GOOGLE: a reflection of culture, leader, and management – International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility

This part shows how Google became famous in the world and its culture and subcultures made it a special case for others to take into consideration. Google is one of the few technology companies which continue to have one of the fastest growth rates in the world. It began by creating a search engine that combined PageRank system, developed by Larry Page (ranking the importance of websites based on external links), and Web search engine, created by Sergey Brin (accessing a website and recording its content), two co-founders of the company (Jarvis 2011; Downes 2007). Google’s achievements absolutely do not come from any luck. Google has made extra efforts in creating an index of a number of websites, which have been up to 25 billion websites. This also includes 17 million images and one billion messages to Usenet group (Downes 2007). Besides searching for websites, Google users are able to search for PDF files, PostScript, documents, as well as Microsoft, Lotus, PowerPoint and Shockwave files. Google processes nearly 50% of search queries all over the world. Moreover, it is the number one search option for web users and is one of the top five websites on the Internet, which have more than 380 million users and 28 billion visits every month, and more than 50% of access from countries outside the US (Desjardins 2017). Google’s technology is rather special: it can analyze millions of different variables of users and businesses who place advertisements. It then connects them with millions of potential advertisements and gives messages of advertisement, which is closest to objects in less than one second. Thus, Google has the higher rate of users clicking advertisements than its opponent Yahoo, from 50 to 100%, and it dominates over 70% market share of paid advertisements (Rosenberg 2016). Google’s self-stated mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful (Alves n.d.).” Nowadays, it is believed that people in the world like “Google” with words “the useful-lively information storage”.

Company culture

Researching Google’s culture, we would know Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations at Google, the equivalence of Human Resources (HR) Director at other companies. “People operation” is a combination of science and human resources where Google looks at everything from a perspective of data (McAfee and Brynjolfsson 2012; Cukier and Mayer-Schoenberger 2013). As a result, Google is always in the top companies throughout the last time.

Operating HR is obviously a field of science at Google. They are constantly experimenting and innovating to find the best way to satisfy employees and to help them work effectively. They do everything based on collecting and processing of collected data, using data to evaluate staff and to help them improve their work efficiency (Davenport et al. 2010). If an organization wants to hire talented people who cannot be recruited in cash, they must focus on building a great working culture. This includes working environment, meaningful work, and employees’ freedom (Meek 2015).

Google is really touched by this philosophy, not just planning it out loud. They constantly experiment it, then improve it because it is paramount to the success of the company. For whichever company, all things start with people. A great company needs great people. One way to attract and retain such people is to make their work interesting. Mark Twain said: “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions (Emmerich 2009).”

Before heading to know about the culture, as well as subcultures, it is necessary to understand explicitly what cultures and subcultures are. At page 27 in (Schein 2009), “culture is a pattern of shared tacit assumptions learned or developed by a group as it solves its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that have worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” How about subcultures? The author, Schein claimed that the bigger an organization is, the more subcultures it contains because it is explained that “when organizations grow and mature, they not only develop their own overall cultures, but they also differentiate themselves in many subcultures based on occupations, product lines, functions, geographies, and echelons in the hierarchy” (Schein 2009). According to (Петрушенко et al. 2006; Eliot 2010; Zimmermann 2015; Martin 2004; Yergler 2013), needless to say, that Google exists with a special culture and a wide variety of subculture because of its non-stop development. Thanks to the video clips (see at “Culture inside Google”;Google Culture”; “Google’s organizational culture”), as well as a myriad of websites on the Internet mentioning the culture of Google, it facilitates us to understand more about Google’s culture and learn more lessons about the different ways to manage this company by the establishers.

Predominant culture at Google

The dominant culture in the organization depends on the environment in which the company operates the organization’s objectives, the belief system of the employees, and the company’s management style. Therefore, there are many organizational cultures (Schein 2017). The Exhibit 3.1 at page 39 in (Schein 2009) provides what culture is about. For example, employee follows a standard procedure with a strict adherence to hierarchy and well-defined individual roles and responsibilities. Those in competitive environments, such as sales may forget strict hierarchies and follow a competitive culture where the focus is on maintaining strong relationships with external parties. In this instance, the strategy is to attain competitive advantages over the competition. The collaborative culture is yet another organizational way of life. This culture presents a decentralized workforce with integrated units working together to find solutions to problems or failure.

Why do many large companies buy its innovation? Because its dominant culture of 99% defect-free operational excellence squashes any attempts at innovation, just like a Sumo wrestler sitting on a small gymnast (Grossman-Kahn and Rosensweig 2012). They cannot accept failures. In fact, failure is a necessary part of innovation and Google took this change by Oxygen Project to measure the abilities of their multicultural managers. This means that Google itself possesses multiple different cultures (see Google’s clips). Like Zappos, Google had established a common, organizational culture for the whole offices that are distinctive from the others. The predominant culture aimed at Google is an open culture, where everybody and customer can freely contribute their ideas and opinions to create more comfortable and friendly working environment (Hsieh 2010a).

The fig. 2.1 in chapter two of (Schein 2009) and page 17 in part one of (Schein 2017) provide us three levels of culture which are Artifacts, Espoused values and Underlying assumptions helping us to understand the culture at Google. At page 84, in (Schein 2009), the “artifacts” are identified such as dress codes, level of formality in authority relationships, working hours, meeting (how often, how run, timing), how are decisions made, communication, social events, jargon, uniforms, identity symbols, rites and rituals, disagreements and conflicts, balance between work and family. It seems that Google is quite open in these artifacts by showing a respect for uniform and national culture of each staff individually and giving them the right to wear traditional clothes.

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Working at Google, employees enjoy free food served throughout the day, a volleyball court, a swimming pool, a car wash, an oil change, a haircut, free health care, and many other benefits. The biggest benefit for the staff is to be picked up on the day of work. As assessed by many traffic experts, the system set up by Google is considered to be a great transport network. Tad Widby, a project manager and a traffic system researcher throughout the United States, said: “I have not seen any larger projects in the Bay Area as well as in urban areas across the country” (Helft 2007). Of course, it is impossible for Google to “cover up the sky”, so Yahoo also started implementing the bus project for employees in 2005. On peak days, Yahoo’s bus also took off. Pick up about 350 employees in San Francisco, as well as Berkeley, Oakland, etc. These buses run on biofuels and have Wi-Fi coverage. Yet, Danielle Bricker, the Yahoo bus coordinator of Yahoo, has also admitted that the program is “indirectly” inspired by Google’s initiative (Helft 2007). Along with that, eBay recently also piloted shuttle bus transfers at five points in San Francisco. Some other corporations are also emerging ideas for treatment of staff is equally unique. Facebook is an example, instead of facilitating employees far from the workplace; it helps people in the immediate neighborhood by offering an additional $10,000 for an employee to live close to the pillar within 10 miles, nearby the Palo Alto Department (Hall 2015).

When it comes to Google, people often ask what the formula for success is. The answer here is the employees of Google. They create their own unique workplace culture rules to create an effective work environment for their employees. And here are the most valuable things to learn from Google’s corporate culture (Scott 2008) that we should know:

Tolerate with mistakes and help staff correct

At Google, paying attention to how employees work and helping them correct mistakes is critical. Instead of pointing out the damage and blaming a person who caused the mistake, the company would be interested in what the cause of the problem was and how to fix it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Also as its culture, we understand that if we want to make breakthroughs in the workplace, we need to have experimentation, failure and repeat the test. Therefore, mistakes and failures are not terrible there. We have the right to be wrong and have the opportunity to overcome failure in the support of our superiors and colleagues. Good ideas are always encouraged at Google. However, before it is accepted and put into use, there is a clear procedure to confirm whether it is a real new idea and practical or not?

Exponential thought

Google developed in the direction of a holding company – a company that does not directly produce products or provide services but simply invest in capital by buying back capital. In the company, the criteria for setting the ten exponential function in lieu of focusing only on the change in the general increase. This approach helps Google improve its technology and deliver great products to consumers continuously.

The talent

Of course, every company wants to hire talented people to work for them. However, being talented is an art in which there must be voluntary work and enthusiasm for the work of the devotees. At page 555 in (Saffold 1988) illustrated that distinctive cultures dramatically influencing performance do exist. Likewise, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Dell are 40% more productive than the average company which attracts top-tier employees and high performers (Vozza 2017). Recognizing this impact, Google created a distinctive corporate culture when the company attracted people from prestigious colleges around the world (West 2016; Lazear and Gibbs 2014).

Build a stimulating work environment

When it comes to the elements that create creativity and innovation, we can easily recognize that the working environment is one of the most important things. Google has succeeded in building an image of a creative working. Google offices are individually designed, not duplicated in any type of office. In fact, working environment at Google is so comfortable so that employees will not think of it as a working room, with a full area of ​​work, relaxation, exercise, reading, watching movies. Is the orientation of Google’s corporate culture to stimulate creativity and to show interest in the lives of employees so that volunteers contribute freely (Battelle 2011)?

Subculture is also a culture, but for a smaller group or community in a big organization (Crosset and Beal 1997). Google, known as the global company with many more offices, so there are many subcultures created among groups of people who work together, from subcultures among work groups to subcultures among ethnic groups and nations, multi-national groups, as well as multiple occupations, functions, geographies, echelons in the hierarchy and product lines. For example, six years ago, when it bought 100 Huffys for employees to use around the sprawling campus, has since exploded into its own subculture. Google now has a seven-person staff of bicycle mechanics that maintains a fleet of about 1300 brightly-colored Google bikes. The company also encourages employees to cycle to work by providing locker rooms, showers and places to securely park bikes during working hours. And, for those who want to combine meetings with bike-riding, Googlers can use one of several seven-person (Crowley 2013).

Leadership influences on the culture at Google

From the definition of leadership and its influence on culture; so what does leader directly influence the culture existed? According to Schein, “culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin and one cannot understand one without the other”, page three in (Schein 2009). If one of us has never read the article “Google and the Quest to create a better boss” in the New York Times, it is listed in a priority reading. It breaks the notion that managers have no change. The manager really makes a difference (Axinn 1988; Carver 2011). In fact, a leader has a massive impact on the culture of the company, and Google is not an exception. The leaders of Google concerned more about the demands and abilities of each individual, the study of the nature of human being, an appreciation their employees as their customers. At Google, the founders thought they could create a company that people would want to work at when creating a home-like environment. It is real that they focus on the workplace brings the comfort to staff creatively and freely (Lebowitz 2013).

In my opinion, a successful business cannot be attributed solely from a single star; that needs the brightness of all employees. It depends very much on the capacity and ability to attract talented people. It is the way in which the leader manages these talents, is the cornerstone of corporate culture. One thing that no one can deny is that a good leader must be a creator of a corporate culture so that the employees can maximize capabilities themselves (Driscoll and McKee 2007; Kotter 2008).

To brief, through the view of Google’s culture, BoDs tended and designed to encourage loyalty and creativity, based on an unusual organizational culture because culture is not only able to create an environment, but it also adapts to diverse and changes circumstances (Bulygo 2013).

Company growth and its impact

“Rearrange information around the world, make them accessible everywhere and be useful.” This was one of the main purposes set by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they first launched Google on September 4th, 1998, as a private company (Schmidt and Rosenberg 2014). Since then, Google has expanded its reach, stepped into the mobile operating system, provided mapping services and cloud computing applications, launched its own hardware, and prepared it to enter the wearable device market. However, no matter how varied and rich these products are, they are all about the one thing, the root of Google: online searching.

1998–2001: Focus on search

In its early years, was simply one with extreme iconic images: a colorful Google logo, a long text box in the middle of the screen, a button to execute. One button for searching and the other button are “I’m feeling lucky” to lead users to a random Google site. By May 2000, Google added ten additional languages to, including French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish, etc. This is one of the milestones in Google’s journey into the world. is available in over 150 languages (Scott 2008; Lee 2017).

2001–2007: Interface card

A very important event with Google around this time was the sale of shares to the public (IPO). In October 2003, Microsoft heard news of the IPO, so it quickly approached Google to discuss a buyout or business deal. Nevertheless, that intention was not materialized. In 2004, it was also the time when Google held a market share of 84.7% globally through collaboration with major Internet companies, such as Yahoo, AOL, and CNN. By February 2004, Yahoo stopped working with Google and separately stood out for engine search. This has led Google to lose some market share, but it has shown the importance and distinctness of Google. Nowadays, the term “Google” has been used as a verb just by visiting and doing an online search (Smith 2010). Not stopping at the homepage search, Google’s interface tag began to be brought to Gmail and Calendar with the links at the top of the page. Google homepage itself continues to use this style.

In 2006, Google also made an important acquisition to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion (Burgess and Green 2013). However, the company decided to keep YouTube as a separate brand and not to include it in Google Video search. Thanks to the backing of an Internet industry giant, YouTube has grown to become the world’s largest online video sharing service (Cha et al. 2007).

2007–2012: Navigation bar, Google thực đơn, Google now

Google began to deploy a new navigation bar located at the edge of the screen. It includes links to a place where to look for photos, videos, news, maps, as well as buttons to switch to Gmail, Calendar, and other services developed by the company. In the upper left corner, Google added a box displaying Google + notifications and user accounts’ image. Google Now not only appeared on Android and it’s also brought to Chrome on a computer as well as iOS. All have the same operating principle, and the interface card still appears as Android it is.

2013–2014: Simplified interface

Google has moved all of the icons that lead to its other applications and services to an App Drawer button in the upper right hand, at the corner of the screen. In addition, also supports better voice search through the Chrome browser. Google has experimented with other markets, such as radio and print publications, and in selling advertisements from its advertisers within offline newspapers and magazines. As of November 2014, Google operates over 70 offices over 40 countries (Jarvis 2011; Vise 2007).

2014–2017: Chrome development and facing challenges

In 2015, Google would turn HTTPS into the default. The better website is, the more users will trust search engine. In 2016, Google announced Android version 7, introduced a new VR platform called Daydream, and its new virtual assistant, Google Assistant.

Most of Google’s revenue comes from advertising (Rosenberg 2016). However, this “golden” business is entering a difficult period with many warning signs of its future. Google Search is the dominant strength of Google and bringing great revenue for the company. Nonetheless, when Amazon surpassed Google to become the world’s leading product in the search engine in last December, this advantage began to wobble. This is considered a fatal blow to Google when iOS devices tài khoản for 75% of their mobile advertising revenue (Rosenberg 2016).

By 2016, the number of people installing software to block ads on phones has increased 102% from 2015. Figure 1 illustrates that by the year’s end, about 16% of smart phone users around the world blocked their ads whilst surfing the web. These were also two groups having the most time on the Internet, high-earners and young people; however, these people have disliked ads (see Fig. 1).

Figure 2 shows the young people have the highest ad blocking rates. It is drawing a gloomy picture for the sustainable development of the online advertising industry in general and Google in particular. Therefore, in early 2017, Google has strategies to build an ad blocking tool, built into the Chrome browser. This tool allows users to access ads that have passed the “Coalition for Better Ads” filter so as to limit the sense of discomfort (see Fig. 2).

For the company impact, the history shows that speedy development of Google creates both economic and social impacts to followers in a new way of people connection (Savitz 2013). In this modern world, it seems that people cannot spend a day without searching any information in Google (Chen et al. 2014; Fast and Campbell 2004), a tool serves human information seeking needs. Even though when addressing this paper, it is also in need the information from Google search and uses it as a supporting tool. Nobody can deny the convenience of Google as a fast and easy way to search (Schalkwyk et al. 2010; Jones 2001; Langville and Meyer 2011).