advantages of boundaryless organizations?
  2. Consider some of the cultural issues that will affect a company operating in various parts of the world.
  3. What actions would you take to ensure that Newskool’s different offices work effectively with one another?
  4. Based on what you know about motivation, personality, and organizational culture, what types of people are likely to be satisfied in each functional area of the company? Use concepts from the job characteristics model to describe what might need to change to increase employee satisfaction in all areas.
  5. What types of human resources practices need to be implemented in this sort of organization? What principles of selection and hiring are likely to be effective? Which Big Five personality traits and abilities might Newskool supervisors want to use for selection?

 

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