Google Organizational Culture Analysis Essay

Google’s success is linked to the effectiveness of its organizational structure and organizational culture in supporting excellence in innovation. The company’s organizational structure is not conventional. Google’s organizational culture is also not typical because it emphasizes change and direct social links within the firm. Theory suggests that a strong alignment between a firm’s organizational structure and its organizational culture can lead to higher chances of success. This benefit is manifested in the case of Google’s businesses that continue to expand and prosper. Thus, the company’s current dominant position is attributable to the synergistic benefits of its organizational structure and organizational culture.

Google’s organizational structure supports the company’s organizational culture to maximize effectiveness of innovation.

Google’s Organizational Structure

Google has a cross-functional organizational structure, which is technically a matrix organizational structure with a considerable degree of flatness. Thus, the company’s organizational structure has three main characteristics:

  1. Function-based definition
  2. Product-based definition
  3. Flatness

Google uses function as basis for grouping employees. For example, the company has a Sales Operations team, an Engineering & Design Team, and a Product Management Team, among others. The firm also uses products as basis for grouping employees. For example, the company groups employees for developing Nexus devices. The firm also groups employees for its Fiber business. In addition, the firm’s organizational structure has considerable flatness. A flat organizational structure means that Google’s employees, teams or groups can bypass middle management and report directly to CEO Larry Page. Employees can also meet and share information across teams.

Google’s Organizational Culture

Google’s organizational culture is not typical, partly because of the effects of the firm’s organizational structure. In essence, structure and culture interact to influence the capabilities of the organization. Google’s organizational culture is:

  1. Open
  2. Innovative
  3. Smart with emphasis on excellence
  4. Hands-on
  5. Supports small-company-family rapport

Openness is achieved through the matrix organizational structure. Within Google’s organizational culture context, employees feel free to give their ideas and opinions. Innovation is at the heart of Google. Every employee is conditioned to contribute innovative ideas. In this organizational culture, the firm also favors smart employees who strive for excellence. In addition, the company supports employee involvement in projects and experiments. The overall ambiance at the company’s offices is warm because the firm’s organizational culture maintains a small-company-family feel, where people can easily talk and share ideas with each other, including CEO Larry Page. Thus, Google’s organizational culture supports excellence in innovation through sharing of ideas and capability to rapidly respond to the market.

  • Alvesson, M. (2012). Understanding organizational culture. Sage.
  • Claver-Cortes, E., Pertusa-Ortega, E. M., & Molina-Azorin, J. F. (2012). Characteristics of organizational structure relating to hybrid competitive strategy. Journal of Business Research65(7), 993-1002.
  • Google Inc. (2014). Google Inc. Form 10-K, 2014.
  • Google Inc. (2015). Life at Google.
  • Google Inc. (2015). Our Culture.
  • Google Inc. (2015). Teams and Roles.
  • Google Inc. (2015). What we believe – Ten things we know to be true.
  • Smith, J. (2013). The Companies With the Best CSR Reputations. Forbes.

Case Study & Case Analysis, Google, Organizational Culture, Organizational Structure

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Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Identify
A. Synopsis of text structure
B. Prominent Characteristics
C. Crystallization of points of concern
D. Conclusion

III. Account
A. Organizational Structure
1. Description of the situation of management and teamwork
2. Managerial Structure: Personality/Personal Traits of the Google founders
a) Justification of model choice
b) Myers-Briggs Type Indication (MBTI) theory
c) Analysis of the Personality of Larry Page and Serge Brin and of the personality of the Google Culture
d) Conclusion
3. What personality is required to fit into Googles Corporate Culture and into the Team Structure
a) Justification of the theories in use
b) Explanation of the model Machiavellianism
c) Explanation of the model Type A vs. Type B
d) Personality Traits of a potential Google employee
e) Conclusion
4. How must a selection process for prospective employees be structured
a) Criteria a selection process has to cover
b) Choice of the right selection models for Google
c) Conclusion
B. Growth Development and Possible Consequences
1. Description of the Growth
2. Consequences of growth for organizational culture and structure
a) Consequences for Organizational Structure
b) Conclusion
c) Consequences for the Organizational Culture
d) Conclusion

IV. Excursion

V. Appendix
1. List of Figures
2. Bibliographies
a) Books
b) Journal Articles / Newspaper Publications

I. Introduction

Google is a high tech company with amazing growth rates. Inherent with its growth Google has to face challenges. In the following essay the personality of the founders of Google and the company is highlighted. Consequently the required personality of the candidates for employment at Google is explored. Furthermore the present selection process so far is in focus. This research results in the answer of a best case selection process. Besides these themes the future development of Googles Corporate Culture and Structure affected by the enormous growth of the company is brought forward. The essay ends with a comparison of Google with the German High Tech company SAP which had a similar development 20 years earlier.

II. Identify

A. Synopsis of text structure

Ten years ago Google was an unknown. In the meantime it has become a household term. It has entered the English language not only as a proper noun, but also as a verb – google it. How has this come to be and what are the factors which have played the key roles in this successful story?

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Serge Brin in a garage in California. From this two man operation a company with about 7.000 Googlers working in Googleplexes all over the globe has emerged. The increase of staff occurred concurrently with the increase of services offered. Originally Google offered the product of a search machine. Today it has different types of products from the search machine function over Google Earth to Google Alerts which allows you to be automatically updated on a special theme. These developments coupled with Corporate Culture values of creativity illustrate the reciprocal influence of staff recruitment and corporate growth.

B. Prominent Characteristics

Analyzing the development of Google one can see that within Google Corporate they have implemented a lot of special features for their employees and that they live a very “uncommon way” for business life, which leads to a unique Corporate Culture at Google. As Google was founded by two very young men, they have inserted their personal values and opinions and their way of living within Google Inc. Larry Page and Serge Brin wanted Google to be a fun place to work[1] !

Consequently Google offers their employees many possibilities which reflect their beliefs. Googlers for example are allowed to bring their pets along and are provided with free snacks, lunch and dinner. They have also the possibility to use facilities like work-out gyms, pool tables, ping pong tables and also video game corners against the background of having fun while working for Google Inc. Such a benefit structure belongs to the Corporate Culture of Google.

Besides these added benefits the work flow is also organized in an uncommon way. Instead of high organizational levels, Google has a flat hierarchy with only one step of top management in front. Furthermore Google Inc. organizes its work in small teams with changing project leaders among the teammates. These Teams work as self responsible units on Projects. And even more Google Inc. facilitates individual ideas by providing their employees at work with 20 % of their time on self directed projects.

C. Crystallization of points of concern

But besides these positive attitudes of Google and its self-conception, there are some questions left. The most interesting questions are:

- Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture

Within this topic there are the questions like, what are the personality traits of the founders and what is the personality of Google Inc.? Consequently following this logic there is also the interesting question, what personality does a prospective employee has to have to be the right choice for the “Google family”.

And there is the question of recruiting methods to get the personnel with the needed skills.

Furthermore there is a second complex of questions which is very interesting.

- Growth development and possible consequences

Summarized under this are questions which aim at the future development and challenges of Google.

How can Google deal with growth within its workforce?

How does Google with its special Corporate Culture solve the challenge of globalization, which distributes their employees all over the world?

How can a Google Inc. Organizational Structure with its low levels of hierarchy and high level of self-responsibility handle their future growth of turnover, employees and profit.

D. Conclusion

In cultural questions Google takes another way in comparison to the common practice. The success entitles Google to behave in such a way. But there are also questions concerning / involving the personality of the employees working for Google and others dealing with the future of Google. These questions will be focused on in the following.

III. Account

A. Organizational Structure

1. Description of the situation of management and teamwork

As the founders of Google are very young and dynamic they have installed a managerial structure with hardly any hierarchy. Instead of formal institutions they proclaim an open door policy, where everyone is motivated to talk about problems and the actual situation. What the founders want to have at Google is “a fun place to work in[2] ”. Therefore they allow their employees to spend 20% of there work time work on self-directed projects. They also allow their employees to have flexible work hours. Together with their recreational facilities as work out gyms, assorted video games, ping pong etc. and the free food and food corners, Google encourage the “Googlers” to communicate extensively within the organization. Strong Communication and teamwork trans-sectored is wanted in the Corporate Culture at Google. Another very uncommon factor that goes along with the team structure at Google is that the work within Google is organized in projects. The leader of the projects switches from time to time, so that everyone is at one time project leader. In these projects everyone is to intend to collaborate with the team members but also to bring in his or her individual strengths. The basic intention of these projects is the collaboration of all team members concurrently with each member bringing in his/her strengths. What is also a main criterion of working life at Google is the absolute freedom of organizing the work flow within the teams and projects. The teams are self responsible for their work, the goals and organization. This is illustrated by a sentence of Hammond, who says “If something isn’t right, even if it’s a product that has already gone public, teams fix it without asking anyone[3] ”. This self-conception to work as you would be the boss is also illustrated by the fact, that every Google-employee has stock options making each person a part of Google and his or her work a part of Google and placing it in direct connection with the share price. The descriptions before show that Google wanted to be a very familiar place were everyone knows each other. Consequently they have involved their employees into the recruiting process, by rewarding them if some of there referrals is welcomed at Google. The result is that Google has 40-50 % new employees out of such referral programs.

Besides these soft skills that allow “Googlers” to work team, the Google personal department is also aiming at very individual skills. A main point for future employee is their intelligence. This intelligence is measured in two different ways. On the one hand Google invites only candidates from Top Elite Universities with top grades like Stanford, Harvard etc. These candidates are the best of their year and often recommended by their professors. Google Inc. assumes that these potential candidates have the requested intelligence combined with the knowledge to work for them. On the other hand Google has installed a contest for programmers. According to the company sources, the finalists fight out for various positions in the company. This recruiting method aims also at the best, intelligent and innovative employees available on the market.

Because of these explanations the point of interest is what personality or individuality does a potential Google employee has to have to be the best choice for Google. Moreover what values and bias are favored in the Corporate Culture at Google Inc.

2. Managerial Structure: Personality/Personal Traits of the Google founders

The managerial structure of a company is a reflection of the Corporate Culture. In small entrepreneurial firms, the influence of the founders is consequently greater than that in massive global conglomerates. Therefore an analysis of organizational Corporate Culture should start with scrutinization of the founders.

a) Justification of model choice

One of the most common models used for analyzing the personal traits is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Model. Normally the application of the model is restricted to individuals. But because the founders of Google shaped, determined and still control the corporate structure directly it is found that the model can be expanded from individual application to corporate description.

b) Myers-Briggs Type Indication (MBTI) theory

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test designed to assist a person in identifying some significant personal preferences. Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the Indicator during World War II, and its criteria follow from Carl Jung's theories in his work Psychological Types[4].

It is a test with 100 questions on personality. On the basis of the answers there is a classification in the selection criteria[5]:

- The terms Introvert and Extrovert (E or I) are referred to as attitudes and show how a person orients and receives their energy. The extraverted is outgoing, sociable person. His preferred focus is on other people and things. Whereas in the introverted has the preferred focus is on one's own thoughts and ideas. So the introverts are quiet and shy.
- Sensing and Intuition (S or N) are the perceiving functions. They indicate how a person prefers to receive data. These are the nonrational functions, as a person does not necessarily have control over receiving data, but only how to process it once they have it. Sensing prefers to receive data primarily from the five senses. These persons are practical and prefer routine and order. Intuitives prefer to receive data from the subconscious, or seeing relationships via insights.
- Thinking and Feeling (T or F) are the judging functions. They both strive to make rational judgments and decisions using the data received from their perceiving functions, above. Thinking uses logical "true or false, if-then" connections. Feeling uses "more or less, better-worse" evaluations. It could be said that thinkers decide with their heads, while feelers decide with their hearts.
- Judging and Perceiving (J or P) reveals the specific attitudes of the functions. Judging persons want to have control, and prefer their world to be ordered and structured. Perceiving types are flexible and spontaneous.

The combination of the 4 types resulted in 16 personality types.

The MBTI test helps to evaluate characteristics of persons. In the following one will try to analyze the personality of the Google founders and the Google Culture with this model.


[1] Cp. Page 5 Google Case Study

[2] Cp. Wirtschaftswoche, Larry and Serge Interview 12.10.2004

[3] Cp. Hammonds, Keith H., How Google Grows..and Grows..and Grows, Fast company, April 2003

[4] Cp. Jung, Carl Gustav Psychological Types (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 6). Princeton University Press.

[5] Cp. Robert B. Cialdiny, The Psychology Influence of Persuation

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