Global Yet Local
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Global Yet local
In the 21st century, globalization has opened opportunities for companies to start operations in different geographic locations. This leads to a very important question of whether organizations can export their culture to locations with a different national culture and find success, or adapt and play safe instead. Hofstede(2001) defines culture in his book as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” Mead (1994) suggests that organizations have to modify the home country systems, structures, and values to conform or comply with local norms. (Hofstede, 1980, 1993; Kedia and Bhagat, 1988; Laurent, 1986; Schneider and de Meyer, 1991; Sutton, 1995) maintain that when national and organizational cultures come into conflict, the first is likely to override values in the second. Culture influences all aspects of human behavior, although it is difficult to examine how it impacts behavior or induces change. Sometimes it is subtle, and an underlying force, whereas at other times, it is very pronounced. It is so much of an integral part of human existence, that it is almost impossible to ignore it. The changes caused by culture can evolve in a political, societal, or organizational way (Craig and Douglas).
In this paper, the interesting aspects of how McDonalds Corp. has managed to not only export its corporate culture and core values, but also successfully adapted to local and national cultures, if required, have been discussed in detail. When one talks about McDonalds and the globalization aspect, the first thing that comes to mind is
Americanization. This concept has been looked at from McDonalds perspective. The various challenges faced by the company with regards to national cultures , how the company dealt with them and what changes, if any, had to be made as a result of these have also been discussed.
McDonalds is the worlds leading foodservice organization with more than 30,220 restaurants in 119 countries (www.mcdonalds.com). It has expanded over the last 50 years with a simple formula, which McDonalds corporate website defines as “Our operating philosophy is based on the QSC & V formula – representing Quality, Service, Cleanliness, and Value”. The website also states that “McDonalds considers itself as the community restaurant of the world”. They try very hard to present themselves as a local company part of the local culture, in every country that they operate in. McDonalds have always had a strong commitment towards staffing locally. It prides itself on the kind of training it provides. Its goal is to develop the highest level of skill throughout its entire work force. The nature of work carried out by the workforce at McDonalds, is fundamentally similar in all its outlets. The company had started a hamburger university in America and has the same in different parts of the world such as Munich, London, and Hong Kong etc. The training program at the university is designed to embed and enhance the skills that the employees of the company would need in order to perform at their respective jobs. It instills the core commitments of the organisation into them (www.mcdonalds.com). This training program enables McDonalds Corp. to inculcate the organisations culture into their employees and also helps them understand the companys expectations from them. Royle (2000), in his study of the organisation and its system observed that all aspects of the business were standardized and monitored. The techniques used to produce and serve identical products were, assembly line and standardization and higher productivity was ensured with the help of new technology and systematic planning of each job. Each job was also broken down into the smallest of steps. The corporation uses the skills of its industrial engineers to plan the layout for the equipment and scheduling in terms of seconds of working time using computerized time study methods. With all this the workers manual labour is taken over by machines. The job at a McDonalds restaurant is so deskilled that anyone could learn it even if they have no experience at all, as the training required is also minimal. Operations in the restaurants are monitored and controlled using the Operations and Training Manual which is around 600 hundred pages in length and is said to be extremely comprehensive, with color photographs illustrating the exact placements of ketchup, mustard etc. This manual is occasionally referred to as the Bible by the management (Royle 2000). Rules and procedures cover everything and prevent any errors from taking place and also eliminate decision- making. In Royles book, an employee states that with the operations manual being so detailed, the job is virtually made “idiot-proof”. There are also managers working alongside, closely monitoring everything in the workplace (Royle, 2000).
McDonalds key was that “they taylorised jobs for efficiency and developed rigid operating procedures to eliminate, as far as possible the human element” (Royle 2000). The organisation has maintained the same structure and standardized system of working in their restaurants in all the other countries that it has expanded its business to.
McDonalds international expansion was not limited to simply just finding right locations and opening restaurants (Royle, 2000), it had to overcome a number of obstacles which had a lot of significance towards establishing operations in another country. Although at the time it started expanding, there was minimal competition from other American hamburger restaurant chains overseas, the fact remained that there were no local fast food restaurants and no experience of fast food among the locals (Royle, 2000). McDonalds first step to success was that it completely understood that it was attempting to change the culture of people by changing their eating habits by imposing or introducing on the host countries, the McDonalds system, which was more of an American culture. Love (1995) suggested that the same formula that had done so well, which McDonalds tried and perfected in its home country was the key reason for its success in international markets.
Though the move to Japan was done years ago, it would be interesting to discuss how McDonalds managed in a whole new arena, at a time when Americanism was still very distant to the Japanese people.
The question was would a country like Japan be feasible for their ventures or would it fail. As Royle(2000) states that “it is easier to understand the success of McDonalds in Europe or English-speaking countries, where Americas dominant cultural roots were not so far removed, but to move into a totally alien culture such as Japan