The Leader Magazine

MAR 2017

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46 MARCH 2017 F E A T U R E A R T I C L E What is served for breakfast? Exploring new frontiers in corporate real estate strategies and organizational culture by Ilir Nase and Monique Arkesteijn T he quote "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" was made famous by Mark Field, president at Ford, in 2006 and has, ever since, been a guiding principle in management practice of corporations operating across the globe. The general management profession has widely embraced culture as a key factor in strategy design. However, in corporate real estate (CRE) management, it appears to be implicit within organizational differences at best, or lacking proper consideration at worst. Multinational corporations are faced with the need to centralize decision-making regarding their real estate to increase its agility in meeting rapidly changing business needs. In this new scenario of "acting globally and thinking locally," understanding cultural variations across nations and organizations alike is crucial. Analyzing the link between CRE strategies and organizational culture is essential for delivering value to multinationals. Given this signifi cant knowledge gap, we set out to explore these new frontiers through empirical research that uses data from a survey with 231 CoreNet Global members. This article provides a concise overview of the fi ndings from this study that bears particular importance for the CRE management profession at large. Operating framework for the empirical study In selecting effective real estate strategies, the key factor for corporations is strategic fi t or the alignment of these strategies to the core business ones. This study utilizes the framework of eight CRE strategies for maximization of shareholders wealth through profi tability and revenue growth (see Figure 1). The framework is selected particularly because it has been empirically tested with a survey of CoreNet Global members in 2010, which ensures continuity of concepts and allows for (partial) comparison of the two survey results. Culture is an extremely broad concept that has seen a wide variety of defi nitions and has given rise to different schools of thought. Our study does not particularly focus on the defi nition of culture; however, it acknowledges the clear distinction between national and organizational cultures and focuses on the latter. To assess organizational culture we use the Competing Values Framework that is based on two dimensions of organizational effectiveness. These dimensions produce four quadrants, each representing a distinct cultural type, that are competing at the diagonal (see Figure 2). This framework has been widely implemented to assess organizational culture across a wide variety of industries. The survey "Corporate real estate strategies" and 'Organizational culture" were the two key pillars around which the questionnaire was structured. Overall, the questions were categorized under three groupings: "general information," "organizational culture assessment," and "corporate real estate strategies." The fi rst- and third-grouping questions were directly used from the 2010 CoreNet Global survey to ensure continuity in the strategy component of the analysis. Organizational culture assessment consisted of a set of six questions asking the respondents' opinion about aspects of their organization, namely social atmosphere, leadership style, management style, strategic emphasis (the glue that holds the organization together), and defi nition of success. Each question provided fi ve alternative-choice answers, four of which relate to the organizational culture types described by the competing values framework; the last gave the respondent the option to specify different attributes from the above. This yielded fi ve organizational culture types: Clan, Adhocracy, Market, Hierarchy and No (cultural) Dominance. Empirical fi ndings The 2016 survey was completed in almost seven weeks by 236 respondents for a response rate of about 3 percent, which we consider satisfactory. Following exclusion of respondent categories falling out of the study scope, we approach the empirical analysis with a fi nal dataset of 231 responses and report fi ndings under three headings: • general interrelationships between CRE strategy and organizational culture; • comparison of CRE strategy priority between the 2010 and 2016 surveys; and • cultural variations across industry sector, fi rm size and CRE department size. Figure 2: The Competing Values Framework Figure 1: Corporate real estate strategies for revenue and profi tability by growth

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