Fra Global News & Books til WHSmith: En joint venture

Jens Bager Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

A joint venture is an agreement between two or more parties for the purpose of cooperating on a specific initiative. This thesis investigates what happens to the organisational culture in one company when it creates a joint venture with another company. Firstly, the relevant theory of how changes affect the organisational culture in a company is examined and discussed. Secondly, a case study is used to show an example of a joint venture and to investigate how the culture within the company has changed. The theory in this thesis is based on the traditional approaches to organisational culture with an emphasis on Edgar ScheinĀ“s levels of culture within a company. According to one school of thought, the company values at these different levels can be created by the management, whereas others think that this is impossible, because an organisation consists of individuals with different interpretation patterns. Both these two views on organisational culture are described and discussed in this thesis. The common assumption that managers are able to influence the culture in their organisations to a certain extent is also examined. The case study concerns a joint venture between Select Service Partner and WHSmith, which now operates five stores in Copenhagen Airport. Before entering into the joint venture, Select Service Partner ran the stores under the name of Global News & Books. When creating the joint venture, the organisation changed its name to WHSmith and took over their concept but kept the same staff and the same management structure. It is interesting to study how the new situation has changed the organisational culture at the different levels in the company, because it is a situation that many companies and employees are facing and will be facing in the future. This has led to my problem statement: How do the changes in connection with the transition from Global News & Books to WHSmith impact the daily life of the employees and the organisation culture at the different levels in the company? This thesis focuses entirely on the employees and their situation. The goal is to gain an understanding of how their culture has changed due to the joint venture, and how the new concept has been accepted. Moreover, the thesis aims to find patterns of how the organisational culture can be influenced by the management of the company, and to provide findings which may be useful for companies engaging in joint ventures in the future and facing the same problems. The case study consists mainly of a survey using questionnaires handed out to staff. The answers were collected and the results analysed and discussed. To round off the case study and to go further into some of the issues raised in the questionnaires, three separate interviews with employees were also conducted. The data collected from the survey were then analysed and discussed to arrive at an answer to the problem statement. The conclusion of the thesis is that the changes have had a considerable impact on the organisational culture, but at the same time some core values that existed before the creation of the joint venture,still remain conditioning how the employees act and how they feel about their workplace. The survey also shows that the management of a company engaging in a joint venture does have an opportunity to influence the organisational culture, for instance by making sure that information about the changes is communicated properly to the staff, thereby minimizing feelings of insecurity among the employees. This is a demanding task. The managers have to be committed to the undertaking, and at the end of the day it will never be possible to control all aspects of the culture within an organisation.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2009
Number of pages74