March 5, 2009

Sample Research Proposal on A Study on the Significant Effects of Management Style in 3M

I. Introduction

            This Section aims to impress upon the reader the purpose and importance of the study to the topic. Also, this section aims to point out the relevance of the problem to the selected topic.

 

I.I. Background

           3M has long been recognized by the world to have created and fostered the "creative genius" of each individual employee of the company. Innovation has been the core of their operation ever since McKnight took over in 1916. 3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, which was founded by Henry S. Bryan, Dr. J. Danley Budd, Harmon Cable, William A. McGonagle, and John Dwan in the North shore of Lake Superior in at Two Harbors in Minnesota. Their current headquarters is located at Maplewood.

Market development is the name given to a growth strategy where the business seeks to sell its existing products into new markets.

Possible ways of approaching this strategy includes: New geographical markets; for example exporting the product to a new country, New product dimensions or packaging, New distribution channels, and Different pricing policies to attract different customers or create new market segments. These have helped in the growth of 3M.

Early innovations created by the company were waterproof sandpaper, masking tape, and Cellophane Scotch tape. It also expanded into the area of board games and later on invested in audio and video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Statement of the Problem

            Though it has been the company tradition to hire young minds full of creative genius and entrepreneurship, the yearly figures could not support the coming in of these new hires, thus creating a problem for the company. The purpose of this study is to locate the core problems that existed in 3M which forced them to adopt a management styles implemented now and to expound and illustrate the effectiveness of the current management styles being used.

                        The reasons for the turmoil are numerous: a sputtering economy, increased global competition, the implementation of new technologies that displace jobs, the deregulation of certain industries, and the general consolidation of other industries, such as banking and health care.

 

3. Purpose of the Study

            This study was conducted to be able to recognize the management styles used by 3M to lift the company's are declining state. Also, the problems that surfaced in 3M must be seen and recognized in order for potential entrepreneurs to know the proper approaches needed to remedy and correct the current situation the company is facing and also to be able to recognize and apply the innovative and managerial approaches used by the company to improve its declining state.

            The purpose of the study is to determine the pulse of the employees regarding the change in managerial approaches.  The research will study the awareness of employees to change in managerial approaches and its significance to them.  . 

            Improving the efficiency and competitiveness of every plant 3M operates should be a considered an important factor in achieving long-term competitiveness, survival, and success as a producer. Major new products should be introduced and market coverage expanded. The new products should be designed and engineered to score with customers, the people whose voice really counts. Accelerating the process will benefit suppliers, employees, investors as well as customers. Continue re-configuration of the manufacturing network. The total production system should be leaner, faster, and more flexible. This is necessary to anticipate and respond to an ever-changing market and fast-moving competition. Building some new assembly plants to replace and consolidate older plants should be planned.

 

 

 Importance

 

            As mentioned above, the major concern of the paper is to shed light on the issues that forced the management of 3M to adopt a management style that was effective enough to successfully save the whole company from a serious fall-out. 3M is now one of the biggest companies in the world.  Due to its adoption of a better and more advanced managerial approach, it was able to withstand and even elevate its state in the business world. We are conducting this research in hopes that we may also be able to apply the ingenious approach adopted by 3M.

            The study will determine the factors that affect the preference between change and success.  Hypothesized dependent variable is preference between change while hypothesized independent variables are attributes of the respondents like age, sex, educational attainment, family income, salary. These are rather personal and given without relation to the product in question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Literature Review

            In the article, "3M's First 100 Years: and how it plans to manage the next 100" by Reg Birchfield, made mention of the strength and durability of 3M. It has been existing for more than a century and still is going strong. According to its history, 3M was built on a mistake, pertaining to their corundum mineral mistake. Still, few years after that faithful incident, and one more incident though, 3M has become one of the few pioneering western companies to nurture innovative.

            It bothered the author why the authors James Collins and Jerry Porras, of the book, Built to Last, said that if they would bet everything on "continued success and adaptability of any single company over the next 50 to 100 years, they would "place that bet on 3M"?". It was thoroughly understandable. 3M's managerial approaches had kept the company through times when most companies would already close down. It was able to sustain itself for more than a hundred years, what would make it so difficult to sustain itself for a hundred more?

"Innovation, business integrity and our human resource principles will remain key to our success in the future. What we have added in the last year are initiatives to help us to be more efficient in our process."  A quote from Marshall's answer on the relevance of the values and integrity to the continuation of their success for the years to came. It is true that these foundations may help in continuing the tradition and maintaining the strength of the company.

            Investments in newer facilities and cutting off unnecessary charges have become a good practice for 3M. Still, their practice for nurturing innovation has remained. Their principles still dictate on encouraging the people's innovative and creativity which has remained to be the building blocks of the company's continued success.

            The person that brought the culture of fostering innovation and new managerial approaches was the lowly bookkeeper-turned-CEO William McKnight. His principles included the freedom for the employees to commit intelligent and innovative mistakes. They were given freedom to do their work without too much interference since it may hinder the productivity of their thoughts. According to 3M's chief executive in New Zealand, James Marshall, the HR simply asked the management to keep an environment that encouraged innovative and resourcefulness, initiative, and unbiased opportunity.

            These thoughts and principles helped shape the current management of 3M. Still, there is more than a hundred years to come; 3M needs to focus on their weak points to keep the good thing going. According to Marshall, from the same article, customers and customer service will be their primary priority. "With the rapid advances in electronic technology a company can lose the human interaction with customers. You can lose sight of a customer's true needs. While we have embraced technology, we will have to make sure we continue to have face-to-face contact with the end user so we are in a position to deliver the solutions they need."  So, in order to keep in touch with their customers, they need to work and focus primarily on their customer service. Customer oriented services are much sought after these days. One must keep in mind that customers are one of the key factors that keep the business running. So in order to keep their trust, they must focus on the customers and their needs. That might just be what they need to keep them going for a hundred more years.

            In the case of 3M, continuous improvement needs to be encouraged, directed, and supported through standard setting and review at the de­partment/country level all the way through to each employee. An automated tool provides a consistent, transparent method to record and review the agreed-upon standards and progress toward achievement. This continuous improvement drives at­tainment of the business results—not just individual results.

At the individual level, the per­formance management system (PMS) must drive employee engagement, focus, and alignment. People perform best when they:

Ø      Understand and agree with what they are expected to achieve at work;

Ø      Gain specific feedback and agree with others' assessment of their progress based on objectives and relevant information; and

Ø      Are encouraged to take responsibility for their own perfor­mance and plan their own development.

The company wants its employees to have control, choice, and self-help; but it also wants to make sure its employees' contri­butions are aligned with business objectives. That is possible if employees have good, collaborative conversations with their managers.

One of the key strategies in any performance management imple­mentation is to clarify, document, and train people on the compa­ny's performance management process before selecting or imple­menting any tool.

            Market penetration is a growth strategy in which the business focuses on selling existing products into existing markets.

The main objectives of Market penetration seeks to achieve four main objectives:

Ø      Maintain or increase the market share of current products – this can be achieved by a combination of competitive pricing strategies, advertising, sales promotion and perhaps more resources dedicated to personal selling

Ø      Secure dominance of growth markets

Ø      Restructure a mature market by driving out competitors; this would require a much more aggressive promotional campaign, supported by a pricing strategy designed to make the market unattractive for competitors

Ø      Increase usage by existing customers – for example by introducing loyalty schemes

A market penetration marketing strategy is very much about "business as usual". The business is focusing on markets and products it knows well. It is likely to have good information on competitors and on customer needs. It is unlikely, therefore, that this strategy will require much investment in new market research.

Employees also are encouraged to form more specific objectives from the overall picture of what is wanted. The company feels that a few key attainable objectives might make employees more enthusiastic, rather than a standard list. Although it is desirable to have objectives that are clear and measurable, it is important to let the employee determine when they are clear enough for them to pursue. Asking for complete clarity when people are still digesting what is possible hinders rather than gains com­mitment. Giving employees the time to think things through can sometimes help them see the opportunities.

 

5. Theoretical Framework

 

            The study will determine the factors that resulted to the profound and positive effects of the managing styles used by 3M.  Hypothesized dependent variable is preference between effects of managing styles while hypothesized independent variables are attributes of the respondents like age, sex, and position in the company.  These are rather personal and given without relation to the product in question.  There should be intervening variables such as position in the company to the managing styles used. The diagram should look like this:

Ø      Age

Ø      Sex

Ø      Position in the Company

Ø      Length of say in the company

Ø      Familiarity to the Company

Ø      Managing styles in the company

Significant Effects of Management Styles in 3M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Research Methodology

Research Design

This study will identify factors that made the management shift its management style from one to the other until it was able to find one that worked well with it.  Thus, we must employ the use of case study analysis to fully view the factors that had a part in making the company shift into its current management style. For example, we could conduct a SWOT analysis for the company to be able to evaluate its standing in those times and also, to be able to see if we would arrive at the same conclusion as the strategists then. Research concerning the needs and purchasing plans of both customers and potential customers is also a valuable source of information for qualitative forecasting. Information as to product and service advantages and disadvantages as well as possible modifications should be constantly monitored. In addition, this approach can also be used to compare the firm's offerings with that of their competitors (Lowson, 2002).

Time series methods are statistical techniques that make use of historical data accumulated over a period of time. Time series methods assume that what has occurred in the past will continue to occur in the future. Time series methods include moving averages, exponential smoothing, and linear trend lines. They are among the most popular methods used for short-range forecasting.

Causal models are another type of quantitative forecasting methods. These are also known as explanatory or associative models. The forecaster attempts to use another independent variable (apart from, or in addition to time) with which demand, the dependent variable, has shown a strong past relationship (Lowson, 2002). This model offers us leading indicators of future trends. For example, over time (independent variable) the levels of childbirth (independent variable) may be correlated or related to the demand for baby food (dependent variable).

Primary and secondary data may also be of use in this research. Primary data may consist of the data gathered which would be about the company's figures during its years of decline while secondary date may be about its current set of figures as it employed its management style. This may be able to explain the relevance of the management style and its effectivity to the current success of 3M. All data gathered must come from interviews on the participants and company records.

Primary and secondary data will be used in the study.  Primary data will be consisted the answers to the questionnaires of the samples while secondary data will be consisted the research done by the researcher including interviews held to compile pertinent information about the problem of the study.  Quantitative and qualitative data will be analyzed.  Quantitative will be sourced to the primary data gathered and will be undergone into compilation, frequencies, percentages and determination of relationships under the SPSS program.  Qualitative data will come from the open-ended questions in the questionnaire that will reflect the personal opinions of respondents not included in the selection.  This data will be significant when quantitative data is discovered to have deviations from the hypothesized variables.

 

Participants

            Participants may be the employees of the company from 1970 up to the present. High ranking officials may also participate in the said event. Interviews will be conducted in a time which would be convenient to the participants as to not disrupt their working schedules. It may also be of great importance if former employees and high ranking officials be included in the said interview since they may also have vital information and data which may help in the organization of the research.

Instruments

            Since our only interviews will be conducted to gather data, only necessary materials are needed. The interviewer must have a sheet containing questions that concerns itself on the past events related to the adoption of the new managerial approaches, i. e., "What event, in your opinion, led to the restructuring and reorganization of the company?"

Data Analysis and Presentation

            The data gathered should be categorized accordingly to when they occurred and to which reorganization efforts they belong to. Also, the data gathered about the problems and factors causing the change should also be grouped together accordingly.

            When this has been accomplished, this can pivot the movement for further research about the said topic.

The data gathered will be tallied by the researcher and will be encoded in the computer.  Hard copy will be printed to ensure that files are kept including the questionnaire responses of the sample.  Frequencies will be computed into percentages and will be presented through graphs, tables and textual arrangements.  The latter will clarify the graphs and tables.  Data will also undergo to the SPSS program to determine the causal relationships of the predetermined independent and dependent variables.  Such data will form the heart of the findings of the study and will indicate the applicability of the research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Ethical Considerations

            The interview procedure must be explained to the participants. Reassurances must be made to them like their answers will be taken in anonymously and that their answers will remain between the participant and the interviewer. Also, questions that they think might not be appropriate for them to answer can be left out if they chose to. All of the activities during the interview will be of free will and their identity and their answers will be shrouded in secrecy.


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