Organizations consist of individuals working together to achieve specific tasks. Employees, as the fundamental building blocks of an organization, significantly impact its performance through their social behavior and workplace interactions. The roles of managers play a crucial part in aligning everyone towards common goals and strategies. This study focuses on the British retailer ASDA PLC as a case study, examining its day-to-day operations to gain insights into organizational efficiency.

LO1. Understand the relationship between organizational structure and culture

LO 1.1 Compare and contrast the organizational structure and culture of ASDA PLC to that of British Airlines

ASDA PLC employs a hierarchical organizational structure, utilizing a pyramid approach with top-level management making decisions that cascade down the hierarchy. This approach has been a consistent feature since its inception, but notable changes occurred under the leadership of Mr. Archie Norman in 1991. The company shifted towards a more colleague-friendly environment, encouraging mutual respect among employees and flattening the rigid hierarchy. ASDA’s organizational culture underwent further changes after being acquired by Walmart Stores, infusing a blend of American and British influences.

In contrast, British Airways adopts a flat organizational structure, promoting easier interaction and quicker decision-making. This structure proved advantageous during challenging times, fostering innovation and agility. The company’s culture shifted towards urgency, essential for navigating through tough periods. Employees were treated as generalists, capable of handling diverse tasks, fostering higher productivity and commitment. The organizational structures and cultures of ASDA PLC and British Airways reflect distinct strategies tailored to their organizational needs.

LO 1.2 Explain how the relationship between ASDA’s structure and culture impacts on its performance

Organizational structure delineates tasks and responsibilities, influencing employee behavior. ASDA PLC’s hierarchical structure fosters a multi-level order, but management practices empower employees to take risks. The culture encourages open communication and innovative ideas. Following the Walmart takeover, while the structure remained hierarchical, the culture evolved. Employees became more involved in decision-making, aligning their interests with the company’s success. This synchronization between structure and culture contributes to ASDA PLC’s positive performance and strong brand image.

LO 1.3 Discuss the factors that influence the behaviour of ASDA’s employees at work giving relevant examples

Employee behavior is influenced by individual characteristics, such as demographics, skills, perceptions, attitudes, and personalities. ASDA PLC employs individuals with diverse backgrounds, and these factors collectively shape their behavior. The interpretative power of perceptions significantly affects how employees interpret their surroundings. Managers play a pivotal role in creating a conducive work environment that influences employee behavior. Overall, organizational structure and culture are the primary factors shaping the behavior of ASDA PLC’s employees in the workplace.

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LO2. Understand different approaches to management and leadership

LO 2.1 Compare the effectiveness of the leadership styles used by the CEO in ASDA to that used by British Airways CEO

In recognizing the importance of effective leadership within both its business operations and workforce, ASDA PLC employs a blended leadership style. The organization operates within a hierarchical structure, emphasizing the role and influence of managers and supervisors. The business strategy leans on managerial authority, requiring strong leadership. ASDA primarily utilizes an autocratic leadership style, but not in its purest form. Managers make decisions after consulting with peers and, at times, with subordinates. This moderate to high dependence on leaders became crucial, especially after the merger with Walmart Stores, demanding quick decisions. Additionally, ASDA embraces democratic leadership, fostering employee motivation and encouraging managers to involve employees actively in decision-making. This people-centric approach has been a standout factor in the organization’s workforce dynamics.

On the other hand, British Airways employs a purely autocratic decision-making process. During a challenging period, the company appointed CEO Mr. Willie Walsh, known for his preference for quick decision-making and firm control. Facing critical business performance issues, Walsh implemented an autocratic leadership style, making decisive choices with minimal consultation. This approach contributed to the company’s recovery. The distinct leadership styles of ASDA PLC and British Airways align with their respective organizational goals.

LO 2.2 Identify any organizational theory practiced at ASDA and explain how organizational theory underpins the practice of management

ASDA PLC incorporates various organizational theories, with a predominant focus on scientific management. Also known as Taylorism, this theory, developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, aims to standardize work processes, simplifying and specializing tasks to enhance workforce efficiency. ASDA’s practices emphasize mutual trust between managers and employees, cultivated over time. The focus is on optimizing workflows and associated processes, evident in recruitment where employees need to understand and adapt to the new organizational processes. The specialization of workers is also implemented, with employees assigned specific roles to develop expertise in them. The application of scientific management in recruitment ensures a workforce aligned with the organization’s goals.

LO 2.3 Evaluate the different approaches to management used by ASDA to that used by British Airways

ASDA PLC adopts a classical management approach, primarily rooted in scientific management. The hierarchical structure promotes top-level decision-making, with defined roles and responsibilities scientifically formulated. Over time, ASDA has adapted its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the retail sector. The recruitment process reflects a scientific approach, focusing on hiring, training, and developing employees. Quality control is maintained through continuous monitoring of productivity and meticulous measurement of employee performance. Managers take on complex business operations, ensuring the efficient functioning of ASDA.

In contrast, British Airways employs a more stringent approach to management. Emphasizing quality control in every aspect of organizational function, the flatter structure allows for innovation and tighter supervision. Managers play a critical role in ensuring employees adhere to company guidelines, fostering a culture of quality across the organization. The distinct approaches of ASDA PLC and British Airways align with their organizational needs, reflecting their unique management philosophies.

LO3. Understand the ways of using motivational theories in organizations

LO 3.1 Changes in Leadership Styles at ASDA and Employee Motivation during Periods of Change

ASDA PLC employs a leadership style that combines elements of both autocratic and democratic approaches. Post its acquisition by Walmart Stores, the company is transitioning towards a more democratic leadership style. This shift involves decentralizing decision-making processes, ensuring input from all stakeholders. The restructuring of recruitment and development processes aims to enhance the organization’s resilience in the retail sector. This change is anticipated to boost employee motivation, which has already experienced shifts with the infusion of Walmart’s culture. Motivation, crucially influenced by managerial approaches, is expected to rise as employees find increased opportunities for task engagement. The democratic management style encourages employee expression during change, facilitating the identification of challenges and the proposal of solutions for the evolving organization.

LO 3.2 Application of Motivational Theories at ASDA: A Comparative Analysis

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s model categorizes employee needs into five levels, addressing basic requirements, safety, belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization. ASDA fulfills basic needs by providing essential facilities and ensuring workplace safety for safety needs. The company fosters a sense of belongingness through managerial initiatives and addresses self-esteem needs by offering development and career growth opportunities.

Vroom Expectancy Theories: This theory focuses on motivating employees to take risks and innovative approaches. ASDA’s merit-based career growth system encourages employees to strive for better performance, providing a pathway for career advancement.

McGregor’s Theory X and Y: Theory X, with an authoritarian management style, is incompatible with ASDA’s approach. Theory Y, emphasizing democratic management, aligns better with ASDA’s leadership style.

Among the three motivational theories, Vroom Expectancy Theories is deemed most applicable to ASDA PLC, emphasizing motivation, behavior, and merit-based career growth.

LO 3.3 Usefulness of Herzberg’s Motivation Theory for ASDA Managers

The actions of managers in the retail space significantly impact how employees interact with buyers. Herzberg’s motivation theory distinguishes between hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors, such as better working conditions and expected compensation, prevent dissatisfaction when present but do not directly motivate. Motivators, providing recognition and rewards, contribute to enhanced performance. ASDA managers should adopt a balanced approach, incorporating both hygiene factors and motivators to ensure high employee performance levels. Herzberg’s theory proves relevant and useful for ASDA managers in shaping a motivated and satisfied workforce.


In conclusion, the analysis of ASDA PLC’s organizational aspects, leadership styles, and motivational strategies sheds light on the dynamics of its operations and the challenges it faces. The comparison with British Airways underscores the diversity in organizational structures and cultures, each tailored to the unique needs of the respective industries.

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