Business structures in the USA are incredibly varied but tend to have several characteristics in common.
Firstly, the company is an entity in its own right and exists independently from its employees. Members come and go, perform necessary tasks at particular points in the life cycle of the company and then leave when no longer required for the wellbeing of the organisation. The relationship between employer and employee is a transactional one – where relationship and sentiment are a luxury which cannot be justified. Current economic conditions and the increasing influence of technology-based communication methodologies have only increased this disconnect between the employee and long-term, stable employment conditions. In a country where job-mobility and virtual working are increasing, transferable skills become the key to future success.
Secondly, the CEO of an American organisation holds great sway within the company. Senior management is more embedded in the personality at the top than in some other countries such as Germany where senior management is collegiate in approach. Although the company will have a Board of Directors, the Board is highly unlikely to have any input on the day-to-day running of the company which is left very much in the hands of the CEO who stands or falls on results. This can be seen as a high risk, high reward approach – it can bring great success but also spectacular failure.
Thirdly, accountability within the company tends to be vertical and easily observable. Americans like to know exactly where they stand on a particular issue, what their responsibilities are and to whom they report. When job security is weak you would really like to understand the extent of your liability on any particular issue.