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Welcome to the course

Watch this video where we show how cultures and internal and external environmental factors can affect different organisations.
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Welcome to Westwood Valley Business Park, home to the most advanced and diverse businesses in the entire world. There are many outside factors and external forces at play that an organisation must be prepared and willing to adapt to. Different organisations of all sizes will use a variety of tools to assess and approach external threats and their impact. Meet AGN a giant corporation in the financial industry and the biggest company within the business park. Their annual turnover exceeds 10 billion pounds a year. The sheer size of AGN means they have their own legal compliance and governance departments in-house. Across all three departments AGN employs nearly 10000 people.
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Operating within financial services means they have to abide by very strict guidelines in terms of compliance and regulations. Regulation within the sector is updated regularly. In terms of the PESTLE analysis, the key focus for AGN is on the legal changes, which impact everything they do. AGN’s legal team meet weekly to keep abreast of these changes and ensure that they have the correct responses in place, this inevitably creates a fast paced and continually changing workplace culture. Meet Mechanical Solutions, a medium sized UK family run business who are looking to expand internationally. The growth of this business has been so swift and required the organisation to understand external challenges in order to capitalise on growth opportunities.
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A key external factor which Mechanical Solutions are constantly evaluating is ensuring they capitalise on technological advancements. The senior managers within the business create a business plan together annually. Part of this process involves developing both the SWOT and PESTLE analysis. The plan is reviewed and updated every quarter with the business’s rapid growth.
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Meet Coffee Corner, an independent coffee shop that just opened up on the business park. Coffee Corner has only been in business for three months, so it is extremely new to the business world. They have a much more premium brand position than its local competitors Starbucks and Costa. However, it struggles to compete with their prices. Good fortune favours the brave and the decision to join the business park has not put off the large scale of the company employees who enjoy the convenience of having a coffee shop a 30 second walk away. Unfortunately, the owner cannot pay for a marketing team, and there is no-one monitoring external threats to the business within their role.
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This oversight could prove dangerous if the business fails to see the catastrophic threats. Meet Spotlight, a charity who are trying to help with the rising levels of homelessness. Spotlight is effectively run by volunteers and is 50 percent funded by donations and 50 percent funded through grants. Spotlight has many threats to its operational model in particular, these are connected to its funding and running out of cash. This would mean Spotlight shutting its doors at a moment’s notice and no longer able to provide support to society’s most vulnerable. Spotlight has a loyal base of volunteers which ensure the operations continue.
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However, if a few key people found themselves with a change in their life circumstances, meaning that they could no longer contribute their time to Spotlight, the picture could be very different. Spotlight does not have a marketing team, a HR team, a legal team or any sort of formal team structure in place. There are just two full time salaried employees and everyone else involved is a volunteer. Pick one company and think about how you would handle and approach the prospect of any external threats. With whom should this responsibility sit and how would they monitor the environment?

A warm welcome to this course which explores company cultures and responses to environmental challenges.

Please watch the video above, in which we encounter four organisations: AGN Corp, Mechanical Solutions, Coffee Corner and Spotlight, and explore the environments in which they operate. The video mentions two frameworks – SWOT and PESTLE (also known as PESTEL) – that are used to analyse their operating environments. We will look at these frameworks in greater detail next week.

This week, you will analyse the micro and macroenvironmental factors that affect organisations. In particular, you will:

  • Consider the importance of organisational culture
  • Compare the internal and external environment

Meet the team

Your lead educator is Claire Garrick, business course leader at Coventry University, Scarborough.

You can follow Claire by selecting the link to her FutureLearn profile page and selecting ‘follow’. That way, you’ll be able to see all the comments that she makes.

Your task

Pick one company featured in the video and think about how you would handle and approach the prospect of any external threats facing it. With whom should this responsibility sit, and how could that person monitor the environment?
Share your thoughts in the comments area.
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Managing Company Culture Whilst Responding to Environmental Challenges

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