Starbucks: Providing the perfect corporate culture

By: Morgan Bittengle


Being an avid coffee drinker, and more specifically a Starbucks fan I felt it was only fitting to do the original case study we were assigned on Starbucks and their corporate culture. This case study will provide details on how the company works and how they treat their employees and customers, which in the end, leads to the success and popularity of the company itself.

Starbucks is one of the most popular, well-liked companies in the world. They give people their early morning boost of energy and also their afternoon pick-me-ups. They  were founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington, and incorporated on November 4, 1985 to become the publicly traded Starbucks Corporation. It is ranked among Forbes’ top-500 world’s biggest public companies. As of 2015, Starbucks’ profit was $2.5 billion and it had a market value of $70.9 billion. Their mission statement shows just how they are not only about coffee, but also about the soul of the human and how they can and will be the best person they can be. “To inspire and nurture the human spirit- one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” ( The way in which employees of Starbucks treat each other and act in the cafes are a very good representations of how Starbucks as a whole want their customers to be treated. The environment Starbucks provides customers with will also carry on to the companies goals for the future. The next thing that I will discuss in this case study will be carrying on into theories that are implemented within the company culture.


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Communication Accommodation Theory is one that fits well with Starbucks and their culture. The employees consistently try to tend to the needs of the customers, which means they change the way they speak or act to benefit them. An example of this is when one particular Starbucks location tended to the needs of deaf or hearing impaired customers. Starbucks hired people who could read sign language to communicate with the customers enabling them to order for themselves, leaving them feeling humbled and proud they could do this in a society that doesn’t fluently use sign language. That is just one of the many examples of how Starbucks accommodates to their customers through communication, which can be verbal or nonverbal.

Another way communication accommodation theory is used throughout the Starbucks culture is through language in general. Since there are Starbucks locations all over the world, the company realizes that and tends to the communication barrier. For example, hiring employees in high tourist areas that may speak multiple languages or even may just be good at interpreting what is being said is something they strive for.

Acquired Needs theory, though, people are motivated to work to acquire status that is deemed important by society. Starbucks employees main goals are to satisfy the needs/wants of the customers. In the workplace, they strive to expand on the companies brand development and globally.

Theory of linguistic relativity “assumes that the structure of language we use influences the way we perceive the environment” (Organizational Communication). This is also known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In regards to Starbucks and their corporate culture, this is very relative because the way in which employees speak to each other and customers determines how someones experience at the cafe will go. It shows a lot about the company itself when employees speak mindfully, honestly and positively.

The main goal of Starbucks is to make sure that the needs of the consumer are met. In order to do this though, language is very important and key to their success. It starts within the company, too. When managers and others who are high up are discussing what needs to be done, things are relayed in a manner where it is comfortable and easy to see that the manager or whoever it is wants the employee to feel safe and comforted in their workplace.

Since language is such a prominent aspect in a successful company, the theory of linguistic relativity is relayed into Starbucks company as a whole very often. Whether it’s listening to what customers enjoy and what they don’t, or if it’s getting out in the public and asking for suggestions on how to provide a more beneficial coffee drinking environment, they get out there and do these things.

Critical Analysis

Starbucks is a company that is so well known by not just one area of people. It is a company that gets business all over the world. One key aspect to the culture of Starbucks that they take pride in is that they are very diverse. “Our partners are diverse not only in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion and age, but also in cultural backgrounds, life experiences, thoughts and ideas”. Taylor Yukawa, a deaf financial analyst, at Starbucks in Seattle, Washington shares what his experience with Starbucks has been like and how they do not judge or discriminate because of his disability. Taylor is a great representation and example of how Starbucks is a diverse company that focuses more on the outcome rather than being picky on who does the work that gets to the outcome.

As mentioned earlier, there are Starbucks all over the world. In fact, there are 24, 395 retail locations. Starbucks “main markets” are the Americas (including Canada, Latin America, and the US), China and Asia Pacific, and Middle East and Africa. In the United States specifically, California is the state with the most Starbucks stores, with 1,863 locations. Having so many stores all around the world can most likely get pretty hectic at times, so I think it shows a lot about the company itself and how they are able to control and bring in customers consistently on a daily basis.

Starbucks has many values, as does any successful company, but the four main values that they have are:

1.Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.

2. Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.

3.Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

4.Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

These values provide an insight to the outside world of the Starbucks company as to what they truly believe in and why they do the things they do. They do not focus solely on the customer but they place high importance on the employees as well. This speaks volumes for a company of the size of Starbucks.

In a recent article comparing the difference in corporate cultures between Starbucks and Amazon, I was amazed at what I read. Amazon places high importance on the customer, which is great, but neglects the need and wants of the employees making it a hostile and unenjoyable workplace. Starbucks, on the other hand, placed the two (customers and employees satisfaction) on the same level. Amazon explains what customers need to do for the company for it to be successful and their mission statement where Starbucks leaves it short, sweet and to the point. This goes to show that less is truly more. What needs to be done for the highest rate of satisfaction doesn’t mean neglecting your employees.

Ethical standards are high in the company because they feel so strongly about employee and customer satisfaction. Being able to honestly say that the company you work for cares about others and wants the highest satisfaction rate, not just the highest income is very admirable.

“We are performance driven , through the lens of humanity”. This is a quote from the Starbucks mission statement page and I think it sums up their company perfectly. Basically, what it is saying is that the company works for and does what needs to be done to satisfy the needs of others in the world. Starbucks looks at the outside world and sees what they need to do and listens to the wants of those around.

Another example as to how Starbucks looks out for their employees just as much as their customers, is all the benefits there are for working for the company. Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement through the college achievement plan. They also offer health care benefits for part-time and full-time employees, including same sex and domestic partner benefits.


All in all, Starbucks is a wonderful company to work for or even just give your business to. They show admirable qualities in what needs to be done for the satisfaction of not just the customers but also their employees, which then keeps them around longer. It also encourages them to WANT to do more for their company on their own. Things such as finding out what can be done better, what customers like best, how they view messages most, etc.

As previously mentioned, Amazon and Starbucks were compared in their corporate culture and it was a night and day difference. Amazons CEO, Jeff Bezos, could learn a lot about employee success and how to keep them going and active in the company from Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz. Doing little things such as positive talk, encouragement, reiteration on how important individuals are to the company goes a long way, and that is just one of the many reasons why Starbucks is so successful in that department. It is also where Amazon is very unsuccessful, so it shows a large difference in the two companies.

So, whether you’re looking for a new place of employment or just for a nice cup-o-joe, Starbucks is your place to go. You will not be let down or disappointed.


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Domino’s Boogergate

By: Natalie M Antonio

Domino’s Pizza is a pizza company that was founded in 1960, by brothers, Tom and Jim Monaghan. Back then it was not called “Domino’s” it was started under the name of DomiNick’s. With about in 8,000 stores in about 54 different countries. It wasn’t long after that Domino’s Pizza is the number two pizza chain restaurant in the North America. 1973, Monaghan guaranteed that the customers would receive their order 30 minutes after ordering, or they would receive their order for free. This was soon changed in the mid 1980s to the customers receiving three dollars off of their order. In 1992 Domino’s settled with a family from Illinois, because a woman was killed by a delivery driver. Domino’s settled with them for almost 2.8 million dollars. Again in 1993, a Domino’s delivery driver struck a woman in her van, after the driver ran a red light. Domino’s settled with the woman for almost 80 million dollars. This was also the year that Domino’s took away the “30 minutes or less” delivery guarantee because it gave the perception of reckless and and irresponsible driving. The “you got 30 minutes” campaign was brought back in 2007 (Ravi, 2015), which could imply reference to their earlier slogan, but not promising delivery in 30 minutes or less. One of the slogans from the Ann Arbor, Michigan based company got the best review of them all, “This slogan differs from all the others in a number of ways,” Huber said. “First, it is comprised of two syntactically complete sentences instead of phrases. Second, it includes an attention-getting command that speaks to the reader/listener directly. Third, this slogan uses the name of the brand, Domino’s. In that way, it stands out and is, perhaps, ‘stickier’ despite the extra words (‘the’ and ‘it’s’) and lack of syntactic or semantic or rhythmic balance.”

I am a person who enjoys a good prank every now and then, but there comes a time when those pranks turn dangerous and bad for that person’s personal brand. Some people can be pranksters but there is a fine line of when the pranking either becomes dangerous, stupid or discrediting to the person performing the prank. Especially when it comes to commercial food preparation. This is what happened to two Domino’s employees from North Carolina, Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer. At the time of the incident the two employees were in the kitchen, preparing orders for customers. In 2009 the pizza company faced a large PR and social media scandal. Hammonds can be quoted saying “ There’s Michael”, *achoo* “Making someone’s perfect cheese sticks with a big booger on it, then we’ll watch him box it and send it to the heat rack to be served to some unlucky customer, that is in need of some snot.” While Hammonds is saying this, we can see her filming Setzer sneezing on the cheesy bread then poking at the “booger” in the bread. Later in the same video, Setzer can be seen taking a sponge, that was used for washing dishes; wiping himself with the sponge, then using it to wash dishes. In the video Hammonds, makes a comment about how their boss is none the wiser because he is back in his office “reading the paper, like he always does.”

This scandal is obviously a consumer’s and a company’s worst nightmare. There is always a level of trust associated with the people who work in the food industry. As a company Domino’s saw that they had a very large crisis brewing for their personal brand. Tim McIntyre, Domino’s  corporate vice president, who is also a member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). McIntyre tells us about how Dominos reacted to the video going viral after the first 24 hours it had been posted. One of the first emotions that he felt was anger, because he like many others loved this brand, trusted this brand and loved the franchises that they worked with. At first McIntyre thought that this video was a hoax because he could not believe that his employees could film something so real, so reckless, and put it on the internet. Without knowing what the repercussions would be. McIntyre had said almost immediately “You know what, this is a bad one — they’re in uniform, they’re in the store. We need to do something about it.(PRSA 2009)” The next step that the corporate team made was to make still images of the two employees in the video to distribute them to their franchises across the country. This lead to the identification of the two employees. All of that happened within two hours of the video being posted. Some readers of The Consumerist helped narrow down which store that this video was filmed at This video was filmed on Easter Sunday, because the employees were bored and there were very few orders coming into the store at that time. The Tuesday morning after this had happened the corporate team had identified the employees, contacted the local health department, the store owner and the police department. At the end of this day the video had more than 250,000 hits on YouTube. Along with YouTube, this crisis also hit it big on the Twitter front. That same evening at about 7:30 pm, Domino’s social media team looked into what people were saying on Twitter. The initial conversation that was happening involved people saying how horrible the video was, but more about what Domino’s was going to do about this scenario, or if Domino’s knew what had happened. What is even more interesting to me is that Domino’s social media committee had met almost a month prior to this incident, the committee was working on strategies to move Domino’s to the next level, the social media level. the committee was working on moving Domino’s onto Facebook, Twitter and more relevant social media sites. According to McIntyre, the team had a plan in place, they did not want to go into the situation blindly, they wanted to implement the solution correctly, and were going to implement the new social media program only a week after the crisis happened. The social media platform was released in the middle of the “boogergate”.

Because this video was released on a Sunday, especially Easter Sunday, most of the corporate leadership was away on vacation with their families. By Wednesday the president, Patrick Doyle, had come back from Florida to be briefed, because the whole leadership team, was aware of the situation, because of text messages, and E-mail. By the middle of the day on Wednesday, the video had reached almost one million views on Youtube. For the first time ever, in 2009 terms, Domino’s had passed “Paris Hilton” in a word search on Google. This is what ultimately brought this video to the media’s attention. Even though this news broke fast, McIntyre said, “This is fast, but there are 307 million people in America. There are a lot of people who don’t know about it; let’s focus on talking to the audience that’s talking to us. (PRSA, 2009)” In response to this they put a statement up on Domino’s website. It is known that the first 24 hours after a crisis are the most critical ones. McIntyre and the rest of the social media team had to perform a lot of damage control to accomplish. The target audience for this was YouTube, since this is where the crisis first started at. The main problem for the company was to identify the individuals, contacting the customers, ensuring that no one received contaminated food, as well as making sure that no crime had been committed. This was working in conjunction with the police, because the corporate team wanted the employees charged with a crime, because of the visual evidence and the claim that they were going to feed this contaminated food to consumers.

Domino’s wanted to make sure that their point was driven home, in a strong manner, that they do not tolerate this type of behavior. McIntyre had said that it would be different if the employees were teenagers, but the employees were two people in their mid 30s. This is why Domino’s got some flack for initially not responding very quickly. McIntyre also said that they needed to learn perspective on things, by using the analogy of not needing a fire hose to put out a candle. Someone else related the way Domino’s responded in the first 24 hours to a “grocery store with 30 isles but there was only a spill in isle five, and that they didn’t need to mop the whole store because there was a little spill in isle five. But while the spill was happening it was leaking to isle six, seven, four and three. if the same spill were to happen again, we would rope off the surrounding isles.” This was a great analogy of what happened with this crisis. McIntyre also said that this would include posting on the website a little sooner, as well as posting on Twitter a little sooner as well, and communicating to the senior leadership team quicker.

This crisis with Domino’s can be related mostly to the Communication Accommodation Theory. The Communication Accommodation Theory was first initiated in 1971, by Howard Giles, a professor at the University or California, Santa Barbra. This theory was first known as the Speech Accommodation Theory. Giles wanted to find the reason for the shifts in people’s speech patterns, as well as find the consequences of their behavior. Giles was mostly interested in finding they underlying thought process and emotions that can be involved with convergence and divergence during conversations. This theory explains that when people talk to each other, those people can change the way he or she talks to match the way the listener talk. This change can be conscious or unconscious, the person matches their accent, the speed, the rhythm, the vocabulary, as well as the stance and gestures that the person makes.

The reason that the person performs this theory is because he or she wants to agree or want the other person to like him or her. This theory can also come across as the person being fake, or too familiar with the topic being talked about. Sometimes the speaker can use convergence to show that he or she has more power than the listener, the speaker comes across as too patronizing. This the theory is considered sound, because researchers have been able to challenge the different scenarios. Sometimes the conversations can be too complex to break down into the different convergence and divergence scenarios (Communication Accommodation Theory)

This theory can be related to the Domino’s pizza crisis because the leadership team with the corporate team used accommodation to change the way that they responded to the crisis at hand. The team turned to the YouTube platform to record and broadcast their response to the crisis. They figured out that because this crisis first broke on the YouTube front, that the team needed to resolve the problem with the same form of media. With this situation at hand the senior leadership team could have chose to move quickly and deliver false information. They chose to take the time to gather information before confirming the accusations against these two employees, and ensuring the public safety.

As a consumer and someone who has worked in the food industry before, when I found the idea for this case study, I was appalled at the level of carelessness of these two employees. A few years ago Domino’s changed up their formula for their pizza and my family stopped ordering it because their pizza makes me sick. After watching this video I find it hard to order any type of food. As someone who has worked in the food industry at Panera Bread,  I know what goes into keeping a restaurant up to the health codes, and how employees are supposed to treat procedures with food preparation. At Panera Bread we had specific quality assurance protocols that had to be performed a few times a day, for example, we had a special cutting board and knives that had to be used when we made anything with peanut butter, or anything with the tuna salad. We also had protocol for when a food item or utensil hit the floor, as well as protocols for washing the dishes, there was a separate sink for anything that could be considered an allergen. Social media has always been a touchy subject because the older population usually does not want anything do to with social media, where the younger generations are usually glued to what ever forms of social media is on their given mobile device. Especially with my generation, older adults are always telling you “be careful about what you post on social media, it never goes away!” This was true of the video as well, I was able to find the video that was initially posted in 2009 all the way in 2016, with only a few keystrokes. I think that Domino’s did a decent job at maintaining the safety of the public while managing this crisis. They waited until they had the proper amount of knowledge before they implemented their plan to fix the current crisis. This was how I related this case study back to the Communication Accommodation Theory. Other companies can take point from Domino’s leadership team, by keeping cool in the face of crisis, and using social media to apologize and explain themselves to the general public. 


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CEO Mark Parker Foundation of Nike’s Organizational Culture

by Nathaniel E. Urban


Photo Credit: Huh Magazine

The purpose of this case study is to analyze how Nike CEO Mark Parker has used situational management style to influence the organizational culture of Nike. Nike is a multinational corporation that is responsible for the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories. This case study will provide a detailed description of situational management style and how Parker has used it to lead Nike as the most valuable brand among sports businesses. A critical analysis will give a description of Nike and an analysis of their organizational culture. It will also look at how Parker has applied situational management style and what his leadership has done to improve Nike. A conclusion will include a short discussion on what other organizations can learn from Parker’s management style.

Description of Situational Management Style

Situational leadership is a management style developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. “The fundamental precept of situational leadership is that there is no one ‘best’ style of leadership, and that the most successful leaders are the ones who can adapt their style to a given situation” (Joseph, 2016). Good situational leaders are able to adapt their style to do what is best for a company, a group project, or any type of organization. The best situational leaders may use a couple general styles of management depending on the situation. The styles a situational leader may use are called coaching, directing, delegating, and supporting.

Coaching is a type of management style that involves a great amount of “hands-on” involvement by the leader in an employee’s work. This style is most effective when an employee displays weaknesses that need improvement. For a leader to be effective at coaching, the employee must recognize their weaknesses and seek to improve them. The employee is then responsible for their improvement but the leader is there to offer guidance.

“The directing management style typically involves taking over a challenging situation and applying specific knowledge and experience to right the ship” (Joseph, 2016). A leader who adopts directing management style uses it to establish clear goals and objectives for their position as well as their employees. The employees typically provide the input as to how the objectives are met. The leader will provide detailed instructions as to what changes, if any, the employee needs to make.

The delegating style places more responsibility on the employees as opposed to the leader. Most of the ultimate decisions are left in the hands of the employees. “The manager is able to provide guidance, but only when needed or requested by the employees, and serves in more of a consultant capacity” (Joseph, 2016). This style is extremely effective when a staff of employees is confident enough to work independently and provide their own ideas. The delegating style allows employees to use their best creativity in how they choose to accomplish a task. The leader pushes for their employees to critically think and work through a situation.

The supporting style involves the leader holding more of a motivational role. “The leader’s main function is to attempt to instill confidence in the workers so they eventually become more self-sufficient and productive” (Joseph, 2016). The leader attempts to assure their employees that they have the capability to perform what is asked of them. This style can involve the leader assigning projects to their employees while providing support when needed.

Situational leadership allows managers to be flexible. “One of the keys to situational leadership is adaptability. Leaders must be able to move from one leadership style to another to meet the changing needs of an organization and its employees” (Spahr, 2015). Situational leadership is unique and effective because it incorporates many different approaches. The correct approach depends heavily on an organization’s environment and its employees. A situational leader, like Nike CEO Mark Parker, is able to effectively move from one management style to another.

Critical Analysis

Nike is one of the world’s largest suppliers and manufacturers of athletic shoes, apparel, and sports equipment. Nike sponsors several well-known athletes and sports teams from around the world. Their iconic trademarks of “Just Do It” and the Swoosh logo are two of the most recognized trademarks in the world. Since Parker became CEO in 2006, Nike’s value has nearly doubled from $19 billion to $30 billion. Nike pays top athletes in many sports to use and promote their products and designs. Nike has signed multi-million dollar deals with athletes like Rory McIlroy and LeBron James. Parker has been labeled as “The World’s Most Creative CEO” and says that, “Nike’s culture is perfectly suited for the new, unpredictable age of business” (Safian, 2012). Parker has also said that, “The last thing we want is to be a big dumb company that feels we can put a swoosh on something and people will buy that” (Safian, 2012). Nike is known to be a company that is constantly adapting to an ever-changing market and customer base. The company actually receives much of their inspiration from their athlete focused customers. Parker has discussed how athletes are always progressing and striving to improve their performance. The same idea can be said about how Nike acts as a company.

The aspect of Nike that is going to be analyzed is their organizational culture. Nike’s organizational culture includes how the company is organized, how their employees behave, and what influences affect the employee’s success. Thanks to Parker, Nike is a company that is able to constantly adapt their structure in a growing and shifting market. Parker said, “Our management approach hasn’t come from studying and reading business books. It’s more intuitive, from the culture of sports. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve. Things are accelerating” (Safian, 2012). Parker organizes Nike in a flexible way that allows the company to seek new ideas, methods, and designs. Nike does well when it comes to adapting to change. They are known well for looking at change as an opportunity rather than a challenge. If a company is not able to adapt then it is more likely to fail. Parker said, “Sometimes with size and success comes the notion that since we’ve done things to be successful, we have the formula and can institutionalize it. That can be death” (Safian, 2012). Nike’s organization is established so that even what has worked really well for the company is still challenged. Nike does not contend on remaining comfortable in their styles and methods. They are determined to strive for the next best approach to a situation.

Parker is not someone who believes his employees’ abilities are fixed. He believes their abilities need to be cultivated in Nike’s culture. Andy Champion, Nike’s chief financial officer, said that, “Parker is notorious for constantly asking questions that push employees to think harder. What’s fascinating about his use of questions is that it leaves other leaders empowered to find the answers themselves and act on them” (Lebowitz, 2015). Parker is not a CEO who thinks he has all the answers. He wants employees to use what they know to ask insightful questions that promote discussion with other co-workers. Asking questions does not allow employees to get too comfortable with one way of thinking or doing something. Employees are encouraged to question their own personal methods and their work as well.

Employees are influenced by Nike’s eleven management maxims and their athlete focused customer base.  Nike’s management maxims are eleven simple statements that promote the core source of innovation within the company. Two of them are, “It is our nature to innovate”, and, “Be a sponge” (Waite, 2014). The first one says, “The company sees innovation as one of its core organizational competencies” (Waite, 2014). The second one says, “Employees at Nike are encouraged to be curious and open to new ideas, whatever their source” (Waite, 2014). These two maxims and the other nine represent everything the company stands for. The goal is for these maxims to guide employees at any level as they work with and represent the company. Athletes are considered to be Nike’s biggest influence due to their pursuit of growth and change. It is a powerful influence because Nike is a company that is pursuing the same thing. “Athletes and Nike designers fuel each other’s creativity when they work together. In 2008 Kobe Bryant and Nike’s Eric Avar designed the KOBE 9, which featured technology that made for a lighter-weight and better fitting shoe” (Lebowitz, 2015). A strong relationship between a company and their customers has the power to drive a company’s success and the customer’s loyalty to their product.

Nike does extremely well embodying situational management style through Parker. Parker has shown how he can easily transition between coaching, directing, delegating, and supporting management styles throughout Nike. Situational management style is all about a leader who can be flexible. Parker recognizes that not all of his employees are immediately comfortable with innovating. His coaching management style has shown, “Even those who are averse to change because they are safe and rather complacent in their secured positions doing what they do best and have been doing well, have been made to innovate” (Advise America, 2016). Parker has made change a natural part of Nike’s culture. Employees are trained to accept change as an opportunity for innovation. Parker helps his employees feel confident enough to accept this as part of Nike’s culture.

Parker is not a CEO who typically adopts a directing management style but that does not mean he is not able to. “Earlier in 2012, Parker noted that Nike’s R&D group had 350 ideas being explored. He recognized that the number was too high. He got personally involved-not specifically selecting projects, but working with the R&D team to set up criteria to evaluate” (Safian, 2012). Parker gave the R&D team a simple goal by saying that the number of ideas they had was too high. The employees provided most of the input as to how they were going to reduce this number after Parker help them create a criteria to discuss their ideas. The R&D worked to cut their idea list down to 50.

Perhaps Parker’s two strongest management styles are when he is able to use delegation and support. Parker pushes his employees to think through difficult situations and provide alternative ideas to present methods. “Every employee who is otherwise skilled to get his or her job done, is also tasked with the responsibility to contribute something more, to find out if there is something better and to develop oneself as well as the company in any which way one can” (Advise America, 2016). His delegating management style is thoughtful yet demanding. It involves a lot of personal accountability and responsibility. This is, however, exactly what Parker wants out of his employees. Strong delegation is the exact opposite of micro-managing, which is something Parker does not believe in. He said, “At Nike, we have incredibly strong people. They know what to do” (Safian, 2012).

Parker’s strongest ability is to use a supporting management style. Parker has been known to, “Go out of his way to solicit ideas from junior members of the team. He likes to pull raw ideas out and put them in the spotlight. He likes to celebrate the fact that ideas can come from anywhere” (Blazek, 2016). Parker likes to discover the ideas his employees possess and then help them sharpen them. He encourages his employees to look for new ways to innovate and adapt to Nike’s environment. He is also involved in the development of new designs and frequently walks the halls of Nike to see what he might gain from other employees.


Other organizations can learn a lot from Parker’s management style and how it has affected Nike’s organizational culture. Organizations can learn that change and innovation is necessary for their future success. Parker has established that, “Innovation is the center of our culture, so we can deal with things pretty effectively and naturally through that lens” (Greenfield, 2015). It is crucial for organizations to remember that being comfortable with the way they are does not really mean there is any growth. Leaders of organizations can also learn how to adopt different management styles. Not every situation is going to require the same type of management. A strong leader must know what management style will work best for the success of the organization. Parker understands that he must adapt his management style as often as Nike is adapting to the global market and their customer’s needs. Parker’s situational management style has allowed Nike to remain as one of the highest valued organizations in the world.


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Communication Isn’t Frozen

By: Sabrina Mills


The purpose of this case study is to look at Disney Pixar Animation Studios and look at their organizational culture. More specifically applying their culture to the General Systems Theory. The general systems theory is applying properties of living systems to different things, including organizations. Disney Pixar Animation Studios has a unique organizational culture that tries to center around bringing everyone together, and also making sure that everyone is a part of the process. In this case study, we will take a look at how Pixar incorporates all of these aspects, keeping the general systems theory in mind, and the secrets and insides to their organizational culture.

General Systems Theory, developed by Von Bertalanffy, applies the properties of living systems to many things, including organizations. General Systems Theory applies many concepts to an organizational environment. Organizations have a set of concepts that are universal to all of them. Concepts like Output. Output is when many elements are flowing out of the system. Like when a department is working together to better the entire organization. If the idea gets put out of test or discussion, that’s output. Input is another on are the opposite of Output. Input is many ideas and elements flowing into the system (Avtgis, 2012). For example, a comment and suggestions box. If the input is being brought into the organization, then its input General Systems Theory also deals with permeable boundaries, which are the limits where elements are exchanged within the system and the larger environment. This involves exchanging information within the system and the immediate environment (Avtgis, 2012). With this, there is a clear idea of whether the organization has an open system or closed system. An open system is when the info and elements are constantly exchanged within the organization, and in between all levels. A closed system is when the info is not shared with the immediate environment. With a closed system, an organization runs the risk of entropy. Entropy is when a system is moving toward death (Avtgis, 2012). An example of entropy is Blockbuster Video. They couldn’t keep up with competition and the changing world of technology, so eventually they were pushed out by more popular competition. Another concept is Homeostasis, which the balance of the system, or keeping the system in balance. This is different departments or sections working together to maintain a steady balance or flow within the organization. General Systems Theory also deals with subsystems and suprasystems. Subsystems are the smaller system that operate in a larger system. The suprasystem is that larger system in which the subsystem operates (Avtgis, 2012).  For example, a Home Depot is a subsystem of Home Depot Corporation, which would be the suprasystem. But the lumber department of that Home Depot store is the subsystem of the store itself, which would then become the suprasystem. Each department in an organization depends on each other to be able to sustain and survive (Avtgis, 2012). Another way for an organization to survive and thrive is through feedback. Feedback is info obtained through the system that comes from the environment (Avtgis, 2012). This is just like customer feedback. Its comments, suggestions, and feedback from the public or from outside the system. The feedback could benefit the organization, so it is important to take it into consideration, because it could help further the organization. A cybernetic System takes the feedback and self-regulates the feedback to maintain the system. System maintenance is when they system maintains its current practices. System adaption is when the system changes or adapts to the feedback based on the environmental changes around it (Avtgis, 2012). An example of this is Netflix. At one point, Netflix was just a mail order DVD company. Netflix is now one of the biggest movie streaming websites in the world. Organizations are all diverse and complex just like real life organisms. There are many aspects that go into making up the organizations. The general systems theory takes an overall look at what goes into making all organization run smoothly. Organizations are complex within themselves, but in general they all take the same kind of things to make them run efficiently.

Disney Pixar Animation Studios had an organizational culture that is unique. Like every other organization, it forms around a set of elements that helps it run smoothly. General Systems Theory can be applied to all organizations to explain many elements that go towards making it efficient. Disney Pixar is the studio that has come out with some of the most iconic animated films of our time. Many examples are the Toy Story franchise, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Frozen, and many others. As a company that puts in countless hours, efforts, and brain cells into one movie, there is a system to help it run. To hold it together and make it efficient enough not to fall apart. One part of the organization that is an essential key is caring about people (Fox, 2016). Ed Catmull, who is the President of Disney Pixar Animation Studios, says that this came about while working on Toy Story 2 (Catmull, 2014).  There are countless hours put into every movie. And a lot of effort by a lot of people. The animators at Pixar worked long hours, seven days a week over a grueling nine-month period to complete the movie.  By the end of the nine months, one-third of the staff had repetitive stress injuries (Fox, 2016). This is when Pixar decided that they needed to take a step back and look at how they were doing things, and focus on their people, rather than how fast they were doing them. A principle that they now have to make sure that their people are their number on priority is ideas come from people so people need to be the priority. A vital part of any organization is the people. The people are the backbone and where all of the ideas and creativity come from, so they should be number one priority. Along with making sure the people are happy in their environment, also comes the people they work with. Sometimes people clash heads. What’s equally tough, of course, is getting talented people to work effectively with one another. That takes trust and respect (Harvard, 2016). If you don’t trust or respect someone, how do you know that the work will get done well? So Disney Pixar Animation Studios decided it needed a change. One change it made was in communication between crew and production managers. During Toy Story, they said working had been a nightmare. No one was communication well. The crew said it was hard to get work done, because they felt like they were being micromanaged (Catmull, 2014). The production managers felt that the crew didn’t listen to their advice and that they weren’t being respected. Changing this was relatively easy. The solution was to let the crew work. Let them have their creativity and be able to make decisions and changes as they saw fit. Then they had to make sure to tell their managers after they had made the change so that there were no surprises (Catmull, 2014). With trust, come trust even in failure. Trust doesn’t mean that you trust that someone won’t screw up—it means you trust them even when they do screw up (blogs, 2016). Another change that Pixar made was in getting people to communicate and have a life. Pixar decided that its people were working well, but it seemed to be all they were doing. So they fixed that. The remodeled their studios to be more of a central place. The cafeteria, the mail room, meeting rooms, and restrooms are all in the major center of everything This is supposed to foster communication with everyone. To help people to talk to each other instead of staring at computer screens all day (Reingold, 2016). There are many things that organizations could learn from Disney Pixar. One idea that Pixar fosters is Don’t be afraid of failure (Ziv). Failure is what tests out what works and what doesn’t. Failure lets you know that one thing didn’t work, but then you can change what you’re doing to help the process. With this Pixar believes that you should not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them (blogs, 2016). So, by failing, you’re discovering your errors and doing something to fix them. Another idea that Pixar tries to abide by is that a company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody. This is definitely helped with everyone being in a centralized area within the main part of the campus. This means that creators shouldn’t be afraid to take opinions and people shouldn’t be afraid to voice their opinions. You never know, the next iconic Disney character could come from an intern. Catmull says that great movies are made from the “tens of thousands of ideas” that go into them from beginning to completion (Stallard, 2015). This is probably very true. If hundreds of people are working on one project, they may have 1000 thoughts a day. He also maintains that the environment must be safe to tell the truth. This goes with being able to have open communication, and not being afraid to have an opinion.

In general, Disney Pixar Animation Studios does many things to make sure that it not only runs smoothly, but it had open communication and mutual working relationships on all levels. I think that it does a pretty good job at doing this. After making mistakes and realizing it, they did something to fix it. Instead of hoping that the problem fixed itself, they took initiative and came up with solutions. These solutions have worked out for everyone in the company. Not only are they now focusing more on their people, but they are focusing more on content instead of timelines. Pixar is learning from its mistakes and doing it right.

Other organizations could learn a lot from Pixar. The way that Disney Pixar was able to turn their company around after seeing how their employees were suffering, is admirable. Some organizations are ridged, and set in their way with the belief that they are doing the best for their company to run. This is also what Ed Catmull thought. But it turns out that if you talk to the employees, there are things happening that even the President wouldn’t know about. By helping the employees change and by opening communication, it also opens new opportunities and ideas. By doing this, Pixar has been able to further themselves as a company and is now one of the most successful Animation companies in the world.



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Behind the Scenes: Unilever

By: Chaise Perez


“Unilever has a simple but clear purpose – to make sustainable living commonplace. We believe this is the best long-term way for our business to grow.” ( Unilever owns over 400 brands, but focuses on 13 main brands. Unilever’s brands are used in daily activities. Unilever works hard with consumers and employees to make sure that consumers do have the essentials they need in their everyday lives. Their brands go from Hellmann’s condiments to Dove’s products to Klondike‘s ice cream and other fun treats. In this case study, I am going to talk about the general systems theory and how Unilever applies to this theory. Unilever follows the general systems theory in many different ways. To start I will be talking about the theory itself, then I will move onto talking about what the Unilever Sustainable Plan is and what it stands for, and furthermore I will talk about what parts of the theory I believe it follows the most.


Photo credit: Wall Street Daily,

General Systems Theory

The general systems theory, takes certain properties or characteristics of our everyday world and ways of life and apply them to organizations or companies. According to, is “existing models, principles, and laws that apply to generalized systems or their subclasses, irrespective of their particular kind, the nature of their component elements, and the relation or ‘forces’ between them.” The theory has many factors that make up the theory. This includes things such as inputs, outputs, throughputs, permeable boundaries, homeostasis, and equifinality. Inputs and throughputs are things that go into the system, while outputs are things that go out of the system and into the public. Permeable boundaries are where the inner system and the outside environment meet to exchange certain factors or elements. Homeostasis is the complete balancing of the system at hand. Equifinality is coming up with different ideas to achieve one common goal. The system itself also has systems that fall under the theory.

The general systems theory itself is just one giant overview that shows the systems perspective. There is a subsystem and a suprasystem. A subsystem is a subsection or smaller section that falls under a larger section. For example, at Ashland University has over 90 possible majors for students to study. These majors all belong to colleges based off the subject of the major. Each major would be a subsystem. The colleges that the majors belong to would be known as the suprasystem of the education system. In addition to these systems, there is also the open and closed systems.

Organizations have permeable boundaries which is very important to see that the customers’ needs are met. The open system is organizations consistently working with the consumers to continually improve their products and the quality of their products to fit with the surrounding environment. Feedback is very important to the organizations that do have open systems. Feedback is the data or information that a company receives from consumers that is negative or positive about their products or service. From receiving feedback, companies can either improve their systems and productivity or they can leave things the same because they see nothing wrong with what they are doing. This could lead to some problems within the organization. If they choose to do so, this means they are a closed system. Closed systems are just the opposite of open systems. When organizations do not work with customers that are immediate to them, they become entropic. Entropy is when a system verges upon dying out. Although there are organizations that are closed systems, majority are open systems which leads the companies to becoming a cybernetic system.

A cybernetic system is when companies self-regulate based on the feedback they have received from their customers. This leads to system maintenance or system adaptation. System maintenance is keeping current routines and work strategies. System adaptation is changing or adapting to the environment and the changes that are occurring while using feedback in order to do so. If a company is doing poorly, then they are more likely to system adaptation while a company that is striving, will use system maintenance. Organizations use system adaptation more to keep up with the constant changes in the world and to always better themselves.

Critical Analysis

Unilever is a company that is solely focused on not only its customers, but helping the changing world that we live in. According to their website biography, they have a quote directly from their CEO, Paul Polam. ‘“We cannot close our eyes to the challenges that the world faces. Business must make an explicit and positive contribution to addressing them. I’m convinced we can create a more equitable and sustainable world for all of us by doing so,” says Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “But this means that business has to change. The Unilever Sustainable Plan is a blueprint for sustainable growth.”’ Unilever owns over 400 brands but focuses only 13 brands due to the impact those brands have made on this world. To give a better understand of what they do, here is a description of what the Sustainable Plan is.

The Unilever Sustainable Plan is their layout for reaching their goals to vision to grow their business, while helping their environmental print from their growth. The positive social impact increases in the process of doing so. The Plan gives them certain targets, finding how consumers use their brands and showcasing what materials (that are all natural and raw) the companies that are under Unilever use. They are constantly trying to find new ways to work with other businesses, work with the government and the society as a whole. One of their focuses is on global warming what effects it has on the human race so they are in consistent search of ways for everyone to work with the environment to have safe and easy living being as natural as possible. Their main purpose to make a sustainable living place, that’s why it’s called the Unilever Sustainable Plan. Their ethical standards and work policies is what this case study will be showcasing.

The logo is a blue capital “U”. If you look closely enough at it, you can see there are 25 icons that make the shape of the U. Each icon means something. They each are representing the different companies that make up Unilever. For example, there is a lock of hair for all the shampoo brands, a hand, a palm tree, a heart, and many more. There are many different links and sections to their website that breaks down each purpose, value, principle, and more that the organization holds its companies too. You can read on their website that, “Our Corporate Purpose states that to succeed requires “the highest standards of corporate behaviour towards everyone we work with, the communities we touch, and the environment on which we have an impact.”’

Their main values and purpose are always working with integrity, positive impact and continuous improvement, setting out our aspirations and working with others. They have many principles that they live by as well. These all include, standard of conduct, obeying the law, employees, consumers, shareholders, business partners, community involvement public activities, the environment, innovation, competition, business integrity, conflicts of interest, and finally compliance, monitoring and reporting. They have five main priorities that they live by. These include, a better future for children, a healthier future, a more confident future, a future for farmers and farming, and lastly a better future for the planet.

Their first priority, a better future for children, falls under their companies, Signal and Close-Up who partnered with FDI World Dental Federation to promote better oral hygiene. Omo and Persil, just two of their laundry brands, work with parents to tell their children that dirt is good which they can get stains of their clothes with their brands. Lastly, Unilever partnered with World Food Programme to start, Together for Child Vitality to help out with the lack of nutrition in poorer countries. For a healthier future, their Flora/Becel margarine brands have figured out a way to help reduce high cholesterol levels. Vaseline has started the Vaseline Skin Care Foundation to help with research going into skin diseases. And Lifebuoy soap has promoted a healthy life style by teaching good handwashing skills to prevent sickness.

To have a more confident future, Dove started a campaign called, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which insists on not using models but “real” women while advertising. This inspired them to start the Dove Self Esteem Fund. Just from their advertisements, they have already made differences in women and young girls’ lives. Their Sunsilk hair care brand and some of the world’s top hair stylist to create better and more efficient hair products. Close-Up toothpaste has helped many improve their dental care. To create a better future for farming and farmers, the companies Lipton tea and Ben & Jerry’s use all natural products in their foods to provide a more sustainable product.

Lastly, to create a better future for our planet, their website reads, “We’re aiming to grow our business while reducing our environmental footprint and working across the supply chain for every brand to do so. Our Laundry brands, including Surf, Omo, Persil and Comfort, have launched the Cleaner Planet Plan together, encouraging consumers to change their laundry habits to reduce water and energy consumption. Our Lipton tea brand backs sustainable forest management projects in Africa.” You can see that they hold their companies to very high standards to have such quality products. They have very high expectations of the way they would like their products made and what goes in them. They are constantly trying to be sustainable and efficient in all of their work and in their products that they are selling to their trusting customers.

Unilever embodies the general systems theory in a few ways. One, they fit the definition perfectly. Their main focus is on the living systems properties that apply to their organization. They make sure they help meet the wants and mainly the needs of the human population. Two, they do have an open system, along with showing the concepts of homeostasis and equifinality. All of their principles and values are very universal for others. Unilever itself is a suprasystem while all the companies that are under or that were bought are subsystems. For example, Axe and Ben & Jerry’s are both subsystems of the large suprasystem which is Unilever. The company does very well in embodying this theory. There is always room for improvement. For example, they could spend more time on their less-known or popular brands to switch the awareness of them around. Easily by more advertising and more non-profit work to get the idea of the companies out there. They are continually building up the image of not only themselves, but of others too. This is very important to their ethics and morals that the organization expects out of all of its companies.


 I believe that many many other organizations could easily learn from Unilever. Unilever is a very organized company and is a great influence. I believe they have made a difference on not only their customers, but people in general. They uphold such high values and morals that it is truly inspiring. They have five main priorities that they live by and they are all to benefit the people living in this world. They are concerned about their well-being, their confidence, their futures, farmers and farming, along with the planet. To me, these are things all organizations live by. Unilever does own over 400 brands, but they specialist each one to take care of all us in order to have a safer and easier life. Unilever believes in making a difference in this world, and for this I hold the upmost respect for the organization, along with everyone that works for them. For a little more inspiration, I leave you with this quote from their biography on Unilever’s website, “And by leveraging our global reach and inspiring people to take small, everyday actions, we believe we can help make a big difference to the world.”


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Social Networks in the Work Force of Riddell

By: Ally Knapp

The original case study is something that we were able to choose from previous theories and concepts that we have discussed in class. Social Networks being a topic that really interests me and I feel can explain this concept with previous situations I have been in and also things we have talked about in class. This case study will be explaining structure and or policy of the topic of Social Networks.

Within the theory and or concept of Social Networks, there are many different types of definitions out there that explains what this term means. In the book Organizational Communication Strategies for Success gives the definition of “An organizational social network is a representation of how social  actors within an organization are socially and structurally connected to others, providing an answer to the “who communicates with whom” question (Avtgis, 2012).” While an article from Academy of Management explaining Social Networks and analysis this specific topic explains “The social network perspective is an example of a theoretical framework that has developed to the point of guiding data collection as well as data analysis (Ticky, 2009).” This specific framework being the behaviors by these communicators who are networking to make themselves marketable. Any company or non-profit organization is going to want to see this from there current employees and also there future workers. If we just talk about the term Social Networks, this regarding the different types of social medias out there such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and Twitter. Explaining that social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals, often through social media sites (Rouse, 2016). You do this by posting all that you can on these social media sites that you have to mark your self up so that others out there who are in the work field such as yourself can see what you do and are doing for your company.

The company that I untitledhave chose to look at is Riddell. Riddell being a company specializing in equipment mainly within the sport of football. Being a company who wants to protect there athletes with the best of the best equipment to fulfill the needs to help them perform at the highest level possible. The company founded in 1929 by a man of the name of John T. Riddell. First official piece of sports equipment that was ever produced by them was a screw on, removable cleat. Then in 1939 Riddell invented a plastic suspension helmet where this protected millions of soldiers in World War II and then later became the football helmet that everyone wanted to wear (2016). As the game of football has only grown bigger and more complex with the head impacts and injuries taken apon these athletes, Riddell strives to continue to make there equipment the best it can possibly be to help protect these injuries. From impact sensor in helmets to track and record how many times an athlete takes a hit to then shoulder pads making it easier for responders to have easy access in emergency situations, these are just some of the ways how Riddell continues to advance there equipment (2016).

Forming relationships with others who can possibly help you out with a possible job opportunity is crucial. As my dad always tells me its not about what you know its about who you know. This being a line that I constantly reminding myself of because of the plans I have for myself one day and the dreams I want to make happen for not only me but also my career path. Wanting to pursue the career path with somethin to do with equipment and possibly working for the company of Riddell. I have actually been in contact with workers and head positions held up at the Elyria, Ohio factory. Expressing my passion and drive I have to continue to make football equipment the best it possibly can be because of the passion and love I have for football, I communicated with them about my concerns and how I could better there company one day after getting my degree here at Ashland University. Already taken a couple of trips up to Elyria to meet with some of the top employees to talk with them about all that is new and is coming out and also seeing the helmets actually going through the whole reconditioning process and painted newly. This is just one of the many ways forming a good relationship and using your communication skills is key in the work force.

Along with forming good relationships there are types of powers out there that businesses are ran by.  We have reward power, punishment power, legitimate power, expert power and referent power. Each of these having different definitions. First Reward is based on one’s ability to provide incentives. Punishment is based on one’s ability to administer negative consequences. Next is Legitimate which is based on one’s hierarchal position. Expert bases off of ones knowledge base and lastly referent power is based on one’s employee merit and social popularity (Avtgis, 2012). These all playing some type of role in the work place and who and how you should talk too. People forming relationships is also for a personal network of the other people. These are the people with higher positions and who can be a beneficial contact to others. With the different types of powers the different approaches and methods are what varies the different powers (Johnson).

Ethical Standards being something that Riddell does within there company. This being Principles that is when followed they promote values such as trust, good behavior, fairness, and or kindness (2016). These all refer to all the responsibilities one might hold. Riddell does a great job of treating there employees with respect and making sure that there behaviors are in good standings. Listing core values and standards that are expected by all there employees. As many companies have pages of policies, code of ethics, organizational values, and lastly carefully defined work environments (Heathfield, 2016). With these standards this shouldn’t make the  workplace level of expectations any higher just should be there to be known and recognized when needed. Coming into the workplace as a new employee you want to make yourself great and by doing this your first impression I feel is what makes you or breaks you. First impression to me is key and this is one thing I strive to do when meeting new people who possibly one day can help me out. This is one thing that got me to where I am with the Riddell. I went up there and talked to the people I needed to talk to and made myself and marketable as possible and gave my best impression.

Among the importance contribution to the study of social networks this is linked to centrality. Centrality is defined as the level of importance based on ones position within a given social network. Ones level of centrality or importance in a network is based upon the social relationships that he or she has. There are four types of centrality. The first is Degree. This is a quantitive measure of the number of relationships that a single employee has compared to all others. Next is Betweenness is defined as one’s level of importance based on his or her ability to socially connect previously disconnected people. Thirdly Closeness which is defined as the number of steps necessary to reach all other parts of a given social network. Lastly Eigenvector is an idea that rather than being connected to the most people (degree), or being able to connect otherwise disconnected people (betweenness), or being able to reach all others in the social network in the fewest steps possible (closeness), a persons importance is based on whether he or she is connected to people with degree, betweenness, and/or closeness centrality.

Social Networks are only becoming so big now a days. Company’s having there own social media sights market them up even more. According to the sight where they describe all the social media that specific company has and breaks them down into sections. I was able to find Riddell and all there social networks that they have. Having a wide variety of different websites you can find on Riddell. From Facebook, twitter, google plus, stumble upon, and lastly delicious (24 October 2016). Multiple likes and shares and reactions to all the different things Riddell is talking about and coming out with. Facebook being the number one site that is being used just because its one of the ones that have been around the longest. Taking up more then half of the percentage of the breakdown of twitter and Facebook.

Riddell being somewhere where I plan and hope to work one day with my career. Looking into all the new equipment and products that are out there trying to keep up with the knowledge of the company. Obviously known for there football helmets and something that I love looking into and seeing the new helmets that are coming out and also the information that is out there about each of the helmets that are made by them. I plan onto continue to do this and keep up with all the information that is out there for myself and to better my knowledge so one day I can be apart of there team and bring the knowledge that I can to make myself as marketable as possible to help better this company. Talking with head people within the company is just one of the ways I am making my dreams a reality one day.



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Google: Meeting Needs to Keep Workers Satisfied and Motivated

iby Susanna Savage

What motivates people to take action? Why do we work tirelessly on some projects, but put out little effort on others? Why do we stay at some jobs for decades, but leave others after only a few months or years? A group of theories called “motivation theories” seek to develop answers to these questions. Organizational leaders often utilize motivation theories in determining how to motivate employees and increase job satisfaction. This case study focuses on David McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory and explores how that theory is displayed in the way Google treats its employees.

Acquired Needs Theory

Acquired Needs Theory was developed by David McClelland to explain human motivation. McClelland proposed that humans acquire their needs over the course of their lives based on the experiences that they have had (Avtgis, Rancer, & Liberman, 2012). While studying these needs over time, McClelland was able to divide them into three categories, the need for achievement, the need for power, and the need for affiliation. These became the basis for what is now known as Acquired Needs Theory (McClelland’s human motivation theory). In its most general sense, the theory maintains that everyone has needs which fall into one or more of these three categories. The motivation to fulfill these needs determines what people will choose to do (Garrin, 2014). The ultimate goal of fulfilling these needs is what motivates us to act, and we will strive our hardest to meet those needs. We will put out much effort on tasks that lead us to fulfilling needs, and we will put out little or no effort on tasks that are not related to our needs (Garrin, 2014).

Acquired Needs Theory is often applied to organizations as a way of increasing job performance and satisfaction. The theory states that if people can fulfill their needs through their work, they will be motivated to work and to work hard. However, if they do not feel that they can fulfill their needs with their job, their motivation to do excellent work will decrease. The surest way to ensure high quality work, is to motivate employees by enabling them to fulfill their needs through the work that they do (Lazaroiu, 2015).

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• The Need for Achievement

People who have a high need for achievement are driven to make personal accomplishments. They like to be put into positions of responsibility (McClelland’s human motivation theory). Achievers tend to set moderate goals for themselves. This is because goals that are easily achieved are not satisfying to them, but at the same time, goals that are very difficult to achieve hold the risk of failure. Because achievement is so important, they will set goals that they believe they can achieve, but that are not easily attainable for others (McClelland’s human motivation theory). To satisfy this need in the work place employees must be able to take on responsibility and set their own goals. They must be given creative freedom and recognizes for their achievements and accomplishments (McClellands human motivation theory).

• The Need for power

People who have a high need for power want to attain positions that give them power over others. They aspire to be figures of greatness and respect. These people want to be in control (McClelland’s human motivation theory). To fulfill this need in the work place, individuals must have the ability to rise in influence. This means the possibility of promotion to management positions that enable them to have power over other, lower employees (Avtgis, Rancer & Liberman, 2012). Fulfilling the need for power in the work place could also mean allowing employees to pitch ideas and give input that might influence the organization. People with a need for power must feel as if they are in control, so letting them make decisions on their own and ensuring that they have some kind of influence is key.

• The Need for affiliation

According to Avtgis, Rancer and Liberman (2012), this is the “need to develop and enjoy quality relationships with others, avoid conflict, and be less dogmatic and less assertive in an effort to maintain those relationships” (186). People with the need for affiliation are primarily motivated to develop and maintain positive relationships. They want to have many friends and be liked by others. They also need a strong group affiliated. This can be achieved in the work place when employees are encouraged to have strong relationships with one another. To accomplish this, organizations can stress bonding activities and a strong corporate ‘we’ culture. People who have the need for affiliation need to find social value in the time that they spend with their co-workers and in their group membership as part of the organization (McClelland’s human motivation theory).

Critical Analysis of Google

Google is well-known, not only for its financial success and innovative products, but also for the way it treats its employees. Google has been ranked among Fortunes top 100 places to work for the last 10 years, and this year was ranked number one. Not only do Google employees experience a staggering number of luxury perks, but Google also strives to maintain a healthy and nurturing environment and workplace culture. This facilitates the high job satisfaction that Google employees experience, and in turn, the success of the organization. One of Google’s primary goals is to be an excellent place for people to work (Google careers). And Google accomplishes this goal by making sure that whether an employee needs power, achievement or affiliation, those needs can be met on the job. This does a lot more than just making Google a great place to work. It also means that Google employees love their jobs and put forth excellent work, and this employee excellence contributes to the success of the organization.

• Googlers With The Need For Achievement

Google provides employees with ample opportunities to achieve. Being employed by Google, in and of itself, is a great accomplishment, because Google’s hiring process is highly selective. Beyond that, Google encourages achievement, even from its lowest level employees. A program that exemplifies this is Google’s 80/20 rule. According to Inc., “The 80/20 rule allows Googlers to dedicate 80% of time to their primary job and 20% working on passion projects that they believe will help the company” (D’onfro, 2015). Many of the ideas that are developed in that 20% of an employee’s time become successful assent to the company. For example, Gmail was developed by a Google employee during his 20% time (D’onfro, 2015). This rule allows employees to truly use their skills and talents to make achievements, whatever their job position might be.

Google also provides employees with opportunities to take on large responsibilities. Googlers have the ability to climb to higher positions within the company through promotions. Individuals who have a strong need for achievement are given the opportunity to fulfill that need as a Google employee. Google is filled with the brightest and best minds making it an ideal atmosphere for achievers to achieve great things.

Additionally, Google offers a large number of extensive perks to its employees. While these perks serve many purposes and are offered for a variety of reasons, many of them are intended to facilitate the employees’ achievement. Free massages and delicious meals and nap-pods are all examples of perks that are designed to facilitate employee success, giving them everything that they need to feel great and do well on the job.

• Googlers With The Need For Power

Google offers employees a workplace full of opportunities to hold positions in which they have power. Managers and higher level employees hold power over the employees who report to them. And those who do not hold positions of power have the opportunity to advance to those positions based on merit. Google puts extensive stress on career planning and encourages all employees to set goals and take steps to reach their career aspirations (D’onfro, 2015).

All employees, regardless of their level in the organization are given power with programs like Google’s TGIF. According to Forbes, TGIF is “Google’s weekly all-hands meetings, where employees ask questions directly to the company’s top leaders and other execs about any number of company issues” (He, 2013). This program allows all employees to have an impact on Google, and in doing so, gives them power.

Another program that gives Google employees power is the survey. Google employees are regularly surveyed about their managers. This gives them the opportunity to express their preferences and provide feedback on the performance of their superiors. Google takes these surveys into account when evaluating management and makes crucial decisions based on them. The best managers are publicly rewarded and given the task of coaching the worst managers who are enrolled in intensive training to improve their management skills (He, 2013). This gives all employees to opportunity to take a position of power, even over their superiors. It gives them a sense of control and ensures that their voice is heard and will have an impact on the company and their own work environment (Crowley, 2013).

• Googlers With The Need For Affiliation

Google provides ample opportunity for employees to find affiliation, with a strong sense of unity and a social culture. Google employees are empowered to think of themselves as a group of people who are bound together by their skill and extraordinaire. To be employed by Google one must be among the brightest and best in one’s field. Being a Googler means belonging to a subset of the population that is known for being excellent and so Googler group membership is, by itself, incredibly affirming to employees.

Aside from this, Google employees enjoy perks that set them apart from the rest of the world and increase group solidarity. And once you become a Googler, you are a Googler for life. People who no longer work at Google are considered alumni and enjoy perks as well as support and continued group membership (D’onfro, 2015). By making it clear that Googlers are special, and set apart from others, Google makes employees feel proud to be part of a unique social group.

Another way that Google fulfills the need for affiliation is by encouraging social interactions in the work place. Many of the perks that Google offers to employees are socially oriented and designed to assist in building strong, healthy relationships between Googlers. For example, Googlers are given free access to a gym on site with fitness classes and they are encouraged to participate in organized sports with their fellow Googlers (D’onfro, 2015). Google makes employees feel like they are members of a special group of people, a group of people that they can be very proud to belong to. Within that group, Googlers are validated by strong work place relationships, encouraged by a social workplace culture.

Google effectively aligns employees’ needs for achievement, power, and affiliation with high job performance. In the framework of Acquired Needs Theory, this should mean that employees are highly motivated to fulfill their needs, and since fulfilling those needs and being an excellent Google employee are aligned, employees’ motivation to fulfill needs should translate into motivation to do an excellent job at Google. Considering Google’s success, not just in terms of business prosperity, but also in employee job satisfaction, it is safe to say that Google has successfully used Acquired Needs Theory to capture its employees’ motivations and guide them in ways that help the company and the employees themselves prosper.

Many organizations focus solely on issues that directly impact the wellbeing of the company. Things such as productivity or maximizing profits are valued above issues that seem less relevant, such as employee job satisfaction. However, it is important to understand that one cannot have a successful organization without employees who are motivated to put forward their best work. Some people believe that motivating employees is quite simple. They use rewards and punishments to encourage ideal behavior. While this strategy may work on small children, adults are much more complex beings, and this type of management may lead to resentment, high employee turnover, and low workplace motivation. Acquired Needs Theory abolishes this simplistic view of humans, by explaining motivation as the complex and sophisticated process that it is. As Google has demonstrated, when an individual’s needs can be achieved by being an excellent employee that individual will be highly motivated to be excellent (Moore, 2016). Satisfied, motivated employees are an essential component to any successful company, and following Google’s model can greatly benefit organizations of all kinds.


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Crowley, M. C., (2013, March 21). Not a happy accident: How Google deliberately designs workplace satisfaction. Fast Company. Retrieved from

D’onfro, J., (2015, September 21). An inside look at Google’s best employee perks: Current and former employees sound off on the most attractive benefits the tech giant has to offer. Inc. Retrieved from

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Google careers. (n.d.). Retrieved from

He, L., (2013, March 19). Google’s secrets of innovation: Empowering its employees. Forbes. Retrieved from

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McClelland’s human motivation theory: Discovering what drives members of your team. (n.d.). Mind Tools. Retrieved from

Moore, C. (2016). The future of work: What Google shows us about the present and future of online collaboration. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 60(3), 233-244.