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Qualitative Research Methodology

Question:

Management Practices and attributes of ABB Group.

The growth and success of an organization depends largely on its effective management practices and procedures. The management practices are referred to as approaches and techniques that are used for improving the performance of a company such as manufacturing, marketing, planning, leadership style, quality and technology. The management practices of an organization play a significant role in its distinctive brand image in the marketplace and providing it a competitive advantage (Shermon and Shermon, 2016). In this context, this report has aimed in discussing the key aspects of the management practices and outcomes of a selected company, that is, ABB Group. The report has discussed the company background, description of its key management practices that is responsible for its distinctive image and brief summary of all the findings gathered from the overall research. The report has specifically focused on the industrial robots manufacturing practices of the company.

The present research has incorporated the use of qualitative research methodology. There are varied qualitative sources used for gathering information about the management practices of the selected company. The qualitative resources include annual reports of the company, online websites and interviews from the management personnel and other academic sources such as books and journals. The research has evaluated and analyzed the secondary resources mainly for analyzing the research topic in detail. The secondary resources include the sources that already contain the information about the research topic. 

The ABB Group is recognised as a Swiss multinational company that is headquartered in the Switzerland and is mainly involved in development of high-technology products such as robotics, power and electrical equipments. The company is recognised as a leader in the technology and digital field that is providing innovative products across the segments of utilities, industry, transportation and infrastructure. The company operates in about 100 countries and provides employment to about 136,000 people. It is recognised as one of the largest engineering companies across the world and is traded on the Swiss Exchange and New York Stock Exchange (ABB Inc., 2016). The company has achieved a recognised brand image in the sectors of power and automation technologies. The company has achieved a unique image in the marketplace of providing innovative and digitalized equipments (Bélanger et al., 2000).

The company’s business operations are organized into four areas that are, electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids. The electrification products provide various digitalized electrical products such as switchgear, cabling, wiring accessories and many others. The robotics and motion division produces industrial motor and drives. The industrial automation division is concerned with designing of systems to optimize the productivity of the industrial processes. At last, the power grid division is involved in providing power and automation products and systems. The ABB group places special emphases on its management practices and procedures as it is involved in carrying out of complex projects for ensuring their successful completion. The management systems of the company such as quality, operations, safety and environment are approved by the certification systems. This is done to ensure the sustainable development of communities and ensuring the overall safety of workers at the workplace. The sound management of the company has enabled it to create real business value for the customers by providing them highly efficient digitalized products and services (ABB Group: Annual Report, 2016).

ABB Group Background

The ABB Group has achieved a unique place in the global marketplace through providing distinctive products and services through the use of its effective management practices such as operations, manufacturing, supply chain and human resources. The manufacturing practices of the company are largely responsible for its global competitiveness around the world. The company manufacturing operations of developing industrial robots has proved to be vitally successful all over the world (Stennes, 2004). The company is recognised as a leader across the world in the supply of industrial robots and has installed about 200,000 robots worldwide. The ABB Robotics division of the company has achieved a distinctive brand image in the marketplace through developing superior types of industrial robots. The company has encompassed the use of automation systems in the manufacturing of industrial robots that has helped it to achieve excellence in developing superior quality robots (ABB Inc., 2016).


Organizational structure of the company into four divisional structures in order to provide better services to the customers. The ABB Robotics is one of the main divisional units of the company that has attained a position of global leadership through the use of effective strategic management practices. The company management operations have effectively integrated the use of digital technology and automation systems that has lead to the development of highly efficient technology products such as robotics. The robotics designed and developed by the company are capable of solving the business problems and therefore is largely in demand by the business customers. The highly efficient manufacturing operations of the company have helped it to achieve a superior place in the market as it provides technology innovative products and services to the customers. There is high demand of products by the business companies that can help them to improve their productivity within their constraints of resources. The robotics system developed by the company has provided a digital solution to the businesses for resolving their problems (ABB Group: Annual Report, 2016).

The developments of innovative products by the company are largely due to its operational excellence. The ABB has developed an operational team that is highly skilled and competent in developing the technology products. The ABB team has enabled the performance improvements in the company through developing latest technology innovative products that are in increasing demands by its customers. For example, the operational team of ABB Group has identified the significant opportunities of saving energy and thus the company manufacturing operations utilizes less energy (Bélanger et al., 2000). In this context, the interview held from the employees and operational manager of the company has helped in gathering some information about the management practices.  The interview questions have helped in addressing the following issues:

  • techniques used by the management in manufacturing
  • clear knowledge of the goals
  • talent management and development
  • motivational strategies used such as incentives and pay per performance measures by the management
  • monitoring operational team performance

It has been analyzed from the interviews responses that effective leadership practices have contributed in the development of highly skilled and competent operational team. It can also be supported from the literature review as per which the company follows and adopts a decentralized structure that provides equal opportunity to all the employees to participate in the decision-making process. As such, the employees are free to share their views and opinions that helps in gathering more innovative ideas for the creation of technology intensive products and services as per the customer needs and demands. This increases the motivational level of employees and thus they actively involves in developing high quality products to achieve the customer satisfaction. The business leadership is an important management practice that plays a critical role in improving an organizational performance (Doing Business with ABB, 2017). It can also be supported from the literature review as per which the good leadership of the operations manager has enabled in aligning the company and the employees goals thus developing a highly competent workforce team. The management integrates the use of practices such as incentives and pay per performance for rewarding the high performance employees. The management also continuously monitors the performance of the operational team in order to identify the gap and develop strategies for overcoming it. The management is also actively involved in providing continuous training session to the operational team for improving their skills and capabilities. This is done for developing the talent of the employees so that they meet the business expectations (Laasch and Conaway, 2014).

ABB Group's Management Practices


In addition to this, the automation system used in the operational activities of the company has enabled it to achieve operational excellence. The use of automation systems has enabled the company to perform effectively all the manufacturing operations such as welding, material handling, assembly, painting, finishing, coating and packaging. The company has developed about 50 automation centers in 53 countries that have improved the efficiency of the manufacturing process such as product handling. This in turn enabled the company to design technology innovative products within short span of time. The company has also incorporated the use of techniques such as continuous process improvement, lean manufacturing, quality management and sustainability in its operational processes (Ford, 2015).

The use of these techniques has also assisted the company in developing customized products and services and achieving the satisfaction of the customers. The operational management system of the company is also well integrated with other management system such as safety and health at work. This promotes safety of employees at the workplace by proper mitigation of the various hazards and implementing various controls ensures to prevent the occurrence of occupational accidents. Thus, it can be said that effective operational practices of the company has helped in developing highly efficient technology products such as industrial robots. The development of such products has enabled the company to become a global leader in the supply of robotics system (Pinto, 2017).

It can be summarized from the overall findings of the research that management practices of an organization play a central role in improving its productivity and profitability. The research has suggested that companies need to focus on their management practices for attaining a unique image in the marketplace such as that done by the ABB Group. The group is recognised on a global platform for providing innovative technological and digital solutions to the customers as per their requirements. The ABB has succeeded in achieving a global position for the supply of industrial robots due to its operational excellence. It can be stated on the basis of the information gathered regarding the management practices of the company that its effective operational practices are largely responsible for its growth and success (ABB Inc., 2016). The use of effective leadership style by the operations manager has lead to the development of a qualified workforce resulting in developing high quality products as per customer demands. The automation systems use in the manufacturing process of the company has improved the efficiency of its production processes. Therefore, it can be said that ABB Group manufacturing practices are playing a major role in driving its growth and development (ABB Group: Annual Report, 2016).


The key management practice analyzed in the overall research is operational management of the company. The company also has effective supply chain management strategies that are a part of its operational management which also has lead in developing high quality products and services. The company has maintained a code of conduct with the suppliers in order to ensure that it achieves high quality supplies of raw materials for developing quality products and services. It is recommended to the company on the basis of overall research findings that it should focus on improving its operational management practices for marinating its global leader image of developing the best technology and digitalized products and services (Daft, 2015).

Conclusion

It has been inferred from the overall discussion held in the report that management practices are the key tactics to improve the performance of a company. There is intrinsic link between the management practice such as operations, marketing, leadership, quality and others with the productivity and profitability of a company. The research paper has highlighted the role of management practices and driving the performance of a company through illustrating the example of ABB Group. The operational management practices of ABB Group have enabled it to attain a position of global leader in developing the technology efficient products such as industrial robots. Thus, the business companies need to implement highly efficient management practices for improving the performance and achieving a distinctive image in the marketplace thus attaining a competitive advantage.

References

ABB Group: Annual Report. 2016. Committed to unlocking value. [Online]. Available at: https://search-ext.abb.com/library/Download.aspx?DocumentID=9AKK107045A3962&LanguageCode=en&DocumentPartId=&Action=Launch [Accessed on: 11 November 2017].

ABB Inc. 2016. [Online]. Available at: https://www.robotics.org/company-profile-detail.cfm/Supplier/ABB-Inc/company/305 [Accessed on: 11 November 2017].

Bélanger, J. et al. 2000. Being Local Worldwide: ABB and the Challenge of Global Management. Cornell University Press.

Daft, R.L. 2015. Organization Theory and Design. Cengage Learning.

Doing Business with ABB. 2017. [Online]. Available at: https://new.abb.com/about/supplying/doing-business-with-abb  [Accessed on: 11 November 2017].

Ford, M. 2015. The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment. Oneworld Publications.

Laasch, O. and Conaway, R. 2014. Principles of Responsible Management: Global Sustainability, Responsibility, and Ethics. Cengage Learning.

Pinto, J.K. 2017. Operations Management: Managing Global Supply Chains. SAGE Publications.

Shermon, G. and Shermon, A. 2016. Leadership Center - An Employee Experience. Lulu.com.

Stennes, B. 2004. Innovation: Case by Case. Resources Unlimited

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