At Work: Where Do We Go Wrong?

By Marques, Joan | Journal of Global Business Issues, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

At Work: Where Do We Go Wrong?


Marques, Joan, Journal of Global Business Issues


ABSTRACT:

In a small empirical study, conducted among 40 members from a broad variety of L.A. based business corporations, who were also MBA students, some interesting findings emerged. The question asked to the population was, "What do you consider the three greatest problem areas in today's work organizations, and why?" Analysis of the problem areas led to the following findings: The interpersonal problems were by far the highest percentage of problems registered by the participants: 78.4%. The process-oriented problems were second in ranking: 15.6%. Only 6% of the work related problems were attributed to external factors. This paper reviews the areas in detail and offers recommendations to managers about possible solutions.

Introduction

In a small empirical study, conducted among 40 members from a broad variety of LA. based business corporations, who were also MBA students, some interesting findings emerged. The question asked to the population was, "What do you consider the three greatest problem areas in today's work organizations, and why?" This paper will analyze the responses given to this crucial question, the reflection-based explanations provided, and the lessons to be learned from these perspectives. The paper will first explain the research methodology, how the results were generated, and the categorization that was subsequently developed for readers' clarity.

The Study

As one of the final reflective exercises in an MBA course on Organizational Behavior, students, who were all members of the corporate workforce, were asked to list their perspective about the three greatest problem areas in today's work organizations. The participants were asked to contemplate on their work environment as well as communications they had engaged in with other workforce members, and perceptions they developed through the media and other information sources. The participants were given two weeks to consider, formulate, and return their findings.

Data Gathering and Analysis

The information was gathered over two semesters, providing two different MBA cohorts the opportunity to contribute to the outcomes of the study. A total of 40 respondents were approached and all submitted their perspectives. This empirical study entailed a quantitative and qualitative approach. Participants were asked to first identify their 3 main problem areas, and then elaborate on each. The problems were first listed individually; with careful tracking of the number of times each problem was listed. Once all problems were listed, the researcher reviewed the list several times, and found three categories emerging:

a) Interpersonal problems

b) Process oriented problems

c) External factors

Findings

The interpersonal problems were by far the highest percentage of problems registered by the participants: 78.4%. The process-oriented problems were second in ranking: 15.6%. Only 6% of the work related problems were attributed to external factors. The following pie-chart (figure 1 - next page) presents the three categories. Once the categories were clear, each individual problem within the category was ranked. Findings are listed in the tables below. Table 1 provides the percentages of problem appearances in the interpersonal category, after which figure 2 depicts these percentages in a chart; table 2 does the same for the process-oriented category with figure 3 presenting the percentages in chart form, and table 3 and figure 4 present the findings for the external category. For clarity purposes, the total is set at 100% in each category.

Data Review and Discussion

Interpersonal Problems

As stated before, the interpersonal section was the most comprehensive and by far the highest concentration area of the problems listed by the study participants. As shown in table 1 and figure 2, lack of communication, unethical behavior, teamwork problems and poor management were most often listed as problems in this category.

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