The Virgin Group An understanding in to the organizational structure and culture


The Virgin Band of companies is one of the most significant business organizations in the world. Founded by Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has generated itself into many diverse areas of the business enterprise industry. This paper analyzes the organizational framework and culture of the Virgin Group and how it offers helped this corporation attain such success in many diverse market sectors. Much of the culture of the Virgin Group is inspired by the personal beliefs and philosophies of its creator, Richard Branson, and is also one of the reason why for the organization's success. Branson highly values all of his employees and needs personal responsibility to ensure that his beliefs are instilled among most of them. Branson has created a decentralized framework in the organization giving his employees the specialist to adopt decisions thereby reducing bureaucracy. Employees are encouraged to not necessarily follow rational methods and instead think on their own. This paper will first quickly give an overview of the Virgin Band of companies and its history and development. The organizational structure and culture of the Virgin Group can help the audience understand the organization's operations and business routines and the way the values and idea system of its creator has shaped its composition and culture. In addition, the reader will understand how the Virgin Group has established itself as an effective organization based on its framework and culture. The paper will apply a few of the ideas and ideas from the course textbook to the Virgin Group which will help to comprehend the working of this organization better. In conclusion, this paper hope to focus on the Virgin Group's overall voyage through the years and the role that its structure and culture has played out in its success.

About the Virgin Group

The Virgin Group is one of the most successful business empires today. This business has established itself in diverse establishments including mobile telephony, retail, music, financial services, travel, and many more. Virgin has ruled the British isles market and has broadened worldwide into other locations like THE UNITED STATES, Asia, Africa and Australia. Starting out as a straightforward mail-order record dealer in 1970, Virgin is continuing to grow into one of the very most successful business empires in the world. The Virgin Group has generated more than 300 companies, utilizing around 50000 people in 30 countries. Its global income in '09 2009 exceeded US$18 billion. (Virgin, n. d. ) A lot of the Virgin Group's success has been credited to the founder and CEO of Virgin, Richard Branson. Branson's beliefs and philosophies are deeply rooted in the organization culture of the Virgin Group. It has helped the Virgin Group to flourish in today's competitive business community.

History and Development

Richard Branson is the creator of the Virgin Group of companies. When he was a student at Stowe, he publicized a magazine called Learner. The journal was a success and it prompted Branson to leave school and try his palm at new business endeavors. His first focus on was mail-order information. He discovered that by putting a single advertisement in an issue of Pupil magazine, he was able to establish a flourishing business with minimal up-front investment and no working capital. The name "Virgin" was recommended by one of his associates who found the name as proclaiming their commercial innocence, while possessing some novelty and humble shock-value. In 1971 Branson exposed his first retail store on London's Oxford Neighborhood. Virgin then extended into the tracking industry and the result was the Virgin record label. By 1983, the Virgin Group was making gains of 2 million pounds on total earnings of slightly below 50 million pounds. (Give, 2008) Eventually Branson extended into other ventures.

The Organizational Structure

Many assume the Virgin Group to be always a multinational, but such is false. Each of the 300 unusual companies of the Virgin Group manages separately and Branson serves as shareholder, chairman, and public relations supremo. Most of them are functioning companies that own property, employ people, and provide goods and services. These operating companies are possessed and manipulated by about 20 holding companies. The Virgin Group has a very complex structure. It's been termed both as a brand franchising operation as well as a keiretsu. (Give, 2008) However, based on its structure, the Virgin Group can be carefully termed as an organization with a keiretsu framework. A keiretsu is several organizations, each which owns shares in the other organizations in the group, and all of which work together to help expand the group's interests. (Jones, Mills, Weatherbee, & Mills, 2006) Furthermore, such a sizable firm with a sophisticated structure needs to be organic in order to be able to adjust to changes in its environment. An organic structure promotes overall flexibility, so people start change and can adjust quickly to changing conditions. ( Jones et al. , 2006)

Considering each one of the specific companies as a team providing a distinctive service or product, it is apparent that they display product departmentalization. Product departmentalization is the department of the departments of a business based on the kind of product or service offered. (Jones et al. , 2006) For instance, Virgin Mobile offers cellular services while Virgin Files is a music label. However, the framework of the Virgin Group is so intricate that it is essential for it to not just have one type of departmentalization. For example, Virgin Mobile has operations in various countries like the UK, India and Australia. So, the type of service varies in each one of these countries. This demonstrates Virgin Mobile also exhibits geographic departmentalization. Geographic departmentalization is the section of a business based on the geographic location. (Jones et al. , 2006) In addition, kind of service and products also ranges depending on the customer basic hence exhibiting customer departmentalization. Customer departmentalization is the department of an organization based on the sort of customers it functions. (Jones et al. , 2006) Because the Virgin Group of companies exhibit so various kinds of departmentalisations, the business all together is said to have a cross types structure, which really is a mixture of several types of departmentalisations. This multi-divisional strategy helps the Virgin Group to easily adjust to the cultural, technical and other forces in the region it expands to.

The department of labour and the hierarchy is also an essential requirement of any organization's structure. The number of levels of specialist, the control, and the quantity of communication are fundamental factors in the proper working of a business. As mentioned, the Virgin Group's companies operate as separate organizations. The companies are part of a family group rather than a hierarchy. They are really empowered to perform their own affairs, yet the companies help each other, and answers to problems often result from within the Group someplace. In a way, Virgin is a commonwealth, with distributed ideas, values, hobbies and goals. (Virgin, n. d. ) In fact, Branson himself has provided all his employees with the expert to make unsupervised decisions based on their intuition rather than following a chain of demand. This causes the employees having more self-confidence in them and in the management. Since connections among all the degrees of the hierarchy is marketed, it does increase effective communication. This is evident from the fact that Branson in my opinion interacts with employees on a regular basis discussing ideas and getting feedback. The Virgin Group expresses self-sufficiency and effective communication. Virgin has a flat hierarchical structure and this permits quick and effective decision making. The flat framework is one of the reasons that the Virgin Group has had the opportunity to grow into new ventures. In addition, a flat structure allows a wider course of control, and decentralization. Span of control is the number of subordinates a administrator manages straight. (Jones et al. , 2006) The decentralized framework of the Virgin Group provides more electricity in the hands of its employees when it comes to decision making. Decentralization is the delegation of authority to all levels of the hierarchy. (Jones et al. , 2006) Branson feels that the employees are the backbone of the company and hence it is important that they have enough involvement and specialist in decision making.

Since the Virgin Group comprises of so many companies, plus a decentralized structure, it will show some signs of organizational bureaucracy. However, Branson has guaranteed since the starting to minimize bureaucracy as much as possible since he aims to flatten the hierarchy. Bureaucracy is a structure where people are organised accountable for their actions because they are required to take action relative to guidelines and standard operating types of procedures. (Jones et al. , 2006) The efficiency of the employees is improved under Branson's leadership who emphasises a broad span of control and self management. Branson's scepticism of organizational hierarchy and a formal structure has contributed to organizational cohesiveness to a great magnitude. His adoption of this unorthodox strategy somewhat than traditional business practices and non-traditional structuring of the organization may be the reason for the Group's success.

The Organizational Culture

Much of the Virgin Group's culture is influenced by its creator Richard Branson's personal philosophies. Equally his employees are essential to him, so can be the customers the Virgin Group functions. The power of the Virgin Group to operate effectively with almost a non-formal composition is due to its unique organizational culture. The culture of the Virgin Group displays Branson's casual dynamics, his disrespect for hierarchy and formal authority, commitment to employees and consumers and his idea in effort and responsibility. (Grant, 2008) This influences all the companies in the Virgin Group and its own organizational culture. Therefore, enables the Virgin Group to provide an environment where talented, ambitious people are encouraged to do their finest and strive for a higher level of performance. However, even within an informal environment, a higher level of dedication, popularity of personal responsibility and long hours of work when needed is expected. Performance incentives at Virgin for most employees are diffident but Virgin provides benefits like sociable activities, company sponsored weekend getaways and impromptu parties. (Offer, 2008) This environment stimulates better relations one of the workplace and the employees.

Virgin's unique culture has gradually advanced to where it is today. Virgin represents itself as a "family" emphasizing its informal but strong opinion system and ideals. Having such a culture enables the Virgin Group to acquire effective coordination among its various departments. Working as a community rather than corporation, instils the ability to talk effectively among the many companies in the Group. The Group all together works together based on these shared set of values which can be continuously strengthened. This is important taking into consideration the huge size and complexness of the organization. Following in the footsteps of its founder, Virgin has always preserved the belief that the employees will be the biggest power of the business and as such, should be treated with respect. (Virgin, n. d. ) The management cares for the welfare of the employees and allows those to work in a free environment. Because of these primary values and ideals, Virgin has been able to compete, prosper, and challenge new business opportunities. As stated before, Richard Branson has influenced the culture of the organization the most. He has were able to instil his idea system into most of his employees and this has motivated them to make an effort to perform better.

One of the many strong tips in Virgin's favour is the actual fact that it is non-traditional; groundbreaking even; in the manner it can business. Virgin is convinced in grasping opportunities. Unlike what many people may think, Virgin's constantly extending and eclectic empire is neither random nor reckless. Each successive business demonstrates their devotion to picking the right market and the right opportunity. This has proved beneficial to the organization which is one of the many reasons for its success. (Virgin, n. d. )


Based on the examination of the corporate culture and composition of the Virgin Group, it is obvious that it's a highly successful organization the majority of which's credit goes to the founder and his values and beliefs. Despite the fact that the industry considers a lot of his methods to be unorthodox, these procedures have proved highly good for him and the Virgin Group and have been deemed to be effective. Few today can imagine venturing into so many diverse industries starting from damage. If Virgin continues to bolster its culture and framework, it has the potential to be one of the very most successful companies ever.

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