The subject Organisational Structure, which is taught on the Master’s degree in Human Resources, has now included a series of meetings with professionals to bring real-life cases from business in our area into the classroom. What are organisational structures like? What are the change processes like and what is the role that organisational structure plays in them? These are some of the questions we are asking in the classroom and which we will try to answer by giving our sessions a highly practical focus.
In the first meeting, Elena Arce, of the Tecnalia personnel department, shared the case of cultural change following the 2011 merger of eight Basque technology centres to form the present day Tecnalia corporation. Elena gave us a clear explanation of the initial plans and how an organisational culture model was designed to fit their needs. A series of strategic projects were defined, internal change agents were appointed and the support of external consultants was also sought. As per the organisational structure, a shift was made from a divisional structure in which each division had a great deal of independence. Throughout the process. a matrix organisation structure with a dual reporting system was created, thus making it possible to better integrate the organisational processes.
However, designing the merger on paper is very different from the real thing. In the case of Tecnalia’s cultural change, we saw how a series of values were reinforced while others were not. For instance, a transversal approach (one of the reasons why the merger was undertaken) was difficult to achieve during a situation of economic crisis in which the company had to find projects and the divisions were forced to achieve short-term results and produce rather than devote time to collaboration. The highly charged cultural change was also different in the various divisions. There were a number of cases in which integration was weaker than originally planned. Although cultural changes are never easy, Elena stated that one of the key factors is the need to devote time and keep on trying with the change strategies since these processes sometimes fail when we try to carry them out too quickly. On the other hand, knowledge of the original organisational structures is important when managing the process. Promoting egalitarian human resources policies is also key.
Thank you, Elena and Tecnalia for sharing your experience with us!