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Micro MBA: Theory and Practice

Micro MBA: Theory and Practice PDF

Author: Carolina Machado, J. Paulo Davim

Publisher: de Gruyter


Publish Date: April 23, 2018

ISBN-10: 3110481162

Pages: 184

File Type: EPub

Language: English

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Book Preface

Nowadays – and this will be the case increasingly moving forward – all professionals are looking to develop their skills and competencies to more effectively meet the growing demands of today’s competitive job market. Because of this reality, it has become quite normal for almost all professionals, in various sectors to consider obtaining a master’s in a business-related field as a means to acquire the necessary and critical knowledge and expertise. Based on these concerns, this book, Micro MBA – Theory and Practice, can be seen and understood as an excellent opportunity to increase the desired abilities and competencies of these professionals.

As one of the most prestigious and sought-after degrees around the world, the Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is designed to develop skills required in business and management careers. Although it focuses on the business world, an MBA can also be very useful to those pursuing a managerial career in private industry, the public sector, government, technology- and engineering-related fields, and others. At this stage, however, often professionals face difficulties not only due to the high cost of such courses but also because they do not always have time in their schedules to earn an MBA. Taking into account this reality, this book, in focusing on subjects such as accounting, economics, marketing, human resources, operations, and project management, aims to cover the “core” curriculum of subjects generally featured in an MBA program. Based on the “core” subjects presented in this book, interested readers will be able to acquire knowledge that they will then be able to apply in a variety of real-world business situations or that will allow them to pursue their personal or professional interests. Because the book covers the main areas of interest in business, readers will be able, in accordance with their own interests and availability and without additional expenses, to acquire the knowledge that an MBA would confer and develop the skills needed to pursue a career in a variety of fields. In addition, the book aims to support academics and researchers by highlighting the most recent findings and developments in the relevant research areas, suggesting topics for discussion and facilitating an exchange of information on models, practices, methodologies, and applications in business.

In six chapters, the book covers the subjects addressed in an MBA program, namely, organizational behavior, accounting/corporate social responsibility (CSR), project management, marketing, and human resource management. Chapter 1 covers organizational culture, Chapter 2 discusses issues related to CSR, Chapter 3 focuses on project management, and Chapter 4 deals with consumer behavior, specifically that of millennials in the tourism industry. Then Chapter 5 discusses an important aspect of human resource management: performance appraisal. The final chapter, Chapter 6, presents a discussion of job analysis in knowledge-intensive, high-performance small and medium-sized enterprises.

The book is designed to increase the knowledge and professional skills of all those interested in developing their careers in various fields, such as university research (at the postgraduate level), business, manufacturing, education, engineering, healthcare, and other service and industrial sectors.

The editors would like to express their gratitude to de Gruyter for the opportunity to publish this book and for its professional support. Finally, we would like to thank to all the contributors for their interest in this project and for carving out the time to write their respective chapters.

Carolina Machado, Braga, Portugal
J. Paulo Davim, Aveiro, Portugal

In North America, Europe, and Australia there is a growing trend for business schools to design their curricula with graduate employability in mind. The challenge they confront is to provide a set of skills and competencies that will allow graduates to successfully enter the workplace, advance within it, and productively manage organizations and personal careers [2–4]. Graduate employability is particularly challenging for a number of interrelated reasons: (a) the work world is constantly changing, which makes it difficult to predict the skills and competencies that will be relevant in the future; (b) new knowledge and disruptive technologies are rapidly diffused; (c) the half-life of knowledge in many professional and disciplinary areas is not very long; and (d) computer-based artificial intelligence that renders many human-centered skills and competencies obsolete is being increasingly used [5–7].

Responding to these complex challenges, many business schools are now accentuating broader and more enduring skills, emphasizing critical and fundamental areas in their curricula, and cultivating a commitment to continuous intellectual growth and lifelong learning after graduation [8–10]. Most likely – given the nature of this book and its intended readership – you have made a commitment to lifelong learning. Further, given the predicted readership of this book (those in the scientific and engineering communities), this chapter might cover an area that has not been previously studied or that has not been considered particularly relevant.

This chapter might prove challenging because, unlike many of the “hard” and technically focused topics of conventional MBA programs, organizational culture is a “soft” topic, akin to subjects like organizational communication or interpersonal relationships. Although many science and engineering students prefer the reassuring nature of technically based “hard” areas of study in MBA programs, such as capital budgeting or managerial economics, it is important to realize that in the real work world, especially at middle and senior management levels, the competencies most in demand and most associated with success are those people-centered ones that many generations of business undergraduates have rather dismissively referred to as “soft” subjects [11, 12].

This chapter explores organizational culture by providing a critical working knowledge of the topic. Organizational culture is a very significant aspect of all social aggregations: project teams, work groups, and corporate organizations. An awareness of organizational culture is of critical importance for those who work in, or collaborate with, such groups. This importance is reflected in the simple definition of organizational culture offered by Schneider, who claims that organizational culture is “the way we do things in order to succeed” [13, p. 128, emphasis in original]. Further, the impact of organizational culture, and the profound challenges and opportunities that it presents to managers, is underscored by Edgar Schein, who advises that “the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture…to understand and work with culture…[and] to destroy culture when it is viewed as dysfunctional” [1, p. 11].

This chapter is organized as follows. Section 1.2 provides a broad review of culture at the levels of metaphor and national phenomenon. Section 1.3 considers culture as an organizational reality, while Section 1.4 explores the structure and nested layers of culture in organizational contexts. Section 1.5 examines organizational culture as an espoused value system and organizational climate that is the experienced culture projectedandconfirmedbyorganizationalprocesses, policies, and procedures.Section1.6 considers the role of leadership in organizational culture, including the role played by an organization’s founding leaders, mechanismsforperpetuating culture, and the processes through which present leaders can shift and realign culture. Section 1.7 briefly summarizes some of the main issues developed in the chapter. This final section is followed by a number of short questions that the reader might find helpful in reviewing the chapter. Answers to these questions are provided after the reference section.

1.2The multiple roots of culture

The underlying ideologies of an organization – that is, the “shared, interrelated sets of beliefs about how things work; values that indicate what’s worth having or doing; and norms that tell people how they should behave” [14, p. 33] – are recognized by all of those in the organization, but their cultural origins often remain unconsidered and unappreciated. Indeed, it might be said that the truly acculturated organizational participant is the one who self-identifies with the organization, behaves according to its norms, subscribes to its assumptions and values, and yet remains oblivious to the presence, power, or even existence of the organization’s underlying culture.

The central theme of this chapter is organizational culture. However, it is important to consider the other culture systems within which an organization and its culture are embedded because, to a great extent, cultures do not exist independently or uniquely but are nested in–andmoderatedby–one another. Rather than approaching culture as a singular phenomenon, it is better to think of it as a set of dynamic and fluid forces that come into play at different times, operate at different levels, produce different outcomes, and continuously undergo change even though those changes might seem gradual.

1.2.1Culture as a metaphor

At the outset, it is important to appreciate that when referring to culture (Latin: cultura = cultivation) we are employing a metaphor and that “culture in all of its early uses was a noun of process: the tending of something, basically crops or animals” [15, p. 87]. Metaphorically, the growth of individuals and their development within a social setting has been compared with cultivating crops in fields or tending grapes in vineyards. Culture – as a process and as an outcome – is connected with growing, nurturing, supporting, and caring. However, over time, this agriculturally rooted metaphor has given rise to two different ways in which culture is conceived of in contemporary English:

Culture as an exclusive quality: In the first sense – in which the roots of the agricultural metaphorical are stronger – culture is associated with a process of deliberate selection, careful propagation, and specific domestication, all designed to develop what are considered more refined human attributes and behaviors. In this older sense, culture is associated with an exclusive high culture as seen in intellectual development, aesthetic refinement, and civilized behavior. Here, culture is regarded as the exclusive domain or preoccupation of an elite social class, and culture differentiates between higher and lower social classes. The outcomes of this process are understood in terms of refinement, cultured minds, and cultured individuals.

Culture as a common social experience: In the second sense – the sense used in this chapter and in organizational culture studies generally – culture is understood in a less restricted sense and is associated with growing up within a specific context, or with developing within a common social environment. Culture, consciously recognized or unrecognized experience, is encountered by everyone and shapes everyone. As Spencer-Oatey explains, “our notion of culture is not something exclusive to certain members; rather, it relates to the whole of a society. More-over, it is not value-laden…. they [cultures] are [only] similar or different to each other” [16, pp. 15–16].

As a construct, culture has been used in multiple senses, in different contexts, and in various fields of social science. It is hardly surprisingly that no single universally agreed-upon definition of culture has emerged; indeed, there are approximately a hundred different definitions in the literatures of anthropology and sociology [17, 18]. Reviewing these, Spencer-Oatey provides her own definition, although she concedes that any definition is likely to be partial, vague, and fuzzy. She defines culture as follows:

The assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member’s behaviour and his/ her interpretations of the ‘meaning’ of other people’s behaviour [16, p. 3].

1.2.2Culture as a national expression

Culture is a shared experience that develops in any context where there is prolonged social interaction. In trying to explain how culture develops, a commonly used unit of analysis has been the nation-state. However, in trying to identify distinctive national cultures, there are a number of significant problems: (a) defining the “nation” involved (e.g., its geopolitical borders, historical development, regional integrity and differences); (b) assessing the homogeneity of the national state (e.g., the extent of racial, ethnic, and religious diversity; distinctive social communities, subgroups, and enclaves; historical patterns of immigration and migration); and (c) constructing a set of stable, reliable, and valid dimensions through which different national cultures can be defined, measured, and compared.

National culture is a subject of interest and study in its ow nright,but it is important to appreciate the extent to which national cultural dimensions are expressed in organizations [19]. The key figure in the analysis and measurement of national culture is Gert Hofstede [20, 21], and his major contribution – Culture’s Consequences – specifically focuses on the widely held national values that contribute to comparative managerial differences. Hofstede’swork attempts to identify, define, and measure quantifiable dimensions of national culture. He defines national culture simply as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” [20, p. 9].

Hofstede’s approach was based on the statistical analysis of responses to cultural assumptions in different countries. The analysis identified a number of cultural dimensions, which he found present in different degrees in all national cultures. The analysis and cultural dimensions identified are widely used but have been criticized for portraying national culture as a static manifestation rather than as a dynamically evolving system. Many scholars also criticize Hofstede’s basic assumptions, research methodology, and data analysis. These critics express concerns that his attempts to reveal stable, persistent, and static national cultural dimensions have inadvertently resulted in misconceptions, misunderstandings, and plausible, but limited and dangerous, sophisticated stereotypes [22–24]. Despite these persistent criticisms, Hofstede’s national cultural dimensions are widely used:

Power distance: “The extent to which less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally” [25, p. 89]. In high power distance cultures, social status and hierarchy are accepted as natural arrangements and the source of personal power, social inequality, and legitimate authority vested in those of higher social rank (compare Malaysia with its high power distance index of 104 and Israel, which scores 13 on the same scale [26]).

Individualism/collectivism: This is the difference between “people looking after themselves and their immediate family only, versus people belonging to in-groups that look after them in exchange for loyalty” [25, p. 89]. Individualistic cultures focus on the individual, the uniqueness of the “I,” and distinctive projections of self. Collectivistic cultures focus on the group, membership in the collective, cooperative efforts, and a dominant concern with “we” and “us” (compare the United States, with its high individualism index of 91, and South Korea, which scores a low 18 [26]).

Masculinity/femininity: This dimension emphasizes the role of gender, and “dominant values in a masculine society are achievement and success; the dominant values in a feminine society are caring for others and quality of life” [25, p. 89]. Masculine cultures tend to find expression through the assignment of distinctive gender-based roles, rigid gender-specific activities, and assumptions of male dominance in areas such as leadership, power, and authority (compare Japan, with its high masculinity index of 95, and Sweden, which scores a low 5 [26]).

Uncertainty avoidance: This is a measure of “the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations” [25, p. 90]. In high-avoidance cultures, there is a significant degree of reluctance and sense of discomfort associated with being in situations that involve change, innovation, and risk-taking (compare Portugal, with its high uncertainty avoidance index of 104, and Denmark, which scores a low 23 [26]).

Long-term vs. short-term orientation: This dimension measures “the extent to which a society exhibits a pragmatic future-orientated perspective rather than a conventional historic or short-term point of view” [25, p. 90]. Long-term-orientation cultures place value on persistence, perseverance, and an investment in the future. Short-term-orientation cultures tend to favor instant rewards and immediate results in the pursuit of either personal happiness or gratification (compare China, with its high long-term-orientation index of 118, and the United States, which scores a low 29 [26]).

National culture is best understood as a statistical construct in which the majority of the population clusters around central values (averages) associated with specific cultural dimensions, for example, high power distance and individualism/collectivism. However, as with all statistical descriptions, (a) there is considerable individual variance about the defined cultural dimension average (country score) and (b) the national culture profile provides a generalized picture and cannot be used to define individuals precisely or to predict their cultural behavior accurately.

National cultures provide a socially perpetuated framework within which inhabitants have a set of generally agreed-upon ways of explaining behavior, identifying values, and understanding “the ways in which we do things.” These generally held assumptions and patterns are recognizable and seem perfectly natural within the country; however, there is considerable individual variation, and there are always distinctive subcultures that differ from national norms.

When individuals who belong to one national culture interact with those of another, they often observe differences and begin to appreciate that they themselves possess cultural perspectives that had been unrecognized, unconsidered, and invisible until the exposure took place. For example, learning a foreign language, working in a different country, or managing foreign nationals all expose national culture differences. Sometimes, national culture differences appear subtly; sometimes, they are recognized dramatically. In a globalized world, especially in the globalized world of business, awareness of national cultural differences and competencies in negotiating them are critical factors for success [27–29].

Since organizational participants generally come from the surrounding national population, it might seem obvious that national cultural values will permeate the organization. However, each organization creates – either spontaneously or in a more consciously and calculated way – its own distinctive set of culture assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors. Organizational culture can be seen as being nested in a broader national culture, and the relative strength, influence, and expression of each culture system can sometimes become a matter of practical concern, rather than simply of academic interest [30, 31]. From a practical perspective, relative cultural strength and possible culture conflict – between national and organizational cultural perspectives – is usually not particularly important. However, culture clash can pose a particular challenge and represent a significant communication barrier for different national units of global companies, for mergers and acquisitions that stretch across national borders and for multinational corporations [32–34].


Brief biographical sketches of editors

List of contributing authors

David Starr-Glass

1Organizational culture: forces that shape thinking, behavior, and success


1.2The multiple roots of culture

1.2.1Culture as a metaphor

1.2.2Culture as a national expression

1.3The culture of organizations

1.4The structure of organizational culture

1.4.1Artifacts: visible organizational structures and processes

1.4.2Espoused beliefs: underlying philosophies and justifications

1.4.3Deeper assumptions and values

1.5Enacted values and organizational climate

1.6Organizational culture and leadership


1.6.2Perpetuating organizational culture

1.6.3When organizational culture needs to change

1.6.4Change interventions in organizational culture


Filomena Antunes Brás

2Corporate social responsibility reporting and sustainability


2.2The concept of CSR and sustainability

2.3Brief overview of historical development of CSR reporting

2.4Two branches of CSR

2.5To whom does one report on CSR and sustainability?

2.6How to disclose CSR and sustainability information?

2.6.1Global Reporting Initiative

2.6.2Integrated reporting

2.7Final remarks

Gema Calleja Sanz, Jordi Olivella Nadal, Joan Vinyals Robert

3Project management


3.1.1What is a project?

3.1.2A brief history of project management

3.1.3Common project management methodologies

3.1.4Megatrends in project management

3.2Business case

3.2.1What is a business case?

3.2.2Content of a business case

3.2.3Project charter

3.2.4Steps of initial phase in project management

3.3The PMBOK approach

3.3.1General structure

3.3.2Phases and processes


Gilda Hernandez-Maskivker

4Consumer behavior: the importance of millennials in the tourism industry


4.2Consumer behavior and tourist behavior

4.3Millennials’ behavior in tourism industry

4.4Final remarks on how to approach this target market from a managerial perspective

Ana Lúcia Rodrigues, Carolina Feliciana Machado

5Performance appraisal: a critical tool in effective human resource management


5.2Performance appraisal in human resource management

5.2.1Performance appraisal objectives

5.2.2Performance appraisal instruments

5.2.3Performance appraisal procedures

5.3Steps to create a performance appraisal system

5.3.1Knowledge of strategy and functions

5.3.2Performance appraisal planning

5.3.3Performance appraisal development

5.3.4Performance appraisal

5.3.5Performance appraisal review

5.4Performance appraisal in company X

5.4.1Methodological approach and procedures in information gathering

5.4.2Company X strategy

5.4.3Performance appraisal planning

5.4.4Review of performance evaluation

5.4.5Conceptualization of a company’s performance appraisal system

5.5Conclusions and guidelines for the future

Ana Raquel Sampaio de Sousa, Carolina Feliciana Machado, Miguel Pinheiro

6Job analysis: an application in a knowledge-intensive, high-performance SME


6.2Theoretical background

6.3Approach and methodology

6.4Findings and discussion

6.5Concluding remarks


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