Levels of Analysis Applied to Organizational Involvement in Haiti Relief

The MLB and the LiveStrong Foundation are among the thousands or more organizations who have recently declared their tangible support for Haiti, a poor nation that was recently wrecked by a major earthquake.  The country is in dire need of help and these are two organizations that have offered much-needed financial aid to the country.

These pledges of large donations ($1 million from the MLB and $250,000 from the LiveStrong Foundation) are acts that almost all would describe as compassionate, generous, and honorable.  However, every single day organizations have the ability to do things that would fall under these categories.  As a result, it is important to analyze why these donations in particular were made, why the generosity came about at the time that it did, and why the compassionate acts were directed towards the causes that they were.  Analysis of such things may appear simple if done in a cursory manner, but factors exist at many levels that likely influenced the actions of the MLB and LiveStrong Foundation.Many different approaches can be taken, but I will analyze the pledges from the perspective of three different levels of analysis: the social psychological, the organizational, and the ecological.  At the social psychological level of analysis, primary attention is given to the behavior of individuals.  The individuals that compose organizations play critical roles in determining the actions of such organizations.  Applied to the article at hand, it is possible that individuals with influential power within the MLB and LiveStrong Foundation have ties to Haiti or personal interests in restoring some semblance of order and proper living conditions to the country.  Perhaps key leaders in both organizations have family or friends living in Haiti, are of Haitian ethnicity, believe strongly in natural disaster relief, or some other aspect of that nature.  Understanding the donations the companies made requires figuring out where such interest in providing the aid came from and how the interpersonal connections of these individuals contributed to organizational pledges.  Furthermore, the relief organizations that the MLB and the LiveStrong Foundation used as avenues to donate to Haiti (UNICEF for the Red Cross and Partners in Health and Doctors Without Borders for the LiveStrong Foundation) may have been decided based upon individuals interactions with these organizations in the past and knowledge of their existences and purposes.

Although there is definitely the possibility of individuals with strong interests in providing relief aid to Haiti existing within the MLB and LiveStrong Foundation, there had to have been more at play for such significant donations to have been made.  The organizational level of analysis focuses on the actions of the organizations themselves, which in this case is the financial pledges of the MLB and the LiveStrong Foundation.  The decision to make such financial pledges likely originated within and was orchestrated by departments or divisions within each organization.  Perhaps human resources thought that it was essential to maintain employees by exhibiting the compassionate nature of the organization or new business development thought that the continued growth and attraction of the organization would be benefited by the popular publicity surrounding such a decision or maybe marketing and finance departments jointly decided that the additional publicity would generate revenue that would far exceed the cost of the pledges.  For the MLB in particular, perhaps a subunit of the organization recognized that the positive reactions from the public would help turn attention away from the currently tainted reputation of the league.  Any one of these scenarios, and an infinite number of others, are all possible.  The interactions between the various subunits of the MLB and the LiveStrong Foundation were likely what resulted in organizational decisions to offer large sums of money to Haiti recovery.  For such interactions to have occurred, various structural features of the organizations had to have been utilized.  For example, communication networks allowed for the communication of interest in providing such relief aid within different components of the organization and hierarchical structures were followed to make sure that the plans got to individuals who had the power to make them reality.

In the broadest sense the financial pledges can be analyzed from an ecological level, meaning that the focus of analysis is on systems of organizations.  Both the MLB and the LiveStrong Foundation exist within the larger system of sports organizations.  As such, they likely are tuned in to major actions of one another and are influenced by the decisions of other organizations within the world of sport.  The January 14th decision of the MLB to pledge money towards Haiti relief may have been influenced by the LiveStrong Foundation announcing its decision the day prior.  Similarly, this likely existed with a multitude of other organizations.  The environmental influence also reveals itself in the form of public opinion.  Public pressures to donate to the cause may have existed and the organizations may have been focused on how their decisions to donate would be viewed by those outside the organizations who are important for the organizations’ survival and success, such as fans.  Finally, the ecological level also involves analyzing the MLB’s and the LiveStrong Foundation’s interactions with relief organizations to determine which organizations to donate through.

Overall, the mission statements and purposes of neither the MLB nor the LiveStrong Foundation include donating to earthquake relief efforts.  However, both organizations decided it was important and took the necessary steps to make actual donations to support Haiti.  There is a vast array of factors that influenced these organizational decisions and they become most apparent when the organizations’ actions are viewed from different levels.  The combination of factors revealed by these three different levels of analysis worked together to result in the MLB pledging $1 million and the LiveStrong Foundation pledging $250,000 to Haiti relief aid.


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