Apple Jobs Apple's Post-Jobs Shift Research Paper

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The ruthless quest to drive the company forward would often be seen at the root of the Jobs leadership philosophy. But evidence is gathering today that shareholders and the observing public expect greater ethical acquiescence on the part of Apple. Perhaps now beyond the era of concentrated innovation, the company may begin to prioritize the achievement of greater ethical fortitude both internally and in the way it interacts with the market.

Controlling

Rumors were that Jobs had prepared for his demise and for the assumption of leadership responsibilities for his successor. Jobs was notorious as a Controller of company processes, taking a level of involvement in the company's regular affairs tat distinguished him as both an admirable hands-on leader and as an insufferable micro-manager. However, the article by Poletti observes, with two years now passed since the death of Jobs, few of his promised posthumous innovations have seen the light of day. With his death, the control he maintained for company leadership over the pipe of new product developments has been loosened. Though this has manifested negatively in the company's economic performance, it may be the product of improving internal conditions for employees. Jobs' style of highly control-oriented leadership is the very same disposition which saw him ousted from the company in the adolescence of its life cycle.

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As Dvorak (2013) reports, "when Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1983, I can assure you the company was in a shambles, mostly because of Jobs being in a rush to implement his ideas. Wozniac had been pushed aside and Sculley was being trained to take over. The company was doing $800 million and mostly unprofitable. And Jobs was something of a loose cannon." (p. 1)

TOPIC: Research Paper on Apple Jobs Apple's Post-Jobs Shift Assignment

In other words, the impression that Jobs excelled in his role by exercising a high level of hands-on control may overlook some of the less desirable aspects of his performance. Even in his first stint with Apple, evidence suggests, Jobs would run afoul of colleagues, competitors and employees because of his ruthless, callous and sometimes erratic managerial tendencies. Cook's oversight of the company demonstrates a sharp turn in orientation. Moreover, evidence suggests that this orientation is actually producing positive outcomes for Apple. Cook's style of Control has helped to bring a new luster to Apple's ethical performance. The company has, simultaneously, been rewarded with increasingly exciting financial performances as well. Even as discourse suggests that the company will struggle to survive without its visionary leader, Arthur reports that "Apple doesn't look like a company in serious trouble. It has risen in value by more than 75%, from $346.2bn (£215.2bn) on 4 October last year to $619.9bn at the time of writing, becoming the most valuable listed company in the world and bringing it close to an all-time inflation-adjusted record (beaten only by Microsoft in 1999). It has sold more iPhones in that period than ever before (and then bettered that with pre-orders for the iPhone 5, which was released last month). Its profits have kept growing, in apparent defiance of any law of economic gravity." (Arthur, p. 1)

In some respects, the Article by Arthur maintains, Cook has taken on some of the ethical dimensions of Jobs' leadership orientation. With respect to Controlling the company, Cook also favors secrecy in its research & development and the use of off-the-record press brunches to trickle out information about its emergent product offerings as well as happenings within the company structure. This denotes that, in spite of public criticism of its tight-lipped relationship with investors, Cook has preserved this aspect of the company's ethical approach. (Arthur, p. 1)

By contrast, Cook has been responsible for a number of immediate and aggressive changes in Apple's corporate citizenship which suggest that the CEO has quite a degree of control in shaping the company's ethical identity. A series of changes in the way the company conducts itself within the public sphere indicates that Cook may be a great deal more dedicated to establishing Apple as a progressive company in action rather than just in image.

For instance, Arthur reports, Cook would release $50 million in charity to Stanford Hospitals and an additional $50 million for assorted charitable causes. This would mark a sharp contrast from the philosophy of his predecessor on the subject of charity. Of Cook's contributions, Arthur says, "Jobs, it was commonly agreed, would never have done that; one book, Inside Apple, quotes him as saying that giving money away was 'a waste of time'." (Arthur, p. 1)

Another important ethical shift would be Cook's decision to take a more active interest in ensuring that labor rights for Apple's overseas production workers are protected. Historically, this has been one of Apple's weakest performance areas, with the company routinely and deservedly facing criticism for its employment of Chinese factory's guilty of various human rights violations to manufacture its iPhones and iPads. While Jobs displayed a general and staunch disinterest in the conditions facing these workers, Cook seems a great deal less defiant on the subject. As reported in the article by Arthur, "a statement about working conditions at the Foxconn plants in China where iPhones and iPads are made and assembled, in which Cook said: 'We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment" and instituted wide-ranging checks by the Fair Labor Organisation, after a growing chorus of criticism over worker suicides and reports of exploitation.' (Arthur, p. 1)

Cook has taken the managerial approach of imposing less control over day-to-day product development or marketing affairs and instead providing greater regulatory control over the company's myriad ethical shortcomings.

Section III. Analysis and recommendations

Ultimately, an analysis of Apple's ethical performance is complex if for no other reason than that the ethical expectations of corporate entities are themselves quite complex. Moreover, many ethical complaints against Apple have been overshadowed by the far more salient headlines about its continued product innovation. Today, with the latter quality being drawn down slightly, questions over the former quality have become more prominent. Not only that, but the simple observation that Jobs lacked a positive ethical center as a corporate CEO is itself more complex than it would appear on the surface. According to the analysis offered by Chan (2011) upon the CEO's death, the negative ethical reputation endured by Steve Jobs was largely based on his hostility toward corporate philanthropy but may not have properly accounted for Jobs' otherwise enormous contributions to improving our way of life.

To this end, Chan assesses that "those who have followed Jobs over the years will make no claims of sainthood; in fact, his leadership style was often reported as ruthless and borderline abusive. This 'artist' certainly is not an ethical archetype in the traditional sense. But one thing he has done is help modify the ethos for how we live life (whether we own an iProduct, an Android OS device, or 'refuse to participate') in this revolution of time and space. The way our world is structured is no longer the same, and for this grand contribution to ethics, Jobs may be considered a magnanimous albeit morally-complicated man." (Chan, p. 1)

That said, the ethical role played by his corporation is perhaps less debatable in this age of increased emphasis on corporate citizenship. As a company that has transitioned from industry underdog to dominant force, Apple can no longer posture as a progressive company while engaging in old-fashioned abuses of labor, environment and stockholders. As the Cook era seems to demonstrate, Apple's years as the chief innovator on the market may be numbered but its relative success as a major player in the industry is still likely. In order to ensure that future, the company must establish a clearer sense of its ethical responsibility to the world community. With Cook, this shift in focus appears to be well underway.

References:

Arthur, C. (2012). The post-jobs Apple has a different flavor under Tim Cook. The Guardian.

Chan, A.J. (2011). Steven Jobs (1955-2011), former Apple Chief Ethics Officer. Monday Morning Business Ethicist.

Dvorak, J.C. (2013). Is Apple Doomed Without Steve Jobs, as Larry Ellison Predicts? PC Magazine.

Fung, B. (2013). Larry Ellison says Apple can't Succeed Without Steve Jobs. He's Wrong. Washington Post.

Hawthorne, F. (2012). Apple's Appalling Ethics. Huffington Post.

MacDailyNews (MDN). (2011). The Late But Not Great Steve Jobs. Macdailynews.com.

Poletti, T. (2013). Tim Cook Still Competes With Steve Jobs's Ghost. Market Watch.

Sawyada, J. (2011). Apple Inc.'s Ethical Success and Challenges. Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.

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