The applicability of superpositioning to American architectural firms
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SuperPositioning is defined by the Coxe Group as "organizing and managing the professional services firm so it provides excellent service to its clients, does outstanding work recognized by peers, and produces commensurate results in satisfaction and material rewards for its professionals." According to SuperPositioning, the more SuperPositioned a firm is, the more likely a firm will be successful. SuperPositioning was formulated by Weld Coxe to show architectural firms how to pursue high levels of success through management. It combines the positioning of a firm's "Design Technologies" (Project Organizational Values) with its "Organization Values" (Firm Organizational Values). The basic principle of SuperPositioning is that a design firm should simultaneously position its Project Organizational Values (Idea, Service or Delivery) and Firm Organizational Values (Practice-Centered- Businesses and Business-Centered-Practices). According to SuperPositioning, if a firm's level of positioning of its Project and Firm Organizational Values is increased, the likelihood of achieving high levels of success will be greater than those architectural firms with a lower level of positioning of Project and Firm Organizational Values. When Project Organizational Values and Firm Organizational Value were placed in combination, a six-celled matrix is formed. This matrix is called SuperPositioning Matrix. SuperPositioning can be described by this Matrix. The design professionals can choose to locate in cell A, B, C, D, E or F. Each of them, shaped by different combinations of Project and Firm Organizational Values, has its unique strategies of project and firm organization and management to achieve maximum chances of success. The applicability of SuperPositioning was tested by Mamoun Fanek, a graduate student at Texas Tech University. He investigated the current levels of SuperPositioning of Jordanian architectural and engineering firms according to SuperPositioning, and found that SuperPositioning could not achieve the expected results to Jordanian architectural firms. There are three possible ways to explain why Coxe's SuperPositioning did not achieve the expected results in Jordan. The first one is the cultural and professional differences between American firms, for which SuperPositioning was designed, and Jordanian firms. The second one is the small number of participants in Fanek's research. The third one is the possibility of highly subjective statistical assumptions applied by Fanek. By conducting research on American firms with a revised version of the questionnaire, and using a different statistical method, the author of this research tested whether there was any significant correlation between levels of Positioning and success comparable to Fanek's findings. The author and his committee members, the same as those involved with Fanek's thesis, modified the questions in the Coxe Group's questionnaire, making sure the content was as similar as possible to the Coxe Group's while being scientifically more responsible. Several questions were added to the author's questionnaire. There were four parts in the author's questionnaire. Part One contained the first thirty questions, and related to the positioning of Project and Firm Organizational Values. Questions one to nine queried a firm's positioning of Project Organizational Values (Idea, Service and Delivery). Questions ten to thirty asked a firm's positioning of Firm Organizational Values (Practice-Centered Businesses and Business-Centered Practices). Part Two of the questionnaire was questions thirty-one and thirty-two, they asked the firms to rate nine attributes of Project and Firm Organizational Values contributing to their architectural and financial success. Part Three of the questionnaire was questions thirty-three and thirty-four, they were two self evaluation questions asking the firms to rate from zero to ten their perceived architectural and financial success. Part Four of the questionnaire was question thirty-five, it contained a list of external factors that might contribute to a firm's architectural and financial success. The firms were requested to indicate which of them contribute to their architectural and financial success. The city chosen to conduct this research was Dallas, Texas, for two main reasons. Dallas offered a diverse and substantial population of architectural firms. Also, the likelihood of the architectural firms in Dallas familiar with Texas Tech University was very high, increasing their potential willingness to participate in this research. After receiving the addresses of all the architectural firms in Dallas from the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a copy of the questionnaire was sent to these architectural firms. There were two hundred and forty-nine architectural firms in Dallas, Texas. The usable return rate of the questionnaire was around 19%, equal to forty-eight from which the data was collected. There were two hypotheses in this research, the research hypothesis and the null hypothesis. The research hypothesis posited that increased levels of positioning did increase levels of success. An opposite hypothesis to research hypothesis was the null hypothesis which stated that increased levels of positioning did not increase levels of success. The author used a simple linear regression to test whether level of positioning and success were significantly related. The results showed that the level of positioning of Project Organizational Values could increase the probability of achieving higher levels of architectural success, but not financial success. The level of positioning of Firm Organizational Values neither increased the probability of achieving higher levels of architectural success, nor the probability of achieving higher levels of financial success. Using a multiple linear regression to test whether the level of positioning of Project and Firm Organizational Values (SuperPositioning) and success are significantly related, the author found that SuperPositioning could increase the probability of achieving higher levels of architectural success, but not financial success. There are three possible ways to explain the results in this research. The first explanation is that SuperPositioning can only improve the probability of achieving higher levels of architectural success. If it is true, we need to investigate what kinds of management strategies should be applied to replace SuperPositioning to improve the probability of achieving higher levels of financial success. The next explanation is that SuperPositioning can indeed increase the probability of achieving higher levels of architectural and financial success, and the results from the architectural firms in Dallas is an exceptional case and does not fairly represent the architectural profession in the United States. If the architectural firms in Dallas cannot increase their probability of achieving higher levels of financial success through SuperPositioning, what can the architectural firms there do to improve their firms' financial success. The third explanation is that the applicability of SuperPositioning is geographically restrained to Dallas and other similar cities and areas. If it is true, we need to find out which regions we can apply SuperPositioning, and where we cannot apply it. We do not know which one of the three explanations mentioned above is correct, so the author recommends a nationwide research to find out the applicability of the SuperPositioning principles to all the American architectural firms. In addition, this new research should attempt to modify the SuperPositioning principles or to create a new theory. Since SuperPositioning is one of the most recognized avenues to pursue higher levels of success in architectural firms, its true applicability should be thoroughly understood before we can rely on it to achieve success.