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Unique study: Google from the inside

Linda Genborg 2012-04-17

Chalmers researcher Annika Steiber has spent almost a year at Google's head office in California, looking for answers to the company’s huge success. She is the first researcher in the world to get this unique access to Google behind the scenes.

Annika Steiber studies how Google leads and organises itself to maintain its high innovative ability. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 28 employees, who for example were asked to rank different possible explanations to Google’s ability to time and again develop new services that people want to use.

“Soft factors is of incredible importance, especially within the company culture that the founders had with them from the start, and which consciously has been developed in order to steer the whole company towards continuous innovation,” says Annika Steiber in a statement from Chalmers.

There is a strong focus on developing the employees and finding the right individuals for the company. The recruitment processes are extensive, and many people are asked to give an input in order to find the right people for the organisation. The company wants to ensure that people with different experiences and backgrounds become part of Google, and at the same time cultivate a common value-system concerning behaviour between colleagues and externally.

Being “googley” means that an employee acts according to the company’s values. The term is documented internally at Google and is made up of eleven different “characteristics”, including passion for changing the world through the Internet. Being smart and being non-political are two other characteristics, as well as “don’t be evil”. Many of the people that Annika Steiber talked to said these clearly expressed values were part of why they had applied to work for Google.

In order to maintain the unique and strong culture of the company, Google has created the position Chief Culture Officer, CCO. The company also monitors, in a transparent way, that the employees around the world follow the company values.

The study of Google is the first empiric research study of its kind in the world. It can form the basis for better understanding of how companies can lead and organise themselves in order to create a better level of innovation, argues Annika Steiber.

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