Uniqlo Co., Ltd is the popular Japanese casual wear manufacturer, designer and retailer. It has been a fully owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd since 2005 (Uniqlo.com, 2017). From the single store to international force, the organization design cloth for all types of customers. The organization has wide global reach. Apart from operating in Japan, the organization has global reach in over 14 countries. Moreover, it operates in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and many more (Uniqlo.com, 2017). Being established in 1949, it has grabbed a wide market share only through it elegance clothing style and customer preference. The organization has market share of around 51.5% (Rushton, 2017).
Figure 1: Market Share of Uniqlo
(Source: Rushton, 2017)
The organizational environment of Uniqlo defines its success towards sustaining as long term business. Flexible organizational environment can be found in the workplace environment of the organization. The ideas of the employees are highly appreciated towards the making uniqueness in clothing design (Alexiev et al., 2016). The values of simplicity, quality and longevity are tightly integrated with organizational environment for making elegant cloths.
Organizational culture is the system of shared culture, assumption and beliefs, which determines the behavior of organizational members (Hogan &Coote, 2014). Organizational practices are the behaviors and actions performed by organizational members. Moreover, organizational practice is highly dependent on organizational culture. This study will analyze the organizational culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd. The analysis of organizational culture will be focused on the specific organizational practice namely innovation. Uniqlo Co., Ltd is always associated with incorporating innovative and unique design for all its clothing. Creativity and simplicity is at the core of the organization culture in this organization. The innovative ideas of the employees are highly valued by the management of the organization, which shapes its culture (Nica, 2013). Moreover, the study will analyze the organizational culture of this organization through Edgar Schein's theoretical framework.
According to O’Reilly et al., (2014), Edgar Schein model of organization integrates ideologies and principles along with organizational policies towards defining the corporate culture. This model highlights the fact that organizational culture defines the way organizational members interact with each other. Moreover, it also decides the way in which organizational members interact with outside people. Furthermore, Glisson, (2015) opined that Edgar Schein model relies on the concept that any organization does not adopt its culture within a single day. The model defines that organizational culture is built in due course of time and per the needs of organizational changes. The culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd is highly relied on innovation and creativity and it is built over the time with the dynamic needs of the customers (Büschgens et al., 2013). Therefore, analyzing the culture of this organization will be best carried out through Edgar Schein model.
Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model is also another effective model for analysis the organizational culture of an organization. This model could also have been used for analyzing the organizational culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd. This cultural model focuses on two factors. One is the degree of risk associated with company’s key activities. Another factor is the speed with which companies lean about the effectiveness of organizational actions and strategies. This model classifies organizational culture into 4 types namely work hard/ plays hard, tough guy (Macho), Process and Bet-Your-Company (Gu et al., 2014).
In work hard/ plays hard culture, employees maintain high level of energy towards taking few risks for organizational success. Moreover, feedback is immediate in this type of culture. This culture highlights of team efforts and does not consider individual effort. In Tough-Guy, Macho culture, employees are inclined to enjoy more risk and feedback is also fast from the part of organization (Hardcopf& Shah, 2014). This culture is best suited for the individuals, who enjoy higher risk and work hard for being star performer. However, this culture does not focus of continuous learning process for the betterment of the employees. In Bet-Your-Company culture, employees take high risk but they are to wait for longer years to get the feedback. The long process of getting feedback may be discouraging to the employees (Aier, 2014). Furthermore, in Process culture, employees take lower risk and also the feedback process of organization is very slow. Lack of immediate feedback may discourage the performance of the employees. Moreover, this cultural model does not focus on individual development process and motivating the employees through encouraging them. Therefore, this theoretical framework has been rejected for analyzing Uniqlo Co., Ltd.
On the other hand, Edgar Schein model focuses on the way organization deals with external environment and the way it manages its internal integration. Moreover, this cultural framework highlights on learning to newcomers for employee development and gradual organizational success. According to Lukas et al., (2013), this model acknowledges accurate understanding of organizational dynamics for continuous organizational success. Therefore, this framework can be effectively used for analyzing the culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd. The organization highly focuses on creating unique design for all their clothing, which needs dynamic organizational change in their process. Therefore, this model would better demonstrate the culture of this organization. On the other hand, Wei et al., (2014) opined that this framework also focuses on effective leadership and shared value for providing innovative solution to the customers. Therefore, this cultural model has been taken into consideration for analyzing the organizational culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd.
Organizational success is highly dependent on the organizational culture surrounding the employees and the management. The employees of an organization must respect their organizational culture towards delivering their best organizational success (Choo, 2013). Moreover, the organizational culture must be enjoyable enough for extracting the best out of the employees. Analysis of organizational culture can be done through various organizational cultural models. Edgar Schein model is such a cultural model, which defines the culture of an organization effectively. As per this cultural model, organizational culture is not designed in a single day; rather it is evolved over time with the changing needs of the organization (Awadh &Alyahya, 2013). This model defines that employees gain experience from their past experiences and start practicing it in everyday for making exact organizational culture. The three levels of this organizational cultural model are described below:
Artifacts level is the first level of this cultural model. In this level, the organizational characteristics are easily heard, viewed and felt by the individuals. It includes any tangible, verbally identifiable and overt element in an organization. It also includes the visible behavior of the employees, which constitutes the deeper cultural level in an organization (Warren et al., 2014). Office furniture, dress code, facilities, behavior of employees all comes under the artifacts level. Moreover, the mission and vision of an organization also comes under the artifact level. Moreover, this level goes long way towards defining the workplace culture of an organization. This level also defined the way in which the employees of an organization respect their superiors. Through this level, the enthusiasm level of the employees can be assessed towards getting huge organizational success (Gimenez-Espin et al., 2013). Furthermore, artifacts level also incorporate architecture, logos, processes, structure and corporate clothing. Moreover, the features of this level are not only recognizable to internal employees but also recognizable to the external parties.
Exposed values level is the next level after Artifacts in this cultural model. Exposed values constitute the organizational culture through values provided to the employees working in an organization. According to Brettel et al., (2015), the values of the employees working in an organization play significant role in deciding the corporate culture of an organization. The attitude and thought process of the employees have deeper influence in framing the organizational culture. On the other hand, Weare et al., (2014) opined that exposed values level is also associated with the organizational standard, rules of conduct and values through which an organization interacts with public. This level suggests that an organization can issues, when the managerial ideas are not in line with fundamental organizational assumption. As per this level, employees demonstrate genuine and authentic value towards the success of their organization. Moreover, this level also determines the degree to which employees share their knowledge with each other towards organizational progress (Durmusoglu et al., 2014). Furthermore, this level also focuses on the degree to which the ideas of the employees are taken to consideration for taking organizational decision.
The third level of this cultural model incorporates assumed values of the employees, which are highly responsible for making difference in organizational culture. This level highlights on certain facts and beliefs, which remain hidden but have huge influence on shaping organizational culture. According to Bailey and Bruner, (2015), assumed values level considers the inner aspects of the human nature, which is extremely valuable for influencing the organizational culture. On the other hand, Jippes et al., (2015) opined that the shared basic assumptions are usually unconscious in nature but it is deeply embedded in the organizational culture. Moreover, this level is highly integrated in organizational culture and extremely hard to recognize from outside.
The culture of Uniqlo Co., Ltd is defined through following levels of Edgar Schein's theoretical framework:
Artifacts level of organizational culture actually deals with such organizational characteristics, which can be easily viewed, felt and heard by the employees collectively. The employees of Uniqlo are extremely dedicated towards their job performance for contributing the success of the organization. However, some new employees are still inefficient in performing their assigned jobs effectively. According to Do et al., (2016), Uniqlo uses innovative technologies for adding unique design and fabric to the clothing. In this way, the organization practices an innovative and efficient organizational culture towards gaining competitive advantage in the market. On the other hand, Pakdil and Leonard, (2015) opined that Uniqlo follows divisional organizational structure, where the organization is broken down into various self-contained divisions. The division is done through the specialization of the employees. Separate self-contained divisions perform separate functions collaboratively with other divisions for achieving the unique goals of the organization. Organizational authority is highly delegated on the employees and they can take decision for their own work. Therefore, the employees of this organization have high morale towards performing their jobs.
According to Kontoghiorghes, (2016), the employees of the organization are extremely polite in their behavior and have respect for their superiors. They are highly inclined to obey the instruction of their superiors and deliver their task within the stipulated period. Therefore, the organization is consistent in delivering the unique products to the customers at the right time. On the other hand, Abdi and Senin, (2014) opined that the employees of this organization are to wear formal dress in their workplace. The formal dress of the employees shapes the perception of the organization to the employees. Moreover, through the dress formality, the organizational can show a professional status in the marketplace. The mission of the organization is to provide quality and basic casual clothes to the customers. The clothing is suitable and fashionable for anyone, anytime and anywhere. In this way, the concreteness of the organizational mission drives the organization towards getting their goals. It makes sure that the cloths of the organization are exceptionally high quality with unique design and materials.
According to Reis et al., (2016), the management policies of Uniqlo stay ahead of fast-changing retail business model in today’s business environment. The organization is a leading digital retailer in the retail market. The entire work process of the organization is synchronized globally by including business partners, customers and corporate functions over the internet. The customer-centric policy of the organization highly integrates the dynamic needs of the customers. Therefore, the organization can integrate simplicity with elegance in its clothing design for increasing customer satisfaction. On the other hand, Chaudhry et al., (2016) opined that the management of this organization offers all kinds of facilities to the employees towards making them motivated and getting the best out of them. Moreover, the organization offers enough incentives and bonuses to the employees for encouraging them towards accepting the frequent organizational changes. Therefore, the organization can easily incorporate and implement new organizational process towards the bringing innovation.
According to Lai et al., (2016), the employees of Uniqlo demonstrate high level of dedication in their performing their job role effectively. The employees can find their self-interest to be fulfilled through the organizational success. Therefore, they can better align their effort with the success of the organization. On the other hand, van Scheppingen et al., (2015) opined that Uniqlo has high organizational standard and all the employees are to maintain this standard in their job for retaining the organizational standard. It has strict and genuine organizational policies towards maintaining the organizational standard while delivering clothes to the customers. Moreover, the organization has penalizing system for any deviation from work standard. Therefore, most of the employees have genuine and authentic mentality for retaining organizational standard throughout their work process.
According to Kontoghiorghes, (2016), the leaders of Uniqlo are extremely supportive to the employees for completing any complex task. Moreover, bringing innovation is clothing design frequently is not at all an easy process. It is quite obvious that employees can face tough challenge in designing innovative design. However, in such extent, the employees get adequate level of support from the leaders of the organization. The leaders help them out from completing the complex job of innovative design. However, in the highly competitive market, the organization needs to incorporate more unique design for clothing, which needs enhancing support from the organizational leaders to pursue those innovations. On the other hand, Choo, (2013) opined that employees of Uniqlo get adequate value for their contribution in the organizational success. Moreover, the organization allows the employees in the decision-making process for getting wide range of solutions in various organizational process. In this way, the organization can extract innovative ideas from the employees and implement the best for the success of the organization. Moreover, this is the way, in which Uniqlo maintains uniqueness in their business process.
The objective of Uniqlo is to be the number 1 casual apparel brand within the world. According to Aier, (2014), Uniqlo conveys their objectives though unique value added in the clothing provided to the customers. The organization is capable enough to offer their unique clothing at affordable price to the customers. Moreover, the collaborative and standard organizational culture drives the organization towards fulfilling this unique objective. On the other hand, Hardcopf and Shah, (2014) opined that Uniqlo highly protect its employees by meeting all their needs, as keeping employees happy is the prime needs of it for incorporating uniqueness in business.
Assumed values are the organizational values, which cannot be measured but have huge level of influence on organizational culture. According to Glisson, (2015), Uniqlo prioritize both male and female employees equally for having high organizational standard. Female employees are given enough privileges in their workplace. Moreover, the female employees also have enough power towards demonstrating their creativity in making unique clothes design. On the other hand, the employees of the organization are highly helping to each other for effective bringing innovation in the organization. Moreover, this nature of the employees cannot be adequately measured but have huge influence in shaping organizational culture.
Figure 2: Edgar Schein's Theoretical Framework
Some of the new employees in Uniqlo are facing difficulties in aligning their efforts with organizational process. Moreover, with the increasing needs of the innovation, the employee needs enhancing skills for implementing those innovative actions. Therefore, the organization should provide training to the employees for enhancing their skills and knowledge for implementing innovation.
Frequent changes in clothing design sometimes become quite difficult for the employees to complete their job effectively. In such situation, the leaders of Uniqlo need to be highly supportive to the employees and assist them in completing the complex job.
Incorporating frequent change in clothes design requires enhancing motivation on the part of employees for effectively implementing it. Therefore, the organization should offer increasing incentives and bonus to the employees towards motivating them in accepting organizational changes.
While concluding the study, it can be said that Uniqlo is the most popular casual wear manufacturer, designer and retailer in Japan. The organization is extremely popular for incorporating unique design in the clothes design. Simplicity, quality and longevity are at the core of the organization process in this organization. Moreover, the organization consistently practices innovation in its organizational culture for gaining competitive advantage in the market. The organizational culture can be better analyzed through Edgar Schein's theoretical framework. Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model could also have been used for analyzing the culture of this organization. However, this cultural model does not provide detail analysis of organizational culture and it has no scope for employee development. On the other hand, Edgar Schein's theoretical framework provides details analysis of organizational culture and suggests ways for the betterment of the organization. Therefore, Edgar Schein's theoretical framework has been chosen for analyzing the organizational culture of Uniqlo.
Edgar Schein's theoretical framework has three levels namely artifacts, exposed values and assumed values. All these three levels describe different features of organizational culture. In the artifacts level, Uniqlo has huge employee base having dedicated nature in their job role. On the other hand, the divisional organizational structure assists the organization to strive innovation through employee flexibility. In exposed value level, the innovative ideas of the employees are highly appreciated in the organization towards getting organizational success. Moreover, the leaders of the organization are adequately supportive to the employees for assisting them in competing complex task. In case of assumed value level, the organization provides enough privileges to the female employees and the employees are extremely helpful to each other.
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