AMEC Plc, the international engineering service company has grown from its roots as a stone mason based in the UK during the 1940s, to the present day international player that provides design, project delivery and maintenance support solutions to its clients within the Oil & Gas, Transport, Industrial, Infrastructure and Regional service sectors.
Through rapid growth, the company now generates annual revenues of over ÃÂ£5 billion and employs more than 45,000 people within the 40 countries that it operates in. The velocity of this growth is shown by the fact that only as recently as 1997, AMEC's principle operations were in the domestic UK market. However, now in 2003 its markets in Continental Europe and the Americas also proportionately contribute to the overall company turnover.
This international expansion has been driven through an intentional strategy of organic growth as well as the respective merger and acquisition of the European company SPIE and the North American company AGRA.
Subsequently AMEC's organisational structure is divided into operating business units on a geographic or 'dispersed' (Pettinger, 2002) basis.
The very meaning of the word dispersed i.e. to scatter or diffuse highlights the new challenges that the company faces due to its international expansion, and hence the inevitable increase in the fragmentation of functional, divisional and geographic boundaries (Ghoshal & Nohria, 1993; O'Brien & Weder, 2003).
As a company such as AMEC becomes larger and more widespread the control, coordination and resolution of tensions such as resource allocation become much more difficult to manage because of the consequential factors of this dispersion. For instance, distance, time differences, new cultures and language barriers are suddenly thrown into the equation which all add to complexity.
'The very act of going international multiplies a company's organisational complexity' (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1995 cited in de Wit...