Case Study

Organizational Change In Umpqua Bank


The South Umpqua Bank had made some drastic cultural changes, first in the Portland bank, and then spreading through the other banks. The change was greater than most people of ever tried in it Corporation before. There was great employee buy-in and all the right stakeholders had been included in the culture change. However, as with any change, it is more difficult to maintain than it is to create. This paper will discuss some of those challenges.


Some of the challenges to ensuring that this culture was maintained include things like the fact that this was a small-town bank and the feeling of that needed to be maintained. This came along with the fact that the new culture was really quite sophisticated. Customer service had to feel like it was being done the same as before. The new culture of efficiency was difficult to maintain because it was so different than anyone and never worked before. There were even major changes with positions that needed to happen. When Davis discussed the changes that needed to be made with this staff, he found that there was not enough power in the positions that were directly related to customer service and would be difficult to maintain a culture and in those circumstances.


In this case, Davis used many things to make sure that the culture stayed on track. As Davis said,” our people are required walk the walk and talk the talk.” In order to assure that this is what happens daily motivational moments were established in the store. These included things like tossing balloons, having 2 min, sharing interests, or having treats. It was meant to bring the staff together and continue keeping the morale of the employees up. Incentive pay was provided for staff directly related to customer service. There were different levels of incentive paid which of course incentivize those who were moderate workers to become stronger and to understand the culture better.

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The empowerment that was given to the employees help maintain the culture itself. Everyone assumed a little more power than they had before, including those that worked in the back.” Our culture is our greatest asset but also the greatest risk. As we grow the culture gets stretched.” This statement was made by Davis and helps us understand why the culture was difficult to maintain. He actually made a vice president position related to cultural enhancement in order to ensure that the culture was maintained. Any Internet within the Corporation was put together to allow better information for the employees throughout the Corporation.

Future Challenges

Future challenges definitely include the expansions that Umpqua Bank have had to make. The Perl was not only beautiful and functional but expensive. Not every bank that was brought into the fold could afford to do that kind of expansion. How do you add a bank, maintain the culture, and have fewer dollars for the building. Many of the banks that were purchased already had a high numbers of customers which meant they had to figure out how to fit the customers into the new culture as well. This was done by taking a long look at what was then that the Perl, attempting to replace that, by using less expensive materials. It worked.

This culture is very tightly run, meaning that there are many employee meetings, a lot of a of employee buy-in, and a large amount of information flowing between the Corporation and the local store. As Umpqua gets larger, it will become more and more difficult to maintain this kind of communication. It will also be more be more and more difficult to maintain the beauty of the stores. Remembering that this is a local bank, or the culture of a local bank, the larger the corporation gets the less likely it is to feel that way. There is also the possibility that his Umpqua Bank expands into more and more small communities, some of those people that would be customers, will be intimidated by the buildings themselves. This is the kind of issue that Umpqua Bank will have to continually guard against.

Further, at this point Umpqua Bank has a very stringent and very particular training program. This program is meant to ensure that all employees are on the same line as far as the culture and as far as customer service. As any corporation gets larger and adds more employees he becomes more important to maintain the specific points of any orientation program. It also becomes much more difficult, the more employees there are. One person doing training that doesn’t follow through as the corporation would want can begin a culture change. This becomes more more likely as stores are spread out through a larger area with a large number of employees.


Umpqua Bank is very unique. They created a culture that’s never been seen before in a bank, in particular a small-town bank. In doing that they improve customer service, employee retention, and total bank funds. The culture change itself was not easy to make happen and did not happen overnight. However maintaining their culture is much more difficult as shown in prior discussion. Will they be able to continue to maintain this culture under severe growth? Is difficult to say, but it must also be noted, that culture name change may need to happen and under these circumstances, may be even more difficult.


Umpqua Bank: managing the culture and implementing brand. Harvard Business School Publishing. Case Study.

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