Primark's Organizational Structure

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All aspects of organisational behaviour are influenced by the structure of the organisation. As we have seen Primark operates a carbon copy bureaucracy, therefore when concentrating on the individual Belfast store, a machine bureaucracy is easily identified. This highly bureaucratic structure can affect a company in many ways, but this section focuses on the relationship between structure and motivation. We studied how Primark motivates and how it fails to motivate its employees and how the machine bureaucracy impacts on this process. The word motivation is coined from the Latin word "movere", which means to move. According to Daft (2010: pg 506) motivation ‘refers to the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action.’ Motivation has become increasingly important for organizations that want to reach their organizational objectives in a competitive marketplace. In relation to Primark we will be assessing how management attempt to steer the motivation of employees in line with the goals of the organisation There are many motivational theories, however they fall into two main categories, content and process theories. Content theories focus on the internal factors that stimulate and direct human behaviour whilst the more recent development of process theories concentrate on the actual process of motivation, what practises will increase and maintain motivation. Within the two fields much work and study has been undertaken and multiple theories exist. As this discussion centres on the affiliation of structure and behaviour it is not necessary to widely discuss each theory, however it is helpful to establish some central characteristics of the theories. A common theme in the theories is the existence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, intrinsic factors are ones which come from within the individual, which is the incentive stemming from personal interest or satisfaction from their work. The extrinsic factors are the external incentives or rewards for their work. The theories on motivation are just that, theories, not theorems, they have not been proved to be uniformly applicable to all workplaces and employees. What motivates an employee depends on many things and will also be affected by where that individual is at in the company. What motivates a managing director will not be the same as that which motivates a sales assistant; therefore as you move up the hierarchical structure of Primark the motivating factors change considerably. As our study was on the Belfast division of Primark, this discussion will focus mainly on the lower tier of the bureaucracy, primarily the sales assistants but will refer to management for the purpose of providing contrasts and examples.

Primark pays employees a competitive wage, at £6.87 per hour, which is higher than its rivals. It is also a very strong company, Primark reported operating profits of £122 m in the 6 months leading to March 2010, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/21/primark-announces-profit-rise, accessed 15th October) so even in tough financial times the company is able to make profits. These are extrinsic factors which provide motivation. Maslow identified these characteristics and classified them as lower level needs in his hierarchy of needs (SEE APPENDIX A), Similarly Herzberg would classify these as hygiene factors which do not serve to motivate but need to be satisfied otherwise an employee will not be motivated (APPENDIX B) Whilst job security is, or should be the same for all employees, the wages will not be. The hierarchical structure of Primark is evident when examining employee wages as those at senior management level are paid significantly higher than those at the bottom such as sales assistants.

Another example where the hierarchical structure serves to motivate is through the vertical integration promotion scheme within the company. Primark offers promotion and travel...
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