Management is not easy and especially so in the modern age of information. Companies must keep up with an ever-evolving internal and external environment made even more complex by globalization. Organizations must implement information systems that help process this avalanche of data to obtain insights and foresee problems before they occur. Even with the barrage of information, some issues cannot be predicted, and even then, it is up to the leaders to act accordingly and make correct decisions. Uncertainty is inherent in businesses, and every plan has a component of risk. In this light, the West Chester Private School (WCPS) situation emerges where they are involved in a crisis that seems to run them to the ground. The problem will be analyzed from the perspective of modern management systems even though with the benefit of hindsight.
How Organizations Interact with Their External Environment
Organizations can be classified as open systems or as complex adaptive systems. A complex adaptive system comprises heterogeneous agents that must decide on how to act. Of importance is that these decisions evolve with time. In addition, the agents in such a system interact, leading to another inherent characteristic: emergence. In emergence, these individual components produce something greater than the parts (Roundy et al., 2018). Therefore, it is impossible to understand the system by looking at the individual parts.
On the other hand, an open system is one that constantly receives feedback from the external environment. Inputs, outputs, processes, objectives, assessment and evaluation, and learning are critical in a system. A healthy open system should constantly exchange information with an external environment, analyze the feedback, and adjust its strategies to achieve its goals (Roundy et al., 2018). It must also transmit the needful information back into the environment.
Effectiveness WCPS As an Open/Complex System at Time of Closure
Organizations consist of parts that act as a system, and the system must also interact with the external environment. An open system comprises components that can decide how to behave but produce something more significant than their individual. For example, it is evident that WCPS was having financial problems attributed to specific campuses; when the previous head of the school retired, Dr. Murphy had to make a hard decision to close the components causing the losses. Eventually, this problem snowballed, leading to the closure of more branches. This scenario illustrates that WCPS was an ineffective open system whose individual parts were ailing and led to the eventual collapse of the entire system.
WCPS could also be analyzed as a complex adaptive system in constant interaction with its external environment. For example, the school had received information about the establishment of two new charter schools nearby as early as 2017. Disappointingly, the school management did not act on this information which depicts ineffectiveness on their part. Moreover, the school management failed to focus on the technological needs that were needed, such as the online academy, causing them to be outmatched by competitors. Moreover, the school dedicated copious amounts of energy to expanding to California as if it was a sure bet. This indicates oversight that could have been avoided by an awareness of the California regulatory environment. These events demonstrate WCPS as an ineffective complex adaptive system that failed to fit in the environment.
Review of Readings on Internal Environment of Organizations
The internal environment refers to the components within the company, including management, employees, and, more particularly, an organization’s culture. Managers rely on data to make decisions; companies must therefore set up information systems to capture and analyze this data. Managers could be categorized as problem solvers, problem avoiders, or problem seekers. Different ways of making decisions include systematic thinking, intuitive thinking, and multidimensional thinking. In an organization, structured and unstructured problems go together with programmed and unprogrammed solutions, respectively.
A crisis problem is one of the most challenging in decision-making. In addition, there are various types of problem-solving environments: certain, risky, and uncertain. Solving problems involves identification, evaluation of the alternative course of action, choosing a preferred course of action, implementing the course of action, and evaluation of results (Lumen Learning, n.d.). In all the processes, one must check ethical reasoning.
WCPS Organizational Culture at Time of Closure
The events leading up to the closure of WCPS schools can only be aptly described as a crisis. There is evidence of egregious management oversights that culminated in the ultimate failure of the business. The company had learned about competitors establishing charter schools in the community but had focused its resources on opening an international baccalaureate program and expanding to California. While it is customary to take risks, the company seems to have been investing too many resources into projects with little potential. The type of decision-making seems to have been intuitive with disregard for data. The head of the school can only be described as a problem avoider. The appointment of Dr. Murphy was a crisis appointment; it is not surprising that she acted so decisively to close some branches before the whole system collapsed.
Evaluate the decision made by Dr. Murphy and Educations Management Services
Dr. Murphy and the EMS have made management blunders that have put businesses at risk. Even though the evidence points to Dr. Murphy inheriting a pre-existing condition, she is at fault for perpetuating a culture of mismanagement. One of the most critical questions regarding the situation is if the company even had an information system that predicted current education trends. In the decision-making process, one identifies a problem and evaluates alternative courses of action.
When the school announced that they were closing, they failed to inform stakeholders in advance and would not consider alternatives such as raising school fees which some parents had requested. In failing to consider the repercussions of the abrupt announcement, the management acted unethically. Some parents that had to transfer their students to other schools were not even refunded for the mere reason that they had signed a contract.
Behavioral Decision-Making Model Applied in the WCPS’s Situation
The behavioral decision-making model assumes that managers do not act with the privilege of complete information. The model considers that humans have cognitive limitations and cannot grasp complete information; as a result, the managers will make a satisfactory decision which is the first satisfactory decision (Sharma & Nandi, 2018). This model was applied in many EMS decisions, such as when they decided to expand operations to California. They dedicated a large amount of effort to the endeavor and failed. They had not acted on information that would have informed them prior that California generally has strict regulations. The model was also applied in their decision to start an international baccalaureate program; this was a satisficing decision that rendered developing an online program the opportunity cost.
Major Technology and Innovation Challenge that WCPS
One major challenge faced by WCSP management is the lack of an information system that analyses the external environment. The school management failed to notice the trend in the public preferring charter schools. Even when the charter schools were established in the neighborhood, the management did not survey the community to test preferences. Technology, information, and analytical competency are critical for navigating the modern business environment. A solution that would make WCPS more competitive among stakeholders would be to overhaul its school system to fit the needs offered by the charter schools. This is because the main problem of the school is that the charter schools are giving them stiff competition. This rebuild would avert financial issues that have been at the heart of their crisis.
How Management Could Have Handled the Issue Differently
There is no doubt EMS could have handled the WCPS situation in a better way. From the classical approach, a manager is assumed to act rationally based on information (Priyakshi, 2020). In this approach, EMS could have considered that expanding to California had the potential to be rejected. They could have avoided dedicating so many resources to the endeavor. From the human relations approach, the company would have considered employees’ livelihoods before terminating them immediately with the closure of the schools. From the modern management approach, the company could have collected data to conduct quantitative statistical analysis or cost-benefit analysis of their decisions, such as the baccalaureate program.
Organizations must have goals and objectives that are aligned with the mission. EMS’s failures throughout the situation seem to have been making uninformed decisions. For example, when they got denied the license to expand to another state, they should have known through research that the mission had a probability of failing. Moreover, they should have been aware that online learning was a more urgent priority than the international baccalaureate program. In this regard, WCPS’s main short-term goal ought to be to avoid closing more campuses. This can be achieved through financial prudence that would ensure they do not go bankrupt. For long-term goals, EMS and WCPS should focus on restoring the trust they lost in the community. They could achieve this by making strategic designs that would regain their market share by merit.
Management is the make-or-break component for most modern organizations that must navigate an ever-changing business environment. Among the factors that have contributed to this dynamism are technological advancement and globalization. The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. When applied to the WCPS situation, planning can be used to lay the strategies that would keep the company from going bankrupt. Proper plans are also needed to ensure that the company never has blind spots, such as the issue of charter schools. Organizing would ensure that employees are fitted to their specialized roles. It is also vital to keep employees organized in their daily operations.
The other function of management is leading; sometimes, it is not as clear who is to blame for the collapse of an organization, but in this scenario, it was the failure of EMS’s management. After the company closed schools, the head of the school resigned only to be succeeded by a manager who perpetuated the same culture; this indicates a lack of leadership. In controlling, as EMS looks to make a turnaround, the challenge will be to achieve the plans. Planning is always the easy part; the challenge for any organization is to align operations to the goals.
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