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Groupon Organizational Culture and Decision Making
Worldwide, Groupon is known as an ambitious daily deals enterprise. The company provides online deals on things to do, eat, see, and buy in more than 500 markets in 44 countries all over the globe. Groupon has offices across Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The company provides an online service that lets people create campaigns to pool resources, including finance and personal commitments to take action. It allows users to sell products and conduct business transactions online. Each day, one group coupon or groupon reaches at least 20 million subscribers in 29 countries via e-mail, Twitter, and the Groupon smartphone application. As a rule, the company takes 50 percent of money on each deal.
The word groupon is made up of the words group and coupon. Apparently, Groupon has nothing to do with group buying, despite the name. The companys business is all about giving local business a chance to acquire new customers through well-crafted deep discounts distributed mostly by email. Confidence in being different and quirkiness played a decisive role in Groupons adoption of a unique strategy for communication with its customers.
There are some key factors that stand behind the Groupon success. The company utilizes social networking and business model relying on the popularity and credibility of other businesses. Offering value in exchange for information and soliciting people to raise their hands voluntarily and indicate that they are interested in receiving advertising offers were the key ingredients that pre-determined the recipe for the turbulent growth. However, when it comes to organizational culture, two key factors are crucial: management and employees. The companys website attests the following, Groupon's people are our most valuable asset. Everything about Groupon is a reflection of the interests and ethics of its wonderful staff. Margolis (2011) claims that corporate culture is typically derived from the organizations founder or from the principles and ideals that drove the organizations creation. As the Fast Company website puts it, Groupon's culture is an unusual amalgam of Second City humor, traditional newsroom (a few hundred employees have done time at one or the other), and good old-fashioned salesmanship.
Andrew Mason, Groupon former CEO, looks far from seasoned entrepreneur. A music major, who got his degree in Public Policy, has never dreamt of becoming a billionaire. At 25, he was still confident he would be a musician. His workplace was no different from other employees positioned in the middle of the rows of desks with a live connection to the satellite office in Palo Alto. Groupon employees are cheerful, handsome, and young, looking like they have just stepped out of the J. Crew advertisement. The company employs many members of the local arts community and entrusts them with the task to keep the business going. Streetwise sales representatives, who may work flexible hours, are the main focus at Groupon. As Groupons Head of People Strategy, Dan Jessup puts it, Were big on transparency, and staying close to our roots, what we stand for, as we grow. With growth this fast, we have to trust and respect our people and show them that we care and that we are listening. They offer the Groupon Promise to those customers who are not satisfied. Additionally, they have arranged a 24/7 hot line. Mockery is integral to their corporate culture. Once, Groupon had a monkey dressed in a Santa suit and a male actor strutting through the office in a tutu for a week. Furthermore, there is neither distinct dress code, which may be casual, nor vacation policy. The only exclusion is no sunglasses inside, because Mason hates rock star Bono constantly wearing sunglasses. Whatever amount of time people take for vacation is fine, as long as work is accomplished. Concerning the initial purpose of the company, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason contends that it does not seem altruistic, but companies in business are to make money and, at the same time, to make a contribution, which is suitable for others. Hence, the firm owes its success to injecting creativity into routine of daily life.
Mason goes on to explain that part of what makes Groupon really fun for people is the element of discovery, revealing new things, and being surprised every morning by a new offer. The company tries to remain surprising and employees try to do things, whether it is either the deal that customers are getting or the way they are writing about the deal or brand and the culture of the company that is constantly surprising people. This is the sense of life at Groupon. Mason thinks the discount is the perfect trick that they are playing on people, because they are tricking them to get out of the house and live their lives to the fullest, because it is just for one day there. As to the local communities, Mason believes they want to reverse the trend of spending more and more time on the computer and help people discover their cities anew. Mason maintains the idea that the company wants the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company. Hence, they seek to create experiences for their customers that make today different enough from yesterday to justify getting out of bed. What it means is that Andrew Mason has tried to adopt radically innovative corporate philosophy, which, in point of fact, stems from Masons own personality and priorities, focusing on its customers and instilling the feelings of pride and being different in them.
Groupons cultural top priorities are openness and collaboration, with a refreshing lack of micromanagement and corporate bureaucracy. Moreover, the company has established open lines of communication with their peers in sales and customer service. Groupons executives are strong leaders who create a leadership culture where anyone can become the top executive. Groupons corporate culture has been created by Andrew Mason, but it is maintained by the new employees the company brings on. The essential part of hiring at Groupon is finding people who will honor and be willing to participate in that culture. At Groupon, talent recruits talent. People spread the word about their job experience at work, and the company gets plenty of referrals. The companys philosophy maintains that no one is considered better than anyone else is. The information is spread among employees quickly so that everyone is in.
Nevertheless, the companys poor financial figures, low customer retention level, and the recent dismissal of Andrew Mason did prove that Groupons corporate culture is not as smooth and ideal as they depict it. To add to the woes, Andrew Mason and other top executives at Groupon have always tried to paint the companys business rosy using their own customized accounting methods. The company must spend millions on marketing daily to attract new customers and merchants. Andrew Mason has always stated that those millions are not spent in vain; they are a good investment into companys business image that will pay off eventually.
The main problem of Groupon is that anyone can replicate its business model and philosophy, like BuyWithMe, for example. The company has to give more credit to teamwork in developing the brands success. This should start from within, not from the outside perception. The company should think of developing a global community where everyone wins, not just the employees. Groupon has turned a blind eye to merchants and customers in an attempt to promote a win-win environment for the management and employees. The Groupon coupons should be made more personalized, because customers are constantly attacked with unnecessary stuff.
Today, it is still not too late to change things for Groupon. The company just needs a clarified mission from the top management, more consistent and achievable goals, a clear-cut career advancement policy, and openness to employee feedback at all times and all levels. This strategy will help Groupon get back on track.