To What Extent Does the Mcdonaldization Model Move Beyond Weber's ‘Ideal Bureaucracy’ to Provide a Comprehensive Metaphor for Contemporary Society?

Topics: McDonaldization, Sociology, Max Weber Pages: 5 (1993 words) Published: February 26, 2011
This assignment will look at the model of McDonaldization and its links to Max Weber’s theory of bureaucracy. The advantages and disadvantages of the model will be identified and examples will be given of how these will affect an organisation. Effects of McDonaldization on society will also be considered. The extent to which McDonaldization provides a comprehensive metaphor for contemporary society will be determined from the evidence presented. The definition of McDonaldization is “The process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world” (Ritzer, 2004, p. 1). There are four main characteristics of McDonaldization which will be explained in relation to McDonalds. These characteristics are efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. Efficiency within McDonalds is demonstrated by the automated soft drink filling machines, the drive through where the customer leaves before they eat their meals and there is a selection of food is always ready for consumption. These examples help reduce the time it takes for a customer to arrive and complete their purchase which allows McDonalds to cater for a higher demand in a set period of time. Efficiency is also optimized by “the use of the customer as labour” (Nancarrow et al, 2005, p. 298) in ways such as them carrying their own food to tables and putting their own waste into the bin. Calculability relates to how the organisation measures its performance and sets its targets. With regards to McDonalds this calculability would come from “the quantitative aspects of products sold” (Ritzer, 2004, p. 13). These aspects could include the portion size of a meal, the time it takes to cook a burger or how long it takes for a customer to order and receive their meal. This calculability helps management in planning day to day issues such as how many staff are needed to run the business. Predictability comes from the standardisation and specialisation of tasks as well as the implementation of policies and procedures. McDonald’s gains predictability by uniformity of products and the quality of them which is achieved through training staff to do things in a particular way. This is an “attempt to structure our environment so that surprise and differentness do not encroach upon our sensibilities” (Keel, 2010). This allows a customer to know that a burger bought in one branch will be the same as a burger bought in another branch. McDonald’s implements control to try to reduce unpredictability by limiting variety on menus and limiting the responsibility of staff by specialising their jobs. Control is also implemented through the technology within McDonald’s. An example of this would be the soft drink machine that automatically fills a cup to a specific level every time it is used or a deep fat fryer that alerts staff to when the chips are ready. McDonaldization and Max Weber’s ideal bureaucracy are closely linked. Weber identified three different types of leadership styles. These were charismatic leadership, traditional leadership and leadership based on objective criteria. Charismatic leadership is based on “personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority” (Changing Minds, nd). Traditional leadership is based on precedents and habits. The third kind of leadership is based on objective criteria and it is the type of leadership Weber thought was ideal as it was based on rationality. Weber’s theory is that a bureaucracy would be efficient, predictable, calculable and controlled. These are the same characteristics of McDonaldization. Weber thought the way to achieve these characteristics was through division of labour, a clear hierarchical structure, rules and regulations and administrative impersonality. Division of labour is the standardisation and specialisation of tasks. The roles of workers are clearly defined to maximise efficiency. A clear hierarchy would...

References: Anderson, E. A. Dysvik and A. Vaagaasar (2009). International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Organizational rationality and project management, 4 (2), pp. 479-498.
Changing Minds (nd). Charasmatic Leadership. Available at: Accessed on: 11th November 2010
Cornell (2003). Irrationality of Rationality. Available at: Accessed on: 13th November 2010
Keel, R (2010). The McDonaldization of Society: Introduction to Sociology. Available at: Accessed on: 14th November 2010
Nancarrow, C. J. Vir and A.Barker (2005). Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Ritzer’s McDonaldization and applied qualitative marketing research, 8 (3), pp. 296-311.
Ritzer, G (2004).The McDonaldization of Society. Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Wilson, F. (2004). Organizational Behaviour and Work. Oxford University Press, London, pp 55 - 60
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