Stream Group Australia's Liquidation

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Don McKenzie founded Stream Group Australia (SGA) in 2007 with its headquarters based in Brisbane in Australia.  The firm majorly deals with the assessment of insurance claims particularly the domestic ones in addition to providing solutions to insurers facing management issues regarding insurance claims (Burns & Dewhurst, 2016). The essential services offered by SGA are Consult, BuildAssist, Restorite, and Valid8.  In April 2016, the company was liquidated as a result of low capital-raising as reports showed that it had gone through a $12.7 million net loss over the year. This report aims at analysing SGA’s liquidation from the perspectives of the four frames to help inform better decision making and prevent similar scenarios in the future. The report will have two main parts. First, there will be an evaluation of the liquidation from the perspectives of each frame. Recommendations based on knowledge about the four frames will then follow. Finally, there will be a commentary on the report explaining key points using company statistics.

Brief Description

Liquidation, as defined by Lambrecht and Tse (2018), is the process of dissolving a firm’s financial affairs and disorganizing it where eventually, the assets are sold to cater for all debts. During liquidation, transfer of financial matters to the liquidator, freezing of bank accounts and termination of employment are evident with directors left with no authority (Brotchie & Morrison, 2017). The liquidation of SGA is a problem that requires immediate solutions to get Stream back to business. The Four Frames model is a phenomenon that was developed by Bolman and Deal in an attempt to show how people in an organization see the world. The lack of proper organizational context of Streams Group Australia was the major cause of its downfall. There were cases of incoordination between the various systems of the organization that affected the overall performance of the company (Routledge & Gadenne, 2014). Additionally, as a result of giving little importance to external factors and more to internal factors, SGA was not prepared for problems from outside variables. Thus, when they encountered the bankruptcy issue, the only immediate action they could take was voluntary administration. 

Human Resource Frame

The Human Resource frame is focused on understanding individuals concerning their feelings, various skills, needs and development opportunities which is a discipline in psychology. Paying attention to the social sector of the organization is essential for success in both the short and long run (Sadgrove, 2016). This frame emphasizes on first meeting individual needs to ensure success when meeting organizational needs as employees who feel good about their work environment are efficient.  To add on that, this frame holds a notion that employees need power and opportunity to perform and achieve job satisfaction. This means that employers need to involve employees from all levels in business operations to raise productivity. The capacity to learn and defend old beliefs is also associated with the HR frame where it positively views employees as having the ability to improve (Lyon, Nadershashi, Nattestad, Kachalia, & Hammer, 2014). The organizational ethics associated with the HR frame is a caring attitude of which lack of it can cause significant problems in a system.

The collapse of SGA was associated with the bad reputation that the Managing Director encountered which led to a loss of clients, for instance, the Cerno. The dominance of unqualified personnel in crucial areas was noticeable. For example, the majority of employees in the sales and operations departments lacked the relevant skills, and this ultimately caused a decrease in productivity. Consequently, Coad, (2014) argues high degrees unaccountability were witnessed as many employees lacked the clear understanding of the organizational goals and targets. Trust is crucial and tampering with the security can cause individuals to go on strikes or quit which affects an organization negatively.

 Since this frame sees individuals in an organization as a family, then it is essential that the members of the family stay united and each member plays their role adequately. Thus, by providing for the needs of the employee, the success of an organization is guaranteed where empowerment is the leadership image expressed (Farnsworth, Peterson, Neill, Neill, & Lawson, 2016). Empowerment means devising a way of making individuals or in this case employees complete their tasks while feeling good at the same time. However, the human resource frame is advantageous in an organization since it aligns with each worker’s special interests with the overall success of the organization. Nevertheless, the most compelling drawback of this frame is that it heavily depends on a “romanticized perception of human nature” whereby everyone has the great passion for the collaboration and growth. Similarly, the frame fails to acknowledge crucial aspects of powers which are recognized in the political frame.

Structural Frame

This is the second frame that originates from the fields of management science and sociology and is the most comfortable frame to analyse. According to Antonsen, (2017) it is a basic frame that is mostly task-oriented therefore managers make it their primary goal to ensure that the structure of the frame is compatible with their set targets. The significant concerns illustrated in this frame are how an organization of systems, the establishment of a business structure and available technology work to attain organizational goals. More importantly, this structure is involved in clarifying tasks, creating procedures, deciding on deadlines in addition to setting realistic company goals (Burns & Dewhurst, 2016). An efficient organizational structure enables those in charge to evaluate situations objectively and make any changes required in the composition.

In the case of Stream Group Australia, the problems it encountered relating to obtaining investments could be a significant drive to its liquidation. Further, when performance sags, and there is strategy mismatch, then problems begin. This was witnessed at SGA whereby the staff adopted a reactive approach to strategies which is a fast approach of dealing with issues instead of the proactive approach that entails getting rid of problems before they happen (Fruehauf, Al-Khalifa, & Coniker, 2015). Ultimately this translates to a significant problem in the structural frame of SGA that if the liquidator intends to bring the company back to business, they will have to undertake massive structural reforms and reorganizations to solve the mismatch. However, the structural frame has compelling merit in an organization since it acts as the pivotal point for improving employees’ morale and productivity. Nonetheless, the structural frame has drawn back since it is only useful if it is used in the right type of the organization. In one sense, the structure is “required not be inflexible or machine-like,” and it can have negative repercussions if it becomes bureaucratic in an organization. 

Symbolic Frame

This frame has a reputation for being the most difficult to comprehend as it requires thinking unfamiliar to a business professional. The symbolic originates from the field of social and cultural anthropology and views the organization as a theatre. Moreover, it gives life to the organization by determining the meaning of the actions taken in various ways rather than concentrating only on the results (Routledge & Gadenne, 2014).  Besides, it inspires individuals to follow the directions given by the organization due to their significance. Motivations and rewarding good performance via company celebrations is a strategy that has been associated with improving performance (Lyon, Nadershashi, Nattestad, Kachalia, & Hammer, 2014). Further, the guide to organizational effectiveness is culture and symbols as opposed to rules and policies which matter less. Leaders are therefore challenged to establish and maintain faith and meaning.

 The organizational ethics related to this frame is a faith which gives rise to creativity and passion. However, problems can occur when individuals fail to perform their job adequately, symbols lose their significance, and ceremonies are no longer potent. For the case of SGA, there was a toxic notion that the managing director will solve any issue that arose. This led to the loss of accountability among employees who avoided making challenging decisions.  Essentially, rituals, stories, and myths which characterize symbolic frame help to align the workers and reinforce the efforts of achieving a common goal.  However, the benefits accrued to the symbolic frame are limited in that the rituals in symbolic framed firm confer value if the all workers buy it. Also, most of the aspects of the symbolic frame are subject to misinterpretation which may affect the overall performance of the organization. Therefore, care must be taken to ensure stories and rituals are not subscribed to by the customers and workers as manipulation.

Political Frame

Lastly, this is the fourth model which gathers knowledge from the political science field and views organizations as arenas or jungles with different individuals scrambling for resources and power as well.  The political frame is characterized by frequent conflict due to the difference in ideologies and way of life (Van-Hulst & Yanow, 2016). For the success of any organization, it is paramount for the employer to have a precise knowledge of politics in the system. They can do this by identifying the individuals who influence the majority of decisions, the various interest groups fighting for control and the mechanisms the parties intend to use to achieve that. They should moreover insist on good politics especially where there is competition among employees to attain organizational goals.         

This frame aims at solving the problem of conflicts among employees and interest groups especially in cases of limited budgets. Conflict management, bargaining, and building of coalitions are the behaviours demonstrated by individuals in this frame (Bolman & Deal, 2017). Consequently, employees are engaged in the power-base building to show support for their leader’s goals and initiatives which is a way of maintaining unity and trust in the organization.

When power is concentrated in the wrong places or is scarcely dispersed it is evident that problems are likely to occur. In Streams Group Australia, there were different dimensions of power with the managing director in charge of making major decisions. This means that major decisions were not inclusive of the views of junior employees in the company. The higher management was also accused of exercising control over processes such that employees were not allowed to comment or review procedures. In other words, the management’s verdict was final and did not advocate for active participation of all members. Conflicts at the top management were also evident whereby power plays were primarily exercised with the roles of CEO and Managing Director (Williams, 2015). The managing director assumed the powers of the Chief Executive which mainly affected the management of affairs at SGA. Effective management is a crucial measure to take as it leads to adequate disbursement of power hence influencing organizational effectiveness.  However, in spite that the frame aloes room for negotiation and advocacy for positive change in an organization it has several demerits.  The notable drawback of the political frame is that to focuses significantly on mistrust and conflict while overlooking the importance of encouraging collaboration in an organization.  Lastly, the political frame ignores the significance of workers’ desire to perform well in the working environment, a virtue that is emphasized by the human resource model.

Source: (Fruehauf, Al-Khalifa, & Coniker, 2015).


Before the situation became difficult to control that Streams Group Australia got liquidated, it would have been better if the management had dealt with the issue early enough. Despite the structural frame being dominant, the application of multiple perspectives will be beneficial to SGA since it necessitates “beyond moving narrow,” mechanical strategies to comprehend the organization. Numerous perspectives approach views the company from the four frames and find solutions to each problem encountered. This approach is beneficial as compared to using a single aspect because of elimination of bias by providing an avenue for knowledge sharing among employees (Jackson, 2015). Also, Ramirez & Wilkinson, (2016) suggest the use of Mintzberg model is advised. Essentially, it is a tool that can be used by managers to know their bearing by knowing how various variables will respond to external challenges. This enables managers to be prepared in case of any problems in the future.

It is crucial that systems invest in programs that enhance management talents as this will create good leadership which is essential to performance (Wessels, 2015). Thus, reframing is a recommended strategy that involves framing complex situations faster, analysing the information from a new perspective and creating teams that envision the world from the future (Bryan & Rafferty, 2017). For SGA, reframing will help the company deal better with the liquidation issue by viewing the problem as a new opportunity. Reframing has been used as a tool for promoting innovation and is useful in problem-solving and improving emotional intelligence (Conradie & Lamprecht, 2015). Therefore, if applied at Streams Group Australia, it can assist the company in coming back on its feet with a new perspective in mind which will ensure efficiency and performance.


The state of SGA has deemed it necessary to come up with appropriate reforms if they are to go back in business. Senior managers have to apply the recommended strategies to have a comprehensive view of the organization to be able to evaluate the success of failures of changes that happen in the organization. This will ensure that businesses stay balanced so that the bad vices do not outweigh the ethical virtues. The liquidation of SGA led to the loss of jobs for many individuals.  In one sense, it will be therefore challenging to get old employees back unless by the use of economic incentives which motivate employees to pursue their needs and preferences. More emphasis should be put on the importance of teamwork and managers held accountable for any action that is their responsibility. A bright and elaborate definition of roles is also necessary to avoid the repetition of the scenario at SGA. This also means that each should perform their duties to prevent performance sag which negatively affects the achievement of both individual and organizational goals. Therefore, for SGA to deal with the liquidation problem, it is crucial that it puts into its strategy the four-frame model as well as applying the reframing structure for maximum productivity.


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January 19, 2024

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