W.L. Gore: Dry Goods

By John Moore  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

As rival textile producers move their operations overseas to save money, W.L. Gore is staying put in the U.S. Its competitive advantage? Democracy.

What can a textile manufacturer that still wants to make fabric in America claim as its competitive advantage?

If youre W.L. Gore & Associates of Newark, Del., its democracy.

Gores technology to make plastic-based fabrics and its iconic Gore-Tex brand of outdoor clothing, with its Guaranteed to Keep You Dry pledge, may be the companys hallmark.

But its organizational style also stands out. Founder Bill Gore banished the typical corporate chain of command in favor of what the company terms a "flat lattice" organization.

New employees—"associates" in Gore-speak—are assigned to general work areas. Associates learn the business and gravitate toward projects under the tutelage of seasoned "sponsors."

Projects are highly collaborative. A person with an idea recruits like-minded associates, who may represent several different disciplines. Team members are accountable to each other. Bosses, in the usual sense, dont exist.

Thats why Thomas Malone, professor of management at MITs Sloan School, describes Gore as a miniature democracy.

Read the full story on Baselinemag.com: W.L. Gore: Dry Goods
John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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