Individual and Organizational Factors
One of the organizational factors that affected HP was the lack of trust. The low trust in the company was the instigator towards investigations into the activities of senior leaders (Robbins, 1997). In this case, former Chairman Dunn launched an investigation that was unethical and illegal into other senior leaders because she did not trust them (Kessler, 2006). The same emanated on the failure to work together and carry the same vision of the organization. Hence, the company ended up with executives who had very different opinions and could not work together because they did not trust each other's motives. Additionally, HP faced the problem of self-serving managers (Robbins, 1997). Self-serving management is not ideal since it limits a sense of togetherness that is necessary for success. All the leaders in this case wanted to advance in their careers and accumulate power to ensure they influenced decisions in the board. Therefore, the position resulted in a senior executive leaking information to the media to shed a negative light on others. The situation illuminates that the executives did not care about the well-being of the company in general. They were merely interested in advancing their own agendas and would go to extreme measure to attain their individual goals.
Moreover, HP was affected by high performance pressures that in turn led to high self-monitors and expectations of success (Robbins, 1997). When individuals are pressured to perform exceedingly well, they resort to behavior that unethical behavior to facilitate their success. An example of a high pressure situation is the company's dismissal of former CEO Carly Fiorina even though she was among Forbes's most successful leaders. The board did not have confidence in her running the company because of her position on the acquisition of Compaq. The board argued that her views depicted her failure as CEO even though she had been influential in the previous success of the company. Hence, the situation illustrates the high pressure environment in the company. It was expected that the executives would go to extreme measures to ensure they did not fail in any way. Besides, it is imperative to consider that the company did not have a system that determined poor performance (Robbins, 1997). For this reason, an executive having a different opinion from the status quo could be misconstrued as the lack of good performance.
One type of political behavior evident in this case was the manipulation of information (Luthans et al, 2015). The leaders used the confidential information pertaining to the company for their own benefit. One of the senior executives leaked information about the board to the press because they wanted to accumulate all the power to themselves by destroying the status quo. The leak was a power move that was meant to disrupt what was ongoing in the organization and lead to the re-alignment of power. Another behavior was the maintenance of relationships with the most influential individuals in the company (Luthans et al, 2015). HP's problems emanated from the internal alliances that prevented a shared vision in the company. The executives struggled to be in cohorts with members of the board so that they would have power that comes from influencing decisions. For instance, former CEO Carly Fiorina threatened the other senor leaders when she became too close to the board (Kessler, 2006). She and the board had a suspicious relationship that influenced the media leak.
Furthermore, most individuals in senior positions lobbied and rallied fellow members against those they deemed as a threat (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2004). The company's internal politics was premised on individuals making alliances and feeding one another with propaganda that discredited their colleagues. For example, during the Compaq acquisition deal, Walter Hewlett campaigned against the former CEO Fiorina. He lobbied individuals on his side and used his family's status to influence the board. The situation highlights the norm in the company in terms of power dynamics. The executives in the company also acquired their power by eliminating any individuals who opposed their views (Luthans et al, 2015). The high turnover rate indicates that many people were fired by those in a more powerful position than they were. The ones who were dismissed showcased an inclination towards opposing the status quo or being curious. Opposition in HP was seen as a threat to the power dynamics that were at the very core of the company's organizational structure.
Leaking the information to the press was very unethical. Robbins (1997) posits that while some politics are not necessarily unethical, the line exists in the interest the action serves. For instance, if one leaks information so as to benefit their own interests, then it constitutes to an unethical act. However, the same would not be the case if the action is meant for the good of the organization or facilitates its objectives. The act of leaking sensitive information had a direct negative impact on the company's image. It presented the business of the board that is supposed to stay confidential to the world. The company lost its credibility and respect. Hence, the act was conducted to harm the company by presenting the board in a negative light, which makes it unethical. The individual who leaked the information did so to serve their own agenda as opposed to what was best for HP.
The investigation by Patricia Dunn was also unethical in many ways. To begin with, the act violated the rights of others. Robbins (19970 opines that an ethical act has to have respect for individual rights. However, Dunn did not put this into consideration and proceeded to infringe of the privacy of the other leaders in the company. Not only was the act unethical, but also illegal since privacy is guaranteed by the law. Additionally, Dunn's act was unethical because it was full of favoritism. It targeted one individual and spared others whose actions needed investigations as well. She was only interested in capturing the source of the leaks and did not bother to substantiate the claims against those involved in the accusations. More so, the action by Dunn was not in the best interest of the company. Rather, she was serving her interest in the need to protect her image as chairman of the board. The same marks the reason behind her extreme measures to find the source of the leaks. While one can argue that the act was ethical since it was meant to find out who the leak was, the same is not the case. Dunn would have protected the goals of the organizations before anything else. Her actions did the opposite and led to the undermining of the objectives in the first place. They had a direct effect on the loss of stock for the company.
Kessler, M. (2006, Sep 08). Controversial HP probe started under Fiorina; stock falls as board continues public feud. USA Today [ProQuest]
Luthans, F., Luthans, K. W., & Luthans, B. C. (2015). Chapter 10: Power and politics. Organizational Behavior: An Evidence-based Approach. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing, pp. 296-304 [eBook Business Collection
Robbins, S. (1997). Chapter 11: Power and politics. Essentials of Organizational Behavior. Pearson Education, New York, NY, pp. 869-901. Retrieved from www.rim.edu.bt/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/OBCDCH116.pdf
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