Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I – General Introduction
A few years ago, the goal for which Human Resources Management was created was to make it possible for any organization to meet its strategic goals by selecting, developing, maintaining, and effectively managing the human capital, being the most invaluable entity of the organization’s three assets. It has been known for the human resources department to devise an interdisciplinary examination, understanding, and planning strategies of the human capital. However, the fierce international competition resulted from globalization, the worldwide emerging markets, and the technological advancement have created an urgent need for both private as well as public organizations to work out innovative and competitive management strategies consistent with the fast-pace changing marketplace where only the most adaptable, resilient, and customer-centered organizations can survive. In such an environment, the duties of the human resource leaders are no more just aligning the employees’ performance with the organization’s strategic objectives. Further, organizations have become in need of a Human Resources leader whose charismatic personality, well-rounded knowledge, and task-oriented performance would enable him\her to grasp the dynamic environment within which today’s organizations operate: a know-how leader who can make the human capital takes part in the formulation and implementation of the Human Resource policies which stem from and influence the workplace environment.
The reasons behind selecting “Leadership in Human Resources Management” as the core subject of this paper have been motivated by both the value of the topic and academic motives. Leadership is a form of control which is not restricted to business world, for it has historically maintained unity and integrity within organizations and communities. Leadership is a rationale form of authority that any type of organization is in need of, be it political, social, or economic. Its value duels in its mission, which is serving through directive vision and concrete guidelines. In marketing, a number of practitioners have sensed the importance of leadership for the success of business. However, the fast and global socio-economic changes have obliged companies to revise their management and leadership strategies in order to survive in the world economy. Hence, rethinking the concept and practices of leadership in areas of Human Resources Management or Strategic Marketing Management has become a necessarily. This is partially why the topic of Leadership in Human Resources Management is brought in this paper.
Additionally, having been exposed to various aspects, controversial concepts, issues, theories, and taking a Course of Human Resources Management, I have developed a sort of reflective maturity toward this field, and become more aware of aspects that need more academic investigation in this area of study. In addition, my participation (as Chaperon of a group of Business school students at Alfred University) in the 2007 Society for Human Resource Management’s – SHRM- Regional Conference , held at Rutgers University of New Jersey, in which a number of Human Resources well-qualified professors, international business analysts, Chief Executive Officers of international organizations, and over hundred of students from a number the States’ Universities meet to share their theoretical and professional expertise, was among the reasons that motivated the writing of this paper. One of the event’s panel discussion addressed the issue of “Professional Growth through Volunteer Leadership,” which highlighted the crucial role of leadership in the success of organizations in the era of globalization. Accordingly, it grew lucid in my mind the fruitfulness of writing a simple but up-dated framework of Human Resources leadership profile, hoping that it would be informative for any business student as well as any person has intent to learn about leadership in the area of Human Resources.
3. Objective of this Paper
The subject of this paper revolves around the notion of ‘leadership’ in the area of Human Resources Management. The aim is to sketch out an integrative framework of the prerequisite features of an efficient leader in matter of Human Resources Management. The model of “leadership,” suggested in this paper, is not an unprecedented framework; rather, it is a modified and up-to-date approach to leadership, which takes into consideration some of the major changes as well as previous theories and approaches of management, in general, and Human Resources Management, in specific. Hence, this model is not the outcome of any scientific study or field work assessment. It is a mere outcome of the accumulated knowledge, theoretical tools and approaches I have acquired from our Academic Course of Human Resource Management, along with my participation in the Human Resources Regional Conference, held at Rutgers University of New Jersey, in addition to a review of literature and the outcome of my humble life-experience.
4. Addressed Questions
On the ground of the aforementioned rationale and objectives, the present paper seeks to answer three main questions:
1 – What are the major factors governing leadership in Human Resources Management?
Answer to this question will provide a general frame of the mechanisms – internal and external – that both mould the leadership styles adopted by the Human Resources leader, and map out the directions followed in the leading process.
2 – What are the different styles of leadership, and how are they characterized?
The aim behind raising this question is to highlight current leadership styles and underlying features of each approach to leadership.
3 – Considering the fast-pace changes taking place at the global level, what are the criteria required in today’s Human Resources leader serving international organization?
The third question is meant to develop a tentative framework of an efficient would-be-leader in a global marketplace. The basis on which this updated model is going to be developed is derived from two main sources: first, previous theories and models of leadership suggested by professionals and psychologist leadership. The second source will be derived from a focus on IBM international corporate’s leadership strategy in the area of human resources. Notably, answers to these questions are not based on any scientific experiments or empirical data. Rather, they tentative answer based on analytical study, supported by an overall review of literature. That says that the paper does not claim any generalizable results or recommendations.
This paper is made up of four parts. Part one is a form of a general introduction, containing a general review, rationale, objectives, and the addressed questions alongside the organisation of the paper. Part two covers the review of the literature, related to the scope of topic: thus, a thorough definition of leadership, management, and followership is going to be catered for. Part three outlines a framework of Leadership in Human Resources Management; in this vain, both internal and external criteria constructing the profile of an efficient leader are to be mapped out. Besides, a review of major styles of leadership is to be discussed, followed by the four Factors governing Leadership within an organization, namely: 1) Leaders, 2) followers, 3) Communication, 4) the Context. In part four, discussed is a model of human resources leadership in today’s global organization: the case of IBM Organization will exemplify of adopting a model of a good leadership in the area of Human resources management. The paper will be concluded by a recapitalization of the main points discussed in this paper.
II – Review of the Literature
The issue of leadership, in general, has long occupied the timely and spatial contexts of a number of theorists and thinkers in all fields of science and human interactions. Its importance resides in its intrinsic value and tremendous impact on both individuals as will as organizations, for it is an intellectually all-encompassing subject. Ironically enough, this area of study remains a puzzling topic, in most of its parts, because the topic has not yet been experimentally investigated; and there is not up till now any scientific study on leadership. This is why there is hardly a consensus on an exact definition of the concept.
1- What is “leadership?”
In “The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society,” Kenneth Boulding defines “leadership” as “a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. ” In this vain, leadership in human resources management reflects an individual’s abilities to efficiently direct a group of individuals or workers toward achieving pre-set goals of a given organization or company of which they are members. These abilities can be summarized in high personal attributes, diversified intellectual background, and professional performing skills, all of which make of an individual a charismatic leader who is considered as a model to be followed. Being as such, a leader is not only expected to have a clear vision on the future of the organization but also required to communicate this vision with the employees and make them active participants in its realization, by providing them with both directions and motivation. Leadership process, in this respect, appears to be synonymous with management practices in the sense that both managers and leaders hold the same responsibility towards their organization, and have a direct authority over the latter’s employees; thus, leadership style can be also applied to management style. However, a number of strategic management theorists underline a difference between the two processes.
2 - The Difference between Leadership and Management
One of the main factors distinguishing between management and leadership is highlighted by Hersey, P. and Blanchard who consider management styles as a part of the whole leadership process. According to both theorists,
"Leadership occurs any time one attempts to influence the behavior of an individual or group, regardless of the reason. . . . Management is a kind of leadership in which the achievement of organizational goals is paramount. ”
That says that the primary role of management within an organization is to align the employees’ performance with the organization’s strategic objectives, which is just one form of leadership. Another distinction has to do with the nature of power both a manager and a leader hold within the organization. While a manager has a legal power derived from his professional status, the leader derives his power from the influence s/he might have on his followers. Hence, a manager has the authority to boss people around because of the power s/he has over them; whereas, a leader’s power is represented in his capacity to make his/her followers want to achieve given goals. Further, leadership is perceived as inspiring in its overall vision regardless the reasons or goals behind it; contrastingly, management anchors on the realization of a concrete plan in a specific time frame. Warren Bennis drew a lucid dichotomy between the duties and roles of a leader and a manager in an organization. For him, Leaders’ interests revolve around establishing clear vision, direction, goals, efficacy, purpose, and the trust-inspiration of the followers. Managers, on the other side, are concerned with short-term achievement by controlling the workers’ performance. Further, Managers administer while leaders innovate. They have their eye on the bottom line with a focus on systems and structure of the organization; whereas leaders have a wider vision of the horizon with a focus on people.
Indeed, contrasting both processes may prove to be informative in terms of the nature and roles of leadership and management. However, these distinctions tend to picture management in a traditional and inferior form of control in the sense that it is inflexible and rather bureaucratic process: it deploys the human, financial, technological, and natural resources in meeting the companies preset goals as opposed to the dynamic and strategic process of leadership, depicted as human-capital and creativity-inspiring dynamic. In this vain, John Kotter (1990) introduces a new dimension, perceiving both processes as different in function, but none is necessary favored over the other. He decrees that both are equally necessary for the effective running of an organization:
“Leadership is different from management, but not for the reason most people think. Leadership isn't mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having charisma or other exotic personality traits. It's not the province of a chosen few ."
Buchanan and Huczynski (2004) align with the latter trend and design a frame work of various functions in the agenda of both leaders and managers. Figure .1 summarizes Buchanan and Huczynski’s model . Other Human Resources analysts argue that a comprehensive definition of the concept of “leadership” is better achieved through understanding the intrinsic leader-follower and/or leadership-followership correlation.
Creating an agenda Establishing direction: Vision of the future, develop strategies for change to achieve goals Plans and budgets: Decide action plans and timetables, allocate resources
Developing people Aligning people: Communicate vision and strategy, influence creation of teams which accept validity of goals Organizing and staffing: Decide structure and allocate staff, develop policies, procedures and monitoring
Execution Motivating and inspiring: Energize people to overcome obstacles, satisfy human needs Controlling, problem solving: Monitor results against plan and take corrective action
Produces positive and sometimes dramatic change
Produces order, consistency and predictability
Figure 1: Leadership and Management (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004, p 718 - based on Kotter, 1990)
3 - Leadership and Followership
Current analysts have shift their focus toward the followers/employees, and followership. Robert Greenleaf has lately introduced the concept of followership, being a crucial factor in shaping the form and function of leadership, alongside a profile of theleader. The concept “servant-leadership,” according to Robert, refers to the leader’s commitment to serve his employees, organization, and society. True enough, employees represent keystone in the life and function of the leaders. The latter, in fact, do not choose to be so, but they are made by the group which shapes their aspirations and values. For example, part of being an effective leader is having excellent ideas, or a clear sense of direction, a sense of mission. But such ideas or vision are useless unless the leader can communicate them and get them accepted by followers. Once this reciprocal communication is blocked, leaders become lost, out of touch, and unwanted by the group. Thus, the more the leader-follower interaction studied, the better the process of leadership is understood and can be theorized for the sake of designing training programs and academic curriculum aiming at making the process of leadership a systematically transferable core of skills in the field of human resources in particular.
III - A Framework of Leadership in Human Resources Management
1 - Factors of Leadership
Like in any other form of organization, leadership in a business organization is governed by four factors: 1) led, 2) leader, 3) communication, 4) situation.
- The Led: Also known as follower, it refers to the staff members or employees under the leader’ responsibility. In order to establish mutually successful report with the led/employees, the human resources leader has to know every single employee’s experience level pertaining to the assigned job, confidence level, and how best they can perform under different working environment. On the ground of this knowledge of the led, the leader can evaluate the level of competence, motivation, and communication skills needed for his/her employees. These thee points are very essential for understanding the nature and qualification of employees, which, in return, would help adjusting the appropriate leadership style according to each individual worker’s needs. For example, an experienced worker might need less monitoring than an inexperienced one; an unmotivated employee may require different approach than a highly motivated one. In order to come to this level of understanding, the leader needs to devote much time in understanding the human capital under his/her responsibility, because it is the followers who may determine whether or not an individual is a successful leader.
- The Leader: as a leader, one has to have a comprehensive grasp of who s/he is, as a person, a professional, and a leader. Besides, the leader has to delineate the repertory of his/her general and professional knowledge as Human Resources employer. Being aware of what one knows implies that one is able to decide what s/he can do as Human resources leader. In short, leaders have to have a good understanding of their personality, knowledge, and performance.
- Communication: Part of the leader’s duties is to communicate ideas/messages on a regular basis with all the employees. The formulation of the communicated ideas can have either positive or negative outcomes on the employees’ understanding and translation of the messages into concrete actions. Therefore, the leader has to be clever in selecting the communication channel – oral, written, or physical- the context, and timing of message delivery: effective communication does not only strengthen the relationship between the leader and the employees but it also influences the organization’s performance and image.
- The Situation: this is a dynamic factor that requires the leader to be situation-oriented in his/her problem-solving skills. For so doing, the human resources leader has to perpetually consider four main variables in every situation, including: the task, the timing, the staff available for task, and the subordinate competence level. A leader may, for instance, need to decide on an employee’s inappropriate behavior in the workplace; the choice of the time, the context, and the nature of the punishment itself has to be consistent with the nature of the mistake; otherwise, the confrontation might be ineffective. Indeed, these four factors – the led, the leader, communication, and situation – are said to govern the roles of the human resources leader in the sense that help determining preferred leadership styles that would align with the culture and vision of a given organization.
2- Leadership Styles
Leadership styles in Human Resources Management is mainly defined by the culture of the company as well as the leader’s values, skills, and the given situation that might favor a certain style over others. Based on marketing theories and assumptions, various leadership styles are derived and deployed according to the above mentioned factors. Recorded literature on Leadership in Organization suggests seven leadership styles: below is a precise feature of each of the leadership styles adoptable in the Human Resources Department.
- The Autocratic Leader
This approach to leadership is characterized by the leader’s complete control of the employees’ actions and task performances in the sense that the team has little, if not no, say in decision making. Leaders, in this case, usually give directions and expect outcomes rather than negotiating or taking roles in teamwork. Autocratic leadership may prove to be useful in some situations where the organization operates under pressure. However, this style of leadership might not be appropriate especially in modern and/or international corporate.
- The Democratic Leader
In companies where the human resources department is managed by a democratic leader, employees’ participation in decision making is highlighted. Workers, for instance, have a moderate space of freedom to determine the ways certain tasks are to be accomplished; they can even select the people who might perform those tasks, while the leader keeps his/her sights over his/her team performances and intervenes whenever need be. By directing themselves, workers gain more and more motivation and self-empowerment. A democratic leader, also, encourages group discussion, and draws a pool of plausible suggestions from his/her led for the sake of improving team collaboration.
- The Charismatic Leader
Charismatic Leaders are good listeners and speakers who pay great of their consideration to their surrounding environments. Their mastery of verbal and body language makes them persuasive. Besides, they are very attentive in listening to the person they converse with making that person charmed by them. Charismatic leaders also are vigilantly aware of the environment within which they operate, and are good at uplifting the self-esteem of the workers. They do so by using a wide range of communicative interactions and motivational tactics. They are also known for incarnating a trustworthy profile through visible self-commitment and assumed-responsibilities. The Charismatic leader gathers followers through dint of personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority. Charismatic leaders usually work on building up the concept of “group” within which they try to fuse themselves along with their employees, a fact which makes the followers less individualistic in their performance and strongly committed to the service of the group at large. In short, charismatic leadership encompasses sensitivity to the environment, sensitivity to member needs, personal risk taking, and performance of unconventional behavior.
- Participative Leadership
The participative leadership is one of the most favored styles of leadership among organizations. It is also referred to as management by objectives, joint decision-making, and power-sharing. This technique is not much different from democratic leadership. The human resources department that adopts this style seeks to involve its workers in decision making process in order to foster their commitment and collaborative spirit, and it believes that there is no one way of doing business, which makes the workplace environment supportive as well as flexible.
- Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership style is an inspiring technique that injects enthusiasm and passion toward work in the souls of workers. The latter usually appreciate transformational leadership style because it uplifts their professional experience and nurtures them with passion toward their job. The transformational leader usually starts with the development of a vision, a view of the future that would excite and convert followers into potential leaders. This vision may be developed by the leader or it is already set by the organization's strategy. Next, the leader has to commit him/herself to market the vision to the employees, a task which requires a great deal of energy, perseverance, and persuasive skills. For so doing, the leader has to set clear and step-by-step directions for the actualization of the vision. Furthermore, what makes employees enjoy this leadership style is its being people-oriented and its focus on the success and development of the human capital as well as the company's productivity.
- Servant Leaders
The servant leader style is a current approach to leadership that has been wildly talked about recently by many Human Resources analysts. As its name implies, a servant leader is meant to serve the needy led by helping them to improve their professional performance and achieve remarkable outcomes. Spears, L. C. , for instance, argues that "listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to growth of people, and building community" are the pivotal touchstones that make of a given person a servant leader. In short, the form of leadership is characterized by the leader's complete devotion to the led.
- The Laissez-Faire Leader
Laissez-Faire leadership stands on the other side of the autocratic approach. The laissez-faire leader usually exercises little control on his/led. S/he so does because he trusts his/her team’s high proficiency and expertise. That is, this method of control is most likely operative in organizations where workers have already reached a discernible level of professional experience along with awareness of the culture of the organization. Again, there are situations where the Laissez-Faire approach can be effective. Indeed, the Laissez-Faire technique can be successful with skilled workers, known for their excellent work history.
To put it in a nutshell, there are different styles of leadership. Each style has its inherent strengths and drawback. The leader has to determine which leadership style is efficiently operational with which company and under what circumstances, because every company has its identical culture, structure and statement of mission; hence, a leader is expected to scrutinize all these variables before deciding on the leadership style to be adopted. Having said so, we now need to understand the factors, both internal and external, that shape up the profile of a good leader.
3 - Internal Criteria Affecting Leadership
Lewis H. Lapham, once said, " leadership consists not in degree of technique but in traits of character; it requires moral rather than athletic or intellectual efforts, and it imposes on both leader and follower alike the burdens of self-restraint." This testimony reveals how important personality traits are in determining the profile of a good leader. However, a leader is neither born with these personality characters, nor is s/he born a leader. Leaders are made and not born: every one has the potential to be a good leader, through an ongoing process of self study, education, and professional experience. This raises the question of what are the mechanisms that shape up the profile of a good leader of Human Resources Management.
- Personality Mechanisms
The "Trait Theory" of leadership, as explained by Bass (1990), holds that some personality traits are the main predictors of a would-leader. Some of these traits are self-esteem, self-efficacy, integrative-motivation, self-commitment, integrity, trust, courage, creativity, imagination, and straightforwardness. Hence, a Human Resources Department whose leader is a trustworthy, risk taker, creative, and respect for his/her employees, the latter's respect toward this leader would most likely grow.
Understanding of the Leader's duty
Besides having consistent character traits, a good Human Resources leader has to have a bulk of valid and reliable knowledge. In this vain, to be a hankered-for leader, one has to have an axiomatic grasp of:
- Himself/herself as person and a leader: one has to know his/her strengths and weaknesses in terms of character, knowledge, skills, and professional performance.
- His/her duties as a leader, along with the needs of the led.
- The nature of the organization, including its culture, vision, mission, goals and objectives.
- The communication tactics and tools to be used in every situation.
Indeed, though personality traits along with knowledge are crucial assets a good leader should incarnate, performance is what actually matters in the professional life of the leader. From the stand point of the employees, a good leader is judged according to his/her behaviors that have direct influence on both the human capital and the organization. Therefore, to be efficient in his/her performance, the leader has to be able to translate his/her character, values, vision, and knowledge into concrete actions, and operational guidance. The leader, for instance, is required to:
- Set measurable goals, and negotiate the implementing strategies, decision-making and problem solving processes with the workers.
- Maintain high team-work spirit and motivational incentives, through rewards and appraisals for excellent workers.
- Provide moral as well as material support to less qualified or novice employees.
- Maintain a regular coordination, supervision, and evaluation of the team's productivity.
The aforementioned mechanisms (personality factors, knowledge, and performance) are basically intrinsic factors that construct the persona of a good leader. There are other external variables influencing the performance and overall philosophy of the Human Resources leader.
4- External factors Influencing Leadership
As mentioned earlier, every organization has its identical nature of doing business or services. Environment, climate, and culture are the underlying constituents that define the nature of a given organization, and influence the leadership style to be adopted.
-The Environment of Organizations
The concept of "environment" in the sphere of business is the sum up of the organization's goals, mission statement, philosophy, ethics and standards. The organization environment does not only affect the leader's performance but also every individual working for it.
- Climate of Organizations
Climate of a given organization is directly influenced by the board of managers and leaders' actions and behaviors within the workplace. Climate, in other terms, is the body of beliefs, values, and attitudes of the employers and employees towards themselves, their work, and their customers. Of course, every leader, no matter how his/her leadership style might be, contributes in and incarnates the climate of the organization to which s/he works for.
- Culture of Organization
The organization's culture displays the set of customs, vision, expectations, routines, rituals, and way of doing business that a company embraces. It is a long-term process which combines the past with present and influences the future of the firm. As a leader, one can not easily change aspects of the company's culture, but might affect its climate as long as the newly introduced practice or behavior does not conflict with the vision or goals of the organization.
Studying both internal and external mechanisms that shape the profile of a leader reveals the complexity characterizing the duty of a leader. This complexity does not stem from the nature of the duty, but emanate rather from the unpredictable dynamics surrounding the professional environment of the leader.
IV – IBM Corporation: a Leader in Human Resources Management
1 - IBM Profile
With over 350,000 employees worldwide, International Business Machines Corporation, known as IBM or "Big Blue"; is the largest multinational computer technology corporation, headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, infrastructure services, hosting services and consulting services.
2006, IBM has fallen to second behind Hewlett-Packard in total revenue. It has engineers and consultants in over 170 countries, and IBM Research has eight laboratories worldwide. IBM employees have earned five Nobel Prizes, five Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. As a chip maker, IBM is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders .
2 - IBM’s Workforce & Diversity
In the 1990s, two major pension program changes, including a conversion to cash balance plan, resulted in an employee class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination. IBM employees won the lawsuit and arrived at a partial settlement, although appeals are still underway. IBM also settled a major overtime class-action lawsuit in 2006. Although, there has been recently a number of sweeping cuts to the workplace, IBM has had a good reputation of long-term staff retention with few large scale layoffs. Its efforts to promote workforce diversity and equal opportunity date back to World War I, when the company hired disabled veterans. It provides employees' same-sex partners with benefits and provides an anti-discrimination clause. The Human Rights Campaign has consistently rated IBM at 100%, the highest score, on its index of gay-friendliness since 2003. IBM was the only technology company ranked in Working Mother magazine's Top 10 for 2004. In 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to formally commit to not using genetic information in its employment decisions. This came just a few months after IBM announced its support of the National Geographic Society's Geographic Project.
3 - IBM Human Capital Management
As far as human capital management in IBM is concerned, the value placed on the employees was set long ago by the founder of the company Thomas J. Watson who said in1926: “They say a man is known for the company he keeps. We say in our business that a company is known by the men it keeps.” Indeed, respect of the employee’s rights and dignity has been one of IBM basic beliefs in managing its workers. This belief has been maintained by one of IBM most successful leader and Chairman, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., who always stressed on helping each employee to develop his potential and make the best use of his abilities. Hence, the human capital management has historically been of paramount importance: two-way communications between manager and employee is one of the main features characterizing the leader-led interaction, devoting more time to people than the company’s products, and respecting opportunity for a fair hearing and equitable settlement of disagreements. Over the years, IBM has implemented a number of innovative programs, policies and practices that demonstrate and sustain respect for its employees. Among them are:
• The Open Door policy
• “The Speak Up!” Program
• Comprehensive Employee Opinion Surveys
• Effective Internal Communications and Informational Media, such as Business Machines and Think magazines,
4 - IBM Recruiting
IBM is committed to a diversified workforce and actively seeks qualified candidates who know the needs of markets the company serves, including women, minorities, people with disabilities, and gays and lesbians. Each year, IBM recruiters attend more than 40 diversity-focused conferences and career fairs to recruit from these constituencies. IBM.s innovative "Why work?" marketing campaign, which began in the spring of 1999, is designed to reach the best and brightest campus and professional talent through a compelling dialogue about IBM’s strengths: its people, the work, the rewards, and its global presence. The organization is also an active participant in Entry Point program, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, IBM and NASA, dedicated to placing disabled young people in business and industry and preparing them for corporate and community leadership. For instance, the Project Able is an effort to significantly increase the representation of disabled employees at the workplace. The program’s goals include establishing a network of champions for disabled employees throughout the company.
5 - Work/Life Balance
In 1984, IBM became the first major employer in the nation to establish a dependent care network for its employees. In July 2000, the company announced the creation of a five year, $50 million global fund to develop and support work/life programs in communities where its employees live and work. Programs range from new child care centers and science/technology camps for school-age children to collaborations with other companies to expand existing child care centers. Between 1990 and 1994, IBM invested $25 million to develop new or expand existing child and elder care facilities and programs through its Funds for Dependent Care Initiatives. Between 1995 and 2000, the company has invested a total of approximately $150 million in dependent care services to help employees better manage their work and personal lives.
6 - Flexibility/Telecommuting/Leave of Absence Programs
More than 80,000 IBMers participate in the company’s telecommuting programs, which offer employees the ability to work from a customer’s location, on the road, or at home. IBM’s industry leading workplace flexibility programs offer employees the option of varying their daily arrival time and work hours, subject to local management approval. The leave of absence programs provide up to three years leave for parenting, dependent care or for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, subject to management approval.
7 - Women at IBM
IBM has a long history of commitment to the advancement of women in the workplace , hiring its first professional women in 1935 and its first woman vice president, Ruth Leach, in 1943. In 1995, the company formed its Global Women Leaders. Task Force, which later initiated employee work/life surveys in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific; a series of Global Women’s Leadership Conferences; the creation of Women of Color and Women in Technology sub-committees, each of which has conducted global conferences; and the formation of local women’s networks around the world. In the United States, the number of women in executive positions totaled approximately 21 percent at the end of 1999, growing from a total of 351 women executives in 1998 to 445 at the end of 1999. Globally, women comprise almost 18 percent of the IBM worldwide executive population. The number of women executives around the world increased from a total of 399 in 1998 to 508 at the end of 1999. In 2000, in recognition of its long-standing commitment to the advancement of women, IBM was one of three companies honored by Catalyst, the New York City-based women’s advocacy organization.
Thanks to its commitment to maintain the well-being of its human assets, IBM has gained a respectful reputation in human resources leadership worldwide. This success has been brought about due to company's creative and ongoing research and innovative programs which improve the social and professional experiences of the employees. With the uncompromising belief that the human capital is the most invaluable asset of any organization, IBM has smartly and perpetually managed to formulate an authentic Human Resources leadership style that answers to the corporation’s goals, values, and culture as well as the changing environment of the global market.
- Bennis, Warren. (1989). On Becoming a Leader: “Thoughts on Leadership,” Addison Wesley, New York.
2 - Buchanan, D. and Huczynski, A. (2004). Organizational Behavior: an introductory text (5th edition).Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
3 - Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row
4 - Goodworth, C. (1988). The Secrets of Successful Leadership and People Management. ( Heinman Professional Publishing, 1988).
5- Greenleaf, R. (1970) Servant as Leader. Center for Applied Studies
6 - Hersey, P., Blanchard, K.H (1977), Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources, 3rd ed, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.
7 - Kotter, John .P. (1990). A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs From Management. New York: Free Press.
8 - Musser, S.J. (1987). The determination of positive and negative charismatic leadership, Grantham: PA: Messiah College.
9 - Spears, L. C. (2002). "Tracing the Past, Present, and Future of Servant-Leadership." In Focus On Leadership: Servant-leadership for the Twenty-first Century. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
10 - Tannenbaum, A.S. and Schmitt, W.H. (1958). How to Choose a Leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review.
1 - www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadcon.html. Kenneth Boulding, The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society.
2 - http://library.indstate.edu/servlead
3 - http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/MENG/ME96/Documents/Styles/styles.html
4 - www.ibm.com/diversity
5 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM
With the advent of the communicative approach, views on language teaching started to incorporate communicative features into syllabus design. Accordingly, a central question has been raised: what does the learner need/want to do with the target language? Rather than, what are the linguistic elements the learner needs to master? This movement has led in part to the development of English for Specific Purpose. Thus, the focus has no more been only on language function but also on experiential content.
In order to cater for the learners’ specific purpose, it has become urgent to collect information about the learners: their needs and wants. For so doing, relevant techniques as well as procedures have been developed by needs analysts. These techniques have been borrowed and adopted from other areas of training, particularly, those associated with industry and technology.
In this respect, the present paper attempts to shed light on the field of needs analysis as a method of not only analyzing the needs of given individuals (learners) or communities; but also as a tool that can help in predicting future decisions about a targeted population. And before indulging in the “hows” and “whats” of needs assessment, a clear and well-rounded definition of the concept has to be provided.
II - WHAT IS NEEDS ASSESSMENT?
The word "assess" comes from the Latin term "assidere," which means to "sit beside." Process-minded and participatory-oriented adult educators "sit beside" learners to learn about their proficiencies and backgrounds, educational goals, and expected outcomes, immersing themselves in the lives and views of their students (Auerbach, 1994).
The needs assessment process can be used as the basis for developing curricula and classroom practice that are responsive to these needs.
The research to date has considered the concept through various perspectives and proposed various interpretations accordingly. In this regard, the concept of needs is viewed as ‘irrevocably value laden’ and felt and prescribed needs are considered within this concept. Learner needs assessment encompasses both what learners know and can do (learner proficiencies) and what they want to learn and be able to do. Richterich (1983: 2) notes the difficulty of reaching an agreed on definition of needs analysis is in that ‘The very concept of “language needs” has never been clearly defined and remains at best ambiguous’. Berwick (1989: 52) offers a simplified conventional definition of need as the ‘discrepancy between a current state of affairs and a desired future state’. If this controversy is meant to reveal anything, it should be the ambiguity loaded within the phrase “needs assessment”.
III - Types of needs
Berwick (1989: 55) views perceived “needs” as those that the educators make judgments about in other people’s experience, while ‘felt needs’ are viewed as the ones that the learners have. Brookfield (1988: 221) defines “felt needs” as wants, desires and wishes of the learner. Brindley (1989) and Robinson (1991) consider all factual information about the learner (language proficiency, language difficulties, use of language in real life) – as means to collect data about objective needs; whereas cognitive and affective needs of the learner in language learning (such as confidence, attitudes, expectations) are considered as data about subjective needs. Hutchinson and Waters (1993: 54) define “target needs” as the ones the learner needs to do in the target situation’, these are necessities, lacks, and wants. ‘What the learner needs to do in order to learn’ is referred to “learning needs.” Peck (1991) categorizes the concept in terms of academic, social, and emotional needs.
Richterich and Chancerel (1987: 3) ague that experience shows that in general the learner is little aware of his needs and, in particular, he is unable to express them except in very vague terms’. Kopp (1986) and Pennington (1980) (quoted in Knox, 1997: 56) maintain that adults may be unaware of some of their educational needs, which may be implicit in their attitudes and choices, and may be aware of other educational needs, which they can state explicitly in response to some questions. Accordingly, it would be helpful to use needs assessment procedures to confirm and discover both implicit and explicit needs important to adult learners.
Richterich and Chancerel (1987) point out that due to the fact that needs vary too much from person to person, the system should be continually adapted. Porcer (1983: 129) emphasizes the fact that “speaking of a need (language or other) is not the same as speaking in general of what is lacking. A need does not exist prior to a project; it is always constructed’. The researcher also believes that the process of learning is obviously affected by the attitude of the learner towards the teaching itself. Therefore, the relationship between the learner and the content of learning should be considered as a prerequisite in specifying and analyzing the needs of a learner.
IV – The importance of implementing a needs analysis
Learners and teachers may have different needs. This why needs analysts should be cautious in collecting information from various sources due to the multiplicity and diversity of the views on prerequisites for an ESP. Hutchinson and Waters (1993) hold that the relationship between necessities as perceived by a sponsor or an ESP teacher, and what learners want or feel can be at extreme poles. They suggest that learners’ perceived wants and wishes should be considered carefully, and due to objective and subjective reality of needs, each learning situation should be considered uniquely and systematically.
Bearing in mind a wide range of needs due to the influence of different social and cultural factors on student’s learning (Peck, 1991), a needs analysis is considered as a prerequisite in any course design (Richterich and Chancerel, 1987). According to Knox (1997: 56), needs assessment enables researchers to justify their assumptions as to whether or not potential educational needs are sound, to design a program in terms of topics, materials so as to be responsive to the needs of participants. "The curriculum content and learning experiences should be negotiated between learners, teacher, and coordinator at the beginning of the project and renegotiated regularly during the project" (p. 20). At the beginning of the program, needs assessment might be used to determine types of appropriate program and course content. During the program, it assures that learner and program goals are being met, and allows for necessary program changes. At the end of the program, it can be used for assessing progress and planning future directions for learners and the program. This can maximize the likelihood of students' participation. Finally such focus on satisfying learners’ needs will help the learners to insist on learning and applying what has been learnt.
Richards (1990) deals with this issue from the point of curriculum development, and he thinks that the data to be collected from learners, teachers, administrators, and employers in the planning process will help to identify general and specific language needs and content of a language program. Besides, it will provide data to review and evaluate the existing program.
Yet, it is recommended that needs analysis should be carried out during the life of each course (Richterich and Chancerel, 1987), because ‘as students become more involved with the course, their attitudes and approach may change’ (Robinson, 1991: 15). Therefore, identification and analysis of needs should be a continuous process (Richterich and Chancerel, 1987; Knox, 1987). This can help both administrators and teachers to adapt necessary changes.
IV.1. A needs assessment serves a number of purposes:
• It aids administrators, teachers, and tutors with learner placement, developing materials, curricula, skills assessments, teaching approaches, and teacher training. It assures a flexible, responsive curriculum rather than a fixed and linear curriculum determined ahead of time by instructors.
• It provides information to the instructor about what the learner brings to the course (if done at the beginning), what has been accomplished (if done during the course), and what the learner wants and needs to know next. When learners know that educators understand and want to address specific needs and interests, the former are motivated to continue learning.
V – Steps in implementing a Needs Assessment
To undertake a needs assessment study, one must plan one’s strategy. The four steps to the needs assessment process require that one should determine who will conduct the study, what kind of information needs to be collected, how the information will be collected, and how the information will be used.
V.1. Who Will Conduct the Study?
The first step in performing a needs assessment is to decide who will conduct the study. A needs assessment study can be carried out by needs analysts, outside consultants, practitioners, or educational members, such as teachers. Needless to say that available resources, time frame, and comfort level with performing research may influence decisions.
V.2. What Kind of Information Needs to Be Collected?
The second step in performing a needs assessment is to decide what you hope to learn about your community and what kind of information you plan to collect. For example, do you hope to perform a broad-based study or one that is focused on a particular area? A needs assessment for use with adult learners of English is a tool that examines, from the perspective of the learner, what kinds of English, native language, and literacy skills the learner already believes he or she has; the literacy contexts in which the learner lives and works; what the learner wants and needs to know to function in those contexts; what the learner expects to gain from the instructional program; and what might need to be done in the native language or with the aid of an interpreter. The categories of information one might be interested in collecting include: Demographic Data, Social, Cultural, Educational and Recreational Organizations.
V.3. How Will the Information Be Collected?
After deciding on the types of information the institution wants to collect about its community, it needs to determine how to collect that information. Data can be collected by: 1) interviewing key informants (also known as "gatekeepers"): these are people who hold socially responsible positions, such as educators, 2) holding a community forum, 3) researching social indicators, 4) consulting demographic information from public records and reports, 5) and performing field surveys. It is best if the needs analysts can use more than one of these data collection methods in combination.
V.4. Interpretation of Findings
In order to make use of the information collected, the results have to be interpreted. To interpret the data, some statistical analyses are often applied to identify the most important needs for the majority of the informants. An important feature of the results should be a reflection of whether or not the current goals of the given institution do meet (and will continue to meet) the needs of the community. Crucial to be covered in the finding also is the question as to whether the institution has collected information about the present or the past needs of the community. When the data analysis is completed, it should be possible to produce a rank-ordered list of the most important changes identified by the community. This ranking can be used to set budget priorities. At the end of this process, it is a good idea to share the findings with the community in some way: holding a group meeting, creating displays at the institution, or writing articles to appear online or in the local newspapers, or through teachers seminaries.
VI - Approaches to Needs Analysis
A careful needs analysis should involve “Present Situation Analysis” (PSA) and “Target Situation Analysis” (TSA). PSA aims at finding out the students’ English proficiency level and their existing language requirements at the beginning of a language program, whereas learners’ language requirements regarding the target situation are identified through TSA (Robinson, 1991: 8-9). Bloor (1984) defines the former type of analysis as a learner-centered needs analysis, and the latter one as a target-centered analysis. Bloor emphasizes that operation of both analyses during a term is certainly desirable. Robinson (1991) also holds that TSA and PSA are complementary and form an efficient form of needs analysis.
Jordan (1997) proposes a “tri-chotomy” of needs analysis which comprises: 1) deficiency analysis, 2) strategy analysis, 3) and means analysis. Deficiency analysis is concerned with the necessities that the learner lacks; strategy analysis seeks to establish the learners preferences in terms of learning styles and strategies, or teaching methods; means analysis examines the ‘constraints’ - local situation - to find out the ways of implementation of a language course.
Furthermore, various analyses and approaches to needs assessment were put forward: analytic view of needs analysis which examines expert opinion, and diagnostic approach which examines the learner’s needs to be used in social services (Berwick, 1989); discrepancy analysis which attempts to examine what people know and what they ought to know, and democratic approach which is based on learner points of view (Stufflebeam et al, 1985, quoted in Berwick, 1989).
VII - Components of Needs Analyses
Many needs assessment tests are available for use in different employment contexts. Sources that can help you determine which needs analysis is appropriate for your situation are described below.
• Context Analysis. The important questions being answered by this analysis are who decide that a given training should be conducted, why a training program is seen as the recommended solution to a business problem, what the history of the organization has been with regard to employee training and other management interventions.
• User Analysis. Analysis dealing with potential participants and instructors involved in the process. The important questions being answered by this analysis are who will receive the training and their level of existing knowledge on the subject, as well as what is their learning style, and who will conduct the training?
• Work analysis. Analysis of the tasks being performed. This is an analysis of the job and the requirements for performing the work. Also known as a task analysis or job analysis, this analysis seeks to specify the main duties and skill level required. This helps ensure that the training that is developed will include relevant links to the content of the job.
• Content Analysis. Analysis of documents, laws, procedures used in the job. This analysis answers questions about what knowledge or information is used on this job; and the sources of the information ( does it come from manuals, documents, or regulations.) It is important that the content of the training does not conflict or contradict job requirements. An experienced worker can assist (as a subject matter expert) in determining the appropriate content.
• Training Suitability Analysis. Analysis of whether a training is the desired solution. Training is one of several solutions to employment problems. However, it may not always be the best solution. It is important to determine if training will be effective in its usage.
• Cost-Benefit Analysis. Analysis of the return on investment (ROI) of training. Effective training is expected to result in a return of value to the organization that is greater than the initial investment to produce or administer the training.
VIII - Techniques used in needs analysis
Several basic Needs Assessment techniques include:
• Direct observation
• Consultation with persons in key positions, and/or with specific knowledge
• Review of relevant literature
• Focus groups
• Class discussions
• Records & report studies
• Work samples
Surveys are usually in the form of a questionnaire. A comprehensive survey of the information needs of your institution would seek information on the types of information users (physician, nurse, administrator, etc.), the types of information sought (factual, reviews, in-depth, clinical, research, administrative), the frequency of the need (daily, monthly, annually), and where the information is currently found (hospital library, other library, personal library, consultation with colleague, not found, et c.).
Other surveys may be on a more narrow aspect of service. Recent surveys at Dartmouth have assessed 1) satisfaction with the current awareness service, 2) the desirability of a change in Sunday hours, 3) and satisfaction with the Learning Resources Center. Satisfaction with and the need for additional educational workshops are regularly assessed after each workshop.
Interviews may be formal or informal. Formally, you may visit department chairs, administrators, and/or managers annually to ask if the library, for example, is currently meeting their needs and how things could be better. Informal interviews are often done as you greet people entering the library or check materials out, and ask them if they have found what was needed. If you take it a step further, making a note of the conversation and any action taken in response. This way, you've already initiated done a needs assessment.
3. Analysis of statistics, records
Libraries have always been faithful record keepers, gathering statistics on every aspect of their operations - circulation, reference, acquisitions, interlibrary loan, etc. Analyze these records regularly to see what they tell you about the needs of your institution. You probably already analyze interlibrary loan requests to determine titles to which you should subscribe.
5. Suggestion box
A suggestion box is a very basic needs assessment tool. Complaints - whether received through a suggestion box or not - can fall into this category of needs assessment tool.
6. Meetings, Reports, Newsletters
Attending meetings, reading newsletter, and getting on as many distribution lists as possible are all useful ways to find out about the level of efficacy of new programs and services, and the new direction is heading to.
Any of the aforementioned tools may be used in the continuous quality improvement process to uncover areas in need of improvement and to measure progress toward improvement. With all of the above needs assessment tools, it is important to document how you measure need for knowledge-based information and how you respond to the measured needs.
IX - Conclusion
An ongoing needs analysis should be a prerequisite for any program/course design in order to achieve effective instructional outcomes. Besides this, it can help educators and administrators to gain awareness of the ‘context variable’ (Chaudron, 1990) and program designers - to provide appropriate instructional input to foster effective learning. Needs of administrators /educators and students generally vary across time, instructional contexts, the requirement of an ongoing needs assessment for any educational institution becomes crucial in order to promote effective teaching and learning environments.
Weddel, Kathleen Santopietro - Van Duzer, Carol Adjunct ERIC Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education.
Van House, Nancy A. and Thomas A. Childers (1993). The Public Library Effectiveness Study: The Complete Report, Chicago: American Library Association.
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Sitkiye KUTER. AN ACADEMIC ENGLISH NEEDS ANALYSIS IN EFL CLASSROOMS.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Vodafone Group Plc is the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the United States through the Company's subsidiary undertakings, joint ventures, associated undertakings and investments.
The Group's mobile subsidiaries operate under the brand name 'Vodafone'. In the United States the Group's associated undertaking operates as Verizon Wireless. During the last two financial years, the Group has also entered into arrangements with network operators in countries where the Group does not hold an equity stake. Under the terms of these Partner Network Agreements, the Group and its partner networks co-operate in the development and marketing of global services.
The Company had a total market capitalisation of approximately £80 billion at 15 November 2005.
The Group has ownership interests in 27 countries across 5 continents. In addition, the Group has Partner Networks in a further 33 countries.
31 December 2006, the Group had 198.6 million proportionate customers in its subsidiaries, joint ventures, affiliates and investments, 600 million venture customers.
Code of Ethics
The Company strives to ensure that the contents of and the disclosures in the reports and documents that the Company files with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") and other public communications shall be full, fair, accurate, timely and understandable in accordance with applicable disclosure standards, including standards of materiality, where appropriate.
It is the Company's policy to comply with all applicable governmental laws, rules and regulations. It is the personal responsibility of each Relevant Officer to, and each Relevant Officer must, adhere to the standards and restrictions imposed by those laws, rules and regulations, including those relating to accounting and auditing matters.
6. Reporting and Accountability
The Audit Committee of the Board of Vodafone Group Plc is responsible for applying this Code to specific situations in which questions are presented to it and has the authority to interpret this Code in any particular situation. Any Relevant Officer who becomes aware of any existing or potential breach of this Code is required to notify the Group General Counsel and Company Secretary promptly. Failure to do so is itself a breach of this Code.
v Socio-economic Impact
£11.7 billion cash value added in 2005/06
The rapid spread of mobile technology has brought significant social and economic benefits. The challenge is to ensure that the benefits are spread as widely as possible while minimising negative impacts.
Vodafone’s social impacts
Published study on potential of mobile to improve healthcare
We published a study in 2006 that shows how mobiles can help patients to keep appointments, monitor their chronic conditions and seek advice confidentially, as well as increasing adherence to treatment programmes. These benefits are available to big and small businesses alike, including those in the developing world.
Conducted research in developed countries
We commissioned a programme of research, initially focusing on the impact of mobile phones in Africa. The findings from this research help to inform policies on mobile telecommunications and international programmes aimed at increasing access to information and communications technology (ICT) and bridging the digital divide.
In addition to the indirect economic value of our mobile services, our business makes a direct contribution to the global economy through the wealth we generate and the jobs we sustain directly and among our suppliers.
Vodafone’s direct economic impacts
· 9% of the EU adult population (about 40 million people) is excluded from using mobile phones. This increases significantly with age, with conservative estimates suggesting that 20% of over 50s are excluded. We regard addressing this as both a social and commercial challenge.
Mobile phones have already had a positive impact on millions of people and have the potential to benefit many more.
Social Products and Enterprise Team in 2004 to focus on products with high positive social impact, including those that reduce exclusion from mobile usage. Vodafone is looking for ways to make phones more accessible for People who are elderly, blind, deaf or disabled.
Vodafone is working with UK company, Scientific Generics, to identify key features that will significantly reduce the level of exclusion from mobile communications.
· Decreased carbon dioxide emissions per unit of data transmitted by 10% in 2005/06
· New Group target set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of data transmitted by 40% by 2011
· Total energy use increased by 23% this year
· Energy sourced from renewables increased by 22% in 2005/06
· Working with suppliers to make network equipment more energy efficient
· Onsite renewable energy technologies trialled
· 97% of network equipment waste reused or recycled in 2005/06
· Initiatives launched to raise awareness and encourage handset recycling
· Recycling programmes established at all local operating companies
· 1.37 million mobile phones collected for recycling in 2005/06
We recognise that our global energy use is increasing and predict that it will continue to do so. Trying to implement a strategy to limit its impact on global warming by investigating how to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by increasing energy efficiency, and by using more renewable energy sources.
Vodafone's commitment to human rights is embodied in its Business Principles:
- respect and comply with all human rights legislation, regulations and standards in the countries where we operate.
- welcome the development of the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Trans-national Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights to help business build its understanding of human rights and explore the ways it can contribute.
- Vodafone is committed to protecting and enhancing the human rights of its employees.
- Its Group employment policies are consistent with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization's Core Conventions.
It employs approximately 55,000 people worldwide. Its goal is to recruit and retain the most talented, motivated people by providing a good working environment, treating people with respect, and offering attractive incentives and development opportunities.
Health & Safety
The health and safety of our employees is a priority. Our health and safety policy ensures consistently high standards are set throughout the company to make sure our employees can do their work safely. It covers health and safety management, radio frequency fields and health and driving safety.
· Developed a strategy to focus on employee wellbeing at all local operating companies
· Introduced a Performance Dialogue for every employee to receive feedback on their performance from their manager
· Increased percentage of women in senior management (bands A-E) from 10% to 17% in 2005/06
· Introduced two new global health and safety standards
· Reduced work-related lost-time accidents by over 20% from 2004/05
· Vodafone does not tolerate child labor, forced or compulsory labor.
Vodafone's Code of Ethical Purchasing aims to ensure that its suppliers share its values and uphold standards on human rights.
Access to communications technology can support greater freedom of expression. However, new technology brings new challenges and we will balance the right to freedom of expression with the protection of vulnerable groups, such as children.
Driving safety in Spain
Vodafone Spain has dramatically reduced driving accidents among its employees through a sustained driving safety campaign over the last five years. The number of vehicle accidents resulting in lost time has fallen by more than 80% since 2003 (and by 50% since 2004). through running a training course: In 2005/06, 234 employees who work on the network took a refresher course in off-road driving.
Wellbeing programme in Ireland
In March 2006, Vodafone Ireland launched a wellbeing programme designed ‘to make people feel great at work’. The programme provides free online health checks and encourages employees to lead a healthier lifestyle. Health and fitness fairs provide information, products and services to help people understand and take steps to improve their health.
Equal Opportunities & Diversity
We believe that diversity is an asset to our business. With operations worldwide, Vodafone is not only multinational but multicultural. We are building a culture that respects the value of differences among us and encourages individuals to contribute their best within an environment that is inclusive, open, flexible and fair. We will not tolerate discrimination or unfair treatment on any grounds.
· Begun a major review of the Group Foundation’s donations strategy
· Donated £38.1 million to charitable causes worldwide in 2005/06
· New foundations in Albania and the Czech Republic
· It invests in the communities where it operates through donations of cash, equipment, products and services.
· Employees also give their time as volunteers to support good causes.
· It is also looking at ways its technology can assist emergency response to natural and manmade disasters.
it aims to focus our contributions on areas directly related to the impacts of our business on society. Our Social Investment Policy identifies the following priorities:
· Reaching the excluded with the benefits of mobile technology
· Promoting sustainable business practice and environmental protection
· Supporting the personal involvement of our employees in their local communities.
We aim for our grants to have the greatest possible impact. We measure our total social investment by combining the value of cash donations and other contributions.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
By Abdeslam Badre
I – Introduction
‘To have a friend you must be one’
This paper attempts to construct a critical reading on the issue of friendship, being the prevalent theme in The Simpsons episode we watched in class. Despite its being one of the prerequisites of the individual’s social life, the meaning of ‘friendship’ and the value of a ‘friend’ may differ from one individual to another, from one life-stage to another, and from one community to another; further, they may even differ between males and females. On the this ground, my reading of friendship, as tackled in the episode, will be built in terms of binary oppositions between sexes and generations. Put simply, being the catalyst of the theme in this episode, Liza’s understanding of friendship will be opposed to both her brother, Bart, as a representative of the opposite sex, and her mother, Mrs. Marge, as being the emblem of the older/adult generation. For so doing, I will approach these elements from post-structuralist perspective to show that the notion of friendship is a constructed concept whose meaning is elusive, always absent/present: something that one can not fix down, since its meaning differs among individuals, sex, groups, and generations.
II – Description of the scene
In this episode, Liza Simpson is seeking friends. Right from the beginning, we see her craving to have some schoolmates signed her yearbook: she joined more than one group to have her desire satisfied, but it seems that no one recognizes her presence, and her effort to have a memorable word from a friend goes in vain. It is at this point that the feeling of loneliness infiltrates her soul and keeps growing to the existent of a feeling of marginalization, then a rejection by her peers. After leaving the Springfield house for the summer vacation, that feeling of loneliness is still dwelling in her heart. Boldly enough, Liza does not seem to give up easily, for she decides to confront that emptiness by a pertinent quest of new friends in the beach-house area where she is to spend her holidays. However, until now, all her attempts give no fruitful results, a fact which induces a number of questions in her mind the main of which is what might be the reason behind her being rejected by her peers. And after seeking her mother’s advice, she is told that she’d better be what she is not in order to have what she seeks. Thus, she decides to go for her brother’s persona, and then we hear her saying “bye, bye Liza Simpson.” Right after changing her personality, she finds a three-peer group (two boys and one girl) which has been indifferent to her presence. So, she decides to take more risk in order to catch their attention: she, for instance, has accepted to go skating with them though she is not good at skating. As a rewarded, they finally grant her a little space within their circle; but Liza decides to gain more space within the group by inviting them to her house, suggesting the idea of a beach party, and showing them all her skills. By so doing, Liza wins her friends’ confidence and more importantly, she gains their sympathy, which is incarnated in the fact that she receives a little gift (bracelet) from one of her new friends. However, things do not always go as we wish them. Driven by jealousy and envy, her brother, Bart, is determined to put an end to her relation with the group of friends; accordingly, he reveals to them that Liza is not actually what she appears to be but simply a ‘teacher-pet,” who is incarnating her brother’s actual personality in order to impress them, a fact which upsets the beach kids. Liza again ends up lonely, with no friends. But this time she is tired of what she is and what she has pretended to be, for, as she said: ‘in me it does not work. In someone else it does not work.” Now, she spends most of her time with her brother with whom she is at the defensive. Noticeably, her antagonistic contact with her brother underlines another dimension of juxtaposition: though she goes to some entertainment parks with him, she does not enjoy her time as she would have done if she had been with friends. By the end, the three friends are going to visit Liza and admit to her that they consider her as a friend, regardless of what or who she is as long as she a Friend. They also signed her yearbook, which was a nice and rewarding surprise for Liza.
III - A post-stucturalist analysis
The above mentioned scene is loaded with media artifacts, revolving around the theme of friendship. Starting from the school end-year party, the signing of the year-book, beach-kids, the bracelet Liza received from her friends, to the signed book she got by the end of the episode. All these sings, both denotative & connotative- refer to the signified ‘friends’/friendship.’ At first, the reader/viewer perceives the notion of friendship though Liza’s eyes: her spontaneous behaviors with the schoolmates inform us that friendship is a sublime socialization process that requires no specific socio-economic status, social-class belonging, or typical personality traits. All what one needs to do/have so as to have friends or be accepted among them is to be a friend. Strikingly, the fact that she did not have her book signed by her peers besides her being neglected by them reveals that Liza’s perception of the notion is not accurate or not agreed-upon by her community. Again it is through Liza’s reflection that we reach this reality which sets a question mark against the actual meaning of friendship.
Upon her attempt to modify her understanding of friendship, Liza learnt from her Mum that one should not always be what one is, if willing to have friends. Hence, Mrs. Marge tells the reader/viewer that Liza’s understanding of friendship is rather instinctive, naïve, and innocent, for it lacks the social dimension – the agreed upon codes. This idea is ascertained by Lisa’s actual decision to change her personality and incorporate her brother’s. Indeed, this decision marked a bold line between Liza’s previous and present understanding of friendship. Further, it marks Lisa’s departure from the stage of innocence to the phase of experience, where every human interaction is – or should be- mingled with social and cultural norms in order to be recognized and approved by the group.
After going for her brother’s persona, Liza managed to make friends and apparently appeared to grasp the social meaning of friendship; and so does the viewer/reader. However, Bart unveiling of the real Liza to the beach-kids, and the disapproved reaction of the latter towards her have again destabilized both Liza and the viewer’s understanding of the exact meaning of friendship. This is so because Bart added another dimension to the concept. When he said, for instance, that the beach-kids were supposed to be his friends, simply because they appreciated his personality, acted out through Lisa, he was lucidly claiming that friendship is void of any social norms: for him friendship is gained on the basis of the individual’s personal skills and performances within the group. Unlike his mother who defined friendship from a socio-cultural perspective, Bart understood it from an individualistic stand. And in the realm of both extremes, Liza, the meaning of friendship along with the reader/viewer are lost. We understand this from her saying: ‘In me it does not work. In someone else it does not work,”
The final decision of the beach-kids to visit Liza and admit that they accepted her no matter who she was as long as she was a FRIEND has an outstanding significance. The importance of the act lies not only on its positive effect on Liza, but it also caters for an alternative definition of friendship that the reader/viewer has to adapt, namely, being as it is, friendship should be based on what friends are able to do to save their friendship and not on how they do it.
To rap it up, the three or four definitions of friendship that we got from this episode reveal the arbitrariness of the concept. From a post-structuralist point of view, each of the episode’s characters holds a different signified for the same signifier: each of them defines friendship differently. Liza’s quest of friends, in this respect, represents an attempt to pin down a fixed meaning of the concept; but at each time she believed to have it fixed, ‘meaning’ keeps escaping grasp. Even after she gained her friends’ approval, by the end of the film, she had to leave them and go back home; and thus, meaning again proved to be slippery. This image epitomizes the post-structural idea of the absent/present meaning where the signifier is void of a particular signified.
IV – conclusion
True enough, Liza has learnt new tricks on how to make new friends. Yet, it is not sure whether what she learnt will help her gain new friends because it all depends again on how friendship will be defined by the people she might meet, on the special/time settings, and on the purpose of having friends. With these elements in mind, friendship – the signified- will keep incarnating different meaning which may not correspond to the signifier.