The perfect example of this type of “machine organization” would be Pizza Express. The company was the first and is still the market leader in its sector, and this has been achieved through its’ obsession with control through out each of the outlets and absolute attention to every detail in stores. This machine like approach ensures that within each Pizza Express outlet, there is a reassuring and predictable nature to each visit. This can only be achieved by brainwashing store managers and workers with the company’s traditional values and operating philosophy through rigorous training programmes.
It’s 6000 members of staff play a big role in the predictability element of each visit to a Pizza Express outlet, as there are strict rules and guidelines that they must follow which ensures the best service possible for the customers throughout the 286 stores. It would be impossible to run Pizza Express restaurants in London and Newcastle and get the pizzas to taste the same without strict guidelines. However, this machine like organization often leads to lack of motivation from employees, but this however is not the case for PizzaExpress as management keeps workers motivated by incentive schemes whereby waiters or waitresses keep their own tips.
So how does a company that uses the theory of “Cultural Metaphor ” differ to a company like Pizza Express, a machine metaphor company? In order to answer this, it is vital to actually define the meaning of culture. According to Elliott Jaques (Organization Theory), ” the culture of the factory is its customary and traditional way of thinking and doing of things, which is shared to a greater or lesser degree by all its member, and which new members must learn, and at least partially accept, in order to be accepted into service in the firm.”
Strong organizational culture therefore can determine the company’s likelihood of success. However, the most immediate source of external influence on organizational culture is the employee. This is because employees are already influenced by source of cultural institution such as family, friends, community, nation, and education system. This will therefore affect their attitudes, behaviour, and beliefs, so organization must take this into the account and not force employees to change their cultural up bringing but nurture it so it compliments with the organizational culture.
The culture metaphor consists of concepts of work relations between employees and their organization, which is viewed as a collectivity to which employees belong, rather that just a work place. This sense of belonging and strong working relationship will create norms and values within the organizational culture. This is an important part of building a strong cultural identity as values, which are the social goals and standards that help within a culture. They define what the members of an organization care about, and this provides judgments about the right and the wrongs. However, norms are just are just as important as they provide a set of unwritten rule that allow members to follow, so they know what is expected of them. The combination of norms and values distinguishes one culture from another.
A good example of a company with strong organizational culture is the Virgin Company. If we compare the approaches used by Pizza Express and Virgin as a whole, we can instantly recognize the difference in management approach. This is because of the difference in the nature of the business and the expectation from customers. One of the most influential writers for organizational culture is Schein, who developed an influential theory of organizational theory. He believes that culture exists on three levels: on the surface is the artifact, underneath artifacts lie values and behavioral norms, and at the deepest level are the beliefs and assumptions.
If we take a close look at the Schein’s three levels of the organizational culture, we can critically look at the similarities and differences between Pizza Express and Virgin. Firstly the surface manifestation of the artifacts, this would be tangible thing shared by the members such as behaviour attributes, language, and their dress codes. As you can see, there is a strict dress code for the workers at Pizza Express throughout their chains, and there is also a clear distinction between the managers and the employees. However, for Virgin Company like their Mega Record store, the employees also follow the same dress code but in a less formally fashion, only wearing polo shirts with company’s logo.
There is no clear distinction amongst managers and workers. The behaviour attributes of the workers and the language they speak is completely opposite for the two organizations. In Pizza Express, both their behaviour and language is restricted by company’s policies and rules, so there is no opportunity for workers personality to be seen. However, for all Virgin Stores, the atmosphere is really lively, and there is a sense of fun from the workers approach. They have no strict guidelines, which they have to follow so they are allowed to use their own judgments and tailor each service according to the customer’s needs.
The next level is the values and norms of the organization. There is a similarity between the employees for both Virgin Company and Pizza Express, the vision and goal is clearly stated and understood throughout the organization so each and every individual can work towards achieving it. However, the two companies differ in their method in achieving this goal. For Pizza Express, the machine metaphor is used so they can consistently provide high quality pizzas at every chain throughout the world.
This is the “reassuring predictable” experience they are trying to achieve. The values for all Virgin companies are simple, and it is to challenge the industry norm and deliver a better experience and better value for customers. The employees all work towards achieving this but there are no strict rules and guidelines in serving the customers. Workers are encouraged to customize their services to the individual, so each customer can experience a difference service.
And lastly at the deepest level lies a core of beliefs and assumptions and according to Schein, this forms the core of an organization culture. And central to this inner core is their basic assumption about the organization’s identity, about what sort of an organization it is. These assumptions are often difficult to get at, because they are taken so completely for granted. Thus, for Pizza Express the belief in the company is that they want to remain the market leader in its sector by consistently delivering quality pizzas to the customers. And for Virgin, by priding itself on challenging the industry norm as Virgin probably remains most people’s idea of the maverick, customer focused brand. This is the beliefs and assumption shared by all the people involved with the company.
The success of Virgin Company has been built around its strong culture and this is what the brand has been known for. However it can risky if a company places too much emphasis on culture because culture is complex, and layered, and to some extent not predictable. The process of working with it therefore always involves unpredictability, and demands creative improvisation. Any technique that is applied through strict guidelines is likely to be inadequate
My own experience of working for a machine like organization was quite negative and was not very enjoyable. I was working for marketing Telecommunication Company where my job was to conduct market research on telephone. The company had a list of rules that employees had to follow; one of the many rules was that I had to register the time I arrived and left for work. The method in which I conducted the research was also based on a strict format given by the company. So each and every single phone call was identical and questions were asked in a particular sequence.
The phone calls were recorded so individuals cannot make up information conducted. The only motivation I had during work is I knew exactly how much money I was making because I was paid for each successful research. Personally, I find it very difficult to work in machine organization as I felt like there was very little creativity and decision making situation for workers. It also felt like there was very little trust between workers and the employers as the telephone canvassers were constantly monitored from managers.
After critically looking at both machine and culture metaphors, there are differences and similarities between the metaphor approaches in the theory of management. It also provides evidence to support the theory that there is particular theory that works best and that each type of metaphor has its advantages and disadvantages in management. However, as our business becomes more dynamic and ever changing, we can probably see more organization working as culture metaphor firms, and become more flexible by limiting the rules and regulations, and move away from the traditional complex hierarchies.