Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a beautiful story that depicts the ultimate dream of any child: visiting a chocolate factory and winning a lifelong supply of chocolate. The movie’s key character, Willy Wonka, plays the role of a wizard who fulfills dreams, as he hides five golden tickets in his chocolate bars. He announces a competition in which any child from around the globe who finds one of the tickets may visit his factory and, upon honestly following particular rules, may become the lucky recipient of a lifelong provision of his or her favorite Wonka chocolate bars. Any violations of the identified rules will lead to disqualification until just one person—the most honest child—becomes the winner.
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In addition to being a fine-featured fairytale, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the perfect movie for obtaining a better understanding of the theories and concepts of organizational behavior.
Through the main themes of personal development and the role of drive-in achieving one’s goals, the movie depicts not only the process of turning one’s dreams into reality but also highlights ways of organizing people, managing their behaviors, and enhancing their engagement in any process. Even though the movie depicts children in a playful atmosphere, the obtained theoretical knowledge can be applied to managing adults in any business environment. Therefore, watching the film is an outstanding and exciting opportunity to become more proficient in organizational behavior concepts without turning to the standard books.
The conceptive portion will focus on two major concepts that are vividly traced throughout the story of Willy Wonka: motivation and personality. These are the main themes of the whole story and create the required mood to share its central message: that perseverance, constant self-improvement, and self-honesty can turn any dream into reality. Motivation will be viewed not only from the perspective of the children’s desire to follow particular rules to win the lifelong provision of chocolate but also in terms of how Wonka enhances communication with the children and makes them interested in becoming involved in dialogues and sharing their stories.
The concept of personality is connected to the idea of motivation, which will be viewed through the prism of individual perceptions of the world and the influence of the external environment on personal development.
The central theme of the story is motivation. In this movie, motivation can be viewed from the perspectives of different organizational behavior theories, all of which are supported by examples of the behaviors and choices of characters in the film. The first approach to motivation that can be traced in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the difference between individual and organizational motivation.
All those who find gold tickets in Wonka chocolate bars are examples of personal motivation. Even though finding a ticket is up to chance, all of the kids and parents come to the chocolate factory with one distinct goal: to win a lifelong supply of Wonka chocolate.
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Still, individual motivation can be viewed from different stances. For instance, there is the interactionist approach to motivation. According to this theory, each person is driven by their cultural, socioeconomic, and other backgrounds (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, & Turner, 2007). Charlie’s dream to win a lifelong supply of chocolate bars and his strong motivation to find one of the golden tickets may thus be associated with the fact that his family is poor and cannot afford to buy this product.
This poverty explains why he hopes to find the ticket and then follow the rules to become the winner. However, it is still essential to point out the fact that Charlie, just like the other competitors, does violate the rules once. Yet, this action can also be viewed from the perspective of the interactionist approach, in which one acts according to the environment. When Charlie and his grandpa find themselves in a sweet paradise and think they are not being watched (Adventuring Movie, 2016), these two factors tempt them to change their behavior and motivate them to violate the rules by tasting the Fizzy Lifting drinks.
As for organizational motivation, this concept can be viewed in Wonka’s image and his approach to organizing work and communicating with the families who visit his factory. For instance, there are two interconnected types of motivation in this story. The first one is a positive motivation or the promise of a reward for particular behaviors. In the movie’s case, Wonka promises a lifelong supply of chocolate in exchange for being honest in adhering to the provisions of the contract signed before entering the factory.
On the other hand, positive motivation is inseparable from negative motivation, which refers to a kind of punishment for failure to behave in the desired way. Recalling the story, the prominent example of negative motivation is the rule stating that anyone who violates the contract is immediately out of the game (Adventuring Movie, 2016).
Another example of organizational motivation is reflected in the Oompa Loompas’ work, a perfect example of cohesiveness in the workplace. However, it is essential to understand why they behave in such a way. From the theory of motivation, it is evident that sharing a clear vision and creating a favorable working environment are among the best ways to keep employees motivated. In the movie, the Oompa Loompas are aware of their vision—to produce the tastiest candies and chocolates ever—and work in a friendly and pleasant atmosphere (singing and having enough resources for work, life, and entertainment) that, in my opinion, keeps them driven.
All in all, organizational motivation can be viewed from the perspective of expectancy theory, as all of the Oompa Loompas are motivated based on expectancy (being aware of the expected outcome and behaviors), instrumentality (creating a favorable atmosphere for them in return for exceptional performance), and valence (knowing that they will be rewarded and valued for their performance).
In addition to motivation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory pays special attention to the concept of personality. Indeed, this concept is traced throughout the whole story, as the primary focus is placed on the personal characteristics of the people depicted in the movie. Just like motivation, personality as a theoretical concept can be viewed from different perspectives. First, in the story, the emphasis is placed on the individual traits that identify each competitor.
In this case, it may be noted that personality is shaped under the influence of one’s environment (Osland et al., 2007). Thus, it is essential to recall all participants’ backgrounds and connect them with their personalities. For instance, being from a rich family, Veruca Salt is spoiled by her parents’ money and attention. That is why she beliwealthy that she should get everything she wants. Seeing the golden eggs and subconsciously recalling that she is entitled to have everything she wants, Veruca demands one of them.
This personality trait causes her to be kicked out of the factory because having one of the golden eggs is forbidden (Adventuring Movie, 2016). At the same time, Veruca’s personality can be perceived as narcissism, which entails arrogance, a belief in one’s increased self-importance, and a sense of entitlement (Osland et al., 2007).
Another example of the role of personality in the story is Mike Teavee, a boy obsessed with television. His personality is shaped by American culture and its obsession with TV, and, as a result, he finds himself teleported as he follows his desire to become a part of the TV world (Adventuring Movie, 2016). Finally, Charlie himself has a personality that is well connected to his environment. He is from a low-income family in which special attention is paid to humanistic rather than material values.
He even becomes involved in his search for the golden ticket purely out of a desire to make his little dream come true, not out of desires based on gluttony or greediness. More than that, Charlie is an example of self-honesty. Even though he fails to resist temptation and does sample the forbidden drinks, he returns a candy bought from Slugworth, who introduced it as a new product from Wonka. Even though Charlie’s grandpa tells him to give the candy to Slugworth because it is one of the secret recipes that will cause loss to Wonka, Charlie chooses to return it to Willy Wonka. As a result, Charlie’s honesty helps him pass the morality test and become the winner. However, it turns out that the prize is the factory, not a lifelong supply of chocolates (Adventuring Movie, 2016).
Also, personality can be perceived as the foundation for group learning. Even though this plotline is not as obvious as others, there are still social learning aspects in the movie. By communicating with other competition participants and observing their behaviors, Charlie finds out what is right and what is wrong. According to the concept of social learning, people learn what may be expected from them in the future if they behave in a particular way based on observing and anticipating other people (Osland et al., 2007).
For instance, Charlie learns that once a violation of the rules is noticed, the person is forced to leave the factory. Such observations may have motivated him to stay honest when watching and breaking the rules when nobody is looking. More than that, as Charlie observes the work and cooperation of the Oompa Loompas, it may teach him and other competitors how to become an effective team player and cooperate with others to achieve a common objective.
I have watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory several times, and each time brought a different experience. What I observed the first time was a beautiful story with a happy ending. For me, it was just a story that proved that dreams do come true, but I never placed a more profound meaning on the message shared by the producers. However, as I watched the film later, I realized that it could be viewed from different perspectives. By the second time I watched it, I had obtained some theoretical background in organizational behavior. For this reason, the movie turned from a simple fairytale into some theoretical framework for getting a better understanding of organizational behavior.
In the movie, I observed how motivation, drive, and personal development affect people’s lives and contribute to changes, both positive and negative. The very first thing I observed was a beautiful dream of a little boy. However, his dedication to his dream—another observation—contributes to his success in finding the golden ticket. At the same time, I observed a belief in one’s lucky fate; unlike the other participants, Charlie was limited in financial resources and could not afford to buy many chocolate bars, but he still believed that he would find it.
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I also observed how arrogance affects people’s lives through Veruca and the gluttonous boy Augustus. Even though they are depicted as kids from different worlds and with differing personalities, they are still similar due to their drive to satisfy their primitive desires. Finally, there is a theme of family relationships because all of the children are depicted as representations of their families and the environments in which they live, both of which shape their personalities.
Still, all of these observations can become even deeper once analyzed from different perspectives. For instance, as I ask myself what is hidden behind Charlie’s dedication, I find that I am inclined to believe that it is a desire to become part of another world, one in which financial resources do not limit people. Even though it is a basic example, it points to Charlie’s desire to break out of poverty. The very fact may also support this assumption that Charlie does sample the forbidden drink because it is yet another product that his family cannot afford to buy.
On the other hand, I believe that Willy Wonka sees in Charlie, a representation of himself as a child. Of course, Charlie makes a mistake by violating the contract, but he remains honest as he returns the candy to Wonka, knowing that it is the right thing to do. As for Veruca and Augustus, I believe that their behavior is just an expression of the need for attention because, all in all, they are kids, and their natural desire for a connection with their parents has been replaced by money and food.
As I analyze these observations, I question the influence that they had on me. Now, I am confident that the impact of reflecting is complex and ambiguous. On the one hand, I recognize that having a dream and wanting to bring it to life is beautiful because it is associated with positive emotions and the chance to change one’s life for the better. However, on the other hand, I concluded that any dream could come true if one is perseverant and devoted to fulfilling it.
Still, in this case, one has to pay special attention to honesty and, even more importantly, self-honesty. Remember how Charlie and his grandpa violated the rules? This mistake was a manifestation of their weakness and feeling uncertain that they wanted to win. Even though Charlie still won the factory, I still believe that this story taught me that it is critical to remain humane under any life circumstances and that such behavior will be rewarded.
Adventuring Movie (2016). Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) full movie. Web.
Osland, J. S., Kolb, D.A., Rubin, I. M., & Turner, M. E. (2007). Organizational behavior: An experiential approach (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.