JK Industries : Study of a small-scale organisation

Sun, Aug 4, 2013

Biz Arena

“Change is the end result of all true learning. Change involves three things: First, dissatisfaction with self – a felt void or need; second, a decision to change to fill the void or need; and third, a conscious dedication to the process of growth and change – the wilful act of making the change, doing something.”
-Dr. Leo Buscaglia, Professor, Author

The perspective towards organisation culture has undergone significant change in the last century. Fredrick Winslow Taylor, the father of scientific management, stressed that scientific management tries to increase productivity by increasing efficiency and wages of workers, and it finds out the best method for performing each job. This theory emphasized on scientific jargons such as scientific selection procedures, scientific training and development, division of labour, performance standards etc.

However towards the late 1960’s several contingency approaches were developed, which accentuated the contingency theory i.e. a class of behavioural theory, that claims that there is no best way to organize a corporation, to lead a company, how to make decisions; instead, the optimal course of action is contingent (dependent) upon the internal and external situations. These approaches disapproved Taylor’s scientific management by reasoning that it failed because it neglected that management style and organization structure were influenced by various aspects of the environment: the contingency factors, i.e., there could not be “one best way” for leadership or organization, rather is the “best fit”.

Moving ahead on same lines, and to corroborate our argument in real time organizations, we have chosen JK Industries, located in DadaNagar, Kanpur as our organisation of interest. It is a small-scale firm, which manufactures electrical motors and submersible pumps. Established in the year 1985, with current employee strength of 10 and a basic production unit for motors and pumps, it has rapidly expanded operations, and today it is the leading manufacturer of induction motors for a wide range of industrial applications. Being a small scale organisation, all the decisions are taken by the owner, and it follows a very rigid and mechanistic structure.

One of the biggest learning this project has provided us with is a better understanding of working in a small team and how to effectively handle the team dynamics. When we as individuals, worked collaboratively towards a common goal of studying an organization in light of the various organizational theories we have learnt so far, we came across a plethora of factors affecting the effective working of our team, viz. trust, peer-compassion, effective communication skills, technical expertise, etc. We learnt to trust each other’s specific skills and expertise in a particular area and assign them tasks accordingly. But most importantly, we learnt that a team’s output is a collective responsibility, and everyone is equally accountable to it. The project became very close to us in due time, and all of us really wanted to learn the working of JK Industries, specifically in light of various organizational theories being taught to us.

Before commencing our project, we kept our initial focus on few organizational theories and, kept adding in due time, as we learnt more through the course and were able to correlate those theories with real time organizations. One of our primary focuses was to do a comparative study between Taylor’s scientific management theory and the Contingency approach, in light of small scale organizations. From our observations, we were able to deduce that the contingency approaches were indeed right in disapproving the scientific management principles, as no two organizations behave in a similar manner towards the internal and external environment, and thus we cannot generalize a single management technique throughout all organizations. Specifically in JK Industries, we could see that on few occasions, they failed as a team during crisis situations, and still had no clue about how to deal with the future contingencies.

Another interesting aspect of our learning process is about the theory of legitimacy, and how it is sometimes deployed by organizations to attain social acceptance. We saw shock behavior by JK Industries, wherein they treated the ISO standards as just ‘selling tags’, without meeting all of the stated safety regulations. We could see the organizational theory of legitimacy fit perfectly in such situations.

Finally, we got to observe nuances between espoused theory and the theory in use for JK Industries, which in a partial manner, may represent the practices being followed across other such small scale organizations. We learnt that, the organization looks very different on paper and in the way it actually behaves. Even after our firm persuasion to the workers to know the latent truths of the cultural aspects of JK Industries, we believe that still we are far away from the truth, and what we have unearthed, is just a tip of an iceberg. On one occasion, when we requested the owner to consider their perspective towards the ISO and safety standards, he gave us an affirmative smile and said he would definitely look into it, but we believe that we may be able to change his espoused theories while leaving his theories-in-use untouched, i.e. he might have said all the right things, but would continue to do the wrong things.
Overall, it was an enriching experience for our entire team, and we look forward to more of such projects in future, which would bring together us as a team, to work towards a common goal and in turn, rediscover more about our own strengths and weaknesses, if any.

Project Done By -
- AngshumanSarkar
- Anil Kumar
- MangeshDharwad
- Vidit Mehta

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