One of the most basic problems which an organization faces is resistant to change. Sometimes employees and communities do accept change where they will the same will benefit either in short term or long term. Since human beings have an inherent dislike for change when it comes to adapting to a new phenomenon overnight as they have an entrenched habit of going with the current flow structure of their lives (Watson, 2013). For change is the only constant is best described by the introduction of new modes of transport like Uber.
Uber Technologies is an online transportation company based in United States. It was founded in March 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp with a view to create a model of transport which would revolutionize the way people commute from one place to another. When it started its services, many were opposed to the changing concept of travelling due to several factors like technological, social, political and economic.
How this change is looked upon by the stakeholders of the company and what are its ethical implications have been analyzed here.
In cities across the world, there has been a growing unrest among the traditional taxi operators, who are resisting the introduction of application based cab service in urban areas. Urban transport have always been a stronghold of these traditional taxi operators, who are up against operation of new services as they fear the same would jeopardize their operating margin and render them redundant. From Los Angeles to London and Madrid to Canberra, Uber is shaking up the transportation business like never before (Matos Marques Simoes & Esposito, 2014). However, wherever they are setting up businesses, they are being met with severe resistance over their aggressive promotional strategies.
Traditionally, taxis have fought for their survival in the urban transportation domain and have raised their issues and grievances time and again across all parts of the world- from San Francisco to London and Paris to Mumbai, paralyzing traffic and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. According to some experts on urban transportation, these protests and agitations would not bear any fruit and succeed in stifling the progress of technology on the go (Lines, 2015).
The world is constantly witnessing a flood of changes in the way organizations function and how new companies are shaping up the spectrum of basic travel of individuals from one place to another. Since taxi operators expect more stability in their business, they are always hesitant to allow any drastic change in their area of operations, which they consider their forte (Keil, 2016). The purpose and objective of Uber is to introduce advanced new technological features, which would help users travel with ease and reach their destination in a hassle free and safe manner. Traditional taxi operators are fighting against the introduction of these new features on new cabs as they consider the same to be arbitrary and disruptive, which is why they do not want their monopolistic system to be overhauled (Nordfj?rn, 2014). They argue that they don’t have official permits to charge fare based on kilometer basis as these cabs do not have meters in them.
The idea behind this revolutionary business model was to reduce passenger discomfort while booking and riding a cab, increase the riding experience through introduction of a customized approach to commute and pay in a smart and efficient manner. There exist several issues with respect to passenger amenities when one is riding a conventional taxi. They include long waiting periods, uncomfortable seats, rude behavior and lack of transparency in routes. To overcome these shortcomings, companies like Uber are striving to develop their own method of transport which promises to give highest priority to customer comfort. Some of these conventional taxi drivers argue that they have been in this business for decades and it would be next to impossible to slide them off the radar by any online transportation cab aggregators. Even though experts are saying their over confidence will not hold true in the long run as the battle lines are being clearly drawn to see who takes the lead in the long run.
In this context, the most ironical part is that the policy makers are siding with these conventional operators to gain political advantage in the near future, which is truly reflected in Germany banning the services of online cab companies, including Uber (Fullan, 2014). The company has received good response in Australia albeit with some initial resistance, which is considered normal whenever any disruptive and innovative idea is espoused and experimented in a broad fashion. In Canberra, Uber has grown its business substantially and is planning to launch driverless cars in certain cities, starting with Melbourne. This is another grey area from the employees and drivers point of view as they perceive it to pose a threat to their existing job security and future prospects. Based on a report, Uber has the ability to cut 10% of taxi bills of $5.5 billion spent annually, which is an encouraging prospect for both users and governments overall objectives (Will M. G., 2015).
It is pertinent to mention that although the introduction envisages an overall development of passenger amenities along with protection of both traditional taxi operators and online cab service providers, there are certain issues with respect to change and how it can be managed and what are the ethical implications which are to be addressed.
Some notable reasons for resistance to change are:
Lack of clarity in understanding the need for change:
It happens so when the staff of an organization is unaware of the changes going to happen and other stakeholders are not taken into confidence.
Lack of Competence:
Change in skill sets induces a sense of pessimism among the society and existing members, that they won’t be able to smoothly make the transition process in a time bound manner (Will M. G., 2015).
Human beings have a general tendency towards going about their activities in old fashioned way instead of embracing the new one. For instance, when Uber launched its services, people were quite hesitant in switching over to a better technical mode of transportation as it involved certain technicalities, which had to accustom with the customers’ ease of operation.
This occurs when people do not have enough faith in the new offering. Not only users, but other stakeholders become more apprehensive of their survival as competition pushes them to the brink, forcing them to fall in the same line (Gobble, 2015).
When everybody thinks that the new phenomenon is not a long lasting proposition but just a momentary fad.
Lack of Consultation:
Before initiating or permitting any drastic change, all the important stakeholders need to be consulted to take them into confidence as any adverse after effect would simply hamper their future prospect and the new technology might also suffer in its future endeavors (Courpasson & Vallas, 2016).
Alteration in Status quo:
Resistance can also stem from some preconceived notions that since the change will not benefit them, they won’t support it fully. Same holds true when they perceive that change for the better will only benefit a section of the society and not them, which is why the conventional taxi operators have resisted the attempts of new players in this field (Neck, Houghton, & Murray, 2015).
Rewards and Compensations:
Issues also crop up when rewards and recognitions are not commensurate with the troubles and hardships endured during the changeover process.
Ethical Implications when Change is Implemented:
Since change is the order of the day in modern business activities, the owner implementing the new aspect of change have to take note of the fact that his revolution does not cause any significant harm to its stakeholders and other similar service providers with respect to existing players in the market. Proper communication should be percolated down the line to ward off any unforeseen contingencies in the future with regard to job security and employability of workforce. When Uber was launched, traditional taxi operators resorted to strikes and agitations to air their objections and grievances as they started to perceive the new style of commuting a threat to their existence (Schneider, 2015). These ethical considerations play a significant role in the success and sustainability of a new organization.
Ethics plays a critical role in implementing any change in the society. Proper communication is the fulcrum of any successful implementation of an organization’s goals and objectives. Communication should happen in a transparent and systematic way so that the motives and purpose of the change can be channelized in the right fashion (Suranovic, 2016). Companies which fail to adhere to these basic tenets and rules stand to lose the trust of its employees and the society at large. Uber has had to encounter several of these challenges while operating in both developed and developing nations as taxi aggregators refused to budge from their standpoints of not allowing the entry of new players (Keil, 2016).
Since every organization has certain roles and responsibilities to the society in which it operates, ethics plays a strong role in influencing the same. It is not considered an ethical feature if one does its business with scant regard to its effects on the socio-political fabric. It is with society’s consent and approval of a new technology that an organization establishes its platform and harnesses its potential for achieving what it aspires for (Wang, 2015). Without this encouragement, sustainability will become a pestering issue, which might push the company to take the extreme step of closing its business.
In view of the above arguments, it can be inferred that without proper foresight and decisiveness and long term vision and accountability, it will not be possible for an organization to introduce any revolutionary change in the society as it involves the life and security of multiple stakeholders. Since resistance to anything new is ingrained in human psychology, but with correct intention and right conviction, everything will fall in place with the help of right channel of communication. Revolts and agitations have been witnessed in most parts of the world but Uber has carefully crafted its operational strategy in such a way that, it receives maximum support and motivation from all the stakeholders involved; be it social, political or economic. Governmental support is a vital aspect as without notifying right rules and regulations with respect to operations of online cab booking services, there would be no accountability to its service obligations. Considering the fact that Uber has global operations, it has to formulate its pricing strategies and frame principles in line with country specific regulatory frameworks of transport. It has to carry on its operations ethically, without which broader goals and objectives will not bear fruit in the long run. A sound management structure is a prerequisite in this respect.
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