Starbucks is a multinational company operating in several countries throughout the world. The organizational culture of the company is much influenced by a multi-national environment and by socio-economic changes happening around the world. It becomes helpful for the company to appoint staff from the respective countries where it has its stores and its HR can thus function in accordance with the needs of the company. A positive impact occurs due to the prevalent culture which is evident from the low levels of diversity and the homogeneous culture that is common with all employees. The company has its own share of critics but its exceptional services and high-quality standards draw customers in large numbers throughout the world which has helped Starbucks a great deal in creating customer loyalty and support.
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The main strength of the company lies in its giving top priority to exceptional service along with a friendly and positive organizational environment. Starbucks has demonstrated on several occasions that it values all cultures and does not allow intercultural differences to impede its business success. The company policies lead to unique ideologies and philosophies that have been its hallmark for several years. Pricing strategies are formulated in keeping with maintaining the consistency of product lines instead of individual products. A unique feature in this regard is the fact that some coffee products are priced to create value and status for the entire line instead of just gaining on their respective sales only. The high standards of quality have created a positive image for Starbucks which has permitted it to fix the best prices for its products.
As a consequence of adopting the given pricing strategies and the resultant potential for huge profitability, Starbucks has attracted a lot of competitors and critics, which is quite natural in an environment of global competition and growth that is happening in all spheres of economic activity. Organizational analysts have criticized Starbucks for adopting its own different culture that is said to be gradually and adversely impacting organizational performance and human relations in the industry. The company is being criticized for such strategies that threaten individual differences. Its exceptional services and high standards of quality have attracted millions of customers and created an image that has remained positively consistent for a long period.
However, the popularity of Starbucks is being increasingly attributed to the obsession that the world now has for owning brand names. The obsession for brand names has now invaded almost every product and service whether it is clothes, cars, toiletries or the coffee that we drink. Hence Starbucks is not considered by critics and analysts to have become popular for its coffee but for the status that it entails. Going to Starbucks signifies the discussion of corporate takeovers, setting up industries, feeling of enjoyment of urban luxuries, and the standardization and confirmation implied in its existence. The status earned by Starbucks is now corroborated by way of its presence in city corners, shopping malls and airports. But it is quite logical that such characteristics of a coffee chain are its strengths whether they are because of the quality of its coffee or because of the status it has earned for itself.
Starbucks has been accused of taking advantage and exploiting the superficiality present in consumer preferences. Its prices are said to be about thirty percent higher than other coffee chains, which analysts say is the prime reason for the sense of prestige and false perception of product quality and supremacy that consumers have started to have in visiting Starbucks. However such criticism is unfounded since in the current competitive environment all that matters is meeting consumer aspirations by giving them what they want, which is exactly what Starbucks is doing.
Critics have expressed that the coffee at Starbucks is not better than what is available at other coffee shops. The only difference lies in a large number of varieties at Starbucks. The extra money charged here for coffee is not for the latte that one consumes but for the lifestyle that people so badly desire these days. It is considered the ideal place for well-dressed businessmen and college-going students who love to discuss films and whatever is hot in the world. But it is also true that the public bases its decisions on wrong inferences. The present generation is superficial in assuming that personality can be defined by holding a paper cup and pretending to be a part of the culture that is revealed in places like Starbucks. However, every generation has its own peculiarities by way of attaining utility for doing what they do, which to is a matter of choice. Their requirements are met in coffee shops such as Starbucks, which have had the far sight to appeal to their aspirations and give them what they desire (Bonhivert, 2006).
Just as all big corporations have to face their respective share of criticism and backlash by vested groups and competitors, Starbucks too has on various occasions been faced with lawsuits and complaints that it has had to contest and tide over. In 2008 the company was given a verdict by a court to repay $100 million to over 100,000 baristas in California (BBC, 2009). But it was reversed by an appeals court in saying that supervisors and baristas performed the same duties, hence it does not have to return the millions of dollars to junior workers who were required to share tips with their supervisors. There have also been lawsuits in regard to managers in Starbucks who have claimed overtime for the number of hours that they spend doing non-managerial duties. Such attempts are targeted at negotiating higher salaries for workers who are not eligible for overtime and to highlight the issue in order to get better job definitions (Hayes, 2004).
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There have been instances when Starbucks has received complaints pertaining to its services in regard to customer service, untrained staff and lack of professionalism, rude employees, and delay in service (My3cents, 2009). However, these are minor and very rare occurrences that can be rectified and which are invariably present in the best of service centres.