Starbucks Organizational Behavior

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Starbucks Organizational Behavior
October 5, 2008
Starbucks Organizational Behavior
Starbucks began selling coffee in Seattle, Washington in 1971, and has revolutionized the coffee industry with its trendy coffeehouses and delectable products. The company has become an international sensation as the “premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world” (Starbucks Takes, 2008, p. 5). Due in part to Starbucks success, coffee has moved beyond ‘light and sweet’ and is not just for dunking doughnuts into anymore. How did a unified team of professionals transform a timeless breakfast drink into a desired upscale specialty product that is double or triple the price of their competition? Is melding social responsibility and environmental awareness among employees, customers, and competitors alike the key to the company’s phenomenal growth, and if so, is it enough to keep them in the lead worldwide? Here we will analyze how Starbucks uses organizational behavioral concepts such as communication, organizational culture and human resources practices to further their business, with varying results. Starbucks primarily uses communication methods to disseminate information that is both positive and negative regarding the inner workings of management, finance, and interpersonal dealings. Their website,, includes press releases, detailed investor relations information with financial and stock analyses, as well as a comprehensive section that reports on their extensive programs and contributions to environmental practices and social responsibility. Human Resources are addressed by an online career center that is accessible from the main website. Here, individuals who are interested in joining the Starbucks family are provided with access to worldwide job opportunities. This section provides includes details about the benefit options and career paths that are available to employees, ‘partners’ as the company prefers to call them, and also provides access to, a portal that is only accessible to Starbucks partners. This site offers information about internal job postings, tips on career planning and management, and networking opportunities. At, readers will find an independent Starbucks Gossip blog that was set up by American journalist Jim Romenesko to monitor Starbucks, or “America’s Favorite Drug Dealer” as it is referred to on the site. Here, readers are encouraged to post both positive and negative accounts on the products and practices of the company. The blog attracts a large following of Starbucks partners and customers alike (Jim Romenesko, 2008). The organizational culture is what gets the most press, and is the most copied by its competitors. The partners of Starbucks are its greatest human resource, and while surveys have indicated that they are content about their positions and the company overall, there is countering press that leads one to wonder whether Starbucks isn’t just like every other company, with great marketing and public relations, ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses. In the United States, it is likely that there is at least one Starbucks in every town; in major metropolitan areas, there seems to be one on every other street corner. The logo is easily recognizable, and the unusual product naming conventions are commonly referenced in popular media. When you enter a Starbucks coffee house, you walk into a multisensory adventure, a welcoming enterprise with an appealing ambience that offers a delicacy for every palate. A trip to Starbucks is an event to be enjoyed at any time of the day, whether a solitary venture to unwind from a hectic schedule, or a joyous encounter with friends to be spent lounging comfortably with a warm beverage, while listening to music and feasting on scones or carrot cake. It seems that the warm, positive coffee shop experience is not as...
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