GE’s Two-Decades Transformation: Jack Welch’s Leadership Analysis University Essay Example

INTRODUCTION

General Electric is a company which was founded in 1878 by Thomas Edison. The company started with generation, distribution and use of electric power. As time went by, the company diversified in different industrial areas to become among the world’s leading companies. General Electric has been involved in several businesses such as power generation household appliances and lighting as well as dealing with aircraft engines, medical systems, and diesel locomotives.

General Electric has over time been under going change in its management practices. Initially at around 1930 management at GE was highly centralized and took the form of a tightly controlled corporate structure. Later by 1950’s some changes had been introduced and delegation of authority was being done to many of departmental managers and thus giving signs of decentralization. In the period of 1960’s which was characterized by “profit less growth” and this enabled GE to fortify its corporate staffs and develop advanced strategic planning systems.

General Electric has had a number of CEO’s among them being Reg Jones who became CEO in 1973. At this time the GE had just completed a major reorganization. The organization had several group, division, and departments in its structure. There were about 43 strategic business units intended to facilitate strategic planning. This helped General Electric a great deal but later Jones was unable to handle all information generated from the various SBUS.

Later on in 1981 Jack Welch became the CEO at a time when the US economy was in a recession. He beat the odds and lifted the company to great heights of success. This paper will first discuss the role of Jack Welch’s leade4rship in strategic planning and corporate success. Secondly, it will address the success of the company. Finally, the paper will give recommendations, and a conclusion bearing a plan of action for the company.

Issue Definition

The case being studied depicts how good leadership can result in transformation of a company from unperforming to a very viable and enviable state leadership by definition is a process through which a person influences others to achieve an objective and direct the organization in a manner that allows it to be more cohesive and coherent (Allen, K., and Cherrey, C. 2000). It is through various attributes of leadership such as values, ethics, believes, character and knowledge that success in organization can be witnessed. Jack Welch had most of these attributes and this made him to be termed a great leader in the industrial world.

The CEO created trust and confidence in top leadership and this impacted on employee satisfaction and improvement and performance. Communication is key to success in the organization. Effective communication by leadership of Jack Welch proved beyond any doubt how it can contribute to the success of the organization.

The issue of transformation leadership is inspirational motivation where the leader becomes a figure which inspires and motivates the employees. The other is intellectual stimulation i.e. encouraging innovativeness and creativity. The other skills are individualized consideration where leaders diagnose employee’s individual needs, wishes, values and abilities in the right way. A combination of these made Welch’s term at the helm of General Electric a success.

ANALYSIS

Restructuring

When Jack Welch took over the leadership of General Electric it was in bad state and he embarked on the process of restructuring the company. To do this, a SWOT analysis had to be done in order to come up with a strategy that would see GE become great leader in America.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths: the company had a strong financial power as it was a big company and restructuring could be done to realize growth. Another strength was able leadership of Welch who believed that he could bring the desired change.

Weaknesses: the company could face some resistance from within i.e. those against de-staffing, downsizing and de-layering. There were also high levels of bureaucracy within the organization.

Opportunities: the company could restructure or reinvent and sell the uncompetitive businesses and purchase/acquire firms with potential of doing well.

Threats: there was recession characterized by high interest rates and a strong dollar. Another threat is in the form of competition on the global scene especially from Japanese competitors.

Welch’s SWOT analysis gave an understanding of the current situation at the time and several strategies were formulated based on the analysis. These strategies included that of eliminating the sector level in order to do away with bureaucracy which had persisted in the organization. The other strategy which involved downsizing, de-staffing and de-layering which resulted in increased revenues and operating profits also rose by a big margin.

Cultural change

Cultural change is important to organizations that embraced restructuring of their operations and structures (Bardwick, J. M. 1991).  Welch introduced two practices namely wore-out and best practices. There were discussions on the problems the GE managers were encountering in implementing change at their respective working units. An idea was proposed where employees were to have forums where they could talk their minds on best ways of doing or running business effectively. The idea was to create a “small company” where all felt engaged and given change to talk their mind (Bartlett, A. C. and Wozny, M. 2003).

The results of these forums were increased in productivity as these grew at a rate of 2% for the period between 1981 and 1987 and further doubled to 4% between 1988 and 1992(Bartlett, A. C. and Wozny, M. (2003). Best practices, a movement was started and embarked on developing of effective processes and customer satisfaction was used to measure their performance. The best practices also were concerned with production of high quality new products.

Globalization

Going global is the meaning of globalization. Globalization in other terms means national companies becoming multinationals by investing in other countries (Finnemore, M. 1996). Welch first concentrated on nationalization of the GE operations in US. The reason for concentrating in US first is seen because for one to go out into the world one has to solidify his base at home. Welch’s globalization initiatives were a step-by-step by process. GE took the advantage o Europe’s economic down turn and invested large amounts of money i.e. $17.5 billion in Europe between the period of 1989 and 1995 both on new plants and acquisitions. General electric also invested in acquisitions in Japan.

The results of globalization for GE were evident as the company reaped $42.8 billion from international investment (Bartlett, A. C. and Wozny, M. 2003).

Leadership

General electric had to deal with complaints of staff who found working in hard new demanding environments like those working in other parts of the world. The other problem was that they had to deal with mistrust created by previous layoffs of the 1980’s. To deal with those problems Welch had to come up with strategies for developing leaders. Leaders are people who give direction to the others in the organization and as such these are very vital. To develop leadership Welch introduced employee performance appraisal systems and reward systems. These enabled the company to identify training needs, coaching opportunities, and aid in career planning.

Super Performance

This is performance beyond expectations. In 1990’s Welch decided to introduce the notion of super performance. There was need then to set targets and how performance could be achieved. Overtime this concept was put into application and ore realization results.

In as much as this practice or concept performed well there was a drawback in that it could be seen to mean forcing workers to work for long hours to achieve sometimes impossible goals. Despite this drawback the “super performance” goals have been observed to help perform tasks faster and improve the overall performance of the organization (Luke, J.S. 1998).

Six sigma quality initiative

With dissatisfaction in the quality of GEs products among the GEs employees Welch sought for a solution to the problem. He borrowed the six sigma quality initiative from the CEO of Allied Signal Inc. the six sigma quality initiative was a kind of a slogan which helped companies to improve quality, lower costs and increase productivity. According to Bartlett, A. C. and Wozny, M. (2003), real example of the effect of six sigma quality initiative is 62% reduction in turn around time at its repair shops. The plastics business also said that the initiative resulted in 300 million pounds of new capacity.

E-business

Welch discovered another initiative which is the impact of internet. Internet has had great impact on businesses in the present day and General Electric’s CEO; Welch did not want to be left behind by other companies. To support e-business GE had the necessary assets such as strong brands, product reliability, great fulfillment capability and enviable service quality. Although e-business was supported by some in General electric, there were also a few opponents of its introduction arguing that it was likely to take long to pay off.

Recommendations

The general view of Welch’s leadership saw great transformation in many spheres of the organization. This was through restructuring the organization structure, bring a cultural change, taking General Electric to the global scene, improvement of performance, improving leadership at all levels within the organization, improvement of quality and introduction of e-business.

However, the company is known for large-scale environmental pollution through waste emission (Department of Justice news release, October 7, 1999). It is time that the organization also took a firm step in addressing the problem by committing to the search of long term solutions.

Other that what Welch did, General Electric can follow the commendations such as: Empowering the organization managers to make key decisions and lead by example. Improving both vertical and horizontal communication within the organization in order to minimize bureaucracy. Diversifying operations into new promising ventures like hospitality and tourism. Continually review how businesses are performing and sell out non-performing ones or integrate them with others which are doing better.

With the downsizing strategy in place the remaining employees may feel very insecure and as such they need to be motivated through incentives and rewards for good performance. The health of workers at work place is of great importance and should be maintained at best levels so as to improve on productivity. When the organizations operations both locally and internationally threaten to be running out of control, general electric can streamline their operations and end up doing well

Conclusion

George Welch’s leadership has been exemplary in many ways. He led the way in embracing change and innovation as well as excelling in making the right decisions at the most appropriate time. The policies implemented during his time saw the company become the leader in innovation. His bold decisions could be termed as too risky by a less aggressive CEO.

However, the results of his restructuring bore fruits and stunned even his worst critics. With the success achieved during his time, GE ought to ensure that it implements decisions and policies that help to consolidate the gains of Welch’s leadership. The company should continue to invest in research and development in order to discover newer ways of increasing productivity, efficiency, and at the same time reducing all costs. The company should move conclusively in an effort to have more environmentally friendly policies.

With increased competition the current CEO should ensure that the operations of the organizations both locally and internationally are streamed lined to ensure efficiency. Outsourcing of services that are not core to the business of the organization would be important in making sure that all the departmental heads are able to concentrate on becoming the best in their co-businesses. This together with ensuring that the organization stays ahead in innovation will make it possible for the organization to maintain its leadership position both locally and internationally.

Reference

  1. Allen, K., and Cherrey, C. (2000). Systemic Leadership: Enriching the Meaning of Our Work. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  2. Bardwick, J. M. (1991).  Danger in the comfort zone. New York: American Management Association.
  3. Bartlett, A. C. and Wozny, M. (2003). GE’s Two-Decades Transformation: Jack Welch’s Leadership. Harvard Business School.
  4. Finnemore, M. (1996). National Interests in International Society Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Asian American: An Analysis Of Negative Stereotypical Characters In Popular Media

  1. Mahdzan, Farah, and Norlinda Ziegler. ‘Asian American: An Analysis of Negative Stereotypical Characters in Popular Media.’ 2002. March 19, 2007. <http://mahdzan.com/fairy/papers/asian/asian02.htm> (13 pgs.) Based on evidence of popular movies, the paper discusses negative stereotyping of Asian American male and female characters. As the paper argues, typical Asian American males in popular media are often portrayed as evil, lacking intelligence, undesirable partners, or belonging to the ‘Yellow Uncle Tom’ type (i.e. passive, old and speak broken English). Typical Asian American females are portrayed as white male’s partner, ‘China Doll’ (i.e. sexually active, exotic, overly feminine and eager to please), or ‘Dragon Lady’ (i.e. seductive, desirable but untrustworthy). The paper also applies a feminist perspective in the analysis and supports all findings with excellent evidence.
  2. Jenkins, Sacha, Wilson, Elliott, Chairman, Jefferson Mao, Alvarez, Gabriel, and Brent Rollins. Ego Trip’s Big Book of Racism. New York: Regan Books, 2002. (304 pgs.) The book discusses how stereotypes run through different spheres of American life, and popular media is no exception. While Asian Americans are not the central theme, sufficient attention is paid to this group as well. The book supports the majority of theses put forward in Mahdzan and Ziegler’s paper: Asian American mean are always ‘some type of ninjas’ whereas females are ‘hot and dangerous’ Dragon Ladies. The book analyses Asian Americans’ portrayal in the films, TV series and other forms of popular media from the early 20th century.
  3. Feng, Peter X. Screening Asian Americans. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2002. (308 pgs.) This is probably one of the most comprehensive resources on the representation of Asian Americans in American cinematography. While it discusses both positive and negative examples, the number of negative stereotypes is certainly larger. The book cites evidence from many films, such as The Wedding Banquet, Chan is Missing, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, Mississippi Masala and others.
  4. Zia, Helen. Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. (368 pgs.) The book investigates the experiences of Asians immigrants in the American society. One of the difficulties they are facing is negative stereotyping by media and popular culture. The book gives an extensive account of Asian American fighting the negative perception imposed by Hollywood movies, TV series and even news media.
  5. Media Action Network for Asian Americans. ‘A memo from MANAA to Hollywood: Asian Stereotypes.’ March 19, 2007. <http://www.manaa.org> (online) Media Action Network for Asian Americans is an organization that advocates for fair, accurate, sensitive, and balanced depictions of persons of Asian Americans in popular media. The memo enumerates all the negative stereotypes about Asian Americans imposed by Hollywood: the portrayal of Asian Americans as foreigners who cannot be assimilated, as inherently predatory immigrants, or as persons practicing clichéd professions such as Korean grocers or Indian cab drivers. Male sexuality is depicted as negative or non-existent while females (if not China Dolls or Dragon Ladies) are women who are immediately attracted to white men.
  6. Kashiwabara, Amy. ‘Vanishing Son: The Appearance, Disappearance, and Assimilation of the Asian-American Man in American Mainstream Media.’ 1996. March 19, 2007. <http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/Amydoc.html> (online) The article focuses on the representation of male Asian American characters in popular media. It explores the way Asian American men have been depicted in American culture since 1900s as well as reasons for it. As the article points out, Asian American males are usually presented as coolies (i.e. economically inferior, not be trustworthy though outwardly submissive, speaking with an accent etc.), villains or men with ambiguous sexuality. The article also discusses Asian American female characters with regard to their influence on male characters. This resource is very useful since it compares and contrasts the depiction of Asian Americans in almost thirty movies, TV series and cartoons.
  7. Prasso, Sheridan. The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient. New York: PublicAffairs, 2005. (437 pgs.) The book, written by an experienced journalist who has traveled all around Asia, explores popular misconception about Asian women in the minds of Westerners. While the book isn’t devoted to Asian Americans, it’s relevant for the ample reason that the perceptions of them are significantly influenced by the images of Asians. The book debunks the ‘Asian Mystique’ myth and shows how diverse Asian women are in reality.
  8. Chik, Anita. ‘Films show Asian, Asian American women as stereotypes, panel says.’ February 4, 1997. March 19, 2007. <http://www.umich.edu/~urecord/9697/Feb04_97/artcl14.htm> (online) This article is devoted to the issue f representation of Asian and Asian American females in mainstream American movies. They are usually depicted as beautiful, sexually available, exotic, and loyal but submissive. While the article acknowledges this image isn’t always true, it also cites dome objective social and historical reasons for such stereotyping.
  9. Major, Wade. ‘Hollywood’s Asian Strategy: The Asian Millennium could catch Hollywood flat-footed.’ Transpacific, 68 (1997), 24-31. (8 pgs.) The article thoroughly examines the relations of Asian American actors and directors with Hollywood. While usually Asian Americans are depicted as ‘villainous tyrants, comfort women, coolies and other assorted stereotypes’, there has been some progress made recently. The reason for change, as the article argues, is associated with the rise of independent Asian cinema.
  10. Jo, Moon H., and Daniel D. Mast. ‘Changing images of Asian Americans.’ International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 6(3), 1993, 417-441. (24 pgs.) The article presents the results of a very detailed study of the history of American encounters with Asians and resulting perceptions and beliefs. While the authors acknowledge there was little progress in reversing negative stereotypes during previous decades, certain progress has been done recently.
  11. Pham, Minh-Ha T. ‘The Asian invasion in Hollywood.’ Journal of Popular Film and Television, 32(3), Fall 2004, pp. 121-131. (10 pgs.) While the article focuses on the representation of Asian and Asian American bodies in two films, namely the Rush Hour and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it also makes abundant references to preceding films dealing with the subjects of multiculturalism through portraying person of Asian origin.
  12. Ghymn, Esther Mikyung. (Ed). Asian American Studies: Identity, Images, Issues Past and Present. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. (265 pgs.) While the book is generally helpful for understanding the cultural framework within which Asian Americans interact with mainstream American culture, the chapter entitled ‘Asians in Film and Other Media’ investigates specifically the issue of their representation in popular cinema and other media.
  13. Hamamoto, Darrell Y. Monitored Peril: Asian Americans and the Politics of TV Representation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. (311 pgs). This resource is especially helpful for the ample reason it attempts to look into the root causes of distorted or negative representation of Asian Americans. While other sources prefer descriptive or comparative approach, this book presents a bigger picture of TV representation as linked to social power.
  14. Hoppenstand, Gary. ‘Yellow Devil Doctors and Opium Dens: The Yellow Peril Stereotype in Mass Media Entertainment.’ Popular Culture: An Introductory Text/ Ed. Jack Nachbar and Kevin Lause. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State UP, 1992, pp. 277-91. (14 pgs.) This chapter of a comprehensive study of media bias in popular culture focuses on the construction of negative identity of Asian Americans as intrinsically linked with organized crime and too often with drug trafficking. Male characters are central to the study, yet the lives of Asian and Asian American women in such surroundings are also discussed.
  15. Dombrink, J., and J.H.L Song. ‘Good Guys’ and Bad Guys’: Media, Asian Criminals and the Framing of a Criminal Event.’ Amerasia, 22(3), pp. 25-46. (21 pgs.) This research article is devoted to the representation of Asians and Asian Americans in the news media in connection with high-profile crimes. The article argues that the coverage of many criminal cases is twisted as to present minorities, Asian in the first instance, as a source of potential danger and instability.

Promise Keepers: Keeping Women In Submission

Promise Keepers:

Keeping Women in Submission

The “Promise Keepers” (PK) is a group of religious males, who hold the view that men have a responsibility to run all household affairs and that his partner i.e. wife need to obey the male’s role as head of the household.  It is the author’s contention that although the Promise Keepers may believe to be part of a gendered movement (or Christian or political movement for that matter) they are in fact not a movement group, but instead a type of what Sociologists may consider a Simmelian secret society.  This group is in fact a “backlash” to the positive changes in the women’s movement and is attempting to keep “traditional” (patriarchal) control, of which has dominated American society from its birth.  This group relies heavily on religion for resource mobilization purposes and its “fraternity” type male bonding in the religious sense is at the very least unorthodox and would place this group quite possibly in a counter-culture group rather than a serious part of the other male gendered movements such as the umbrella men’s rights movement and/or father’s rights movement.

In order for there to be a movement

disadvantage or misfortune is transformed into injustice only when appropriate social definitions take place.  The discovery by members of a pre-existing self-conscious group that they share the disadvantage is one of the necessary conditions for the defining the situation as unjust (Turner& Killian. 1987. p.118).

Although the Promise Keepers may believe that the so-called “break-down” of the family is “unjust” social definitions do not allow this change, as of yet, make this a collective and rational movement issue on the macro level beyond their members’ own shared beliefs.  It is true that families have undergone changes, as women have been successful in their attempts in their own gendered movement to slowly shift gender role ideals, which formerly placed them in a submissive position both inside and outside the home.  The changing family, how-ever cannot  metamorphose, (which the Encarta Dictionary defines as

1…change physical form: to undergo or make somebody or something undergo a complete or marked change of physical form, structure, or substance

The water had metamorphosed into ice.

2…change appearance or character: to undergo or make somebody or something undergo a complete or marked change in appearance, character, or condition

3…change supposedly by magic: to undergo or make somebody or something undergo a transformation supposedly by magic,)

into a social problem and then an injustice and then a social movement.  It is interesting that the term “magic” is used above, as the group has a strange dynamic in their bonding and rallying around their self-proclaimed religious group.

Whether or not the group believes its cause to be just is not the issue at hand, but in order to further examine the dynamic of this organization the purpose of the group need to be understood in order to support the thesis of this paper.

Promise Keepers is an international Christian organization for men, based in Denver, Colorado, United States. It describes itself as “a Christ-centered organization dedicated to introducing men to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, helping them to grow as Christians”… Promise Keepers promote the view that husbands have a responsibility to be the head of their household in a gentle and loving way, following the example of Jesus Christ, and that a wife should voluntarily submit to her husband’s leadership ([1] Wikipedia, 2007).

The gender roles here are then learned as a continuance of traditional and sacred means. This seems as a step backward instead of a movement, which requires continuity (paradoxically) of slow successions of changes.  The Seven Promises of the PK are, also, listed at the Wikepedia site:

1. A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.

3. A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity.

4. A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.

5. A Promise Keeper is committed to supporting the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor and by actively giving his time and resources.

6. A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.

7. A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

It appears that the PK are actively seeking strong marriages, Christian morality, and brotherly camaraderie.  That in itself is more of a “mission” as would be contained in a mission statement and not in a movement category.  Although this “brotherhood” may point to a slight margin of the men’s movement as a religious historian points to in a PBS Newshour Transcript:

men are in trouble in the culture right now. And I think there’s not any question about that. There’s an identity crisis with the American male, especially the white American male. And they are trying to address that, trying to provide that kind of formula for how we as men here in America in the 1990’s are to live our lives, especially our domestic ones.

It seems like an issue here is raised of a cultural movement, but an almost racist tone to this cultural “mission” just solidifies the sexist nature of the organization as historically both institutionalized sexism and racism was the norm, therefore making the possibility of this being a gendered movement null and void, as well.

This organization/brotherhood does fit the Simmelian model of a “secret society”, which is quite different from a conspiracy theorist view.  Members may feel collectively moral or share knowledge, but such things as motive and intention are the “secret”.

That purely general objective knowledge of a person, beyond which everything that is strictly individual in his personality may remain a secret to his associates, must be considerably reinforced in the knowledge of the latter, whenever the organization for a specific purpose to which they belong possesses an essential significance for the total existence of its members. The merchant who sells grain or oil to another needs to know only whether the latter is good for the price. The moment, however, that he associates another with himself as a partner, he must not merely know his standing as to financial assets, and certain quite general qualities of his make-up, but he must see through him very thoroughly as a personality; he must know his moral standards, his degree of companionability, his daring or prudent temperament; and upon reciprocal knowledge of that sort must depend not merely the formation of the relationship, but its entire continuance, the daily associated actions, the division of functions between the partners,

etc. The secret of personality is in such a case sociologically more restricted. On account of the extent to which the common interest is dependent upon the personal quality of the associates. no extensive self-existence is in these circumstances permitted to the personality of the individual. (Simmel, 1906, 451-452.)

Members of this society are diverse and the demographic points to contradictory evidence in that 57% have wives that work (religioustolerance.org, 1995).  In the Simmelian view raised previously, it would seem that the contradictions of PK member character outweigh a unified cause, again to place this group in a counter-culture group rather than a movement organization.  Although 57% of PK wives work

 Furthermore, a num­ber of women who are married to Promise Keepers say their marriages have improved since their husbands joined the movement (Cose, 1997; Griffith, 1997; Whitehead, 1997; Shimron, 2002).

Yet, others voice reservations about the Promise Keepers. They ask why women can’t attend Promise Keepers’ meetings. The Promise Keepers’ answer is to quote Proverbs: 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” This reflects Promise Keepers’ belief that men should lean on each other, not on women, in their quest to be good men—men can hold each other accountable in ways women can’t (Shimron, 2002).

Another question asked by people who have reservations about the Promise Keepers is, Why can’t husbands and wives be equals (Ingraham, 1997)? McCart­ney responds, “When there is a final decision that needs to be made and they can’t arrive at one, the man needs to take responsibility” (“Promise Keepers,” 1997, p. 14A). Critics charge that “taking responsibility” is a code term for deny­ing women’s equality, voices, and rights. ([1]Wood, 2007).

This raises questions of the possibility of domestic violence in the Promise Keepers organization as the traditional views held in patriarchal societies allow men to view their wives as property.  As quoted previously the so-called cultural movement that the PK claims is needed for “especially the white American Male”.  In addition to the theoretically  high probability of domestic violence in this traditional family model, it seems that racism is an inevitable, dangerous element to this group, although PK has taken steps to alter their racist image.

Another frequently expressed criticism has been that Promise Keepers are elitist. The great majority of Promise Keepers are white and middle- or upper-class economically. In response to criticism, Promise Keepers has made efforts to broaden its membership to include men of different races and to soften its rhetoric about husbands leading wives. In a move to symbolize the group’s racial diversity, in 2003 when McCartney retired from the presidency, the group chose Thomas Fortson, an African American, to head Promise Keepers…([2] Wood, 2007).

The fact that many of the Promise Keeper members are in a dominant SES group (white, male, and middle or upper-class) allows for another theoretical possibility that members are in a position to hinder positive social change and equality and instead either further promote or introduce institutionalized sexism and racism.

Those interested in social problems usually attribute them to inequality and to the use and abuse of power.  Power is the ability to influence the social structure.  Those with power-the elite-influence the social structure in ways that will enhance their power.  Generally, the elite tend to use their power to prevent change and to maintain the status quo.  It is, after all, contemporary social arrangements-the present social structure, the status quo-that allow them their power.  (Heiner, 2006).

It is interesting that, too, wives of PK members take on a submissive position outside their homes, as well.  Their husbands may be in a sense “brainwashing” these women, as staunch opponents contend is a make-up of this group.

Promise Keepers has also been accused of incorporating the so-called “New Age” approach to male bonding. This is in reference to the fact that PK rallies tend to be highly emotional, and in some ways, not unlike brainwashing. It is not uncommon for men to break out in tears and cry on each other’s shoulders at PK events ([2] Wikipedia, 2007).

The National Organization for Women (NOW) “keeps tabs” on this group and documents what they perceive to be threats to women’s rights and the ways in which the PK members threaten those rights.  NOW does see this as a political movement, again though the only case for a movement is a cause or an unjust situation.  This seems instead as an abuse of power as Heiner describes it with PK members in ideal political situations to allow the status quo to continue.  NOW describes the “brainwashing”, if you will, of the wives of PK members and its dangerous reach into the workplace and institutions of higher learning.

MYTH: “The Promise Keepers are good for women”

FACT: As feminists, we have long urged men to take responsibility in the home, as the Promise Keepers claim to do. However, when they say “taking responsibility” they mean taking control. Promise Keepers openly call for wives to “submit” to their husbands.

Promise Keepers do not encourage a relationship of equals in a marriage. Rather, they call for men to “take” their role as the leader in the family. Promise Keeper Tony Evans stated “I am not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I am urging you to take it back. There can be no compromise here.”

A young woman at a recent “Chosen Women” Rally, a female counterpart to the all-male Promise Keepers, stated “Our job is to submit to our teachers and our Professors…even if we know they are wrong. It is then in God’s hands.” PK expects women to submit not only in our homes but also in the secular world of the classroom and workplace.

This sets up a social learning process where PK children learn and model this behavior.  It seems girls will be resigned to traditional gender roles and that boys can learn to use and abuse their power as men when they are older.

The Promise Keepers are not a gendered movement, although, they claim this and instead are a part of the “power elite” and wish to maintain the gender status quo, instead of to improve and build upon something like other Men’s Rights groups may do.  From the first institution of the home up to the highest public position, Promise Keepers pose a threat to positive change, as research suggests.  This group deserves more research to come to an absolute conclusion from a sociological prospective that this group is as the thesis states.  But, from the literature available this group seems to reflect all the previous labels.

References

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Heiner, R.  (2006).  Social Problems: An Introduction to Critical Constructionism.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press

PBS. (October 3, 1997).  NEWSHOUR TRANSCRIPT.  “Sermons on the Mall”.  Available Online http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/religion/july-dec97/promise_10-3.html.  (last accessed 28 Feb 2007).

NOW. (2007).  “Myths and Facts About the Promise Keepers”. Available online:http://www.now.org/issues/right/promise/mythfact.html. (last accessed 28 Feb 2007).

“Personal Communication”.  M. Johnson, Bachelor of Liberal Studies.  (1 March 2007).

Religioustolerance.org.  “Promise Keepers (PK), Pro and Con: PART 1”; A survey in 1995 by the National Center for Fathering .  Available online: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_pk.htm. (last accessed 28 Feb 2007).

Simmel, Georg. (1906).  “The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies” in American Journal of Sociology 11: 441-498. Available online: http://spartan.ac.brocku.ca/~lward/Simmel/Simmel_1906.html.  (last accessed 28 Feb 2007).

Turner& Killian. (1987).  “Toward a Theory of Social Movements” in Buechler, S.T.& Cylke Jr., F. K.  (1997).  Social Movements: Perspectives and Issues.  Mountain View, CA:  Mayfield Publishing Company.

Wikepedia.  “Promise Keepers”  Available online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promise_Keepers. (last accessed 28 Feb 2007).

Wood, Julia T.  (2007).  Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, Seventh Edition.  USA:  Thomson Wadsworth.

 

error: Content is protected !!