Babcock: Trusted to Deliver. An exploratory cultural case study
Background to Babcock
Babcock has over a century of engineering excellence, built on a proud reputation of Ultra-reliable delivery. With a background in supporting the military, currently Babcock is the UK’s leading engineering support services organization. Babcock employs a staff team of around 26k who design, build, manage, operate and maintain assets vital to the delivery of the key public services both across the UK and abroad.
Babcock’s “Trusted to Deliver” translates to revenues of over 3.2bn pound in 2013 and an order book of approximately 12 billion pound. The key areas of Defence, Energy, Telecommunications, Education and Transport are supported by Babcock services working diligently behind the sense. These services are underpinned by three core capabilities:
Managing assets and infrastructure
Delivering projects and programmes
Integrating engineering expertise
Trusted to Deliver
These capabilities build on their enviable reputation which springs from the core tenet that Babcock is a partner which can be trusted to deliver. The Babcock reputation is protected as an asset, as Peter Rogers (Group CEO) stated in 2013:
“At Babcock we understand that how we take care of our reputation, our customers, our people, the environment and those affected by what we do, as well as how we plan for the future needs of our business is of critical importance to our having a sustainable and ethical business and being able to create long-term value for our shareholders.’
Babcock is a Task Culture (Harrison Typology 1972) with prides itself on being trusted to deliver whilst ensuring that staffs are developed to cope with project demands. By the very mature of engineering the organization had=s attracted more male than female workers and initiatives to address this have not been wholly successful yet; although a macho culture is not embedded. About 80%of work is in the UK and the final 20% is abroad, but this sector is developing in the USA, Canada, Australia and Poland with investigations into supporting businesses on a more global basis.
This has resulted in some cultural differences in perceptions when partnering local businesses to deliver the Babcock brand. In the USA, for example, clients feel that Babcock’s military origins imbue it with reliability, discipline and positive credentials whereas in Canada this feature is less valued.
Characteristics of Organizational Culture
Staffing is also different as the member identity in the UK is strong, with engineers and personnel identifying with the organization’s values with a group emphasis on interdependent project delivery; wherein each person is responsible for their personal contribution to the team. Individuals commit to the organization and reap the benefits of being part of a high performance working team(HPWT). Tasks are organized and demarcated, with lower conflict tolerance than flatter structures, to achieve the work to an acceptable standard. Workers are not tightly controlled but there is a strong sense of Organizational Citizenship Behavior(OCB) with teams working diligently to deliver to agreed deadlines and making personal sacrifices to ensure that the project is delivered to the best of their professional and personal ability. Communication occurs top down with work plans and bottom up to facilitate crescive participation of team members. Posters, suggestion boxes and the intranet are used to raise awareness on issues and to communicate key information, as well as the more informal notice boards in the staff canteen. More formally the UNITE union represents staff with HR. matrix project teams ensure that best practice is disseminated across teams.
Resistance to Change
The teams at Babcock have been centered in the UK and have had consistent working conditions. Now that they are needed to travel, to take up responsibilities on projects abroad there is a degree of resistance to travelling which had not been anticipated. The overseas contracts are also commit to tired and tested working practices which do not always align with Babcock standards.
Babcock has had a successful tradition of developing individuals to enhance team capacity. This development focus is an ongoing challenge with so many teams out in the field at any given time. Babcock has relied on the values of ethical processes cascading from management to teams as part of their core psychological contract. This has resulted in a means rather than ends focus on challenges with managers and project leaderseembodying the qualities that more junior staff can model off. Risk tolerance is low as projects must be delivered to Babcock and industry profession standards. Babcock hosts an internal system focus, to hone excellent practices, with scanning of the external environment for developments and possible enhancements of current working practices. These traditions have worked well in the UK with low staff turnover, high commitment and high performance working teams.
Each generation of supervisors, management and project leadership specialists has inspired the next, inducting them into the values of ethical working and the need for a procedural audit trail and principled professional behavior. This has relied on tacit organizational memory.
The overseas opportunities have resulted in a heightened awareness of Babcock’s culture and its innately English roots. Something as simple as reading an email response which states that a new project’s goal achievements were” not bad” from a UK perspective reads as” terrible” to the Canadian reader. Local traditions have challenged the” Think Global: Act Local” adaptation philosophy with Georgia’s (USA) right to work and the Canadians blurred lines between home and business life.
More seriously the family culture in some new ventures has resulted in bypassing the procurement process and ignoring sourcing stipulations to employ family or friends. As much of the communication is by Skype, conference call or email it is often difficult to pin these variations in practice down. The business partners overseas are as oblivious to the difficulties these may create as Babcock in the UK are clear that only principled transparent are acceptable.
A new contract has been won to maintain quarry mining vehicles in remote open cast mining locations in Brazil. A maintenance subcontract is being negotiated with Locomocao* a rapidly growing Sao Paulo company. Babcock’s HR and Operations are keen to address the issues of consistency, recruitment and procurement transparency and also to adapt to facilitate the Brazilian culture where it aligns with Babcock values. Communicating the core” Trusted to Deliver” and what this means in practice is central to the venture’s success. Concerned by the” Costa culture” rumors of Brazil, and experiences of others venturing into developing economies, Babcock wants to ensure that it begins with a Trusted to Deliver culture from the outset with its attendant core values.
Bridging the Gap
Already the meetings have shown some differences between UK and Brazilian culture. Senior executives wore three piece suits; whilst the UK team wore jackets, they were not very formally dressed which created some concern for their Brazilian partners. This differed from the more international companies in Sao Paulo which followed a more relaxed, yet business like, dress code perhaps reflecting the recent arrival of Locomocao on the international scene and its rapid ascendency due to agile thinking and a flexible approach to problem solving.
The meeting late with time given to handshakes, kisses and card swapping followed by discussions of football, family and music. Mention of politics or poverty observed on the streets were greets with a change of subject.
The UK team had just landed and navigated the Sao Paulo traffic to be there and were ready to start discussions as time was limited, finding the intense eye contact and limited personal space tiring.
The working agreements established last time were now being renegotiated as the UK team had a different project manager and the change of team was seen as a new start by the Locomocao, illustrating the person rather than task focus of the culture.
Suggesting that they “grab a sandwich” to keep talking was greeted with horror and to jet lag as all went out to lunch for two hours. The most senior member of the Locomocao team began suggesting a local mechanic’s garage to manage the maintenance contract. This had already been dismissed last time as lacking the required capacity to cater for all the vehicles as well as being in the wrong location. Learning that the owner if the garage was married to the chief negotiator offered several other options and the speed of negotiations was impressive.
The Brazilian energy for the project was obvious with discussions producing fluent options which were not always minuted, but all of which demonstrated an enthusiastic “can do” attitude to the joint venture.
Concerned to avoid the issues swamping the project Babcock decide to call in the BHrm605 consultants to seek your advice on how to best progress from here.
Locomocao is not a real company
The background to Babcock is accurate but the project plan is fictitious to facilitate culture and change exploration without compromising confidentiality.
CASE STUDY ASSIGNMENT 40% of total Module Mark
a) Type a brief email to Babcock outlining the current presenting problems as you see them to be included in your report 10
[There is no reference requirement for this section of the work]
b) Follow up with a full report: HR Changes for Babcock 70
i) Selected areas from those listed in the email that you have investigated
ii) what you intend to do to address the problems outlined
iii) suggest a diagnostic and a change model to aid the transfer from theory to practice
iv) potential problems with their implementation.
[The report should contain a minimum of 15 journal references to support the points you are making]
d) A reflection on your learning journey based on the critical incident technique model of reflection where you identify
up to 3 key learning moments and reflect on them 10
See full marking grid for a detailed breakdown of the marking scheme
Report format , 3rd person, passive voice (no ‘I’ or ‘my’)
References in the Harvard Referencing System
• A range of research sources should be used, incorporating journal articles and academic texts. A limited use of the internet may be used as a source but journals articles are deemed more reliable and you will need at least 15 journal references per website.
Your Library account will facilitate your access to key journal articles. The library helpdesk will be happy to help you to use this useful resource off/on campus
• All sources, including electronic sources, must be referenced using the Harvard Referencing System. You will get advice on this from the citations section attached and leaflets on the Harvard System are available from the library.
Footnoting or use of the Vancouver system is not acceptable.
• A report outline is included with this pack but in summary: it is suggested that your report includes; an Executive Summary, an Introduction, including background to the presenting problem; a Literature Review; a chapter on the Method: outlining the approach taken to change including one relevant diagnostic & one relevant change model ; a comparison with that outlined in the literature by way of Analysis and discussion; a Conclusion section which should lead to a chapter viable Recommendations.
• See also the guide to report writing (page 19)
• Your reference list should contain all references mentioned in the text in alphabetical order using the Harvard Referencing System.
A bibliography is not required – only a full list of references actually used in the text.
• You may bring an A4 plan of your work to your session for review in
Be prepared to share these with your group and your tutor will ensure that you have chosen appropriate models for the task. If you have not prepared your plan by this stage it will not be reviewed at any other time. No indications of marks can be given at this formative stage.
A penalty of 10% will be levied for exceeding the stipulated wordage: up to 2,000. Reports can be accepted from 2,200-1,800
The email cover page, contents page, executive summary, reference list and appendices are not counted as part of the word count
Your word count must be clearly stated on the front of your assignment.
1. Academy of Management Journal
2. British Journal of Industrial Relations
3. British Journal of Management
4. Employee Relations
5. Employment Review
6. European Journal of Innovation Management
7. Human Resource Management Journal
8. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business
9. International Journal of Career Management
10. International Journal of Human Resource Management
11. Journal of Applied Behavioural Science
12. Journal of Applied Psychology
13. Journal of Business and Psychology
14. Journal of Business Ethics
15. Journal of Change Management
16. Journal of Education for Business
17. Journal of European Industrial Training
18. Journal of Labour Research
19. Journal of Management Development
20. Journal of Managerial Psychology
21. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology
22. Journal of Organizational Behaviour
23. Journal of Organizational Change Management
24. Journal of Organizational Culture Communications and Conflict
25. Journal of Workplace Learning
26. Leadership & Organizational Development Journal
Magazines: for interest only
It would be inappropriate to reference these texts in your assignment:
People Management & Personnel Review
POTENTIAL ASSIGNMENT STRUCTURE: FOR GUIDANCE ONLY
All pages numbered for ease of referencing in Arabic numerals and each appendix in appendices section numbered in lower case Roman numerals
This summarises the entire report including your aims and objectives, results, analysis, conclusions and recommendations. It is short and factual and is not included in your wordage.
Written in the past tense, it is usually written last; although it appears first.
A useful way to write it is to summarise each chapter in one sentence and then work on them until they flow into a coherent paragraph.
The most common mistake here is to write it as if it were an introduction instead of a summary.
Ensuring that your findings and recommendations are included to avoid this common pitfall.
Your ES should be about 200 words and is a concise overview of the entire report.
This sets out the aims and scope of the report. You must clearly define what your objectives are in writing this report. State the presenting problems and ensure that they are relevant to the module content.
An example of an Introduction might look like this:
1.1 Definition of change
1.2 Background to the organisation: Babcock
1.3 presenting problems as you see them
1.4 Scope of the report: what will/will not be covered in this report
(you cannot focus on all the issues highlighted in your email)
2. A LITERATURE REVIEW
Do bear in mind that you will have to continuously link your journal research with your practical observations and methods in the analysis section, to achieve a coherent theory to practice link. Do not see the literature review section as compartmentalised but rather as a primer for the reader to acclimatise to your sources so that they can recognise them at a glance when you refer to them later in the analysis section. You will have several subheadings to include in this chapter
A Literature Review accounts for 33% of the total report wordage.
Extensive quotations are discouraged, as paraphrasing will ensure that you are engaging with the material and aware of its relevance to the area of change under discussion. All statements must be referenced in the text (name, year) and again in full in the reference section. References from 2009+ are expected and where this is not possible a more recent article indicating that the theory is still being currently considered should be cited eg Kolb (1974; Simmonds 2008).
Journal references are expected to dominate here.
An example of what a Literature Review might look like:
2.1 General literature relating to change & its historical roots
2.2 Specific literature on the subsection of the areas you have identified as requiring attention eg communication, culture etc
Here you should outline the models you will use to effect the change. You will require
i) a diagnostic model &
ii) a change model
It is short and factual and can be put in a table if you prefer
4. RESULTS / FINDINGS
Give a brief overview of your findings.
As this is a case study these may relate to how the organization fits with the literature in how it carried out its change.
Again this is a brief and factual section which could be put into a table.
5. DISCUSSION/ ANALYSIS
Discuss your findings and compare the organization and changes under consideration against the models and literature cited. It is crucial that you link your findings to current academic theory/journal research (already mentioned in lit review) and models (identified in the methodology). Whether your findings bear these theories out or contradict them; they will still give scope for discussion.
Suggest why certain findings may have occurred
A subheading on the limitations of your report is also useful.
An example of what an analysis chapter might look like:
5.1 Relate findings to the models identified in the Methodology
5.2 Relate your findings to the literature
5.3 differences between theory (from the literature) and practice
5.4 what might be the impediments to implementing any of the ideas discussed. Support with appropriate references on RTC
6. EVALUATION* (some may choose to integrate this into analysis)
Evaluate how effective the change experience was both at an individual and an organizational level.
Consider how it could have been improved.
Suggest what might support or hinder the new change process
Refer to literature and theoretical models for support see lecture refs and reading list for guidance as well as your independent study week materials.
This summarises your findings and is present or past focused
It offers no new material but sums up what has gone before.
Just as the Discussion flows from the Results so the Conclusions are drawn from the discussion material and pave the way for the Recommendations to follow
Conclusions look back at the report and recommendations look forward to offer solutions
7.1 Summarise your findings from the report overall in one paragraph
This offers practical and academic recommendations and is future focused.
i) Practical recommendations could be practices or procedures which could be adopted or adapted to suit the individual & organizational needs you observed.
ii) An academic recommendation could be for further research into a particular area. Recommendations are required for both individual and organizational levels.
All recommendations should be specific as vague recommendations do not earn any marks.
An example of how a recommendations chapter might be formatted
8.1Practical Recommendations for the organization you have examined to adopt with suggestions of how they might be rolled out
8.2 Academic recommendations of areas for further research .
You may also deliver these as a table if you choose:
Recommendation Who to
Execute Steps to Execution
All references must follow the Harvard Referencing System.
For this assignment we are asking for a reference list and not a bibliography of material, which may have been formative.
All references should both be quoted in the text (surname, year) and appear on the reference list. To avoid plagiarism, refer to the templates included in this hand out.
Journal references are preferred as the most reliable academic source.
You can access these through your library account both on and off campus. Limit website references and research the original source of lecture or newspaper reports.
You have already been issued with Harvard Referencing System templates with your assignment to assist you with formatting your references appropriately.
Do not separate your references into books, journals or websites but list all in alphabetical order by first author or if a CIPD research paper by CIPD and then the reference.
References should be in alphabetical order by first author.
Online materials should be succeeded by [date of access]
Journal references preferred.
i ii iii iv v vi vii viii ix x xi etc.
Documents referred to in the text may be included here. All should be numbered and referred to by that number in the main text. Appendices are usually numbered using lower case Roman numerals ( i ii iii iv v etc).
Raw data should never be included in the appendices. It is not necessary to run questionnaires or interview research pilots for this assignment.
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