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Organizational behavior

Question

Identify your chosen real-life organization’s strategic goals as articulated in their published documentation (web page, rhetoric, company annual reports, etc…) then investigate and describe their organizational structure and leadership styles
your further readings to justify your responses, answer the following questions:
1. Is the organization’s chosen structure the most appropriate to meet their set goals?
2. Are any changes needed if they wanted to maximize (a) Teamwork (b) communication – particularly congruence between organizational and employee needs (c) Effective leadership and management.

Answer

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Contents

Introduction to the organization: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2

UNDP’s organization’s strategic goals. 3

An assessment of UNDP’s organizational structure. 4

UNDP leadership styles. 5

Assessment of the ability by UNDP’s structure to meet set goals. 6

Appropriate changes in teamwork, communication, effective leadership, and management. 8

Conclusion. 12

References. 13

Introduction to the organization: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The UNDP is a global development network of the United Nations. The organization advocates for change by connecting all countries to experience, knowledge, and resources in order to enable people to live a better life. UNDP operates in 166 countries, enabling the citizens of these countries to deal with development challenges.

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The UNDP works hard in order to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals that world leaders have pledged to support are achieved. The UNDP is also responsible for ensuring that the overarching goal of reducing poverty levels by half is achieved by 2050. The organization’s focus is to deal with the challenges of poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery and environment.

In every country office, the UNDP Resident Representative serves as the Resident Coordinator of all the development programs for the UN system as a whole. Through such forms of coordination, UNDP ensures that UN and international aid and resources are used effectively.

The executive office of the UNDP is made up of the Administrator, associate administrator, operations Support Group and Office of Development Studies. The administrator organ is made up of various bureaus (such as Partnership Bureau) and offices (such as Evaluation Office). Within the associate administrator organ, there are various sections, including the United Nations Capital Development Fund and the United Nations Volunteers. The other sections within the associate administrator organ are the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

UNDP’s organization’s strategic goals

The main strategic plan that is being pursued by the organization is known as the UNDP strategic plan, 2008-2011, Accelerating global progress on human development. This plan is motivated by the need to tackle the current global development challenges. It is based on the development agenda that has been spelled out by the United Nations. The chart for this strategic goal was drawn in 2007 and it was built on UNDP’s business model and the lessons learned.

Furthermore, the strategic plan is a powerful way of emphasizing the need for the core UNDP operations to be channeled towards solving contemporary development challenges (Ghimire 2001, p. 101). Some of the core issues addressed by the strategic plan include national ownership, capacity development, South-South cooperation, and effective aid management.

Specifically, the most crucial areas of operations for the strategic plan include management of resources, accountability, risk, and resources; coordination for coherence and risk prevention. The Millennium Declaration highlights six fundamental values that are necessary for sustainable human development, solidarity, equality, shared responsibility, freedom, tolerance, and respect for nature. The UNDP’s strategic plan is a reaffirmation of the organization’s commitment to this Millennium Declaration.

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One of the lessons learned relates to the Multi-year Funding Framework (MYFF), a strategy that turned out to be a source of unevenness caused by large numbers and relative dissimilarities. In the areas of crisis prevention and recovery and democratic governance, the UNDP has demonstrated the capacity to deliver long-term support in order to enhance national capacity. Additionally, national MDG reports are a reflection of UNDP’s ability to provide a powerful impetus for scaling up development activities worldwide.

An assessment of UNDP’s organizational structure

The organizational structure of the UNDP has been termed as too complicated. Its complex nature makes it difficult to pursue all facets of development outlined by the organization. For instance, environmental issues have become extremely critical for development, yet they are treated as merely one are of UNDP’s focus. This is one of the reasons why von Moltke (2001, p. 23) proposes the creation of a World Environmental Organization (WEO).

On the other hand, the strategic management principles employed at UNDP represent a significant boost to the organization’s effort to improve the effectiveness of its organizational structure. However, like all other donor organizations, the UNDP has a highly decentralized organizational structure. It also has its share of bureaucratic challenges. This is a leading hindrance to its operations (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Letter to Management). However, unlike its counterparts, the organization does not use mechanisms of ensuring internal consistency and uniformity of standards.

In internal planning documents, reference has been made to the need to ensure that UNDP is ‘a learning organization’(Futoran, Rivera, & Hunt 1995, p. 310). This is an ambitious undertaking and a great deal must be done in order for it to be realized. Reference is also made to project assessment and quality control; programming strategy, and monitoring, evaluation and accountability. Development in all these areas will be achieved mainly through improving UNDP’s organizational structure.

According to an evaluation made by the UNDP, there have been limited efforts by project planners to try and learn from work and mistakes of others. Additionally, little efforts are often made to consult various substantive programming guidelines and evaluation reports. There is also a weakness of horizontal communications, especially with regard to projects that are implementable within and across various bureaus and divisions.

            Furthermore, the preoccupation seems to be on ensuring that projects are funded and implemented. This precludes any overarching interest in learning from other initiatives or even transforming as many learning strategies as possible into projects (Levitt & March 1988, p. 326). In summary, at UNDP, the organizational structure is such that there are no incentives or support systems that facilitate a commitment to learning.

UNDP leadership styles

The management structures and capacities that are employed by UNDP’s leaders are vital to the organization’s achievement of its strategic plans. However, the leadership styles employed in this organization present various difficulties that are perpetuated by three key factors. These factors include            UNDP management capacity, project design, and poor definition of the role of resident representatives and country offices. Additionally, there are more issues that are reflected in the leadership styles, including the role of monitoring in project execution.

In terms of management structures, there is a characteristic vagueness in the way the responsibilities of various executing agencies are outlined. Additionally, except for a few exceptions, the distinction between the execution of projects and implementation is problematic. This applies mainly in cases where tasks have to be assigned to the implementing organization.

UNDP’s leaders have been noted to be ill at ease whenever they are providing backstopping support. They tend to act with a characteristic slowness, uncertainty, and inconsistency. This is because of a mismatch between what is indicated on paper and what should be done in practice. A good example of this scenario is the corporate agreements entered into between the UNDP and the UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services).

Whenever roles and responsibilities are not carefully identified in documents, UNDP leaders find it difficult to spell them out, leading to a culture of poor communication. Additionally, the issue of leaving resident representatives out of the design and implementation process weakens their ability to offer focused leadership. Particularly, such a leadership style is injurious to UNDP efforts to implement inter-country programs.

Assessment of the ability by UNDP’s structure to meet set goals

The management capacity of UNDP seems to be suffering from a weakness in matters of inter-country programs. This problem seems to be perennial regardless of the different approaches that leaders adopt in the implementation process. This is an indication that the problem may be with the existing management structures and not the leadership styles being used.

Although some large projects have been over-administered there is a tendency for failure to build up sufficient resources to undertake the essential monitoring and supervisory activities. This results in a scenario whereby many projects are suffering from inadequate supervision from the center.

In the Strategic Plan spanning between 2008 and 2011, UNDP’s project planners have underscored the need to learn from past mistakes in efforts to correct the weaknesses of the past. According to past experiences, there is a need to move beyond advocacy and to give policy advice. This would balance distributional concerns with fiscal sustainability. Additionally, the strategic plan is being implemented in such a way that country access to the UN’s resources is easier. This is being done through DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and many nonresident specialized agencies.

The organizational structure at UNDP is designed in such a way that a multitude of internal constituencies and external stakeholders can be satisfied. This is the main reason why it is decentralized. This decentralization has an extremely strong influence in the way programming strategies for inter-country programs are designed. In most cases, these inter-country programs are a reflection of the strategic plan’s core activities.

There is a need for the setting up of senior management that has the support of the Executive Committee. This management should foresee the tasks of creating focused guidelines by working in close coordination with regional bureaus. The goal would be to streamline all programs by addressing fewer themes and priorities within each programming cycle.

Appropriate changes in teamwork, communication, effective leadership and management

Teamwork management is one of the issues that need to be addressed at UNDP (Hopkins, 1991 p. 1471). The global nature of the issues being addressed by UNDP makes it difficult for local-based teamwork efforts to succeed. Sometimes, the executing agencies and UNOPS have teamwork structures that are different from those of the UNDP. Facilitating a transition from one organizational setting to the other is always a difficult undertaking. Project designers should put the right measures in place in order to ensure that such a transition is always a smooth one.

For teamwork efforts to work, there is a need for information flow to be constant (Alvesson 2008, p. 282). In several countries, for instance, in the Latin American region, slow disbursement and a slow flow of information have considerably contributed to the failure of teamwork efforts (Stoddart, 2007, p. 189). Additionally, it would be better if teams from different countries exchanged information in order for identical projects to be implemented in a similar fashion.

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Communication within a decentralized organizational structure such as that of the UNDP is always a tremendously challenging undertaking. All project governance and decision-making efforts have to mirror those of the United Nations. This means that the scope of communications efforts should be widened in order to cover other areas that are in line with the operations of the United Nations.

The technical aspects of communications are very critical to the task of determining the strategic plans that are put in place. For this reason, any delay in the dissemination of information means that projects that would have been implemented today are handled tomorrow.  Examples of projects whose success is heavily pegged on information sharing include Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and the fight against HIV/AIDS (Klingebiel 2007, p. 161).

The effectiveness of leadership and management efforts varies from one region to another. Very many factors contribute to these differences. Some of the variables attributed to this asynchronous situation include communication strategies, implementing organizations, leadership styles, and management structures. UNDP’s strategic management style needs to be taken through a complete overhaul. Emphasis on a global approach to regional problems is needed. Although some regional problems are unique to these regions, failure to internationalize projects may lead to worse organizational and leadership problems within UNDP. It may even become difficult to synchronize implementation, monitoring and supervisory effort in various strategic plans, which are of global nature.

In Asia, for example, a recent survey by the UNDP oversight body showed that none of the projects assessed had made any provisions for a steering committee. The nearest that the project managers went to forming a steering committee is creating SIAP (Advisory Council of the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific).

Effective leadership is also about representation. Balancing the aspect of representation with that of performance at the international level is always a daunting task. For instance, although SIAP was a highly representative body, it did not seem to succeed in achieving the goals set up by UNDP. However, according to project performance reports, the body performed satisfactorily in providing guidance and advice to implementing bodies in Asia (Benner 2008, p. 6).

In the Commonwealth of the Independent States and Europe, the leadership and management style used has proven to be an effective one. Here, the ERM (External Resources Management) project is being supervised by the Project Steering Committee, whose meetings allow participation at all levels. However, the final decisions have to be approved at the country and resident representatives’ offices. The effectiveness of this arrangement arises from the fact that the country offices are always in constant consultation with various national coordinating authorities. In turn, these authorities maintain close communication links with line ministries.

Another area where improvements in the strategic leadership and management efforts are needed is on cost-sharing, finances, and under-budgeting of projects. The task of managing complex long-term UNDP projects is a difficult one, mainly because of poor focusing. This problem is often compounded by under-budgeting of key activities. When faced with a lack of project finances, country and regional UNDP representatives must offer directions on financing priorities that need to be placed.

One of UNDP leaders’ most critical challenges is ensuring that counterproductive project-based organizational cultures are transformed into productive ones. There is a certain aspect of UNDP’s organizational culture that rewards a lengthy portfolio of projects. This culture regards this practice as a good one even when there is a dramatic reduction in funding. Within such a culture, aspects of quality and results are placed in question while the leadership is put in focus.

            In terms of cost-sharing, inter-country projects have been relatively successful. However, there is more difficulty in securing inter-country project funding compared to country funding. This may be attributed to the bureaucratic bottlenecks that are associated with inter-country projects. It is up to UNDP’s top leadership to advocate for simpler project design, funding and monitoring processes in order to attract funding.

However, it must be borne in mind that too much emphasis on funding may undermine efforts to transform UNDP into a learning organization. Therefore core learning capacities need to be built with both funding and learning needs in mind. A good example where UNDP would have achieved both goals is during the UNDP/World Bank partnership on water and sanitation programs. In this partnership, the UNDP received funding from the World Bank in order to carry out a Water, sanitation and Urban Management Programme. The profile of the World Bank as a leader in these two sectors was raised. In sharp contrast, the UNDP’s role was not always clearly discernible. This can be attributed to improperly articulated leadership and management goals. Improvement in leadership and technical-capacity planning will ensure such partnerships are beneficial in the future.

The role of the role of competent leadership is always at the heart of success in a donor-based organization such as UNDP. The presence of so many scattered projects that are not properly appraised is an indication of poor leadership. If there were common standards for quality control, these projects would be properly managed and the outcomes would be more positive. Leaders tend to spend most of their time securing funding. On the other hand, they tend to spend less time ensuring accountability for the funds that have already been secured. This is a clear indication of a negative organizational culture.

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A consultative and participatory approach would go a long way in ensuring that all stakeholders are contented with the work of the UNDP. This way, it becomes easier to secure funding. However, this problem does not start with country offices; it has its roots at UNDP’s offices in New York. Conversely, leadership transformation can never start in-country offices; it has to start from the UNDP’s headquarters. Centralization of leadership would go a long way in maintaining high levels of workforce capabilities.

Conclusion

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been a key global development network for the United Nations. It has been very instrumental in the design, implementation, supervision, and monitoring of Millennium Development Goals. It has also been critical in ensuring that the poverty reduction goal is achieved in line with the Millennium Declaration. However, the organizational structure of UNDP is a highly decentralized one. This compromises the organization’s ability to pursue the development agenda to long-term fruition.

While centralizing a donor-based organization such as UNDP may be an impossible undertaking, the goal of reducing bureaucratic shortcomings can be achieved. However, focused leadership is needed in order for UNDP’s operational capacity to be reasserted and put into good use.

References

Alvesson, M, 2008, Understanding organizational culture, Heineman, London

Levitt, B, & March, J, G. 1988, ‘Organizational Learning’ Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 14, No. 2 pp. 319-338.

Benner, T, 2008, Organizational Learning in the UN Peace Operations Bureaucracy: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Perspectives, Paper prepared for the 49th Annual International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco

Futoran, G, Rivera, J, &Hunt, J, 1995, ‘The temporal impact of management faculty style and course characteristics: some theoretical and development implications’, Group & Organization Management (USA), Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 310.

Ghimire, K, 2001, ‘Regional Tourism and South-South Economic Cooperation’ The Geographical Journal, Vol. 167, No. 2, pp. 99-110.

Hopkins, M, 1991, ‘Human development revisited: A new UNDP report’, World Development, Vol.19, No. 10, pp. 1469-1473.

Klingebiel, S, 2007, Effectiveness and reform of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Routledge,London

Stoddart, L, 2007, ‘Organizational culture and knowledge sharing at the United Nations: using an intranet to create a sense of community’ Knowledge and Process Management Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 182 – 189

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Letter to Management,(n.d) http://www.cgap.org/gm/document-1.9.2222/PeerReview_UNDPUNCDF.pdf  retrieved on June 6, 2010.

von Moltke,  K,  2001, Global environmental politics, MIT Press Journals, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 23-28

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