Structural control in the Co-operative General Insurance Department
This report is about the structural control within the Co-operative Bank, specifically the Co-operative General Insurance and the reactions to this control in the organisation. The Cooperative General Insurance is a general insurance company based in Manchester. It is one of the main constituents of the Co-operative Banking Group, which is ultimately owned by the Co-operative Bank. (Co-operative Bank, 2014) The Co-operative Bank claims to have a fresh approach to banking, putting the needs of their colleagues at the heart of every decision they make. It goes on to say that in order to deliver a sustainable business, they go by long-established ‘Co-operative Values’, these being self responsibility, self help and equality. (Co-operative Bank, 2014) This report will investigate how the structural control is typically experienced and exercised in the General Insurance Department and whether the Co-operative goes by these values.
The investigation was carried out through a qualitative phone interview with an actuarial analyst in general insurance reserving. Ten questions were prepared in advance so they could be later analyzed and the results could be reported. (See appendix for sample interview questions) (Rubin & Rubin, 1995) This particular participant was specifically chosen as they were easily accessible to interview again if the initial interview answers given appeared vague. An interview was chosen as the method of investigation because the aim of the questions was to seek elicit information about attitudes and opinions about the Co-operatives’ organizational structure and control. (Hannan, 2007) However, the disadvantage of the use of the telephone interview is that the body language exhibited such as facial expressions could not be viewed. (Suttle, 2009) This would be particularly important when asking about the analysts’ own opinion. In addition to this, this investigation involved an actuarial analyst who had not been working at the company long. Perhaps interviewing an experienced manager would have given a better insight into the structural control of Co-operative General Insurance.
The Co-operative appears to use Burns and Stalkers Organic Organisational Structure. The company has a relatively flat structure with a short chain of command as actuarial analysts at the bottom of the hierarchy can easily communicate with the chief actuary at the top. Whilst actuarial analysts’ job title is quite specific, they rotate between three different disciplines every month; these are capital, pricing and reserving. In general, line managers have a narrow span of control, some even being directly responsible for only one employee. To keep employees informed, the Chief Actuary has a ‘Weekly Huddle’ where they discuss the performance of the company with their workforce. In addition to this, they have an internal website to keep employees updated.