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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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"We try to provide an environment where people are going to be happy. I think that's a much better use of money than, say, hundred-million-dollar marketing campaigns or outrageously inflated salaries."

- Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, in March 2003.1

'So Far So Good'

Google Inc (Google) has been hailed as the one of the most successful Internet start-up companies. In 2003, it was the most preferred search engine the world over due to its precision and speed in delivering search results. Apart from the technological edge it had over its competitors, Google's success was also attributed to its ability to attract the best talent and retain these employees. And this was made possible by Google's organizational culture. During the dotcom boom in the late 1990s, Google was the only company that did not experience any employee turnover, while all other major tech companies experienced employee turnover rates of around 20-25%.

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

Google's work culture became legendary in Silicon Valley. Google was an icon of success among Internet companies. For many, the company represented the most successful blend of culture and technology in Silicon Valley.

They felt that Google was successful because it had removed unnecessary managerial hierarchies and gave its engineers a free hand to work. However, not every one was impressed with Google's culture. Some felt that Google would not be able to sustain its growth with its present culture.

They felt that Google had outgrown its informal culture, and that informality would, from now on, only lead to confusion among both employees and customers. Further, Google was also criticized for its recruitment system and its lack of unity of command at the top level.

Background Note

The founders of Google, Larry Page (Larry) and Sergey Brin (Sergey) graduated in computer science from Stanford University in 1995. In January 1996, Larry and Sergey began work to extend their summer project work on a search engine.

They wanted to develop a technology that would retrieve appropriate information from the vast amount of data available on the internet They named their search engine 'BackRub' because of its ability to identify and analyze 'back links' that pointed to a given website.

By 1997, BackRub had gained a lot of popularity due to its unique approach to solving search problems on the Internet. Throughout the first half of 1998, Larry and Sergey focused on perfecting their technology.

To store huge amounts of data, they bought a terabyte of memory disks (one trillion bytes equal one terabyte) at bargain prices.

Google's Organizational Culture - Next Page>>

1] Prather, Michelle, Ga-Ga for Google: Users are Fans of the Company's Highly Relevant Searches, Entrepreneur, April 2002.


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