An Analysis of Pixar's Culture

Topics: Pixar, John Lasseter, Walt Disney Animation Studios Pages: 10 (4129 words) Published: August 27, 2011
Northumbria University
Newcastle Business School
An Analysis of Pixar’s Organisational Culture

Name: Anoynomous

HR0372 – Culture and Organisations
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Management
January 2011
Word Count: 3668

Page No

Pixar Animation Studios as we know today, was started as in 1984 when John Lasseter, chief creative officer of both Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios and also concurrently, principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering at present date, left his animation job at Disney to join the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd. Two years later in 1986, this division was bought over by Steve Jobs, who established it as an independent company and renamed it “Pixar”. Pixar’s first short film, Red’s Dream had its world premiere at Siggraph in 1987 while its first commercial, Wake Up was produced in 1989 for Tropicana. In 1991, Pixar and Disney teams up in an effort to produce and distribute up to three full length animated films, which saw the release of Toy Story in 1995. This was also the year Pixar went public. Having enjoyed notable success, Pixar and Disney entered into a new agreement in 1997 to produce five movies jointly, and released several movies, namely A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, which all enjoyed tremendous success and also taking home several awards at the same time. Pixar was purchased by Disney for US $7.4 billion in May, 2006. But instead of introducing Disney’s culture into Pixar, chief executive of Disney, Robert Iger continued to let Pixar produce movies their own way and even agreed to protect Pixar’s creative culture (The Telegraph, 2009). In fact, Robert Iger even requested for help from the top management of Pixar to help revive Disney (Catmull, 2008, p.66).

The main issue that will be discussed in the analysis will be the human resource management of Pixar. When Pixar was acquired by Disney in 2006, not only did Disney not introduce their culture into Pixar, Disney even agreed to preserve the Pixar’s culture. This action by Disney proves that there must be something attractive about Pixar’s culture that makes them wants to protect and preserve it. It may be also due to Pixar’s culture being more outstanding and superior than that of Disney. The fact that Disney’s chief executive Robert Iger requested help from Pixar’s management to revive Disney supports this. The analysis will take a deeper look and understanding of Pixar’s human resource management and the way that they operate that makes Pixar’s culture so attractive.

For the analysis of Pixar’s organizational culture, we will be using the three levels of organizational culture as defined by Edgar Schein (2010). Culture, as formally defined by Schein (2010, p.18) is “a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems”. The three levels of culture are namely artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and basic underlying assumptions. Artifacts are described by Schein (2010, p.23) as the surface level of culture, as they can include the things that a person see, hear and feel when they join a new group and are experiencing their culture for the first time. Artifacts are visible and feelable structures and processes, and can also be an...

References: Burrows, P. (2003) ‘Pixar’s Unsung Hero’, Business Week, 3839, pp.68 – 69, Business Source Premier, [Online], Available at: (Accessed: 28 December 2010)
Capodagli, B
Catmull, E. (2008) ‘How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity’, Harvard Business Review, 86 (9), pp. 64-72, Business Source Premier, [Online], Available at: (Accessed: 27 December 2010)
Hempel, S
Schein, E.H. (2010) Organizational Culture and Leadership. 4th edn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Schlender, B
Schlender, B. (2004) ‘The Man Who Built Pixar’s Incredible Innovation Machine’, Fortune, 150 (10), pp.206 – 212, Business Source Premier, [Online], Available at: (Accessed: 27 December 2010)
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The Telegraph (2009) John Lasseter: Interview on UP. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2011)
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