Coaching in multinational companies – what’s different?


Multinational listed companies are characterized by the fact that they have replaced manageable hierarchical structures organized according to functional principles with highly complex, unmanageable networks. If z. If, for example, conflicts arise over authority within a matrix or tensor structure or the high density of regulation and control is undermined or the “Code of Business Conduct” is circumvented in recruitment procedures, it becomes clear how managers can get entangled in these networks. Which specifics of such complex structures can be taken into account and used in business coaching is examined in a concrete practical case.


Publicly listed, multinational companies distinguish themselves by highly complex indistinct networks instead of clear hierarchic structures based on functional principles. A case study can show that this may result in conflicts about the managerial authority within a matrix- or tensor-organization, or circumventing dense regulations and controls, or even bypassing the “Code of Business Conduct” during hiring processes, thus demonstrating how leaders get enmeshed in today’s organizational constructions. The case study findings may be helpful for a coach to decide which of the organizational specifics he or she will consider and integrate in the practice of business coaching.

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Preliminary remark

In 2006, Lars von Trier’s comedy film “The Boss of It All” premiered – an economic satire in which the conflict-reluctant owner of a Danish IT company poses as the deputy of the company director who allegedly lives in the USA. With every unpopular decision he refers to this superior – the “boss of the whole” – who in reality does not exist. The absent authority figure symbolizes an authority that knows bindingly and acts itself according to what is right and good. It relieves the conscience and is a role model. Not just unstructured masses (Canetti 1960), even the employees of multinational companies, as structured large groups, can develop a tendency to project responsibility for their actions within the framework of socially binding norms and values ​​onto a management or management body, be it real or an illusion.

Multinational companies today are characterized by the fact that they have replaced manageable hierarchical structures organized according to functional principles with highly complex, unmanageable networks in which a “boss of the whole” cannot be identified. This already results from the corporate form of the company. Since multinational companies are run as stock corporations due to their high capital requirements, the shares of which are traded on different stock exchanges around the world, the responsible entrepreneur has been replaced by a group of anonymous shareholders. The individual shareholder – depending on the extent of his share ownership – has little or no influence on the control of the management. The management is controlled exclusively by legal requirements and by the capital market via quantitative, anonymized formal goals; there is no personal discourse with the entrepreneur. The anonymous mass of shareholders can no longer offer management any ethical orientation that the individual shareholder – unlike the entrepreneur, who is visible as the person responsible for his company – does not feel either. He wants the right profits for his investments. At the same time, the exclusively mutually controlling management controls an organization that has been immensely enlarged due to the stock exchange listing. which the individual shareholder – unlike the entrepreneur, who is visible as the person responsible for his company – does not feel either. He wants the right profits for his investments. At the same time, the exclusively mutually controlling management controls an organization that has been immensely enlarged due to the stock exchange listing. which the individual shareholder – unlike the entrepreneur, who is visible as the person responsible for his company – does not feel either. He wants the right profits for his investments. At the same time, the exclusively mutually controlling management controls an organization that has been immensely enlarged due to the stock exchange listing.

The high anonymity of those responsible, due to the corporate form, has an impact on the company via the organizational structure. The serious economic and financial crises of the last few years resulted in a crisis of confidence in the seriousness of the economic actions of the largely anonymous management. The illusion of a reliable “Boss of It All” turned into a chimera, a vicious hybrid of greed for profit, striving for power and irresponsibility. In the persona of individual executives known in the media, this would have caused the loss of binding regulations and ethical orientation and thus decisively caused the crises. Nation-state,

On the one hand there are diverse longings of the employees for an ideal superior and on the other hand the socio-political demand for orientation towards the common good as an ethical self-limitation of personally responsible managers. Whether and how these longings and demands for a “Boss of It All” influence everyday work in multinational companies becomes a topic in the coaching of managers at different levels. To illustrate this, we use a case from the coaching practice of executives. The client, Mr. AdamFootnote1 , has a degree in engineering, is in his late 30s and is part of the middle management of a multinational company. He went to see one of the authors; he bears the costs of the coaching himself. The initial crisis counseling every two weeks is converted into career support after a short period of time. This means that the client completes a 60-minute consultation every six weeks. The coaching, which ran for several years, has now been completedFootnote2 .

It is a basic understanding of professional coaching that the individual is not an isolated system from the outside (Küchenhoff 2005 ; Altmeyer and Thomä 2006 ). On the contrary, the analysis of professional and personal problem areas is about interactions on various levels. The structures, rules and norms of the company influence the person and are in turn influenced by the person (West-Leuer 2003 ).

Coordination, specialization and configuration in a multinational example company


Multinational companies employ people across continents and countries. This results in a high degree of complexity and organizational requirements, which continue to increase with increasing size and degree of diversification. Since coordination, orientation and motivation work more easily in small units than in large ones (Olson 1965 ), multinational companies form small units within the higher-level, integrated organizational structure in the form of national subsidiaries with clearly defined business activities. The example company controls 104 subsidiaries worldwide, each with associated regional headquarters, from its headquarters in the USA. This framework can be understood as an inter-organizational network.

To describe the coordination mechanisms in such a network, we follow the classification of Ghoshal and Nohria ( 1993 ), who propose two dimensions:

  1. 1.The structural integration (SI) shows how strongly the decisions and behavior in the subsidiaries are controlled by the headquarters in the home country. The higher the structural integration, the closer the subsidiaries are run within the interorganizational network. A distinction is made between the three control mechanisms centralization, formalization and normative integration. The degree of centralization indicates the extent to which formal authority and hierarchical directives are used for coordination, the degree of formalization indicates the extent to which the coordination is implemented through bureaucratic instruments such as programs and plans, and the degree of normative integrationindicates the extent to which coordination takes place via the corporate culture, i.e. how strongly shared norms, values ​​and beliefs determine the behavior and decisions of the members of the organization.
  2. 2.The structural differentiation (SD) shows whether the control mechanisms used vary within the interorganizational network or whether they are used equally across all subsidiaries. The higher the structural differentiation, the more comprehensively the multinational company adapts to the different local requirements of the external network.

As will be demonstrated below, the multinational company in which the client in our case study works can be described as a structurally uniform company with high structural integration and little structural differentiation.

Specialization and configuration

Multinational companies are exposed to different market forces. They give in to global cost pressure, from which standardization requirements arise. They produce a wide range of products that are further developed within the framework of category management, and they serve customer groups in different cultures, from which regional adaptation requirements arise. The type of specialization is reflected in the organizational structure of multinational companies. Put simply, functional organizational structures are primarily based on the idea of ​​using standardized processes to achieve cost advantages. Divisional units formed according to product groupsStructures aim at innovations that are reflected in the further development of the product range. In contrast , divisions formed according to markets emphasize the idea of ​​expansion and the customer perspective. One example of this is the current discussion about the “remodeling” at Siemens. The divisional structure is to be slimmed down a bit so that processes can be standardized on the basis of manageable product groups in the hope of reducing costs.

Multinational companies often develop matrix or tensor structures and thus combine the different types of specialization. This results in multi-line systems with correspondingly multiple reporting channels. This is also the case in our example company Keyacom Inc., which specifies a product division on the top level and has implemented a matrix structure on the second level. The subsidiary in which our client works is closely integrated into the matrix, so Mr. Adam works in a multi-line system.

The structural uniformity is based on an ethnocentric management orientation (Perlmutter 1969 ). Management concepts and core competencies that have been tried and tested on the home market in the USA are continuously being transferred to new markets (Hill 2008 , p. 621). The matrix organization supports this concept through the multiple integration of all local decisions in the company’s home-centered target system. Conversely, a matrix organization needs a high level of normative integration in order to master its inherent potential for conflict.

Advice-relevant preliminary considerations I

Coordination, specialization and configuration describe how multinational companies are run and organized. As outlined above, business administration offers recommendations for the design of multinational networks that are geared towards the respective corporate context. But is the decision about which variant to choose based on these criteria? Who actually decides and what guides them? Why should executives, managers and employees trust that the organizational structure of their company leads to economic stability and that work and wages are in an appropriate relationship? In other words: the corporate structures primarily promote the striving for prestige and power of the top managers on the executive boards and the striving for profit of the anonymous mass of shareholders,2012 , p. 50)? The complex structures of global companies result in a variety of decoupling effects. In the case of economic actors who act largely anonymously, it is no longer possible to differentiate whether they are oriented exclusively towards self-interest or, through voluntary self-restraint, also towards economic and socio-political common good.

Case vignette I: Conflicts about authority to issue instructions in a matrix

The client, Mr. Adam, who recently became the sales manager of the German subsidiary of the US company Degeta, reports again and againFootnote3 Technologies was hired to coach conflicts with the managing director of the EMIA division. He is French and also managing director of Degeta’s French subsidiary. At his behest, Mr Adam should give preference to a special product that is produced in France and traded in Germany and instruct the product managers subordinate to him accordingly. In the eyes of Mr. Adam, however, it is strategically unfavorable to place so much emphasis on a special product. In this conflict, Mr. Adam has the verbal support of the sales manager “Sales” in the headquarters of Degeta Technologies in the USA, while the German managing director wants him to adhere to the guidelines from France.

A wide range of conflicts naturally arise from this complex organizational structure. The German managing director is the client’s line manager, the sales manager “Sales” is his line manager. If his boss formulated a service instruction in the spirit of the managing director of the EMIA division, Mr. Adam would have to follow them. During the consultation, he initially left this open and reported an “unsolvable” conflict that he now had due to the unclear corporate structures. In response to inquiries, it turns out that Mr. Adam has not yet reported anything to his boss about the cooperation offer made by the American sales manager.

Identifying with the German managing director, the consultant suspects that Mr. Adam would like to bypass his boss in order to “score” with his American superior. She tells him that as his boss she might feel betrayed and angry. At the same time, she asks him what kind of image the American superior would get of him if he “acted from behind” and avoided an open conflict with his superior. In this way, coaching succeeds in stimulating the client to self-reflection and a change of perspective. For one thing, he doesn’t want to annoy his German supervisor unnecessarily. In addition, the client would like to signal to the German managing director that he appreciates what he has achieved in the past, even if it is now a question of2007 ). On the other hand, he can show his American supervisor that he is a reliable and assertive sales manager, for the good of the company. He holds open discussions with the managing director for Germany and initiates a meeting between him and the sales manager in the USA. The three of them develop a sales strategy that is favorable for Degeta Germany. Another relief is that the French managing director EMIA is going into early retirement.

Specifics for counseling I

From a business point of view, matrix structures are particularly suitable for multinational companies that have structural uniformity. By sharing service and specialist responsibility within the framework of the multi-line system, it should be ensured that local decisions are based on the overarching corporate strategy and at the same time a balance is found between divergent goals. In practice, this regularly leads to conflicts, which typically lead to the formation of coalitions and / or escalation (West-Leuer & John 2013, p. 505).

The case vignette shows, however, that the factual conflict level often has an alibi function: Product protectionist specifications from the French subsidiary of Degeta exacerbate the conflicts in the German subsidiary, which are basically laid out in a matrix structure through the “double” system of instructions. The division of the authority to issue instructions into a service manager on site and a specialist manager in the USA becomes a competing system through the interactions in the triangle Mr. Adam, the managing director for Germany and the sales manager at the headquarters. If one line of instructions prevails over the other, an informal change in the matrix structure takes place, which runs counter to the intended balance of the company’s overarching target system.

Such processes develop interdependently with the personality structure of the managers involved. They react to the interpersonal and institutionalized conflicts in accordance with their intrapsychic conflicts and thus change company structures and thus ultimately also company strategies precisely tailored to their personality structures. This implementation of the personality structure in the structures of the organization does not happen systematically or deliberately, but rather in a disorderly manner. Executives, managers and employees re-model the company’s fine structures over and over again. The other side of the coin: For employees with fragile personality structures, permanent flexibility can mean fragmentation and an early exit from the work process.

The company’s structures in the case study: Keyacom Industries

Keyacom is a real company. Name and business purpose have been changed.

Mr. Adam is the sales manager of Degeta GmbH Germany. Degeta GmbH Germany is part of the “Packing Products” business unit of Keyacom Inc., a listed multinational company based in Texas / USA.

With more than 50,000 corporate customers worldwide in around 25 industries (Keyacom Inc. 2009 Fact Book: Overview), Keyacom Industries is a very large company with three divisions. Within the “Packing Products” division, 29 different product lines are produced and sold in three segments. The largest segment – 15 product lines – is the responsibility of Degeta Technologies, the parent company of Degeta GmbH Germany. Degeta Technologies is organized worldwide as a matrix according to regions and functions. The local companies located in the matrix cooperate with four subsidiaries of Degeta Technologies, which are responsible for different product groups (FerrofluxFootnote4 , Brimtex, Degeta RT, Rotarycom).

For Degeta GmbH Germany, this means that, firstly, it is directly subordinate to the “European Division” EMIA (Europe, Middle East, India, Africa), which is managed from the headquarters in St. Etienne, France. Second, it works product-related with the Degeta subsidiaries Ferroflux, Brimtex, Degeta RT and Rotarycom. And last but not least, the German subsidiary is subject to the instructions of Degeta Technologies in the USA. In relation to daily work, there is a tensor structure (region / product / function), and in relation to the authority to issue instructions, there is a matrix structure (region / function).

Advice-relevant preliminary considerations II

We showed above how people are changing the structures at the micro level of the company. This also applies vice versa. The exploration of the corporate structure shows: The matrix and the coordination mechanisms of Degeta Technologies develop top-down without preserving historical continuities; Pointing the way is a strategic focus on expansion (region) and cost reduction (function). In this business abstraction, people only appear in a depersonalized form: “the European customer”, “the regional manager”, “the head office”. The divisions are broken down functionally, regionally and according to products; they can be removed or expanded; Executives, managers and employees adapt to the development – a process that influences and transforms the personality structures of those involved. Sennett (1998 ) speaks in this context of Homo davoensis, the person created at the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland – a flexible personality who is characterized by the fact that she accepts the fragmentation of her own perceptions and experiences in the work process, recognizes the lack of long-term relationships as a competitive advantage is about the desire to hold onto things and to be able to detach oneself from one’s own past without problems (Sennett 1998 ).

From a psychological point of view, however, it is questionable that an employee, in order to make a career, can allow himself to “liquefy” his or her ego identity without harm. A step up the corporate ladder means a short-term narcissistic gratuity; Long-term stability of the ego, on the other hand, arises from identification with a product that one develops, improves, produces, defends or supports oneself. Although the “product” area appears in the tensor structure of Degeta, during his first few months in the company, despite his engineering degree, Mr. Adam neither had an idea of ​​nor an interest in the product that is produced on site. In the conflict with the French managing director, who knew his product very well, this was clearly to his disadvantage.

Case vignette II: encounter in formalized space

In the course of the coaching, Mr. Adam suggests that the consultant visit the company: The administration building is not particularly large; the “Sales” department has large, bright conference and office rooms with wide window fronts. She is particularly interested in the processes in production. From her experience as a student trainee in the metalworking industry, production rooms are huge, noisy, dusty halls with a smell of oil and metal, in which employees work in chord on individual machines or on the assembly line.

Not so here: The advisor comes to warehouses in exemplary order, so clean that she is reminded of the saying that you can eat off the floor here. At a tool bench, Mr. Adam shows her the furnishings of the drawers, which are lined with foam, in which a precisely fitting shape is punched out for each tool. You can see at a glance which tool has not been put back in its place by an employee. Only a few people work in this hall. Most of the workers are busy supervising several machines. Mr. Adam points out a particularly ingenious and clear organization system for a small package. The employee who developed this classification system was honored with a prize. Another has suggested rebuilding the machine park, With the result that shorter production routes mean that less time is lost on inefficient transports. All employees are encouraged to make suggestions for improvement, for which they receive extra payments if the suggestions are feasible. Mailboxes for such suggestions for improvement are clearly visible in several places. On the storage shelves, DIN A4 sheets with checklists hang in plastic film, which clearly and transparently reflect the exact production status. The consultant is considering how she could set up similarly clean, transparent organizational structures in her secretariat. Mr. Adam is visibly proud of this “Total Customer Value Program”. Later, the consultant is almost relieved to see that his office is not “sorted” so perfectly,

It is only at home that she notices that the tour of the company began with a rule break. The consultant had to wear protective goggles, but not the mandatory protective helmet. “I think we can do without the helmet for once,” said Mr Adam after he had previously explained that every “visitor”, whether internal or external, must wear both glasses and a helmet.

How can this rule break be understood? The perfectionist and strongly controlling production system corresponds in many respects to Mr. Adam’s professional ego identity, which can be paraphrased with the words: “I am that which I can control”. Such a definition of the ego feeds on a perfectionist ego ideal that is appropriately taken up on the company side. Measures such as lean production, total quality management or total customer value programs are based on the assumption that the greatest possible productivity and efficiency are achieved through structural uniformity in the form of strong formalization, normative centralization and little differentiation. Since the company’s high density of rules and controls largely corresponds to its personality structure, Mr. Adam can occasionally delegate “with a clear conscience” to the collective system of standards of the company or violate it if it seems “safe enough” to him. In this way he can latently draw satisfaction from occasional rule violations and failures that he would otherwise not allow himself.

Specifics for the consultation II

Productivity in companies stems not least from the employees’ desire for the creative process. This pleasure resides in the unconscious; it is based on uncontrollable and unpredictable mechanisms of the psychic structure. Total Quality Management and Total Customer Value programs want to use this creative potential for economic purposes by demanding and economically promoting ideas from their employees for the continuous improvement of production. At the same time, the unpredictable side of employee creativity should be steered in harmless ways. However, people are structured individually and of high emotional complexity. Under certain circumstances, companies with glass wall management turn out to be which displays the creative and performance profile of employees in omnipresent display and control panels, a “disservice”. Because if the employees suppress their affective “dirty corners” too massively, the company not only loses their creativity. The natural homeostasis between individuality and adaptation is then re-established as if by chance in aggressive ways, according to the motto: What if the consultant had fallen on the head with one package?

Structural uniformity

At Keyacom Inc., the parent company of Degeta Technologies, global activities are coordinated through the three control mechanisms introduced above: hierarchical directives, coordination through bureaucratic instruments and corporate culture or corporate identity. Structural integration (SI) is high as the coordination instruments are used equally closely around the world. The structural differentiation (SD) is correspondingly low.

Very strong formalization

In 2002, when it was founded, Keyacom Inc. commissioned the AIT Group to implement a lean production program at its 26 locationsFootnote5 . In this context, some of the employees went through what is known as Six Sigma training, which optimizes business processes with the help of statistical methods. In addition, a so-called Total Customer Value program was introduced worldwide in the early years, which is intended to contribute to increasing efficiency in the companies acquired by Keyacom in particular. Keyacom Inc. pursues a consistent shareholder value approach (Keyacom Presentation 09/ 2009 , p 12) and responded with the following measures to the economic crisis in 2009: Worldwide workforce by ten percent, freezing salaries, introduction of short-time working and ad hoc -Cost controls in addition to process optimization (Keyacom Investment Overview 2009 ).

Very high normative integration

All directors, managers (“officers”) and employees of Keyacom Inc. must sign a “Code of Business Conduct” when they join the company. In doing so, they undertake to adhere to comprehensive ethical standards and values. An infringement can be severely sanctioned – up to and including termination (Keyacom Code of Business Conduct: preamble). One of the company’s common values ​​is to get involved in the community (Keyacom Code of Business Conduct: II, Paragraph 4). At the same time, Protestant free church ideas are implemented in the corporate culture by the members of the management. The focus on traditional family values ​​in management is exemplified by the fact that all six members of top management are married and the fathers of several children. Two top managers document their attachment to their church on the company’s website; all top managers are involved in social work alongside their work. The company’s internet presentation explicitly refers to the shared values ​​and beliefs:

We have set high standards of integrity and accountability for our directors, officers and employees, and we are committed to full disclosure of the company’s affairs.

No other commitment is more important than our commitment to ethical behavior and sound corporate governance. These principles are our most important asset as we seek the trust of our investors, customers, employees and the communities where we operate.

In order to ensure compliance with the “Code of Business Conduct”, Keyacom has set up a 24-hour telephone number (KeyIntegrity Assistance Line), which can be used to report deviating behavior.Footnote6 The high degree of formalization in the company and the strong Protestant norms have certain similarities: Both control instruments – the standardized Total Quality Management processes for quality assurance and the “Code of Business Conduct” – oblige employees to follow precisely defined rules. This makes it clear that the company places less trust in individual actions that are committed to the conscience of the individual and are based on the ability of the individual (John & West-Leuer 2013, p. 631).

Tendencies towards centralization

The superiors are explicitly required to monitor the ethical behavior of the subordinate employees (Keyacom Code of Business Conduct: preamble). This turns the management structure into a hierarchy of people.

Very little structural differentiation

All coordination instruments such as the Total Customer Value program or the Business Code of Conduct apply worldwide to all subsidiaries of the Keyacom network, regardless of the cultural context in which the respective country branch is integrated.

Advice-relevant preliminary considerations III

With Lévi-Strauss, the culture of structurally uniform companies can be described as “without history”. Companies that have no history try to eradicate historically grown or regionally determined characteristics of individual business areas or parts of the company by means of a high degree of formalization and standardized control mechanisms (cf. Levi-Strauss, quoted in Erdheim 1984, P. 289). From a business point of view, the goal of a corporate culture devoid of history is process optimization with the help of technology, reduction of the susceptibility to errors, minimization of costs. In the context of maximizing shareholder value, the resulting profits should exceed the risks of the – anonymous – shareholders. The unspoken goal of a corporate culture without history is (also) to fix the existing power relations: in favor of the capital owners. The multicultural and transculturality of global companies, which arises especially when other companies are constantly being taken over and integrated, must be continuously neutralized in order to keep the influence of the new and the alien in check.

In this sense, structurally uniform multinational companies represent “undercooled”, anachronistic spaces in the otherwise “hot” dynamic systems of western civil societies, which can lead to extraordinary tensions and processes of division (cf. Erdheim 1984, P. 188). A uniform code of ethics is intended to ensure “equalization of pressure”, which promises integrity and thus advertises trust among investors, customers, employees and in the social environment. This code of ethics becomes an abstract substitute for the absent “Boss of It All”. It relates to rules of conduct and does not induce any positive (or negative) emotional ties among employees that support identification with the company and promote a stabilization of the professional self-identity. The fact that it is the supervisor who is primarily responsible for compliance with the “Code of Business Conduct” does not, however, promote positive staffing by the employees, but stirs up fears of consequences, but also the desire to transgress.

Case vignette III: Equal Opportunity in Theory and Practice

In the “Code of Business Conduct”, Keyacom Inc. points out that the company sees itself as an “Equal Opportunity Employer”. In accordance with the official specifications of the company’s inter-organizational network structure, Mr Adam would like to hire a new product manager whom he considers to be particularly suitable because he has previously worked for a Danish customer of Degeta and is therefore familiar with the company’s products. Mr. Adam knows the applicant and speaks of a stroke of luck for Degeta that he was able to win him over to apply for the open position. Together with his supervisor, he conducts the interview with the applicant. Although his professional profile and the overall impression of the meeting are positive, the boss rejects the hiring with the words: “Somebody like that won’t come into my house.” Because the young man has long hair that is tied in a ponytail at the nape of the neck. Although Mr. Adam mentions this conversation, he is relatively relaxed about the discrimination against his ideal candidate.

The outward appearance of the applicant does not correspond to the Protestant-Free Church ideas of the company. With its headquarters in Texas, Keyacom Inc. is committed to the regional traditions of the US “Bible Belt” – traditions in which long hair is a clearly feminine attribute. In this corporate culture, managers with ponytails are a provocation. But why does the German managing director adopt an informal commandment that arises from a society in which rigid gender norms are considered a hallmark of mental health (Quindeau 2008 , p. 97)? What does he fear from a product manager with a female hairstyle?

Hamlet’s boyfriend Horatio wears a ponytail in Michael Grandage’s Hamlet production at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City in October 2009 (starring Jude Law). Horatio is the only one who understands Hamlet’s dilemma, and, unlike Ophelia, whose relationship with Hamlet is very ethereal and not very sensual, it also touches him physically. Transferred to an organization in which almost exclusively men are employed worldwide, a manager’s ponytail could not be understood so much as an ability to empathize with the female psyche, but as an identification with female attributions. The German managing director of Degeta seems to experience this as a threat to his male identity. In addition, an applicant embodies who already presents himself in the job interview as independent – at least in terms of external appearance – from the conservative norms of the company due to his hairstyle, a high degree of autonomy. This makes it seem threatening: It is to be feared that it can explode at any time the powder keg of pent-up (male) aggressions that have accumulated in the company due to over-regulation and over-regulation.

This threat is carried over to Mr. Adam. The fact that he has suggested someone who appears to be “unadjusted” for employment in his department is probably also experienced by his supervisor as a provocation, and it is. In coaching, it is important to make Mr. Adam aware of his motives. As long as the provocation of his superior is more important to him than the qualitative filling of the vacant position, he cannot be a manager for the employees under him who is accepted. In his position as sales manager, he has the task of introducing his boss to the topics of diversity and compliance culture in such a way that he does not feel threatened, but makes emancipated decisions. Mr. Adam succeeds in this, by asking his boss, on the one hand, about his “Sturm und Drang time” in the then still German company. On the other hand, he has an informal conversation with the candidate. He is then ready to change his hairstyle. Because a change on the outside does not mean the loss of creativity on the inside.

Specifics relevant to counseling III

Multinational companies do not follow the “Code of Business Conduct” on a voluntary basis. In the wake of the accounting scandals and corporate insolvencies of recent years, the US legislature, instead of relying on voluntary commitments by business and the self-regulating forces of the market, took legislative measures in 2002: the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act marked the largest corporate reform Issued since the 1930s to end the crisis of confidence in the economy caused by ethical misconduct. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, however, is shaped by the ideas of the principal-agent approach (Osteroh and Frey 2005). The principal-agent theory answers the question of legitimacy unequivocally: The policy and goals of the company should be determined exclusively by “the shareholders” (op. Cit., P. 338), who should effectively monitor and sanction the management. The individual shareholder can evade the associated social responsibility, he is not visible as a person and is not intended as a bearer of responsibility. This is transferred to the capital market, which is supposed to sift out the “bad” managers (cf. for example Osteroh and Frey 2005 on the PA theory ).

Therefore, the legal code is hardly suitable to replace the loss of the “Boss of It All”, that is, the loss of a binding ethical orientation. The behavioral guidelines prescribed in the “Code of Business Conduct” also appear like a foreign body, arbitrarily grafted on and not very suitable for dealing with unpleasant or even traumatic episodes in the company’s history. Every manager and employee of a US-listed national or international company must sign the code of ethics. The fact that the establishment of a 24-hour hotline, which enables anonymous callers to report misconduct on the part of colleagues, virtually encourages denunciation, remains split off. If Mr Adam had reported the discriminatory behavior of his boss via the hotline in the case of the rejected applicant,

The schizophrenia of the experience of signing the code of ethics with the best of intentions and knowing on a second level of consciousness that it will not be applied in case of doubt poses a serious dilemma for the managers and employees concerned to do justice to partly contradicting norms and value systems at the same time. The consequence could be generalized: The contradiction can lead to mentally well-integrated managers to feelings of guilt and impulses to make amends, which they deal with in a realistic exchange with colleagues, superiors and employees. In the case of managers who are moderately psychologically integrated, the contradictions are masked out with the help of emotional cleavage processes. So z. B. the initiation of downsizing and freezing of wages passed these managers outwardly without a trace. In companies they are celebrated as heroes, which can lead to a loss of reality with regard to the perception of their own vulnerable position. If a measure subsequently proves to be economically or publicly damaging for the company, it will be dropped by the shareholders at lightning speed. It is not uncommon for a fall into a deep, depressive mood to follow. they are dropped by the shareholders at lightning speed. It is not uncommon for a fall into a deep, depressive mood to follow. they are dropped by the shareholders at lightning speed. It is not uncommon for a fall into a deep, depressive mood to follow.

Summarizing considerations

The company analysis shows: On the operational management level of Keyacom Inc. the hierarchical order principle “from top to bottom” has been replaced by overlapping two- and three-dimensional inter- and trans-organizational networks of structural uniformity. Due to the structural uniformity, the company appears without history and faceless. The members of the top management are primarily at the service of the shareholders and are therefore committed to maximizing profits. In the external presentation, high standards in terms of integrity and ethical behavior are emphasized. It is questionable whether these standards can fill the emotional vacuum created by the lack of a designated director or authority – be it a person or an idea. A “boss of the whole”, as is customary in medium-sized companies, symbolizes an authority that values ​​all employees. This symbolic donation binds the employees and enables them to cooperate with one another. The neglect of this benevolent factor in the company, even if it is only one factor among others, appears not only as a theoretical deficiency, but also as a practical danger for escalating rivalry and aggressiveness (cf. Freud1921 , p. 59). Ever more complex structural and normative economic structures cannot protect against human inadequacies and the resulting economic derailments. Occasionally they still encourage it.

The case vignettes play on the matrix level of the company with their double instruction system and show: In-house managers stage conflicts about authority. They change the degree of centralization on the micro level, follow or violate measures to formalize production and business processes and ignore the “Code of Business Conduct” if they fear personal disadvantages. In the course of the coaching, Mr. Adam increasingly succeeded in accepting his leadership position (see West-Leuer 2009). This is located in middle management, i.e. outside the matrix structure. The level of instruction is clear. His employees value his expertise and clarity in planning, organizing and dealing with employees. In this he is their role model and sparring partner. His hesitation in dealing with his “double” superiors is occasionally evident to the employees and then leads to uncertainty and criticism. He has declined an offer to move from Degata’s German subsidiary to the parent company Keyacom in Texas. Because he did not want to have to pretend to identify with the free church family values ​​of the corporate culture. The rejection did not result in any career disadvantages. He also didn’t let himself be lured away by headhunters, to climb the next rung on the career ladder – without the appropriate skills. Instead, he studied business administration for engineers while working. His prospects of taking over the management of Degeta GmbH Germany are increasingly favorable.

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