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McDonaldization

Running Head:

MCDONALDIZATION

McDonaldization and the Scientific Management Theory


Erica LeMelle
Regent University

McDonaldization

McDonaldization and the Scientific Management Theory


My visit to McDonalds provided an excellent visualization of Morgans (2006)
mechanistic theory in action. I visited the local McDonalds restaurant during their rushhour dinner traffic. The stores drive-through window was broken, and all of the
customers had to come inside for service. In addition, one of the cash registers was
broken and had been out of service all day. As a result of these equipment failures, the
staff was hurried and harried; and, perhaps, this may not have been the best time to
conduct an observation. However, as 1 Corinthians 3:13 states, the fire will test and
critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done (Amplified
Bible). It was, therefore, under these extreme pressures that I observed the true nature,
pitfalls and all, of bureaucratic leadership.
Although the McDonalds that I visited was beset by technical problems, the
precision and methodology practiced within the organization was very evident, and
helped to keep a bad situation from escalating. For example, the store only had four
employees scheduled during my visit. Four employees during rush-hour dinner traffic
would not work for an organization that didnt practice detailed procedures for taking
orders, cooking the food, and packaging the meals the way McDonalds does. As
summarized by Morgan, Frederick Taylors scientific management theory utilizes
scientific methods to design [each] workers task, and [to specify] the precise way in
which the work is to be done (p. 23). My observation revealed managers and staff who
were well trained in McDonalds procedures, which prevented a backlog of customers
that could have made this situation far worse.

McDonaldization

Despite the mechanical processes, the store did suffer from leadership problems
that may be common to bureaucratic organizations. The manager was unable to assist
with customer service because she was dealing with the technicians who were there to
repair the drive-through and broken cash register. This left one frazzled, yet polite,
cashier and a cook to handle the bulk of the customers orders and complaints. When the
manager reappeared to assist with taking orders, her frustration was evidenced by her
rudeness to the customers, her mismanagement of the staff (in front of her customers),
and her inability to creatively manage the technical problems. Had the manager stopped
to creatively assess her situation, she would have realized that her cashier, with his polite
attitude and servant-like demeanor, was better suited to serve her frustrated customers
than she was at that time. Winston and Patterson (2005) refer to this leadership behavior
as seeing each persons unique gifts, which influences [his or her] decisions as well as
helps the leader shape a plan for the future (p. 27). Morgan describes some of these
limitations of bureaucratic leadership as difficulty in adapting to changing
circumstances, and [the] dehumanizing effects upon employees (p. 28). I observed
both of these leadership flaws during my visit.
Finally, although McDonalds is a highly-innovative company at the top levels of
the organization, the levels of bureaucracy and mechanization at the lower level make the
organization one of the least desired places to work today. Morgan states that much of
the apathy, carelessness, and lack of pride so often encountered in the modern workplace
is thus not coincidental Mechanistic organization discourages initiative, encouraging
people to obey orders and keep their place rather than to take an interest in, and question,
what they are doing (p. 30). This stifling of employee initiative was very apparent

McDonaldization
during my McDonalds visit and, I am sure, serves as a great deterrent to innovation on
the front lines of the organization.

McDonaldization

References
Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Winston, B. E. & Patterson, K. (2005). An integrative definition of leadership. Virginia
Beach, VA: Regent University School of Leadership Studies.