Ajax and Johan Cruijf
Business and Management
Submitted By NienkeAppels
ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR GROUP AND TEAM BEHAVIOR
Problem definiton 2
Case description: ajax 3
Theory: groups and teams in corporate life 4
Analysis: AJAX and group behavior 6
In this case, the issue that will be discussed is about Ajax and the problems between Johan Cruijff and the Supervisory Board. Which functions are engaged within the decision making for Ajax and what exactly happened recently between the directors? Furthermore, there will be a focus on the difference between groups and teams.
Founded on March 18, 1900 AFC Ajax is one of the largest and most storied clubs in European football. For example, they won 30 times the National Championship, 18 times the Dutch cup, 7 times the Johan Cruijff shield, 4 times the Champions league and many more. While led by the world famous Johan Cruijff, AFC Ajax had one of the best seasons ever in 1972 by a professional football team winning the National Championship, the Dutch Cup, the European Champions Cup and the World Cup. Everybody will agree on the fact that being so successful is not only about having a good soccer team.
Recently, the Ajax supporters, and of course the rest of the soccer world, were surprised by Johan Cruijff. The supervisory board was in conflict with Johan Cruijff, and this situation was even brought to court since Ajax is not only a football club. Eventually, this led to the resign of the entire board of directors. How is it possible, that such a successful organization as Ajax experiences structural problems?
What structural problems within Ajax resulted in the Supervisory Board resignation?
Case description: ajax
In this case, there will be a focus on answering the research question. To answer this question, this case description will discuss Ajax’s types of corporation, a description of the recent problems and an explanation for the relevance of the Ajax problem for this case.
Ajax consists of two different types of corporations: a Public Limited Liability Company and an Association. The organization of the Public Limited Liability Company contains the Management (Henri van der Aat and Jeroen Slop) and a Supervisory Board. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board is Steven ten Have. M. Olfers, P. Römer, E. Davids and Johan Cruijff are the directors of the Supervisory Board. Their responsibility is to keep Ajax “running” as a business.
The Association, on the other hand, has a Board of Directors (H. Henrichs, T. Bruins Slot, J. Buskermolen, D. Schoenaker and C. Verhoeven). Then there is the Members group. They are responsible for the things that are not part of Ajax as a business. For example satisfy the supporters as much as possible, and to hold a good reputation for Ajax.
Recently, there has been a lot of trouble between the leaders of Ajax. According to the media, it all started when the Supervisory Board excluded Johan Cruijff from decision-making when appointing two new CEO’s, namely Sturkenboom and Van Gaal. Cruijff criticized the people in the Supervisory Board and said they were ‘business people with business goals’. This means that the leaders of Ajax were too focused on making money, instead of thinking about what was good for the company/association. When this happened, the members of Ajax, namely the shareholders, chose Cruijff’s side; as a reaction to the decision of the members to support Cruijff, the entire Supervisory Board resigned.
The Ajax issue is relevant for this case, because due to managerial and leadership problems, it can be explained what the differences between groups and teams are. For example, the Supervisory Board was thinking as a group when they excluded Cruijff from decision-making. A group is formed informally; people come together to share their same thoughts and perspectives. With the Board’s actions, the team thinking was forgotten. A team is a formal group made to reach a certain goal (B.A. de Jong, 2012).
It is not only the responsibility of Ajax’ players team to win. The leaders of Ajax should also learn to work together to succeed. Both team and group thoughts are important to lead Ajax in a good way, because it is not only a business, but also an association with loyal supporters.
Theory: groups and teams in corporate life
In this study theories and frameworks are applied to analyze our problem. Theories about the differences between groups and teams are used to get a better understanding of how the board of directors behaved. Furthermore, to be able to know what power the board of directors and the other components of a corporation have, secondary data was researched about the organizational structure of Ajax. Lastly, to get a better understanding of how the composition of groups can be beneficial within an organization, the effectiveness of groups was studied.
Work groups and teams. A group can be defined as two or more individuals interacting and independent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives (Robbins, 2010, p230). The performance of a group is mainly the sum of each individual’s efforts summed up, whereas a team works together to generate output (Robbins, 2010, p.262). The board achieved a goal, namely electing a new member, but they did not work as a team since they made their choice without the approval of Johan Cruijff who is a member of the supervisory board.
Organizational structure AFC Ajax is a corporation in US understandings and a public liability company in UK understandings. In the Netherlands AJAX is called a Naamloze Vennootschap. This means that the owners are not liable for debts of the business (Moll, 2006). Its securities are traded on a stock exchange; they can be bought and sold by anyone who is interested. Public companies are required by law to publish their financial position so that investors can determine the value of their shares
A corporation has four characteristics, and if an organization possesses two out of these four characteristics the regulations treat an organization as a partnership for income taxes. These four characteristics are (a)continuity of life, (b)centralized management, (c)limited liability and (d)free transferability of interests. The Limited Liability Company is the first entity with the advantages of a partnership for tax purposes and provides all members with the same limited liability that corporate shareholders enjoy (Warren, 2011)
Group effectiveness How effective are work groups in an organization? Effectiveness has three components: (a)group performance, (b)satisfaction of group-member needs, and (c)the ability of the group to exist over time (Gladstein, 2012) To measure the output of a group, group effectiveness, group process, group task, group structure, group composition and organizational structure and resources is used as variables for measurement. Research by Gladstein has shown that Organizational experience is related to (a)self-reported effectiveness and (b)sales revenue, (c)skill level and (d)degree of heterogeneity were associated to structuring of activities. Leadership and structuring of activities were influenced by rewards, and training is related to self-reported activities.
Aspects of group composition that are believed to affect process and effectiveness are: (a)skills needed to perform the task, (b)group heterogeneity that assures positive interaction, and (c)experience with the job or organization that assures a group's knowledge of standard operating procedures (Gladstein, 2012). Contextual variables that are predicted to affect structure, process, and effectiveness include supervisory behavior, rewards for group performance, training availability, and market growth.
Analysis: AJAX and group behavior
In this study analysis of the current situation within the organization of AFC Ajax was completed. The following theories and frameworks were applied to get a better understanding of the situation as well as an analysis of the situation and the problems that show up.
In this chapter, an analysis of the current situation and problems within the cooperation of the ones who take part in the organization is given, as well as a linkage between this analysis and the theories given before.
Cruijff and the supervisory board.
Johan Cruijff has been the one member of the Supervisory Board that had a different way of thinking than his colleagues in the Supervisory Board. He felt that Ajax, as a soccer club, was in hands of the wrong people with the wrong ideals who followed their business instincts. The ‘soccer sense’ had to be brought back to life and so, in ‘De Telegraaf’, he called out for a ‘Velvet Revolution’. With this, he meant that he wanted to bring back the ‘sportive’ success to the club.
To create this revolution, he used a very weak spot in the Ajax-organization, namely the members group. This group could, even though the Board of Directors decided about the policy, control the union of Ajax having an interest of 73% of the listed Public Limited Liability Company. Having this group of members supporting Cruijff resulted in the resignation of the entire Board of Directors.
Cruijff’s new battle started taking place on July 25 2011 and is ongoing. First, Cruijff accepted a new job as a supervisor at AFC Ajax. However, he could not stop struggling with his colleagues: ten Have, Olfers, Römer and Davids. The main issue they fought about was the nomination of a new director. Cruijff kept promoting his own candidate, Tscheu La Ling, however this man was not appealing enough according to his colleagues.
When Cruijff found out that he was excluded from the nomination of two new directors, Sturkenboom and van Gaal, while he was away, the ‘bomb exploded’. Cruijff’s colleagues thought they could make Cruijff leave permanently, however, the opposite happened. Cruijff fought back by turning up with an entire team of legal advisors and telling the media about what had taken place (Het Financieele Dagblad, 10 February 2012).
The case is still being dealt with and it is still possible that Sturkenboom and van Gaal will be nominated as Ajax’ new CEOs after all. The Board tried to achieve a goal by electing two new members, excluding Cruijff in the decision making. This means that the Supervisory Board as a whole has not cooperated in a way that teams are supposed to. Cruijff is giving the impression of not wanting to go anywhere and stay in the position he is in now, which, if wanting to work out well, should probably make something within the organization and/or cooperation within the Board change.
As mentioned before, Ajax consists of two different types of corporations: a Public Limited Liability Company and an Association. The organization of the Public Limited Liability Company contains the Management and a Supervisory Board. The Association, on the other hand, has a Board of Directors. There also is the Members group. Johan Cruijff has been the one member of the Supervisory Board that had a different way of thinking. He found that Ajax, as a soccer club, was in hands of the wrong people with the wrong ideals who followed their business instincts.
What went wrong in this case? The board of Ajax behaved like a group instead of a team, because a group can be defined as two or more individuals interacting and independent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives (Robbins 2010 p230). The performance of a group is mainly the sum of each individual’s efforts, whereas a team works together to generate output (Robbins 2010 p.262). The board achieved a goal, namely electing a new member, but they did not work together since they made their choice without the approval of Johan Cruijff who is a member of the supervisory board.
If Ajax wants to prevent itself for more mistakes and tensions, the board should work as a team. This means informing everyone with the same information, and not like what happened, excluding one of it group members. Besides sharing information, it is also very important that the members of a team have the same way of thinking.
Gladstein, D. (2012).
Groups in context: A model of task group effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly[online], 29, 05-03-2012-499-517. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2392936 .
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Moll, D. K. (2006). Minority oppression & the limited liability company:
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Ter Neuzen, G. (9 February 2012) Zege Cruijff stut goed ondernemingsbestuur, Het Financieele Dagblad, Amsterdam.
Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., & Campbell, T. T. (2010). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). Harlow: Pearson.
Segenhout, J. (10 February 2012) Coup van Cruijff lost niet alles op, Het Financieele Dagblad, Amsterdam.
Warren, C. S., Reeve, J. M., & Duchac, J. (Eds.). (2011). Financial accounting (12Oblinger, S. ed.). Mason: South Western Cengage Learning.
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