MBA leadership and organisational behaviour at W L Gore

Last Updated: 06 Jul 2021
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This paper provides an exploration of leadership and organisational behavioural issues at W L Gore Company, which is the UK branch of a renowned US company. The introduction section of the paper includes details about the company’s performance and context industry setting. Moreover, the paper focuses on three major paradigms that are discussed in the literature review, such as management and leadership, motivation, groups and teams, and group leadership. Once these concepts are presented, the researcher moves onto a critical analysis of how these paradigms are applied in the organisational context of Gore. The paper concludes with a summary of major conclusions drawn from the case study of Gore and recommendations to improve the situation in the company.

Introduction and context setting

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W L Gore has emerged as a company which succeeded to maintain high performance in the service industry regarding the manufacturing of Gore-Tex. The unique form of work organisation is designed to support employee creativity and contribution (Gore Official Website, 2014). As a result of the transformation of traditional management principles, Gore’s managers and leaders have developed a quite innovative platform for the company. Delivering continuous innovation within the organisation has become the primary principle of operating and communicating (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). Moreover, it has been emphasised that the company has implemented rules of transparency and fairness (Gore Official Website, 2014).

It is apparent that teams are changing constantly, which means that the organisation adequately implements a vision of change. The operating teams are kept small because this is considered an appropriate strategy to address the individual needs of each stakeholder (Gore Official Website, 2014). Team members at Gore are free to determine their objectives that are aligned with the organisation’s core values and mission. Therefore, leadership and organisational behaviour is properly developed at this company. The innovative work organisation of Gore implies that leaders are constantly working to embrace a culture of highly innovative and flexible principles of operation (Luthans and Youssef, 2007). Each employee in the organisation has a clear perspective of assigned roles and responsibilities, and this contributes to better organisational performance.

The concepts that are used to analyse the case study of Gore refer to management and leadership, motivation, groups and teams, and group leadership. These paradigms are found useful in the discussion of leadership and organisational behaviour issues within the selected organisation (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of how the paradigms of management and leadership, motivation and group leadership can be applied in the context of Gore (Lian and Tui, 2012). A section of literature review is included in order to expand individual perspectives into essential leadership and organisational behavioural issues identified in the company. In addition, the paper critically discusses the application of these three main theories to the case of the company.

In an attempt to set the context of the case study, it is important to clarify that Gore is the UK branch of a US multi-national company that specialises in the manufacturing of the Gore-Tex textile. This is the product for which the company is widely known around the world (Rehman and Afsar, 2012). Moreover, Gore indicates a commitment to developing various products for next-generation electronics, for medical implants and for innovative fabrics (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). The unique business strategy adopted by the company illustrates its dedication to innovation which is obvious in all organisational processes.

Management and leadership

In the leadership development world, substantial confusion exists regarding the relationship between management and leadership. Many individuals tend to use these concepts in an interchangeable manner, while others consider them as separate categories in the business field (Lian and Tui, 2012). Researchers have emphasised the necessity that management and leadership should be balanced in contemporary organisations (Sharma and Jain, 2013). Although the two concepts do not imply the same thing, they are closely linked. While managers are more likely to focus on systems and structures as well as administer specific rules and procedures, leaders are focused on innovation and change within the organisational context. Leaders also consider the importance of people and the development of their skills in a proper direction (Northouse, 2007). In the modern business environment, employees do not simply expect that their managers should assign them specific tasks but they also seek a purpose pertaining to those tasks. Managers try to organise employees in order to expand organisational efficiency along with the idea to develop talent and inspire achievement (Sharma and Jain, 2013).

The emergence of the ‘knowledge worker’ is a significant tendency in most organisations. Such change requires that employees should not be managed. It becomes apparent that the main objective of combining management and leadership in companies is to lead individuals, with the utmost goal to expand the strengths and knowledge of each employee (Rowe, 2007). Management and leadership are fundamental for the delivery of high quality products and services. A common rule has been identified in terms of expecting that good managers should possess adequate leadership skills, while good leaders are recognised as those professionals who need an array of management skills to increase their effectiveness (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012).

Leadership is mostly based on the concept of creating a strong sense of mission and vision, while management refers to the idea of getting things done. One of the conditions for good management practices is that both managers and team members should be selected on the basis of merit (Sharma and Jain, 2013). The balanced involvement of individuals is an important element of management and leadership concepts that are applied in modern organisations. It has been argued that management is mostly about making decisions (Rowe, 2007). Planning is an essential tool for both management and leadership, as professionals in these fields are expected to anticipate unplanned events in a relevant manner by considering the needs and interests of all stakeholders in business (Moynihan and Pandey, 2007).


Demonstrating adequate knowledge of how to motivate employees in the global business world is a fundamental managerial and leadership skill. Motivation is referred to as a set of factors that cause individuals to select specific behavioural patterns from other alternatives (Burton, 2012). In organisations, employee performance is affected by motivation and the precise work environment. It can be suggested that motivation is a significant determinant of performance. There are different historical views of motivation as presented in the management literature (Moynihan and Pandey, 2007). The premise of scientific management is that work normally emerges with inherently unpleasant characteristics for the majority of employees. As a result, their income is more important than the specificity and nature of their job. Furthermore, the human relations movement stressed the impact of social processes that occur in organisations (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). For instance, this management philosophy illustrates the principle that the individual need for contribution, importance and usefulness is more relevant than income in motivating employees (Mizuno et al., 2006).

In line with the ideology of the human resource approach, individuals are determined to contribute to team effectiveness. Yet, organisations are required to establish a solid work environment that properly utilises all available human resources (Mizuno et al., 2006). The human resource approach is the most relevant approaches used by contemporary organisations regarding motivation. However, there are certain integrative approaches that provide a better conceptualised view of employee motivation, such as need-based, process-based and reinforcement-based models (Burton, 2012).

Need-based approaches to motivation mostly focus on the aspects that motivate employees to select specific behaviours among others. Initially, a certain need or deprivation is identified in the organisational context, followed by drives to fulfil that particular need, actions and satisfaction (Morris, 2009). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the most widely used need-based approach, according to which people’s motivation is driven by their willingness to satisfy five distinct levels of needs. These are physiological needs, sense of security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualisation as the highest need in the hierarchy to be satisfied (Mizuno et al., 2006). Individuals usually progress in terms of determining specific objectives and thus needs to meet in the process of such hierarchical organisation.

Process-based approaches to motivation focus on how exactly motivation occurs in organisations. It is important to determine the way in which employees evaluate their own satisfaction once they have achieved their goals (Moynihan and Pandey, 2007). A common process-based approach to motivation is expectancy theory which was introduced by Victor Vroom. Expectancy theory indicates that motivation along with effort leads to performance which is directly linked to outcomes (University of Cambridge, n. d.). As a result, high performance may lead to high satisfaction of employees. Another process-based approach to motivation is identified as equity theory which was developed by J. Stacy Adams (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). The main assumption of equity theory is that upon the selection of particular actions to satisfy employee needs, individuals tend to evaluate the equity of the expected outcome. The equity element is important to maintain principles of accountability and transparency in the workplace. Equity emerges as the firm belief that employees are treated in a fair and transparent manner which is relative to the treatment of other individuals in the workplace (Burton, 2012).

Reinforcement-based approaches to motivation emphasise the impact of rewards on causing certain changes in individuals’ behaviour. For instance, such approaches are based around understanding that behaviour which arises from rewarding factors or consequences is more likely to be repeated in the future (Mizuno et al., 2006). Reinforcement contingencies reflect the emergence of possible outcomes that individuals may experience due to their specific choice of behaviour. Employees tend to select behaviour that can bring them immediate satisfaction and motivation to work in order to meet their personal and professional goals. Moreover, there are different approaches that have been implemented to provide reinforcement which is closely associated with motivation (Morris, 2009). A fixed-interval schedule has been found useful to reinforce employees at fixed intervals of time, irrespective of behaviour. A variable-interval schedule provides reinforcement at various times (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). Regardless of the specific way of providing reinforcement, it may be indicated that this technique is considered a valuable method to increase employee motivation.

Groups and teams, group ladership

Research shows that effective leaders are expected to manage their responsibilities of being leaders and members of a team (Wu et al., 2010). It is important to ensure throughout the process that goals are realistic and measurable. It has been indicated that when groups and teams properly integrate their actions, the final result is improved performance. They have distinct roles in organisations, as the fulfilment of each role corresponds to collective goals and success (Val and Kemp, 2012). Team processes emerge as an adequate aspect of team performance. The formation of teams is necessary to facilitate the work of the entire organisation. Groups and teams are expected to perform in dynamic business environments. Therefore, group leadership appears an essential characteristic of effective team performance. Group leadership emphasises the necessity for leaders to define a proper team direction (Wu et al., 2010). The organisation of groups and teams should be done with the objective to optimise progress at all organisational levels. Researchers have stressed the substantial amount of interdependence which exists among team members. Constant collaboration is required in the process of achieving specific team goals (Li et al., 2012). For instance, groups and teams devote their efforts and time to exchange important information and resources in companies.

The adaptation of team interaction is usually flexible considering the specific conditions that are present in organisations. Highly efficient groups and teams are identified as individuals whose aim is to demonstrate dynamic collective performance (Boos et al., 2014). Promoting individual and collective flexibility is a main driver of team effectiveness. As a result, group leadership is noted for its impact on team effectiveness. This type of leadership provides a realistic framework to team members of how they can complete their collective tasks in an efficient manner (Wu et al., 2010). Leaders usually emphasise the necessity of collaboration and active communication among team members. Leader planning and coordination activities represent part of the overall concept of group leadership.

Group leadership suggests a solid element of facilitating the actions of groups and teams. The group efforts mostly matter in this process in terms of shared responsibility and accountability. The laissez-faire style is a relevant approach to group leadership, as emphasised by some researchers. It is commonly described as a ‘hands-off’ method, in which the group is provided with the resources which are necessary for the completion of a particular project (Li et al., 2012). However, group members are free to complete the outlined tasks with virtually no direct involvement by the group leader. In this case, the group leader serves a major facilitating function in the sense of being available to answer appropriate questions and motivate team members (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012).

Another approach to group leadership is identified as the abdacratic style, in which the group leader has no authority over team members. Even though this model of group leadership enhances individual and group creativity in organisations, it has been considered insufficient to perform major corporate tasks (Morris, 2009). The autocratic approach to group leadership places importance on a central process for making decisions in companies. The main leadership responsibility in this approach is usually given to a group of managers (Wu et al., 2010). They are held accountable for the decisions they make. Employees are free to discuss any suggestions or recommendations for improvement with their managers as part of this flexible approach to group leadership. Another style associated with team performance and group leadership is the democratic approach to leadership (Mizuno et al., 2006). This approach refers to extensive freedom and flexibility granted to employees who feel empowered to initiate certain activities in the workplace. The most proper utilisation of this method is in situations where different individuals indicate a high level of group shared responsibility for the actions of team members. The key decision-maker within the group tends to act as a facilitator of team goals and effectiveness.

Critical evaluation of leadership and organisational behavioural issues at Gore

The fact that Gore is extensively focused on innovation at all organisational levels is indicative of the presence of strong leadership skills in the company, which along with good management practices have contributed to its success over the years (Gore Official Website, 2014). Considering that leaders replace managers to deliver high levels of innovation shows a strong commitment to an innovative corporate culture which aims at expanding the potential of employees and increasing the organisation’s capacities to differentiate the products and services it provides. This is important in achieving a substantial competitive advantage (Mizuno et al., 2006). The model of blending management and leadership can help individuals clarify specific categories or practices that help businesses prosper with time. At Gore, all employees communicate in a free and open manner which is an essential requirement to maintain a flexible, innovative corporate climate. In turn, employees are empowered to expand their knowledge and responsibility (Boos et al., 2014). They clearly know that their opinion and practical contribution to the company is highly valued, and as a result, they devote their time and resources to demonstrate their capabilities in practice.

Gore’s managers and leaders work together to improve organisational efficiency and productivity which would not have been possible without adopting an integrated and holistic approach to management and leadership (Gore Official Website, 2014). The company provides adequate examples of the role played by the ‘knowledge worker’ in the organisation’s procedures, plans and activities. Such type of employees is known for being able to boost productivity in organisations. Engaging the right people at Gore is crucial for its optimal performance throughout the years (Cicero et al., 2010). The ability to make commitments and keep them is a strong differentiating factor that has helped the company maintains a solid market presence.

In addition, it has been indicated that the levels of employee motivation at Gore are high considering their constant engagement in different organisational activities, with the purpose to contribute to organisational excellence and success (Li et al., 2012). The specificity of work at Gore as well as the present relationships between the company and employees shows that employee motivation cannot be identified with the principles of scientific management (Cicero et al., 2010). The impact of human relations movement is quite strong at this organisation because all employees are motivated not by monetary rewards but by the necessity to be recognised for their contribution.

Based on the performance of employees at Gore, it can be concluded that process-based approaches to motivation are mostly applicable. Motivation at this company is perceived as process oriented in the sense that employees are extensively focused on how they can participate in various processes to expand their knowledge and competencies (Gore Official Website, 2014). Gore’s employees act upon certain expectations in terms of motivation. This means that they clearly know that their actions will produce important results for the company, and thus their motivation is outcome based (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). In addition, the company’s employees try their best to ensure that they remain flexible and open to new suggestions for improvement within the organisation.

It can be suggested that Gore has succeeded in building trust through the consistent engagement of teams. Therefore, the model of teams and group leadership corresponds to the specific business environment in this organisation (Li et al., 20120. The core activities of the team are important for achieving initially set goals for organisational performance. Gore has adopted a promising philosophical paradigm because it has persistently relied on prospects of developing the people (Wu et al., 2010). The lack of strict rules in the company implies that managers and leaders are oriented to ensuring a flexible culture in which employees have an opportunity to develop and share their voice in the company’s policies and procedures (Gore Official Website, 2014). It has been recognised that the company can function better without written rules. It can be more effective when all team members are enabled to participate actively in changing certain practices within the organisation.

Gore’s philosophy of sharing values has been properly developed to reflect the company’s focus on introducing successful initiatives. Trust is one of these shared values making employees function as one whole (Morris, 2009). Innovation has become the norm, and the exploitation of new information technology has led to a better understanding of the dynamic relationship among all stakeholders. Teams set specific targets themselves, and this serves as a basis for their motivation to perform better in the long term (Mizuno et al., 2006). The sense of engagement of all team members in the projects introduced by leaders is evident throughout the organisation which has maintained a competitive position in the industry.

Gore has been devoted to maintaining such culture of shared values. An important norm adopted by the organisation refers to the structure of a culture that energises associates. The expected outcome is the formation of effective teams, implying that the concept of group leadership is mostly relevant to the specific circumstances in which the organisation functions (Cicero et al., 2010). Sustained business success has become achievable because the company has placed importance on developing and enhancing its culture in a flexible way. The implementation of high performance practices shows that the company is results oriented in the sense that leaders introduce a framework of change and innovation with the presumption to achieve adequate results (Gilbreath and Karimi, 2012). As mentioned, traditional management practices are not valued at Gore because of its innovative direction presented by leaders. The pursuit of group objectives indicates high levels of motivation in the company which employees accept as an opportunity to prove they are capable to fulfil their responsibilities.

The replacement of management directives and rules with forms of constant, open communication has become one of the determining factors for Gore’s success. Research indicates that organisational communication is interrelated to better organisational efficiency and productivity (Morris, 2009). Regular communication also facilitates associates to share their ideas and insights into the performance of the organisation. The result is the formation of a flexible corporate culture that motivates employees to grow and develop in their area of expertise (Gore Official Website, 2014). When providing employees with freedom, they tend to demonstrate an intrinsic belief that they should deserve the trust of their managers and leaders. The company is constantly seeking new improvements in order to defend its prestigious image as an innovator in the field. The valuable contribution that employees make to the company is an indicator of the successful strategies implemented by leaders (Mizuno et al., 2006). Continuous innovation and success are the two main drivers of the organisation’s performance.

Conclusion and recommendations

This paper focused on the exploration of major leadership and organisational behavioural issues in the context of Gore Company. The main conclusion drawn from the case study of this organisation is that it has a unique form of organisation when it comes to work responsibilities and employee relations (Gore Official Website, 2014). Gore has emphasised that constant communication and employee participation in work processes are fundamental for the success of the company. The paper also illustrated that leaders have been continuously introducing a culture of innovation which contributed to the substantial success of the organisation (Li et al., 2012). Therefore, another important conclusion that was derived from the critical evaluation of Gore’s case study is that the model of group leadership has proven efficient and reliable to improve employee productivity and motivation.

However, it is important to provide specific recommendations to improve the situation in the company in terms of enhancing the group leadership model. The company should analyse its strengths and weaknesses in order to explore all relevant parameters of leadership (Wu et al., 2010). Being natural and humane in practice is an important condition to improve the performance of all stakeholders within the organisation. Humanity serves as an inspiring element as well as allows individuals to base their decisions on organisational reality (Cicero et al., 2010). Understanding of corporate unwritten rules is also fundamental for the future growth of the organisation. Team discussion should be encouraged along with training opportunities that can expand individual performance. Consistency and integrity of leaders’ actions are expected in the process of improving the company’s rules and principles which are applied in practice (Li et al., 2012). Individuals should have a clear idea of any shortcomings pertaining to leadership and organisational behavioural issues in the company so that they can act accordingly to attain better performance indicators.


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