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Google's Organizational Culture

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB041
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1996 - 2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Google Inc.
Industry : IT
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Google's Organizational Culture

Google had an informal work culture at Googleplex (its headquarters). Both Larry and Sergey wanted to make Google a fun place to work. Reflecting their beliefs, the Googleplex was decorated with Lava Lamps and painted in the bright colors of the Google Logo (Refer Figure I for Google Logo).

Googlers were allowed to bring their pets in to the workplace, and were themselves provided with free snacks, lunch and dinner prepared by a celebrity chef Charlie Ayers. The Googleplex had snack rooms offering Googlers cereals, gummi bears, cashew nuts and other snacks along with fruit juices, soda and cappuccino...

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies


Sergey and Larry also focused on recruiting people with the right frame of mind. They were themselves personally involved in the recruitment process. In order to attract high performing candidates, Google posted top ten reasons to work for Google on its website (Refer Table II).

Google recruited people with diverse skills and qualities (Refer Table III). While recruiting, Google attached a lot of importance to academic excellence as revealed in grade scores in SAT and other graduate exams. To get an interview call from Google, a person had to be from a top-ranking university...

Innovations at Google

Google management also focused on encouraging innovation and creativity at the workplace. It realized that to maintain its growth, the company had to come out with new products/features. However, the company faced problems on how to tap ideas that could be turned into successful products. Said Silverstein, "We always had great ideas, but we didn't have a good way of expressing them or capturing them." To overcome the problem, Google set up an internal web page for tracking new ideas...

A Critique of Google's Culture

Many analysts feel that Google's zero per cent employee turnover rate during the dotcom boom, was a testament to its salubrious organizational culture. But not everyone was convinced that Google had got it right in terms of its work culture. They felt that company's culture was not set to manage its growth. A 12-hour working day had become norm at the company. Google's recruitment process was also criticized by analysts.

It was pointed out that Google had become too narrow in its recruitment by focusing only on the academic records and graduate ranks of the applicants rather than on experience. Commenting on the recruitment process, one Googler said, "If you've been at Cisco for 20 years, they don't want you." But the management defended the recruitment process saying that they valued intelligence and brainpower more than experience...


Exhibit I: Google Features
Exhibit II: Awards & Recognitions Won by Google


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