Week6-2 - An introduction to r McDonaldization Ray Kroc,...

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Unformatted text preview: An introduction to r McDonaldization Ray Kroc, the genius behind the franchising of McDonald’s res- taurants, Was a man with big ideas and grand ambitions. But even Kroc scold not have anticipated the astounding impact of his creation. McDonald’sistl-le basis of one of the mostinflnential developments in contem- porarj.r society. Its reverberations extend far beyond its point of origin in the United States andinthe fast-food business. It has influenceda wide range of un- dertakings, indeed the awayr of life, of a significant portion of the World. And that impact is liker to expand at an accelerating rate.” However. this is not a book about McDonaid’s, or even about the fast- food business, although both will be discussed frequently throughout these pages. Rather, McDonald's serves hereas :he major example, the paradigm, of a wide-ranging process] call McDonaidimtionf—that is, I the process by which the principles ofth fast-food restaurant are coming to domi- nate more and more sectors offing-icon society as we” a: oftherest oftbe triori'ei'.l "Citations may be found at the back of the book, beginning on p. 235. 2‘. THE MCDONALDIZATION OF SOCIETY As you will see, McDonaldiration affects not onlyr the restaurant business but also education, work, health care, travel, leisure, dieting, politics, the family, and virtually every other aspect of society. McDonaldization has shown every sign of being an inexorable process, sweeping through seemingly impervious institutions and regions of the world. I The success of McDonald’s itself is apparent: In 1993, its total sales reached 536 billion, with operating income of $3.1 billion.‘1 The average U.S. outlet has sales of approximately $1.6 million in a year. McDonald’s, .which first began franchising in 195 5, had 24,800 restaurants throughout the world by the end of 1993. Martin Plimmer, a British commentator, arcth notes: “There are McDonald’s everywhere. There’s one near you, and there’s one be- ingbuilt right noWeven nearer to you. Soon, ichDonald’s goes on expanding at its present rate, there might even be one in your house. You could find Ronv aid McDonald’s boots under your bed. And maybe his red wig, too. "5 MeDon ald's and MCDonaldization have had their most obvious influence on the rfitaurant industry and, more generally, on franchises of all types: 1. According to one estimate, there are now about 1.5 million fian- chised outlets in the United States, accounting for about a third of all retail sales. Franchises are growing at a rate of 6% a year.“ Over 69% of McDonald’s - restaurants are franchises? 2. Sales in fast-food restaurants in the United States rose to $1 1 6 billion by the end of 1998.3 In 1994, for the first time, sales in so-called quick-service restaurants exceeded those in traditional full-service restaurants, and the gap between them grew to more than $10 billion in 1993.9 3. The McDonald's model has been adopted not only by other budget- rnindecl hamburger franchises, such as Burger King and Wendy’s, but also by a wide array of other low-priced fast-food businesses. Triton operates over 29,0 00 restaurants worldwide under the Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Taco Bell franchises and has more outlets than McDonald’s, although its total sales ($ 2.0 billion) is not nrlyr as high. In Subwayr {with nearly 13 .000 out- lets), considered the fastest growing fast-food business, is aiming to "match and surpass franchising giant McDonald‘s unit for unit throughout the world.”” An Introduction to McDonoidt'zntfon 3 4. Starbucks, a relative newcom er to the fast- food industry, has achieved dramatic success of its own. A local Seattle business as late as 198?, Starbucks had over 1,568 com pany-own ed shops ith ere are no franchises} by 1998, more than triple the number of shops in 1994. Starbucks planned on having two hundred shops in Asia by the year 2000 and five hundred shops in Europe by anus. ‘1 5 . Perhaps we should not be surprised that the McDonald’s model has been extended to “casual dining"—that is, more “upscale,” higher-priced res- taurants with fuller menus (for example, Outback Steakhouse, Fuddrucl-ter's, Chili’s, The Olive Garden, and Red Lobster). Morton’s is an even more up— scale, high-priced chain of steakhouses that has overtly modeled itself after McDonald’s: “Despite the fawning service and the huge wine list, a meal at Morton’s conforms to the same dictates of uniformity, cost control and por- tion regulation that have enabled American fast-food chains to rule the world?” In fact, the chief executive of Morton’s was an owner of a number of lWen dy‘s outlets and admits: "My experience with Wen dy’s has helped in Mor- ton's venues?” To achieve uniformity, employees go “by the book": “an lngrcdient-by-ingtcdient illustrated bin der describing the exact specifications of son Mo rton's kitchen items, sauces and garnishes. A row of color pictures in every Morton’s kitchen displays the presentation for each dish.“'“’ 1“ 6. |Other types of business are increasingly adapting the principles of the fast-food industry to. their needs. Said the vice chairman of Toys ‘R Us, “We want to be thou ght of as a sort of Mid) onald’s of toys?“ The founder of Kid~ sports Fun and Fitness Club echoed this desire: “I want to be the McDonald's of the kids’ fun and fitness business?“8 Other chains with similar ambitions in- clude Jiffy Lube, AAM CO Transmissions, Midas Muffler 8:: Brake Shops, Hair Plus, I'lch Block, Pearle Vision Centers, [Campgrounds of America {K0151}, Kinder Care (dubbed "Kentucky Fried Children”‘“), Jenny Craig, Home Des pot, Barnes 5: Noble, Petstufi, and Wfll'MEIt.Lfl T. McD onald’s has been a res ou ndin gsuccess in the international arena. Just about half of McDonald’s restaurants are outside the United States {in the mid-198 (is, only 25% of McDonald’s were outside the United States) . "The vast majority of the 1,1? 0 new restaurants open ed in 1993 were overseas [in the 4 THE Me-DONALDIZATION OF SOCIETY United States, restaurants grew by less than one hundred). Well over half of McDonald’s profits come from its overseas operations. McDonald’s restau- rants are now found in 115 nations around the world. The leader, by far, is Ja- pan with almost 2,352. restaurants, followed by Canada with 1,085 and Ger- many with .931. As of 1993, there were 45 McDonald’s in Russia, and the company plans to open many more restaurants in the former Soviet Union and in thevas: new territory in Eastern Europe that has now been laid bare to the in- vasion of fast— food restaurants. Great Britain has become the “fast-food capital of Europe,”11 and Israel is described as “McDonaldized,” with its shopping malls populated by “Ace Hardware, Toys ‘RUs, Office Depot, and TOBY. M: 3. Many highly McDonaldized firms outside of the fast-food industry hare also had success globally. In addition to its thousands of stores in the United States, Blockbuster now has just over 2,000 sites in twenty-six other countries. Although WabMart opened its first interdational store (in Mexico) only in 1991, it now operates about 600 stores overseas [compared with just over 2,809 in the United States, including supercenters and Sam’s 'E'JlubfiJ 9. Other nations have dereloped their own variants of this American in- stitution. Canada has a chain of coffee shops, Tim Hortons {recentlyr merged with Wendy’s}, that planned on having two thousand outlets by the year 2000.“ Paris, a citywbose lore for fine cuisine might lead you to think it would prove immune to fast food, has a large number of fast-food croissanteries; the revered French bread has also been McDonaldized.” India has a sh sin of fast— food restaurants, Nirula's, that sells mutton burgers (about 30% of Indians are Hindus, who eat no beef) aswcll as local Indian cuisine.“ Mos Burger is a Japa- nese chain with over fifteen hundred restaurants that in addition to the usual fare, sells Teriyaki chicken burgers, rice burgers, and “Oshiruko with brown rice cake?“ Russkoye Bistro, a Rumian chain, sells traditional Russian fare such as pirogi {meat and vegetable pies), blini {thin pancakes), Cossack apricot curd tart, and of con rse, wadita.ma Perhaps the most unlikely Spot for an indige- nous fast-food restaurant, war-ravaged Beirut of 1934, witnessed the opening of Juic}.r Burger, with a rainbow instead of golden arches and]. B. the Clown standing in for Run ald McDonald. its owners hoped that it would become the “McDonald’s of the r’irabworld."19 10. And now McDonal dizationis coming full circle. Other countries with their own McDonaldized institutions have begun to export them to the United An Introduction to .McDrJi-irrffdizrrsion 5 States. The Body Shop, an ecologically sensitive British cosmetics chain, had over fifteen hundred shops in forty-seven nations in 1993,” of which three hundred were in the United States. Furthermore, American firms are now opening copies of this British chain, such as Bath and Body Works.” MCD ONALD’S A5 2‘: GLOBAL lCON McDonald's has come to occupy a central place in Anterican popular culture, not just the business world.” A new McDonald’s opening in a small town can be an important social event. Said one Maryland high school student at such an opening, “Nothing this exciting ever happens in Dale City.“33 Even big-city newspapers avidly cover developments in the fast-food business. Fast-food restaurants also play symbolic roles on television programs and . in the movies. A skit on the television show Saturday Night Live satirized spe- cialty chains by detailing the hardShips of a franchise that sells nothing but Scotch tape. In the movie Comiugro America, Eddie Murphy plays an African prince whose introduction to America includes a job at “McD oweli’s," a thinly disguised McDonald’s. In Falling Down, Michael Douglas vents his rage against the modern world in a fast-food restaurant dominated by mindless rules designed to frustrate customers. Moscow on the Hudson has Robin Wilt liams, newly arrived from Russia, obtain a job at McDonald's. H. G. Wells, a central character in the movie Tone nfiev'fime, finds himself transported to the modern world of a McDonald’s, where he tries to order the tea he was accus- tomed to drinking in Victorian England In Siseper; Woody Allen awakens in the future only to snoou nter a McDonald‘s. fin Men ends with the heroes driv— ing off into a future repr ese ntedby a huge golden arch lo omingin the distance. Further pro of that McDonald's has become a symbol of American culture is to be found in what happened when plans were made to rare Ray Kroc’s first McDonald's restaurant. Hundreds of letters poured into McDonald’s head~ quarters, including the following: Please don't tear it dOWHl . . . Your com pany’s name is a household word, not only in the United States of nrnerica, but allover the world. To destroy this major arri- fact of contemporary culture would, indeed, destroy partof the faith the people of the world have in your company.“ 6 THE MCDONALDIZATIUN 0F SOCIETY In the end, the restaurant was not only saved but turned into a museum. A McDonald's executive explained the more: “McD onald’s . . . is really a. part of Americana." Americans aren’t the only ones who feel this Way. At the opening of the MCD onald’s in Moscow one journalist described the franchise as the “ultimate icon of iimericana."’35 When Pizza Hut opened in Moscow in 1990, a Russian student said, “It's a piece of America. "35 Reflecting on the growth of last-food I restd'urants in Brazil, an executive associated with Pizza Hut of Brazil said that his nation “is experiencinga passion for things American?” 011 the popularity of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Malaysia, the nation’s finance minister said, ‘ihnyfliing Western, especiallyflruerican, people here love. . . . They want to be associated with .i‘irnerica.“at “Weds has become more imEortont than the United States itself. Take the following story about a former U.S. ambassador to Israel officiating at the opening of the first McDon ald’s in Jerusalem wearing a baseball hat with the McDonald’s golden arches logo: An Israeli teen-tiger walked up to him, carrying his own McD onald’s hat, which he handed toAmbassador Indylc with apes and asked: ‘l’ireyou thefimbass adori' Can I have your autograph?”- Soinewhat sheepishly, Ambassador Indy]: replied: “Sure. I’ve never been asked for my autograph before.” Asthe Ambassador preparedto sign his name, the Israeli teen-ager said to him, “Wong What's it like to he the ambassador from McDonald’s, going around the world opening McDonald's restaurants everywhere?” Ambassador lnclyk looked at the Israeli youth and said, “No, no. I'm the hmerican ambassador-110i: the ambassador iron: McDonald’s!” Ambassador In- dyk described what happened next: “I saidto him, ‘Doe-s this mean you don’t Want my autograph?’ And the kid said, ‘No, I don’t want your autograph,’ and he took his hat hack and walked away?” TWo other indices of the significance of McDonald's (and, implicitly, McDonaldization) are worth mentioning. T'th [n- dex” {part of Wblished by a prestigious magazine, The It—indicates the purchasing power of various currencies around the world based on the local price (in dollars) of rhe‘Big Mac. The Big Mac is used because it is a uniform commodity sold in many {1 15 ) different nations. In the 1998 survejI 'Lg Mac in the United States cost $2.56; in Indonesia and Ma- An Introduction to McDoncidiaation 7 laysia it cost $1.16; in Switzerland it cost $3.81” This measure indicates, at least roughly, where the cost of living is high or low, as well as which currencies are undervalued (Indonesia and Malaysia) and which are overvalued (Switzer- land). Although The Economist is calculating the Big Mac Index tongue-im check, at least in part, the index represents the ubiquity and importance of McDonald’s around the world. cond indicator of McDonald’s global significance is the idea devel- oped by Thomas]. Friedman that “no two countries t at or ave a Me on- f" ald's hmmfim” Friedman calls this the “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention.”“1 Another half- serious idea, it implies that the path to world peace lies through the continued international expansion of McDonald's. Unfortunately, it was proved wrong by the NATO bombing onbgoslavia in 1999, which had eleven McDonald's as of 199?. 1 P To many people throughout the world, McDonald's has become a sacred ' i institution.“ Atthat opening of the McDonald's in Moscow, a worker spoke of it “as if it were the Cathedral in Chartres . . . a place to experience ‘celestial joyJ.’ “4" Kowi nslti argues that shopping malls, which almost alvvays en compass fast—food restaurants, are the modern “cathedrals of consumption” to which people go to practice their “consumer religion. “‘4 Similarly, a visit to another central element of McDonaldized society, Walt Disney World,“ has been de- scribed as “the middle-class hajj, the compulsory visit to the sunbalced holy ' 1346 city. McDonald's has achieved its exalted position because virtually all Ameri- cans, and many others, have passed through its golden arches on innumerable occasions. Furthermore, most of us have been bombarded by commercials ex- tollingMcDonald‘s virtues, commercials tailored to a variety of audiences and that change as the chain introduces new foo cls, new contests, and new product tic-ins. These ever-present cummercials, Combined with the fact that people cannot drivevery far without having a McDonald‘s pop into view,. have emb eds ded McDonald’s deeply in popular consciousness. A poll of school-age chil- dren sh owed that 96% of them could identify Ronald McDonald, second only to Santa |Klaus in name recognition.“7 ._ _ Over the years, McDonald’s has apphaled to people in many ways. The restaurants themSelvcs are depicted as spiclc-and—span, the food is said to be fresh and nutritious, the employees are sheath to be young and elect, the man- agers appear gentle and caring, and the dining experience it seems fun- ' 3 THE McDDNALDIZATIDN OF- SDCEETY filled. People are even led to believe that they contribute through their pur- chases, at least indirectly, to charities such as the Ronald McDonald Houses for sick children. THE LONG HRM. OF McDONr‘tLDlkaTlON McDonald's strives to continually extend its reach within American society and beyond. As the company's chairman said, “Our goal: to totally dominate the quick service restaurant industry worldwide. . . . I want McDonald’s to be more than a leader. I want McDonald’s to dominate.” McDonald's began as a phenomenon ofsuburhs and mediu m-sized towns, but in recent years, it has moved into smaller towns that supposedly could not support such a restaurant and into many big cities that are supposedly too so- phisticated.”You can now findfast-food outletsin NewYorlr’s Times Square as well as on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Soon after it opened in 1992, the McDonald’s in Moscow sold almost thirty thousand hambu rgersa day and em- ployed a staffof twelve hundred young people working two to a cash register.m In early 1992, Beijing witnessed the opening of the world’s largest McDon- ald’s, with seven hundred seats, twenty—nine cash registers, and nearly one thousand employees. On its first day of business, it set a new on e-day record for McDonald’s by serving about forty thousand customers?1 Small satellite, express, or remote outlets, opened in areas that cannot sup- port full-scale fast-food restaurants, are also expanding rapidly. They have be- gun to appear in small store fronts in large cities and in nontraditional settings such as department stores, service stations,52 and even schools. These satellites typically offer only limited menus and may rely on larger outlets for food stor- age and preparation,“ McDonald’s is considering opening express outlets in museums, office buildings, and corporate cafeterias. A flap occurred recently ov er the placementofa McDonald’s in the new federal courthouse in Boston.“ No longer content to dominate the strips that surround many college cam- puses, fast-food restaurants have moved onto many of those campuses. The first campus fast-food restaurant opened at the University of Cincinnati in 1973. Today, college cafeterias often look like shopping-mall food courts. In conjunction with a variety of “branded partners” [for example, Pizza Hut and Subway), Marriott now supplies food to many colleges and universities.” The likens-I" An Introduction to McDonaldizatton 5' apparent approval of college administrations puts fast-food restaurants in a position to further influence the younger generation. More recently, another expansion has occurred: People no longer need to leave the highway to obtain fast food quickly and easily Fast food is now avail— able at convenient rest stops along the highway. After “refueling,” we can pro- ceed with our trip, which is likely to end in another community that has about the same density and mix of fast-foodrestacrants as the locale weleft behind. Fast food is also increasingly available in hotels,“ railway stations, air- ports, and even on the trays for in-flight meals. The following advertisement appeared in the Wehington Post and the New York Times a few years ago: r""‘FllP'here else at 35,030 feet can you get a McDonald‘s meal like this for your kids? Only on United’s Orlando flights, ” Now, McDonald's so-called Friendly Skies Meals are generally available to children on Delta flights. Similarly, in De- cember 1994, Delta began to offer Blimpie sandwiches on its North American flights,” and Continental now offers Subway sandwiches. How much longer befo re McDonaldiaed meals wille available on all flights everywh ere by every carrier? In fact, on an increasing number of flights, prepackaged “snacks” have already replaced hot main courses. In other sectors of society, the influence of fast'food restaurants has been subtler but no less profound. Food produced by McDonald’s and other fast- food restaurants has begun to appear in high schools and trade schools; 13% of school cafeterias are serving branded fast food}.1i Said the dire star of nutrition for thehmerican School FoodService Association, “ ‘Kids today live in a world where fast food has become a way of life. For us to get kids to eat, period, we have to provide some familiar items.’ “5’ Fewlower—grade schools as yet have in-house fast-food restaurants. However, many have had to alter school cafete- ria menus and procedures to make fast food readily available.“ Apples, yogurt, and milk may go straight into the trash can, but hamburgers, fries, and shakes are devoured. Furthermore, fast-food chains are now trying to market their products in school cafeterias.‘51 The attempt to hook school—age children on fast food reached something of a peak in Illinois, where McDonald’s operated a program called, “A for Cheeseburger.” Stu dents who received A’s on their re- port tards received a free cheeseburger, thereby linking success in school with rewards from McDonald’s};1 The military has also been pressed to offer fast food on both bases and ships. Despite the criticisms by physicians and nutritionists, fast-food outlets increasingly turn up inside hospitals. Though no homes yet have a McDonal d’s 10 THE McDONALDIZATION 0F SOCIETY of their own, meals at home often resemble those available in fast-food restau- rants. Frozen, mierowavable, and prepared foods, which bear astrilting resem- blance to meals available at fast-food restaurants, often find their way to the dinner table. Th en there is also home delivery of fast foods, esp eci ally pizza, as revolutionized by Domino’s. _ McDonald’s is such a powerful model that many businesses have acquired nicknames beginning with Me. Examples include “McDentists" and “McDoc— tors,” meaning drive-in clinics designed to deal quickly and effi ciently with 111i- nor dental and medical problems;” “McChild” care centers, meaning child care centers such as Kinder-Care; "McStables," designating the nationwide race horse-training operation of team Lucas; and “MePaper,” designating the newspaper USA TODAY.“ MeDon ald’s is not always enamored of this proliferation. Take the case of We Be Sushi, a San Francisco chain with three outlets. Anote appears on the back of the menu explaining why the chain was not named “McSushi”: The original name was i’vieSnsbi. Our sign was up and we were ready to go. But he- fere we could open our doors we received a very formal letter lromlthe lawyers of, you guessed it. McD onaltl’s. it seems that McDo nald's has cornered the market on every McFood name possible from McBagle {sic} to McTaco. Titty explained that the use it the namo McSushi would dilute the image of McDonald’s.” So powerful is McDonaldization that the derivatives of McDonald’s in turn exert theirown influence. For example, the su ecess ofUSA TDDAYhas led many newspapers across the nation to adopt, for example, shorter stories and colorful Weather maps. As one USA TODAY edi tor said, l"The same newspaper editors who call us MePaper have been stealing our McNuggets. ”“ Even seri- ous journalistic enterprises such as the New York Times and Washington Post have undergone changes (for example, the use of color} as a result of the suc- cess of U34 TDDAH The influence of USA TODAY is blatantly manifested in The Bees Retort News, which has been described as “a sort of smorgasbord of sni p pets, a newspaper that slices and dices the news into even smaller portions than does USA TDDAK spicing it with colorgraphics and fun facts and cute fea- tures like ‘Today ’5 Hero‘ and ‘Critter Watch.’ “‘7' As in USA TUBA}: stories in The Bees Retort News usually start and finish on the same page. Many impor- tant detaiIs, much of astory’s context, and rnurh of what the principals have to say, are severely *"t back or omitted entirely. With its emphasis on light news An Introduction to McDonnHicarion 11 anmlor graphics, the main function of the newspaper seems ti?.hli~.-§“l,,,“,,t,,,ain' .-.r.'.'- I I I - *9; meat. I Like virtually every other sector of society, sex has undergone McDonaldi- ration. In the movie S leeper, Wood}r Mlen not onlyr created a futuristic world in which McDonald’s was an important and highly visible element, But he also envisioned a society in which people could enter a machine called an “orgas- matro n,” to experience an orgasm without going through the muss and fuss of sexual intercourse. Similarly, real-life “dial-a-porn" allows people to have intimate, sexuallyr explicit, even obscene conversations with people they;r have never met and probably never will meet.” There is great Specialization here: Dialing nu ml: ets such as SSS-FOXX will lead to a very different phone message than dialing SSS—SEXY. Those who answer the phones mindlessly and repetitivelyr follow "‘scripts""I that have them say,r such things as, “Sorry, tiger, but your Dream Girl has to go. . . . Call right back and ask for me.MEI Less scripted are phone sex sys- tems that permit erotic conversations bcnveen total strangers. As ‘I'ii'oodyr Allen anticipated with his “orgasmatron,” participants can experience an orgasm without ever meeting or touching one another.” “In a world where conven- ience is king, disembodied sex has its allure. You don’t have to stir from your comfortable home. You pick up the phone, or log onto the computer and, if you’re plugged in, a world of unheard of sexual splendor rolls out before vour eves.”" In NewYork City, an official called a three-story pornographic center “the McDonald’s of sex" because of its “cookie-cutter cleanliness and compli« ance with the law. m These examples suggest that no aspect of people’s lives is immune to McDonaldiration. .I‘_ THE DIMENSIONS or moonstoizanow Why has the McDonald’s model proven so irresistible? Eating fast in ed at McDon ald’s has certainle become a “Sign” that, among other things, one is in tune with the contemporarv lifestyle. There is also a kind of magic or enchant- meut associated with such food and their settings. However, what will be fo- cused on here are the four alluring dimensions that lie atthe heart ofthesuccess ofthis model and, more generally, of MeDonal-diration. In short, 1“ ‘ “Donald’s 12 THE haeDDNhLDIZATION OF SOCIETY has succeeded because it offers consumers, workers, and managers efficiency, ealeulahility, predictability, and control.” M L/ in“ i {M “0 Efficiency _ 'One important element of McDonald’s success is efficiency, or the opti- mum method for getting from one point to another. For consumers, McDon- ald s offers the best available way to get from being hungry toheing full. in a so- ciety where both parents are likely to work or where a single parent is struggling to iteep up, efficiently satisfying hunger is very attractive. In a soci- ety where people rush, from one spot to another, usually by car, the efficiency of a fast- food meal, perhaps even a drive-through meal, often proves impossi- hlc to resist. The fast- food model offers, or at least appears to offer, an efficient method for satisfying many other needs, as well. 1iflii'oody Allen’s orgasmatron offered an efficient method for getting people from quiescence to sexual gratification. Dthct institutions fashioned on the McDonald's model offer similar efficiency in losing weight, lubricating cars, getting new glasses or contacts, or complet- ing income tax forms. Like their customers, workers in McDonaldized systems function effi- ciently following the steps in a predesigned process. They are trained to work this way by managers, who watch over them closely to make sure that they do. :3 Organizational rules and regulations also help ensure highly efficient work. Calculabihty Pflrkr 5‘! gal, fig Mpg, cements): is an emphasis on the quantitative aspects of products sold Qion size, cost} and services offered (the time it takes to get the product). In McDonaldizcd systems, quantity has become equivalent to q::a|ity; a lot of something, or the quick delivery of it, means it musr be goo d. As two ohser vers of contemporary American culture put it, “As a culture, we tend to believe deeply that in general ‘higger is better.’ “7'5 Thus, people order the Quarter Founder, the Big Mac, the large fries. More recent lures are the “double this“ (for instance. Burger King's “Double Whopper with Cheese") and the “triple that." People can quantify these things and feel that they are getting a lot of food for what appearsto be a nominal sum of money. This calculation does not ll m 13 \.___.r' an Introduction to McDonald take into account an important point, however: The high profits of fast-food chains indicates that the owners, not the consumers, get the best deal. People also tend to calculate how much time it will take to drive to McDonald’s, be served the food, eat it, and return home; then, they compare that interval to the time required to prepare food at home. They often con- clude, rightly or wrongly, that a trip to the fast-food restaurant will take less time than eating at home. This sort of calculation particularly supports home delivery franchises such as Domino’s, as well as other chains that emphasize time saying. A. notable example of time saving in another sort of chain is Lens . f Ctaftets, which promises people, “Glasses fast, glasses in one hour.” W!“ Some McDonaldized institutions combine the emphases on time and #5 money. Domino’s promises pizza delivery in half an hour, or the pizza is free. Pi 11a Hutwill serve a personal pan pizza in five minutes, or it, too, will be free. Wu rkers in McDonaldiaed systems also tend to emphasize the quantitative rather than the qualitative aspects of their wo tit. Sin Ce the quality of the work is will allowed to vary little, workers focus on things such as how quickly tasks can be accomplished. In a situation analogous to that of the customer, workers are ex- Ifill pected to do a lot of work, very quickly. for low pay. ,th L a Predictability J' McDonald's also offers predictability, the assurance that products and etvices will be the same over time and in all locales. The EggMcMaffin in New ‘thrlr. will be, for all intents and purposes, identical to those in Chicago and Los Angeles. Also, those eaten next weelt or next year will'be identical to those eaten today. Customers take great com fort in knowing that McDonald’s offers (aria no surprises. People know that the next Egg McMu ffin they eat will not he aw- ful, although it will not be exceptionally delicious, either. The success of the McDonald’s model suggests that many people have come to prefer a world in which there are few surprises. “This is strange," notes a British observer, “con— , sidering [McD onaltl's is] the product of a culture which honours individualism if above all?“ The workers in McDonaidized systems also behave in predictable ways. They follow corporate rules as well as the dictates of their managers. In many (m cases, what they do, and even what they say, is highly predictable. McDon- 15.4041 ‘l (gig), 14 THE McD DNfiLDEZATIDN OF SOCIETY aldized organizations often have scripts that employees are supposed to memorize and follow whenever the occasion arises.” This scripted behavior helps create highly predictable interactions between workers and customers. While customers do not follow scripts, they tend to develop simple recipes for dealing with the employees of McDonaldized systems.“i As Robin Leidner ar- E1155, McDonald’s pioneered the routiniaation of interactive service work and remains an exemplar oi exrrerne standardization. lnnovation is notdiscoutaged . . . at least among managers and franchisees. Ironically, though, “the object is to look for new, innovative ways to create an experience that is exactly the same no matter what McDonald‘s you wall: into, no matter where it is in the world?” a" ' " " “no; control through Nonbumau Technology \a Thefnurth elementinMcDonald’c‘s'nceess, control,” is exerted over the people who enter theworld ochDonald’s. Lin es, limited menus, few options, and uncomfortable seats all lead diners to do what management wishes them to do—E‘at quickly and leave. Furthermore, the drive-through (in some cases, walk-through} window leads diners to leave before they eat. In the Domino’s model, customers never enter in the first place. _' The people who work in McDonaldized organizations are also controlled to a high degree, usually more blatantly and directly than custom ets. They are trained to do a limited number of things in precisely the way they are told to do them. The technologies used and the way the organization is set up reinforce this control. Managers and inspectors make sure that workers toe the line. McDonald’s also controls employees by threatening to use, and ultimately using, tech nology to replace human workers. No matter how well they are pro- grammed and controlled, workers can foul up the system’s operation. A slow worker can make the preparation and delivery of a Big Mac inefficient. A worker who refuses to follow the rules might leave the pickles or special sauce off a hamburger, thereby making for unpredictability. And a distracted worker can put too few fries in the box, making an order of large fries seern skimpy. For these and other reasons, McDonald’s and other fast- food restaurants have felt compelled to steadily replace human beings with machines, such as the soft drink disp enset that shuts itselfof f when the glass is full, the french frymachine that rings a "its the basket out of the oil when the fries are crisp, the prepro- gramm ed c- . register that eliminates the need for the cashier to calculate An Introduction to McDonaldization 15 prices and amounts, and perhaps at some future time, the robot capable of making hamburgers.m Technology that increases control over workers helps McDonaldized systems assure customers that their products and service will be consistent. THE FtDVANThGES OF MCDONALDlZATlON This discussion of four fundamental characteristics of McDonaldization makes itclear that McD onald’s has succeeded so phenomenally for good, solid reasons. Many knowledgeable people such as the economic columnist, Robert Samuelson, strongly support McDonald’s business model. Samuelson cone fesses to "openh,r worshipfing'] McDonald's,” and he thinks of it as “the great- est restaurant chain in history.“u In addition, McDonald’s offers many praise- worth}? programs that benefit society, such as its Ronald McDonald Houses, which permit parents to stay with children undergoing treatmont for serious medical probi ems; iob-ttai ning programs for teen agers; programs to help keep its employees in school; efforts to hire and train the handicapped; the McMas- ters program, aimed at hiring senior citizens; and an enviable record of hiring and promoting minorities.“3 The process of McDonaldization also moved ahead dramatically un - doubtedly because it has led to positive changes.“ Here are a few specific ex- amples: ,- -- . ..._.__‘__ __ § A wider range of goods and services is available to a much larger portion of the population than ever before. t Availability of goods and services depends far less than before on time or geo- graphic iocation; people can do things, such as obtainmono}r at the grocery store or abanic balanoe in the middle ofthe night, tliatwere impossible before. i People are able to get what the}.r want or need almost instantaneously and get it far more conveniently. § Goods and Services are ofa far more uniform quality; at least some people get better goods and services than before MeDonalclIZation. it Far more economical alternatives to high-priced, orstomizedgoodsand services are wider available; therefore, people can afford things they of" or previ- ously afford. ' 15 THE McDONr’LLDIZATlGN 0F SOCIETY 1' Fast, efficient goods and services are available to a population that is working longer hours and has fewer hours to spare. i in a rapidly changing, unfamiliar, and seemingly hostile world, the compara- tiver stable, familiar, and safe environment of a McDonaldi: :d system offers comfort. 1* Because of quantification, consumers can more easily compare competing products. i Certain products [for example, diet programs] are safer in a carefully regulated and controlled system. 1* People are more lilter to be treated similarly, no matter what their race, gender, or social class. s Organizational and technological innovations are more quickly and easily dif- fused throuth networks of identical operators. It The most popular products of one culture are more easily diffusod to others. At CRiTlQHE OF MCDONALDIZETION: THE IRMTIONALITY OF Ra‘cTiONz’cLl'i—Y Though McDonaldiaation offers powerful advantages, it has a downside. Effi- ciency, predictability, calculahility, and control through non human technology can be thought of as the basic components of a rational system .55 However, ra— l tional systems inevitably spawn irrationalities. The downside of McDonaldi- zation will be dealt with most systematically under the heading of the irration- ality of rationality; in fact, paradoxically, the irrationality of rationality can be thought of as the fifth dimension of McDonaldization. The basic idea here is that rational systems inevitably spawn irrational consequences. Another way of saying this is that rational systems serve to deny human reason; rational sys- tems are often unreasonable. m W .1119 nL+ U i For example, McDonaldization has prod ed a wide array of adverse ef- fects on the environment. One is a side effect of the need to grow uniform pota- toes from which to create predictable french fries. The huge farms of the Pa- cific Northwest that now produce such potatoes rely on the extensive use of chemicals. In addition, the need to produce a perfect fry means that much of the potato is wasted, with the remnants either fed to cattle or used for fertilize r. The underground water supply in the area is now showing high levels of ni- trates, which may be traceable to the fertilizer and animal wastes. ‘5 Many other an Introduction to Mcfloanidiz'eaoa 1'? ecological problems are associated with the McD onaldization of the fast-food industry: the forests felled to produce paper wrappings, the damage caused by polystyrene and other packaging materials, the enormous amount of food needed to produce feed cattle, and so on. finother unreasonable effect is that fast-food restaurants are often dehu- manizing settings in which to eat or work. Customers lining up for a burger or waiting in the drive-through line and workers preparing the food often feel as though they are part of an assembly line. Hardly amenable to eating, assembly lines have been shown to be inhuman settings in which to work. Such criticisms can be extended to all facets of the McD onaldizing world. For example, at the opening of Euro Disney, a French politician said that it will “bombard Fran cc with uprooted creations that are to culture what fast food is to gastronomy."” As you have seen, McDonaldization offers many advantages. However, this book will focus on the great costs and enormous risks of Mel) onaldization. Mei] onald’s and other purveyors of the fast-food model spend billions of dol- lars each year outlining the hen efi ts of their system. However, critics of the sys- J tern have few outlets for their ideas. For example, no one is offering commer- / cials between Saturday-morning cartoons warning children of the dangers associated with fast-food restaurants. Nonetheless, a legitimate question may he raised about this critique of ' I McDonaldization: is it animated by a romantieization of the past and an im- / / possible desire to return to a world that no longer exists? Some critics do base their critiques on nostalgia for a time when life was slower and offered more surprises, when people were freer, and when one was more likely to deal with a human being than a robot or a computer.Es Although they have a point, these critics haye undoubtedly exaggerated the positive aspects of a world without new onald’s, and they have certainly tended to forget the liabilities associated with earlier eras. As an example of the latter, take the following anecdote about a visit to a pizzeria in Havana, Cuba, which in some respects is decades behind the United States: The pizza‘s not much to rave about—they scrimp on tomato sauceJ and the dough is mushy. It was about '3": 3D pint.J and as usual the plane was stan ding-room-only, with people two deep iostling for a stool to come open and a waiting line spilling out onto the sidewalk. is THE McDONhLDIZATIDN or socmrv The menu is similar-[3,:r Spartan. . . . To drink, there is tap water. That's it—no toppings, no soda, no bee t, no coffee, no salt, no pepper. And no special orders. A vet-view people are eating. Most arewaiting. . . . Fingc rs are drumming, flies are buzzing, the clock is ticking. The waiterwears a watch around his belt loop, but he hardly needs it; time is evidently not his chief concern. After a while, tempers begin to fray. But right now, it's 3:45 p.m. at the pizzeria, I‘ve been waiting an hour and a quarter for two small pies." Few would prefer such a restaurant to the last, friendly, diverse offerings of, say, Pizza Hut. More important, however, critics who revere the past do not seem to realize that we are not returning to such a world. In fact, is st-fo od tes- taurants have begun to ap peatin Havana.” The in crease in the number of peo- ple crowding the planet, the acteleration of technological change, the increas- ing pace of life—all this and more make it impossible to go back to the world, if it ever existed, of home-cooked meals, traditional restaurant dinners, high- quality foods, meals loaded with surprises, and restaurants run Eczfijige to express their creativity. C n l—, jut M; D M Ea, It is more valid to critique McD naldization from the perspective of the future.“ Lin lettered by the constraints ofMeDonaldized systems, but using the technological advances made possible by them, people would have the poten: tial to be far more thoughtful, skillful, creative, andwell—rouncled than the},r are now. In short, if the world were less MeDonaldized, people would be better able to live up to their human potential. We must therefore look at McDo naldization as both “enabling” and “con- training?” McDon aldizecl systems enable us to do many,r things that we were not able to do in the past. However, these systems also keen us from doing things we otherwise would do. McDonaldization is a “doubloedged” phe- nomenon. We must not lose sight of that fact, even though this book will focus on the constraints emaciated with McDonaldization—its “dark side.” WHAT ISN'T MCDONALD IZED? This chapter should be givingyou asense not only of the advantages and dies d~ vantages of McDonaldization but also of the range of phenomena that will be discussed throughout this book. In fact, such a wide range of phenomena can be linked to McDonaldization that vou may be led to wonder what isn’t An introduction to McDonaldizerion 19 McDonaldized. Is McDonaldization the equivalent of modernity? Is every- thing contemporary McDonaldized? Although much of the world has been McDonaldized, at least three aspects of contemporary society have largely escaped the process: 9 Those aspects traceable to an earlier, “premodem” age. A good example is the mom-and—pop grocery store. § New businesses that have sprung up, at least in part, as a reaction against McDonaldization. For instance, people fed up with McDonaldined motel rooms in Holiday Inns or Motel {is can instead stay in a bed-and-hreakfast, which offers a room in a private home with personalized attention and a home- made breakfast from the proprietor. 1* These aspects suggesting a move toward a new, “postmodern” age. For exam— ple. in a postmodern society; “modern” highwrisc housing projects ma Ire way for smaller, more livable communities. Thus, although McDonalditation is ubiquitous, there is more to the contem- pora t'y world than McDonaldization . It is a Very important social process, but it is far from the only process transforming contemporary society. Furthermore, McDonaldiaation is not an all—or—nothing process. There are degrees of McDonaldization. Fast-food restaurants, for example, have been heavily McDonaldized, universities moderately McDonaldi‘eed, and lflflm*and'p op grocers only slightly McDon aldized. It is difficult to think of so- cial phenomena that have escaped McDonaldization totally, but some local en~ lerprise in Fiji may yet be untouched by this process. ALOOKAHEAD Because this book is a work in the social sciences, it cannot merely assert that McDonaldization is spreading throughout society; it must present evidence for that assertion. Thus, after a discussion of the precursors to McDonaldiza— tion in Chapter 2, Chapters 3 through I5 provide evidence in the context of a discussion of the four basic dimensions of McDonaldisation outlined in this chapter: efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control. Numerous exam- ples in each chapter show the degree to which McDonaldization has pene- trated society and the accelerating rate of that penetration. as THE Ma'oomacolzanort oF SOCIETY The remainder of the book is more analytical. in Chapter '3", the fifth and paradoxical element of McDonaldization-—the irrationality of rationality—is explored. Though much of the book criticizes MeDonaldization, this chapter presents the critique most clearly and directly, discussing a terrier}? of irration- alities, the most important of which is dehumaniration. Chapter 3 discusses the isms}r MeDonaldization has pushed its frontiers to encompass not just life but birth {and before), death (and beyond), and death-defying activities, such as the climbing of Mt. Everest. Thisis followed by a discussion , iii Chapter 9, of the place of MeDonaldiaation in a changing world, its global presence, its fu- ture prospects, and even the possibility of de-McDonaldization. In the con» eluding chapter (19}, individuals and groups bothered, if not enraged, by the process are offered ways of dealing with an inert: asingly Mel} on aldized world. ...
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Week6-2 - An introduction to r McDonaldization Ray Kroc,...

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