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:
- Function-based definition
- Product-based definition
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:
- Smart with emphasis on excellence
- 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 Research, 65(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.