MODERN, SYMBOLIC-INTERPRETIVE, AND POSTMODERN ANALYSIS OF THE COCA COLA COMPANY
Organization theory is considered to be the most essential aspects in the science of economics. Organization theory encompasses theorizing, theories, abstraction, the study of organizations from different points of view, levels and methods of analysis. Organizational theory helps managers to effectively more possibilities and ideas for managing and designing their organizations, as managers usually have numerous options and approaches of solving and addressing issues in their organizations (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006b). In the following essay, I will show how the three most common perspective approaches of organizational theory assist managers and organizations, in general, in achieving and understanding that is more comprehensive of the complex phenomenon usually associated with organizations. These three perspectives include the symbolic interpretive, modernistic and post- modernistic. I will do this by analyzing one particular organization, Coca- Cola.
Key words: post- modernistic, modernistic, symbolic interpretive, organizational theory
What is an organization? The term organization can be used to refer to a social system that is specifically established for the purposes of achieving certain goals and objectives. The term social system, on the other hand, reflects the fact that a group of persons, who correlate with everyone in some way, are involved. The role of the management in this case is to organize and coordinate the groups or the social systems so that they can corporate and work together towards attaining certain, specific goals set by the organization. As it follows, an organization can also be defined as a group of individuals who have individual or personal objectives, but work together in coordination for the purposes of attaining certain, common goals that have been set and determined by the organization within the set or the frame of their environment and that of their personal goals.
There are a number of elements that define an organization. Some of these factors include goals, people, relationships made by those people, and the structure of the organization (Alchian & Demsetz, 1972).
Goals and objectives
The goals and objectives of an organization are what define what the management and their employees are supposed to attain in an organization. Goals are most useful when they are unified in terms of their content. Everyone in the organization must work towards the same goals. Moreover, the goals of the management and the workers must also be similar to those of the company.
These are the organization’s members. It is the duty and the responsibility of the management to ensure that the people’s focus is towards the achievement of the company’s goals.
Relationships between people
This has been defined as the ‘glue’ that sticks organizations together. These relationships are furthered by the culture of the organization, which are in turn defined by the community within which the organization is located. On the other hand, the community is defined by the opinions, values, dependencies, disagreements, and conflicts that are commonly found within an organization. It is possible for the relationships found within the organization to be ruined, especially by power struggles of differing intensities and strengths commonly associated with organizations.
Structure of the organization
This term is used to define how an organization is organized or structured. It also indicates which units of the organization are essential, and what functions are associated with each unit.
Short Summary of the Organization
The Coca Cola Corporation will be the main focus of this paper. The head office of the company is in Delaware, and its holding company is the Corporation Trust Company. The company produces and distributes over 500 brands in more the 200 hundred countries. The company’s most known product is the Coca- cola beverage. The company offers and distributes other products as well like Fanta, Sprite, and Tab, which was the company’s first diet soda.
The holding company of Coca-Cola has several functions. For example, it is the one involved in general business for all of its subsidiaries; it is also the one that gets in other lawful businesses on the behalf of its holdings. For example, the company buys and acquires all or some of the good- will business, trade- names and marks, rights, property names, and other essential assets (Company fact sheet).
One of the most basic characteristic of modernists is that they are objectivists, in that they focus more on knowledge reality, which is mostly developed through theorization and conceptualization. In the modernistic view, things that occur usually have definite explanations, and usually through the help of data that is carefully collected and analyzed. For example, a company earns profit because of the ability of its CEO to make the right decisions as they invest the money of the company. It has been argued that the modernists only recognize data and information that they can touch, hear, smell, see, and taste. Organizations based on modernistic theories works depending on the systems implemented and defined by the general system theory. The system, on the other hand, can be established through deductive modes which can be used to measure or test the theories through practice. This system is usually focused on building a set of values that an organization can use so that everyone can follow and adhere to the rues, and as a result, function, and perform in a manner that ensures that the organization’s functions run smoothly.
According to the modernist theory, the environment is the space that can be found outside the organization’s boundaries. The modernists argue that the environment is the one that provides an organization with resources and they also argue that it absorbs its services, as well as, its products. The environment is seen in this theory to foster several constraints or challenges upon the organization. The environment also demands that the organization adapt to its environment. The management of the organization involves the company protecting its internal environment from shocks that might originate from the external environment. Such shocks might include labor, capital shortage, and labor. This environment management strategy is known as buffering. The other environmental strategy is known as boundary spanning, which monitors the activities in the external environment, and represents the interests of the organization through sales, advertisements, public relations, and efforts in recruiting (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c). The Coca-Cola Company has managed to stay afloat and successful for numerous years because of its ability to manage the environment. The company, for example, has advanced machines and production machines that utilize high technology. These machines lessen the want for man labor and consequently the company cushions itself perfectly in times of shortages in labor.
The modernists analyze an organization based on three main resources namely the environmental contingency assumption, the population ecology premise and the theory on resource dependence. Coca-Cola will be analyzed using the environmental contingency theory. The analysis of the inter-organizational relationships and associations can be helpful for an organization in that it can help the managers comprehend and analyze the king of relationships the organization has with its network actors; the relation can take the form of power or dependence. For example, the resources that the organization utilizes are controlled by the outer environment. The organization, therefore, depends on the environment to provide it with resources, and the environment, hence, influences some of the decisions that the company makes (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c).
The Coca-Cola Company, for instance, depends on the outside environment for its raw material, labor, products, equipment and knowledge, and capital. The organization should, hence prioritize each dependence according to its importance and scarcity. For example, the Coca-Cola Company utilizes a lot of water for its beverages. There were complains in the past that the company in some areas has been overusing the water resources to the extent that some plants had to shut down. The company also depends on the customers and clients to move its products. There were complains that the company uses a lot of sugar in its products that can be harmful. It was also said that some of the products of the company had harmful chemicals. As a result, the sales of the company dropped significantly.
The social structure of an organization is formed by the relationships that exist between people working in an organization, and between the organizational units and groups formed by these people. Structure can be defined by three main dimensions which have been added on and elaborated by the modernists. These dimensions include; labor division, formalization, and authority hierarchy. There are two main theories that define social structure of an organization. These are the structural contingency theories and the current contingency theories. The structural contingency theories are three; size, centralization and specialization; integration and differentiation; and organic and mechanistic management systems. Today’s contingency theories include; lifecycles, taxonomies, and open system models of development (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006d).
The contingency theory indicates that the dimensions of a social structure are determined by the associations between the organization’s strategy, environment, size and technology. The Coca-Cola Company is largely centralized, in that the organization is divided into three sections; the holding company, its subsidiaries, and the distributors. The main company distributes concentrates of beverages to its subsidiaries for packaging; the subsidiaries package and distribute the products to the customer. This high centralization has numerous challenges. For example, these three systems have different goals and different ways of doing things. This is despite the verity that the aims of an association must be made uniform for better achievements (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006d). As a result, the company has received numerous complains, in addition to being involved in numerous law suits. For example, the quality of raw materials has been said to be low, resulting to products that are of low quality. This, in turn, leads to a decrease in sales and profitability.
Technology of an organization is based on three perspectives; that it is a means of turning raw material to final products, which it shapes social relations and the social interactions shape it; and that technology is a type of discipline, control and power that can also liberate. Coca-Cola is going to be analyzed by the modernistic definition that technology determines the tools and equipments an organization utilizes. Coca-Cola has advanced tools and equipments that ensure that the company retains high productivity. This has seen the company adapt machines that surpass human capabilities in manufacturing, packaging, and storing. As a result, the increased technology has displaced numerous workers leading to shortages of jobs (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006a).
Organizational culture can be defined as the way organizations do things or operate. It reflects an organization’s shared expectations and understanding (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006d). Organizational culture can be defined by the values, norms, assumptions, and believes that determine the way that organization runs, feels, think, and act. Coca-Cola has represented its organizational culture through images and symbols commonly used in the promotions, and campaigns of its products. The symbols and images used by Coca-Cola carry numerous meanings. Coca-Cola uses these symbols to express their ‘fun’ culture and to, in turn, influence customers to be part of the fun by purchasing their products.
Statement of Problems
From the above analysis, it was found that Coca-Cola has numerous problems that can affect its productivity. Most of the problems result from the external environment and the failure of the company to prioritize the most essential resources. For example, Coca-Cola was accused of putting too much sugar in its beverages something that led to a drop in sales. The company was also accused of producing beverages with harmful chemicals. This also led to a decrease in sales. The company has also significantly reduced jobs through the utilization of advanced machines. The company is also losing its reputation because of wastage of water, a raw material. In addition to this, Coca-Cola has also largely decentralized its organizational structure, something that has led to a decrease in quality of products produced.
Solution and Recommendations
To solve the problems brought about by the environment, the company has to critically analyze and determine the most essential sources or environments by their scarcity and importance. The company, through this will determine which sources are worth taking care of and which ones are priorities. The company can improve their situation by developing personal relationships with their environment, by lobbying, and marketing their goods. This way they will improve their reputation and, hence, their profitability (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c).
SYMBOLIC- INTERPRETIVE CRITIQUE
In the context of environments, the symbolic- interpretive theories is composed of three theories; institutional theory, ambiguity theory, and the enacted environment. These theories argue that organizations must adapt to both the external and the internal environments. An alternative measure to the solutions provided for the environmental problems above, the institutional theory can be used, and specifically the institutional pressures can offer the environment and company an alternative set of solutions to the problems caused by the company and the environment respectively. These pressures are coercive, normative, and mimetic. The company can for example, want to be similar in success in creating relationships with the environment to another company. Through the mimetic pressure, the company can eliminate some of its issues like wastage of water, and minimizing of sugar so as to be successful as another company. The company can also use the normative pressure to change. These are the expectations of the culture to conform to the practices of the society (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c).
Coca-Cola can also transform and solve the problems it is causing the community by use of the coercive pressures which are the pressures provided by the government. The government for example can regulate the amount of water a company uses. It can also regulate the nutritional values of the company’s beverages (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c). In the technology context, the social construction of technology offered by the symbolic interpretive perspectives can help the company solve its technology problems. The company was indicated to be causing numerous job losses as a result of technology. The symbolic interpretive perspective implies that technology should be co- developed by an interaction of society, environment, economic, culture, and technical factors (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006a). Based on this argument, the company can balance the use of machines with offering and providing the community with job opportunities, because of the above, mentioned factors.
When it comes to the problems caused by the organizational structure, and in particular decentralization, the company can use the symbolic- interpretive approaches to solve the problems caused by decentralization. For example the company can devise and implement key routines and improvisations that must be followed by all subsidiaries to ensure quality of products. The established routine can make sure that actions are reproduced in all of the subsidiaries of the company to ensure that the quality is good and similar. Routine can ensure stability, as well as, transfer and preserve knowledge and skills (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006d).
In the environment context, the postmodern theories can similarly be used to offer the company alternative solutions to their problems. The company, for example, can utilize the approach based on the different phases of industrialization, and especially the second phase of industrialization. In this phase, the company has a wider range of products, has more complicated processes of production, and it is at this stage the company grows in bureaucracy (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c). The Coca-Cola Company is in this phase and, it can control some of the adversities that result from this phase of industrialization by specialization, developing a routine, and by controlling the production. The company can also minimize the number of negative effects resulting from this phase by developing a suitable structure of management.
The approach of the third phase indicates that an organization should be more sensitive to the customers. It also suggests that companies should initiate stimulated consumption, and internationalization, as well as, improve its technologies. This way the customers can start viewing the company in a better light and as a result increase their purchasing power (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006c).
When it comes to the organizational structure of the company, an organization should adapt the de- differentiation approach which promotes self- organization, self- coordination, and self- management. The company should practice all this to ensure that the quality of the resulting products is high. The postmodern theory argues that technology can imprison organizations if they let it govern their needs (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006a). As a result, the organization should not let this happen; rather it should strike a balance between technology and providing work (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006d).
For one to completely understand the theory of organizations, they have to study and analyze organizational phenomena in different ways. This is because different ways or approaches of analysis provide one with different kinds of perspectives which lead to different theories and concepts. In the above essay, different kinds perspectives of organizational theories have been used to analyze Coca-Cola as an organization, and as a result, the perspectives have helped in a big way in coming up with different issues that affect the company, in addition to the solutions of the problems. The perspectives that have been looked at are the modern perspective, the symbolic- interpretive perspective, and the postmodern approach.
Alchian, A. & Demsetz, H. (1972). Production, Information Costs, and EconomicOrganization. The American Economic Review 62(5): 777-795.
Company fact sheet. The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved from http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/contactus/students.html
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Hatch, M. J. & Cunliffe, A. L. (2006c). Organization and environment. Chapter 3. Oxford University Press.
Hatch, M. J. & Cunliffe, A. L. (2006d). Organizational social structure. Chapter 4. Oxford University Press.