1 1 The Founder s Role and Organizational Behavior in a Family Business Track: Special Track: Family Business Author s Information: Juliano Lissoni, Msc Interdisciplinary Center of Planning and Strategic Management Studies ICPSMS Address: CPGA UFSC Campus Universitário Trindade Cx. P Florianópolis SC Brazil CPGA Phone: / CPGA Fax: Personal Address: Miguel Daux Street 1425 / Coqueiros Florianópolis SC - Brazil Personal Phone: / Personal Fax: / Maurício Fernandes Pereira, Phd Interdisciplinary Center of Planning and Strategic Management Studies ICPSMS Address: CPGA UFSC Cx. P Florianópolis SC Brazil Phone: / / / CPGA Fax: Web Site: Key Words: Family Business, Organizational Behavior, Growth
2 2 Founder s Role and Organizational Behavior in a Family Business Abstract A lot of organizations around the world are trying to enhance their growing processes using the merger and acquisition shortcut. In some cases, the lack of awareness about the cultural forces may produce undesirable results. This article s main purpose consist in showing how a non-strategy according to Michael Porter view the America Online and Time Warner merger, structured above the synergy concept and the shareholder value maximization, brought painful consequences not only to both companies, but also to the industry. By using documental research, the article analyzes the three different moments: before, during and after the AOL Time Warner merger. Key Words: Family Business, Organizational Behavior, Growth Introduction Culture in family business has deep source, supported by the founder s role and the way his or her, leads the organization since the beginning. This behavior that worked at moments when challenges were faced, became the correct way of thinking and doing. Nevertheless, as time passed, family companies, forced by environmental changes, focused on clear governance processes, solution of internal conflicts and evolution curve, have looked professional management. Those processes may imply deep changes in the founder s organizational values. This paper main s purpose is from a case study leaded in a company called RBS media company located in southern Brazil, to analyze the relationship between organizational culture and behavior related to growth, in order to identify if founder s values held together during successions of leadership over time. The research was based on documental analysis using articles, publishing, books and so on, that depicted the culture and behavior related to growth of the company, beyond participant observation, interviews with company s top management and an interview with John Davis, a family business specialist.
3 3 Organizational Culture and Family Business The culture concept has its origins in social anthropology. The meaning was related with the representation of human qualities passed through generations (KOTTER & HESKETT, 1994). In this anthropologic context, the concept covers all the factors of individual interaction (ZANELLI & Silva, 2004). Community s culture is a behavior system in which most of rules does not exist in writing and its existence is perceived when those rules are broken. Organizational culture may be understood as the residue of success (SCHEIN, 2001), or else, the attitude and behavior that worked in a good way in the face of environment challenges, and for this matter, went on as the best way of doing something. Deal and Kennedy (1982) presented the concept of culture as the way things are done in organizations. Culture may be understood as a complex whole of values, beliefs and presumptions that determine how a company runs its business (PETTIGREW, 1991). Peters and Waterman (1982) pointed out that culture is a form of controlling individual behavior and link it to company s goals. This context was re-enforced by Zanelli and Silva (2004) that presented corporate culture as a tool used to balance individuals and organizations. Culture represents a way of gain workers adhesion to company s goals (PEREIRA & Cunha, 2004). The organization can be understood as having a culture or being a culture (MOTTA et al., 2002). The strategy process usually pays little attention to it, ignoring the fact that the cultural components may affect strategy in a significant manner, as well as main goals and the way of doing things (SCHEIN, 2001). This may go beyond its features, capable of changing dependent upon the environmental forces, when the company needs a new internal structure or an external adaptation. MOTTA et al (1997) and BARROS et al (2003, p. 31) show that before everything, the culture is about language, about code. It can provide a group of references that allows the actors to present a sense to the world where they live and to their own actions. According to BARROS (2001), the cultural models work as filters that help people to interpret reality, to reject or accept the existing information. Starting from this point, the organizational strategy is highly influenced by culture, related to the introduction process. According to the SCHEIN (2001) concept, the culture matters because the decision making process that does not consider the working cultural forces may have unexpected and undesirable consequences. Strategy may be understood as choices that lead to a company s long term (JOHNSON, 1999). The relation between strategy and culture is connected to changes in a company (MINTZBERG, 2000). According to Johnson (1999), people create strategy, and they are influenced by the paradigm that the company uses to interpret external and internal stimulus. The perception of the environment is directly connected to current mental models, which, according to Zanelli (2004) constitute the way individuals interpret the world. Weick (1985) suggests that culture and strategy are interchangeable, because both provide coherence and meaning in the organizations.
4 Schein s (1985) concept of organizational culture is presented in three dimensions: in the first, culture is about visible artifacts (on surface, sees, hears, feels) and its visible products are language, technology, products, creations and style. In this context, culture is easy to observe, difficult to decipher and symbols are ambiguous. After that, culture shows itself by espoused values, where all group learning reflects original values, first begins as shared values then becomes shared assumptions, initially started by founder, leader and then assimilated. Finally, in a deep dimension, rely the basic assumptions, that evolve as solution to problem is repeated over and over again, hypothesis becomes reality and to learn something new requires resurrection, reexamination, and frame breaking. Kotter (1998) presents culture through visible and invisible dimensions. The visible is about rules and group behavior and easy to change. The invisible dimension is about shared values, in which change is more difficult. In this context, organizational culture has its sources in founders and ancient leaders that mix vision, strategy and philosophy. The founders shape the organizational culture according to its own image. Schein (1985) suggested and evolutionary view of corporate culture that used the founder s values and beliefs system as an anchor but also incorporated new learning over time, as the organization interact with the world at large. In this sense, family business may have shared values established by its founders. Family business may be understood as a company which founders or family members still hold posts in the top management, board or foremost shareholders (WEBER et al, 2003). According to Lethbridge (2005), family business may be understood as an organization which family members have shares enough in order to run the business or indicate a professional manager to do it. Studies about family business as systems started in few articles in mid of 60 s and 70 s and were focused on typical problems: nepotism, generations rivalry and non-professional management (DAVIS, 1996; 2001a). Around the world, family business represent 80% of whole companies and are responsible for well half or world GDP. About 75% are still under the first generation command, 20% in the hands of the second generation and only 5% in the rest (LETHBRIDGE, 2005). From an historic view, only 15% of family business remains with the same family in third generation (BLECHER, 2003). The strength of a culture is described by four primary traits: involvement, consistency, adaptability and mission (Denison, 1990; Denison and Misha, 1995). Dyer (1986) encapsulated family business as a unique culture by offering four main cultural types: paternalistic, laissez-faire, participative, and professional. The context was based on seven categories of assumptions of how organizations view self, society and world. Family could impose its agenda on business strategy and management (Dyer, 2003). This outside influence may results in great emphasis on altruism and an inclusive stance toward stakeholders that makes family firms different. Cultures that sustain high levels of performance over the long term had three distinct attributes: be value added to the bottom line, have uncommon characteristics, and be imperfectly imitable (Denison et al, 2004). Those characteristics are straightly connected to the founder s role, individuals that carry contradictories values and opinions. 4
5 This cultural uniqueness may be a source of firm advantage. According to Zanelli (2004), in the beginning, the sharing of founder world vision may be non-significant, but it leads the organizational functioning towards the direction he or she long for. The dominant coalition tends to influence the strategic choices according to its skills and competences. Organizational family business behavior has some significant characteristics. To family managers, there is a motivation originated from legacy, the decision taken process is easier and faster, lower grades of turnover, high development of talents, respect with workers and the company ability of bring about loyalty among them. Those are ideas passed through generations (DAVIS, 1996; 2002). The commitment with values supports the cohesive and responsible family culture. De development of family business may be tied in two divergent perspectives (DAVIS, 1996, 2001b): the first points to the effect of social and economic external forces on organizations, resulting in natural selection process. With the focus in external forces, is possible to describe the process when the organization reacts to its environment and fits itself, but is pretty hard to predict what kind of changes will occur or when they will happen. The second perspective sees the organization changing in a predictable sequence of stages, motivated by conditions in external environment as well, but mainly by complex internal factors related to maturity. Those models focus to organizational life cycles. The maturity in family business brings together de adaptation and renovation challenges. Otherwise, the firm may disappear (DAVIS e GERSICK, 2003). Change and growth are essential to family business success. The pressures to growth are always acting, creating the need to change. With a professional management, the family business starts to work in a different way, withdrawing old leadership, modifying systems and implementing new rules and work routines. The consequence may be the lost of fundamentals values, as since the long term success of family business is derived from the passion of the management (BLETCHER, 2003). According to Heifetz (1999), every time deep beliefs are tested, when the residue of success became irrelevant and new perspectives grow up a change is needed. According to Drucker (1995), except the small family business, the whole rest needs no blood track in the management. The most important lesson to be learned is to combine strategic revolutions with leadership changes, and the new leadership needs to be prepared to maintain the leverage to the growth strategy (WARD, 1987). Professional management in charge is a situation that may affect organizational culture. This process needs some tasks: to attract new employees, to invest in new technologies, to introduce new planning systems, new controls and performance systems. The challenge is to overcome the confidence in old traditions that make the company weak (Davis, 2003). The cultural matter in mid-age companies is related to maintain cultural elements that still holds, how to align different subcultures, and how to identify and change non-functional elements (Schein, 2001). 5
6 6 Founder s Role in a Family Business A RBS Southern Brazil Network was created in 1957 and its founder was Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho, when he bought a radio station called Radio Gaucha. In 1959 Maurício and his brother Jayme started the first TV station of the group and after that, in 1970, a newspaper called Zero Hora. The company s history and its corporate culture are identified with its founder values: respect for human being, daring, innovation and visionary leadership. Beyond this, Maurício was a radio professional truly interested in news, a non-ordinary vision in times like those (SCHIRMER, 2002). The first TV Station of the group was launched in December 29 th, 1962, and in 1970, after the purchase of the newspaper called Zero Hora, the founder was recognized as one of communications great leaders in Brazil. In 1964 the currency devaluation, the international debts and the context problems brought the first crisis. (SCHIRMER, 2002). Mauricio Sirotsky Sobrinho was considered a dreamer idealist and visionary and a charismatic leader, whose lessons were passed to workers in all levels of the organization. The founder, with his brother and the third partner, Fernando Ernesto Correa, brought to the company a new way of thinking in those times when media companies were stuck in old habits (SHIRMER, 2002). According to Mauricio s son, Nelson Sirotsky (2005), founder visions about localism and multimedia are still around nowadays. It was some kind of intuitive strategy of growth: respect to the local culture. In 1971, 14 years after the beginning, the second generation came up. The founders showed that they wanted to have a professional family business. In the occasion of the second generation entrance, they started to establish rules and procedures in order to drive the company to a professional way of doing (NAIDITCH, 2003c). The founder, Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho died in One week after, the board and family members met to indicate the new general management. Jayme Sirotsky took the President post and Nelson Sirotsky and Fernando Ernesto Correa took the Vice-President posts. Carlos Melzer, Marcos Dvoskin and Pedro Sirotsky were named superintendents. Nelson and Pedro were founder s sons. From this succession, RBS started a new management model, constituting a Management Counsel, one of the first in Brazil with external members. At the same time, the group consolidated its shareholder structure: Ione Pacheco Sirotsky took 51%; Jayme Sirotsky took 41% and Fernando Ernesto Correa, 8% of stock options. From 1986 to 1991, RBS developed under Jayme Sirotsky command, when the company grown more than 175% in real terms (SCHIRMER, 2002). In 1991, Jayme took the Chairman of the Board post.
7 Nelson Sirotsky took the President post in 1991 and started an era characterized by daring growth. The search of future was the mark of the company under Nelson s command with diverse and important progresses, but with stumbles, as well, as the frustrated attempt in telecommunications in a society with a Spanish group. According to Schirmer (2002), Nelson was so daring as his father was. The directive structure of the company in mid 90s was born with the nomination of Nelson as President and the creation of the Management Board, presided by Jayme. For the first time, the two foremost group directive entities the Management Board and the Executive Committee had non-shareholders members. According to Schirmer (2002), RBS became one of the great national companies to include external members in its counsels. Beyond this, the search by professionalization was marked in the Executive Committee by the presence of three non-shareholders directors. Professional Vice-Presidents, non-shareholders, RBS have been since According to Davis (2003), a Counsel formed only by internal members help the organization to keep its old way of seeing the world. A Counsel with external members my cause great impact in organizational culture, because of external information and different ways of seeing the world, helps the company s management and leadership and tend to influence its culture. The final 90s was a time of turbulences, derived from de development of some projects that the company started in order to expand its field. According to Schirmer (2002), innovation was always a company characteristic. Telecommunications was one of the new investments. In 1998, RBS passed through its worst crisis. Large debts derived from Net Sul a cable system company that was supposed to be paid by the CRT merger a regional telecommunications company were anticipated in its expire date. In 98, RBS had to pay in a short term US$ 40 million of a US$ 50 million operation, which the initial expire date was The company had to sell its shares on BCP for US$ 60 million, and an exchange devaluation made the crisis even worst. But also in this crisis, the company held the founder s principle since 1957 that consisted in never postpone workers salaries (SCHIRMER, 2002). In 1999, while at the Internet bubble, McKinsey Consult worked on different projects inside the company, in an attempt to extend the RBS product lines. But when Pedro Parente, took the Vice-President post, the first CEO nonfamiliar, in 2003, the company moved toward its core business. 7 In The Search of Growth RBS is one of the biggest media group in Brazil. From 1962 to 1996, a 34 years period, the company growth was focused on its core business, buying or beginning new business units, as TV stations, newspapers, radios networks, and segmented content (TVCOM, Rural Channel). Nevertheless, in 1992, RBS launched NET South the first cable
8 company in Brazil in order to enter in the content distribution sphere, through pay TV. In mid 2000, the company started RBS Interactive, based on segments: Rural, Sports, Young, Online and Database Marketing. The RBS Sports was supposed to be responsible for buying and selling sports rights. The RBS Young was supposed to bring about new contents focused in the young target and the RBS Rural was created in order to be a relationship channel with the Brazilian agribusiness. With RBS Interactive, the group was moving toward in become a regional multimedia organization focused on consumers, and its business alignment was based on to take a part of share of pocket, not only advertisement market share. This strategy had critical points: to understand consumer needs, and multimedia and regional focus. RBS Interactive was changed in 2001, one year after its creation. RBS Direct (database marketing company) and ClicRBS (Internet channel) were kept. Selling Net South to Globocabo, RBS became a partner of national pay TV platform. From 1968 to 1980, the company had a vision of being a communication and media business. According to Sirotsky, from 1980 to 1991, the company tried some movements of diversification, as Maiojama (a civil construction company), a related business that is outside of communication sphere. From 1991 to 2005, the company took the convergence way. According to Sirotsky (2005), we started to look to our mission with some kind of flexibility. We entered in the sectors of telecommunications, pay TV, Internet and data processing. But everything was connected to our vision, and focused on technological environment and possibilities. According to Tigre (2005), strategic ruptures never happened. Everything was about growth ( ) everything was constructed from the opportunity. If something new appeared, the company changed its strategy. Nowadays, RBS operate 20 TV Stations, 26 radio stations and 6 daily newspapers in the States of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. The company got a US$ 450 million revenue in Beyond this, the group has the second post in newspaper sells, with more than 400,000 copies per day, right behind Infoglobo (O Glogo, Extra, Diário de São Paulo), and before Grupo Folha (Folha de São Paulo e Agora) and Grupo Estadão (Estadão e Jornal da Tarde). RBS has the first post in individual radio audience, with Farroupilha, a Porto Alegre radio station. The growth of RBS can be summarized in terms of business units with figure 1. 8
9 9 Figure 1: RBS Growth in terms of Business Units Business Units Years Source: Adapted by authors. RBS points toward to become a national company, by increasing its business units. The group now points to companies in São Paulo (the first radio station in Sao Paulo was acquired in November, 2005), Paraná, Minas Gerais and Brasília. In order to do this, the company recently passed through a financial and operational adjustment, including the postponing of a US$ 125 million debt. With the refocusing toward its core competences, RBS brought a professional management: Pedro Parente, as CEO. He was hired to run the business operations, in an attempt to increase the productivity and competitiveness of RBS. The three founders had 10 heirs, but nowadays the numbers has increased to more than 20. With this family growth and the complexity it brings, RBS started a professional movement with new rules and principles. The hiring of a non-familiar executive may be understood as a significant step toward a new organizational culture. According to Parente (2003; Sampaio, 2003), we need to comprehend and respect, of course the existent culture, even when your task is to make deep changes in this culture. According to Naiditch (2003a), Parente first step was to understand that the change has to be done from the culture, not against it. To Parente, RBS have its own values, that were build since its foundation and they need to be preserved. According to Parente (2005), the company defined a long term strategy, related with growth, at the same time that created average stated period strategies or tactic strategies in order to find a maintainable growth. To Parente (2005), RBS is a company with entrepreneur vision and growth in its DNA In this context, beyond the maintenance of the Board, which company seeks to have at least 70% formed by outsider members, RBS created the Shareholders Counsel, which means a joint of 100% of the stock shares. The
10 Counsel needs to meet in order to deliberate financial shareholders matters. The company developed the Family Forum, as well, some kind of family counsel. With Pedro Parente running the company, Nelson Sirotsky, President, started to become responsible for institutional and editorial matters. In this context, Pedro Sirotsky and Carlos Melzer, both familiar Vice-Presidents leaved the board of directors (NAIDITCH, 2003b). Pedro Parente implemented a new managerial structure. RBS had seven operational units and after this process it has four that reported directly to him (newspaper and radio unit, television unit, financial unit and management unit, as showed in figure Figure 2: New managerial structure Management Board President Nelson Sirotsky Intitucional Management Editorial Committee Social Foundation CEO Pedro Parente Newspapers / Radio Units Television Unit Financial Unit Management Unit Source: Adapted by authors With its new strategic definition to be one of the best media company in Brazil with world competitiveness, RBS defined a planning based on growth through media units, no media and related business in south, southwest an center of the country. The logic is based on the leadership with products of high quality and strong brands, improvement of results and expansion through management capability, knowing of its business, synergy of opportunities in media firms. The leadership strategy is based, apparently, in Porter (1999): leadership in costs, in order to create a nonreplicable position by its competitors; and leadership in products and services through differentiation and diversification.
11 Beyond this, RBS consolidate its professionalization process through others steps. With the third generation coming to age to apply for posts in the company, the family decided to create a process to hiring family members. The criterion is professional qualification Figure 3 summarize the main events that possibly affected culture and growth of RBS. 11 Figura 3 Main Events affecting culture and growth 1959 TV Gaúcha purchasing beginning of business diversification; Power diffusion stage Jayme Sirotsky and Fernando Ernesto Correa became partners; Maurício Sirotsky Sobrinho, the founder, died New General Maagement First Succession Jayme Sirotsky take the CEO post; New shareholder structure Nelson Sirotsky, Maurício s son, take the CEO post second succession; New structure Board of Directors and Executive Committee Diversification entering in the telecommunications business Extension (or lost) of focus with RBS Interactive. Professional management; 2003 Pedro Parente take the post of Executive Vice-President (CEO); New structure and refocusing. 2004/2005 Financial balance New investments in company s core business. Source: developed by authors. RBS evolution may be explained using the Quinn and Cameron (1983) framework about organizational life cycles and the criteria of effectiveness. The model suggests a consistent pattern of development occurring in organizations over time, and organizational activities and structures in one stage are not the same as the activities and structures presented in another stage. It may also be true that the values and principles in one stage could be not the same in another stage. In the company evolution is clear the founder role, and it may be called entrepreneurial stage typified by innovation and creativity. According to Adizes (1979), specified dreaming and entrepreneurship as activities necessary to get the organization off the ground, and it seems to be the RBS stage when company was under control of its founder. As a family business, the evolution brought a stage typified by a sense of family and cooperativeness among members and personalized leadership. The professional management phase at RBS brought organizational stability,
12 efficiency of production, rules and procedures and conservative trends. While goal accomplishment, productivity, and efficiency are clearly important through most of the life cycle of an organization, it is in the formalization stage that these rational model criteria are most emphasized by life cycles theorists (QUINN and CAMERON, 1983). It is important, however that to make a professional management does not mean withdraw the familiar control and simply to entrust it a non-family executives; and the professionalization process has to be done in an inside out move (BERNHOEFT, 1987). The management professionalization may be a consequence of the family business life cycles, and the cultural change may be considered a step in order to reach productivity, goal accomplishment, discipline, and efficiency. The change brought to RBS the kind of discipline and efficiency necessary to reach maintainable growth. 12 Final Comments Culture in organizations is difficult to trace through historical data (SCHEIN, 1985), and as a result, there has been little interaction between business history and the concept of culture from organizations studies (ROWLINSON and HASSARD, 1993). However, the purpose of this paper was to move forward in the relationship between organizational culture and growth in order to identify if founder s values still remain in the company and are visible in organizational behavior along its life cycle. In its history, RBS showed different movements that may be related with the culture impelled by its presidents that came from family. In the beginning, the founder s visionary leadership and daring, working together with his partners (brother Jayme and Fernando Ernesto), drove the company to the growth by creation or acquisition of media firms (radios, TVs and newspapers). When Jayme Sirotsky took the post of president, RBS grown as well, extending its business and its revenues and profits, but in a slower way. Jayme used to seek growth with balance and efficiency. From 1981 to 1986, RBS had a great cycle of growth. From 1986 to 1991, the growth was paralyzed for one great reason: after Maurício s dead, it was a time to make partnership and voting shares adjustments. From 1991 to 2000, the growth was retaken, in a faster way. With the assumption of Nelson Sirotsky as president and CEO, the company kept its growth posture. However, differently of his father and uncle, Nelson was influenced by external stimulus and the signs of media and communications sceneries, as in the case of the so-called convergence of media, telecommunications and technology. When Pedro Parente took the CEO post, as the first non-family member to do this, the company moved towards to regain its financial balance. According to Parente, RBS is not seeking to make a bunch of investments, but
13 the company is open to opportunities, because this is a cultural matter and an obligation of leader organizations (SAMPAIO, 2003). At this time, growth is a long term goal reinforced by short term tactics based on processes, with prominence for the financial aspects. It may be observed along RBS history, that the founder values and its basic assumptions about nature and world and how to be successful on it, remain, with few modifications in its elements, alongside the first and second successions. The founder daring mind remained along two familiar successions and the new professional management seems to bring a cultural change. The daring mind could be changed by financial balance, but still open to opportunities. And maybe this proves of a change that preserves some principles. In this case, the principle of growth was maintained. Through professionalization, RBS apparently is modifying its leadership, and establishing new cultural features, in order to find the discipline and the efficiency needed in turbulent times to media companies. The company apparently is changing from a fast growth to a growth based on opportunities, after a non-family CEO arrived, and maybe it could help to explain the relationship between culture and growth, and how both may affect the organizational behavior REFERENCES Adizes, I.. Organizational Passages: diagnosing and treating life cycles problems in organizations. Organizational Dynamics, Summer, Barros, B. T.; Rodrigues, S. B. Compreendendo a dimensão cultural. Encontro das culturas organizacionas. In: Fusões, aquisições & parcerias. São Paulo: Atlas, Barros, B. T.; Souza, H. H. R. F.; STEUER, R.. Gestão nos processo de fusões e aquisições. In: BARROS, Betania Tanure de. Fusões e aquisições no Brasil: entendendo as razões dos sucessos e fracassos. São Paulo: Atlas, Blecher, N. Em busca da eternidade. In Exame, 04 de junho de Bowditch, J. e Buono, L. Elementos de comportamento organizacional. São Paulo: Pioneira, Bernhoeft, Renato. Empresa Familiar: sucessão profissionalizada ou sobrevivência comprometida. São Paulo: Ibecon, Cruz, D. M. Televisão e negócio: a RBS em Santa Catarina. Editora da UFSC: Florianópolis, Davis, J. The Blethen Family and the Seattle Times. Harvard Business School. November, Davis, J. Analyzing Family Business Cases. Harvard Business School. July, 2001a.
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