The ongoing case study presented by Microsoft and the scrutiny of the Justice Department and Congress serves as an excellent departure point to establish the nature and premises of organizational theory and design since it allows for examination from both the viewpoint of the public and the economic aspects of the situation in which Microsoft finds itself. While issues of organizational structure and corporate policies as related to costs, revenue, profit and market structure are inherent in the study of any company or organization, it is important to recognize the unique aspects of Microsoft.
Microsoft, undeniably, has a larger presence throughout the computer software industry and the users of its many products since its operating system defines, to a great degree, how work is done in the modern business world. With a company that has virtually always been in a "near-monopoly" situation such as Microsoft, it comes as no surprise that there are many who believe the company should be split into two (or more) independent organizations. However, that has little to do with the organizational design reality that actually is the Microsoft Corporation.
Most companies grew out of their perpetual search for profit and how to make that profit grow bigger each year and Bill Gates and Microsoft are certainly no exception to that rule. In fact, they are the personification of the rule! Such a determined search for ever-increasing profits has resulted in large, vertically integrated organizations. But it is essential to keep in mind the fact that economic growth does not end in profit accumulation. In the case of the computer and software industry, growth came in the form of reliance on external economies, that is, keeping apace with the technological progress of other companies in the same industry rather than each company going its own way. Microcomputer companies that remain active to this day are the ones that view computers as open ended machines, ready to be upgraded and improved from time to time, at pace with the current technology advances. Again, Microsoft presents the definitive example of such a company.
Organizational Design for the 21st Century
Any business or business process has had to face a certain level of re-engineering or reconstruction in order to fit into the managerial revolution of the 1990s and the move into the 21st century. Even the world¡¯s most major companies, such as Microsoft, have had to deal with such issues. It is important, however, to understand that change, just by virtue of being change, cannot be considered as an innovative approach to organizational design or planning for the future. In fact, true innovation and planning for the future requires the most fundamental concepts of business process to first undergo a critical re-evaluation before actual changes are implemented. Microsoft then faces the additional challenges associated with the courts¡¯ decisions regarding its status as a monopoly...