Formulating a Summary Response and Realistic Expectations
BTM 7101, Assignment 8
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Joe Direnzo
19 March 2017
The world of business in the twenty-first century is a dynamic environment which is in a constant state of change. Businesses must never settle into a state of contentment, but must constantly evaluate their products, processes, and people. The demands of society on twenty-first century businesses are also changing, and this adds an even greater level of demand to this constant state of change and evaluation. The issue of corporate social responsibility, for example, is a huge contributing factor to the dynamic environment of businesses. Organizations of all sizes must ask themselves what they are doing to meet this demand of demonstrating a positive impact on society at large.
Small businesses across the country are increasingly investing in their own employees, and this investment in paying dividends in multiple ways. This business research is leading us to discover that the corporate embrace of this single trend is markedly changing workplace culture in a positive way. These companies, now being identified as "culture-driven companies," demonstrate to their employees that their most valuable and cherished asset is the employee. As one author phrased it, "culture-driven companies explicitly put their people first." (Bersin, 2015) How are companies communicating this value to their employees? Many small businesses are increasingly investing in their people not only in their business practices, but in providing tangible benefits to the employee directly. One business, HubSpot, "gives their staff free books and education and believe[s] so strongly in transparency that they post their board meeting notes and culture manifesto online." (Bersin, 2015)
Alongside the benefits of businesses investing in their own employees, a growing trend continues to be a demonstrated commitment to corporate social responsibility. Social responsibility and sustainability initiatives fall under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is a growing trend which is continually being embraced by a wider variety of businesses. In fact, CSR "is a priority item on the agenda of almost every business organization." (Babin, 2011) One of the primary factors driving this business priority is "society’s rising demand for corporations to be more environmentally and socially responsible." (Persons, 2012) With this in mind, business leaders would be wise to adopt a corporate sustainability initiative. One example of this is a sustainability initiative centering on African villages with little or no access to clean water. Organizations can target a specific village and site to install two clean water wells, and then "engage its employees actively in all of its sustainability initiatives." (Thorpe, 2013) Across the entire organization, from top to bottom, every employee should be actively engaged in the sustainability initiative. This provides the necessary spark which will not only motivate employees within the business, but it will inspire the local community as well. One business leader, speaking of such sustainability initiatives, said, "we believe that setting a good example is the greatest benefit in that we inspire other organizations, companies and individuals to 'up their game' when it comes to social and environmental responsibility, which in turn encourages further inspiration in the community leading to a more enlightened perspective on how to run ones business or lead one’s life.” (Thorpe, 2013)
In a similar fashion, the adoption of a social responsibility initiative has proven tremendously successful when paired alongside a corporate sustainability initiative. Many companies are donating a portion of their profit to local and national charities and provide a growing presence at local volunteer events. Regarding the example of the aforementioned "Wells in Africa" sustainability initiative, businesses could subsequently set aside a portion of their company profits to a reputable non-profit organization which excels in the area of clean water initiatives. Across the board, business leaders are discovering that adopting such CSR initiatives has attracted clients who "want to work with us because we are focused on a healthier and more productive world." (Thorpe, 2013) Furthermore, these same business leaders are discovering that these initiatives not only have a positive impact on the surrounding community and their clients but also, and, arguably, most importantly, on their existing personnel. In a recent survey of fifty-nine business owners, the results about the benefits of CSR on their own employees were quite impressive. The individual conducting the research noted that, "while each company I interviewed had varying responses for the benefits of CSR and cause marketing for the company, 51 of 59 believe that they have happier employees and 45 of the 59 believe they end up with better employees, either as a result of being able to attract better talent or that the CSR programs help to develop better employees." (Thorpe, 2013)
Current business research also indicates that technology is benefiting businesses in their communication and implementation of each of these trends. Technology, while dynamically evolving and changing at increasing rates, consistently allows for these values to be disseminated and embraced at historic speeds. This allows for business to not only communicate regularly with their employees, but also to improve their overall work experience by granting them access to information and resources geared toward their success and empowerment. The use of technology in this way could greatly counterbalance some of the recent negative trends in business. For example, a 2015 study showed that "employees' net satisfaction with their work experience plummeted 28 percentage points in 2014." (PR, 2015) In particular, "employees'...perceptions about the resources and programs that enable them to grow and perform" was a huge contributing factor to that negative work experience. (PR, 2015) Any use of technology in investing in employees, encouraging their feedback in the business, and communicating corporate social responsibility will only benefit you in the implementation of these trends.
There are, however, certain risks which accompany the deployment of technology. This growing shift toward a workplace reliant on technology also increases the importance of clearly articulated messages from leaders throughout the organization. As workplaces lose such important elements of communication as body language and other forms of non-verbal communication, clearly articulated messages are absolutely essential to building trust. One CEO aptly remarked that leadership is "communicating vision" and getting employees to "accept and adopt it as their own", and getting them to come together to work toward that communicated vision. (Sarros, 2014) The truth of this statement applies just as much to a virtual workplace and to the twenty-first century business leader as it does to a physical workplace and the traditional leader. In the absence of personal interaction, however, if technology is not used appropriately and cautiously, it can provide a risk for the twenty-first century business leader. Therefore, every word must be carefully measured to ensure that those most basic and essential goals of leadership are met in their electronic communication.
As an aspiring organizational leader in this environment of dynamic change, CSR, and technological advances and implementation - and one who is interested in studying this topic at the highest academic level - it is imperative that a differentiation in the consumption and creation of knowledge be understood and maintained. As a Ph.D. student in the field of organizational leadership, a commitment to the creation and unique contribution to knowledge in this field must be maintained. This must be accomplished with continuous research and high-level analysis on this subject while also maintaining a connection to applicability to organizations. Perhaps the greatest contribution to the field of knowledge creation is the doors that are opened to future researchers in that field. As individual knowledge creation is a prerequisite to “collective knowledge creation”, the creation of knowledge in the field of non-profit organizational leadership could potentially lead to knowledge creation of this subject at a broader level. (Kaschig, 2016)
Specifically, my own personal hope and aspirations are to contribute to the creation of knowledge in the field of non-profit organizational leadership as it pertains to leading a multi-generational workforce toward a common vision and goal, while inspiring inter-generational relationships centered on leadership development. I have the unique opportunity to research this subject at Northcentral University while simultaneously leading a non-profit organization in which this theoretical framework can be tested in real-world application. In this sense, theoretical framework is an integral component of knowledge creation in that it provides the necessary starting point of the very ideas which form the basis of the particular knowledge being created. As these ideas are researched, tested, and analyzed, they are refined and reformulated. These reformulated theories or concepts are then tested an analyzed, and the process is repeated until useful knowledge is created. In this very real and practical methodology, theoretical and conceptual frameworks are necessary in scholarly work.
In revisiting my initial expectations and aspirations at the outset of this course and program, my basic interests have not changed, but they have been refined. I continue to be interested in researching and writing about the religious, not-for-profit sector of business and the unique challenges of rallying volunteers around common objectives and a shared mission and vision. However, the focal point of my interest has shifted from the rallying of adults in the generation commonly referred to as "millennials" to, more broadly, developing inter-generational relationships across all generations in the workforce. A major challenge, however, continues to be communicating a compelling mission and vision to multiple generations, while encouraging the millennial generation to assume personal ownership of the organization.
Northcentral has already benefitted me in this endeavor, however, with the subjects covered in this class. The central issues of communication and trust were studied and developed in the research and writing involved in this class. The greatest benefit, however, and one which was completely unsuspected on my part, was the topic of differing values amongst the generations in the modern workforce. Thus far, this has been the greatest scholarly contribution to my own professional growth and development. This is a subject about which I am developing both a passion for and a conceptual framework for the continuing development of this concept within religious non-profit organization leadership.
One foreseeable challenge is the specificity required by a terminal doctoral program in the construction and writing of a dissertation. My hope, and my plan of action, includes continuing to refine my own theoretical framework and ideas as subsequent classes are researched and completed. Ideally, by the time I begin writing my dissertation, this idea will be both cemented and workable. When I reflect on the contribution of this six-week course to that process of refinement and specificity, I am hopeful and encouraged that every other class will contribute as much, and much of the “trimming down” will be completed by the time of the construction of the dissertation.
In the grand scheme of things, this challenge is neither insurmountable nor overwhelming. I remain, as I was at the commencement of this course, genuinely excited about pursuing a Ph.D. in organizational leadership at Northcentral University. Organizational Leadership in the religious, not-for-profit sector is a subject about which I am not only passionate but also incredibly personally invested. I have been, and will continue to be, investing my personal and professional energy into this field and know that whatever contributions Northcentral University can make to my own endeavors will have lifelong effects and impacts in any current or future organizations in which I am involved. I have grown a tremendous amount in this short, but intensive, six-week course and eagerly look forward to the next course and, ultimately to the completion of this degree program.
Babin, R., Briggs, S., & Nicholson, B. (2011). Emerging Markets Corporate Social Responsibility and Global IT Outsourcing. Communications of the ACM, 54(9), 28-30. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
Bersin, J. (2015, March 13). Culture: Why It's The Hottest Topic In Business Today. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2015/03/13/culture-why-its-the-hottest-topic-in-business-today/#616eec69b6e2
Kaschig, A., Maier, R., Sandow, A. (2016). The effects of collecting and connecting activities on knowledge creation in organizations. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 25(4), 243-258. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
Persons, O. (2012). Incorporating corporate social responsibility and sustainability into a business course: A shared experience. Journal of Education for Business, 87(2), 63-72. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
PR, N. (2015, June 3). Global Employee Engagement Levels Have Plateaued, and Average Employee's Perception of the Work Experience is Deteriorating. PR Newswire US.
Sarros, J. C., Luca, E., Densten, I., & Santora, J. (2014). Leaders and their use of motivating language. Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 35(3), 226-240. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
Thorpe, D. (2013, May 18). Why CSR? The Benefits Of Corporate Social Responsibility Will Move You To Act. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/devinthorpe/2013/05/18/why-csr-the-benefits-of-corporate-social-responsibility-will-move-you-to-act/#3fb05e775e1c
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