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Starbucks: a Study of Organizational Behaviour

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Starbucks Coffee Company was founded with the idea of differentiating itself from other companies through its strong organizational culture and ethical beliefs. The company’s founders believed that it could do business responsibly with a feeling of connection to the community, customers, and partners (www.starbucks.com). Its mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time is achieved through its passion of providing a quality product with quality service (www.starbucks.com). Starbucks Coffee Company upholds a culture in which diversity is valued and respected.

Starbucks refers to its employees are partners, because they are treated as equals. The company invests the time and resources to educating its partners at all levels. Recognizing that a happy employee reaps excellent customer service which in turns reaps a maximization of profits, Starbucks offers many benefits to its partners. Part time partners who work more than twenty hours per week are eligible for health care benefits, stock options, 401(k) matching, and tuition reimbursement (Marques, 2008).

Starbucks understands the importance of providing great service to its customers. It believes in providing a welcoming experience to each customer at each visit. Each customer receives the Starbuck Experience which starts and ends with “keep it simple” (Cavallari, 2009). The service that partners are expected to render is clearly communication to each employee through customer service training. Communication and Perception

Although Starbucks does an excellent job in communicating to its partners, the leaders understand that the perception of the information received may weaken the culture it has worked hard to maintain. It is important that what is communicated is perceived to be true. Lateral communication between employees also will influence perception and is very difficult to control (Burmann and Zeplin, 2005). Starbucks attempts to combat perception by allowing for open communication. A mission review was developed for partners to express when they feel that decisions are not supportive of the company’s mission statement or espoused values (www.starbucks.com).

Starbucks also attempts to align its enacted values with its espoused values by fostering creativity amongst partners. The idea of the Frappucino was inspired by a small group of employees and the Starbucks-branded CDs evolved from a store manager experimenting with customized in-store music tapes (Anonymous, 1999). Instead of spending excess funds on traditional advertising, the company focuses more on employee training with the expectation that they will create an exceptional experience for the customer (Burmann and Zeplin, 2005). Conflict and Communication

As organizations grow, conflict becomes inevitable. However, using the proper techniques, negative conflict can be used to foster positive results and strengthen the organization in the areas of communication, relationship building, and creative thinking.

When conflict arises, it forces the members of a team to communicate more. In companies such as Starbucks, leaders seek to uphold an environment where conflict management and resolution is looked at from a positive perspective. Communication increases as individuals discuss the nature of the problem as a group and begin to brainstorm possible solutions and proactive measures to combat similar issues in future situations. Surprisingly, conflict can strengthen and build relationships within a group or team. The clique “misery love company” holds true even in large successful companies. Individuals who share the same opinions may come together to share ideas. When Starbucks receives Mission Review Cards or complaint forms, the leaders may decide to form a diverse team or group of creative minds from different areas and stores to resolve problems and formulate an action plan that will benefit partners and customers. Conclusion

Starbucks Coffee Company is one with a strong organizational culture. The leaders are passionate about maintaining the culture of its founders and strive to provide the communication necessary to limit misconception of its values and beliefs. The organization’s espoused values are aligned with its enacted values and this is proven through training and education.


Anonymous. Tokyo gets the taste of Starbucks. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics; 1999; 11, 4; ProQuest pg. 61-62
Burmann, Christoph; Zeplin, Sabrina. Building brand commitment: A behavioural approach to internal brand management. Journal of Brand Management; Apr 2005; 12, 4; ProQuest pg. 279-300
Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks Coffee Company website: http://www.starbucks.com/about-us

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