Recently the president of McDonald’s has come to suspect that his company’s competitors—such as Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack-in-the-Box, Dunkin’ Donuts, various pizza establishments, and others—are making heavy inroads into McDonald’s market share. He has also hired a market research firm to investigate and compare the relative merits of the sandwiches, french fries, and drinks served in McDonald’s and the competitors, and has asked the market research firm to assess the advertising campaigns of the two organizations. Hence, you will not need to be concerned with marketing issues, except as they may have an impact on employee behavior. The president wants you to look into the organization of the franchises to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each. Select a competitor that gives McDonald’s a good “run for its money” in your area

A critical first step in improving or changing any organization is diagnosing or analyzing its present functioning. Many change and organization development efforts fall short of their objectives because this important step was not taken or was conducted superficially. To illustrate this, imagine how you would feel if you went to your doctor complaining of stomach pains and he recommended surgery without conducting any tests, without obtaining any further information, and without a careful physical examination. You would probably switch doctors! Yet managers often attempt major changes with correspondingly little diagnostic work in advance. (It could be said that they undertake vast projects with half-vast ideas.)

In this exercise, you will be asked to conduct a group diagnosis of two different organizations in the fast-food business. The exercise will provide an opportunity to integrate much of the knowledge you have gained in other exercises and in studying other topics. Your task will be to describe the organizations as carefully as you can in terms of several key organizational concepts. Although the organizations are probably very familiar to you, try to step back and look at them as though you were seeing them for the first time.

Complete the assignment by going as a group to one McDonald’s and one competitor’s restaurant. If possible, have a meal in each place. To get a more valid comparison, visit a McDonald’s and a competitor located in the same area. After observing each restaurant, meet with your group to prepare your report to the executive committee (fellow class members or the instructor).

You are making your recommendations based on your observations as a customer, so while there is not a complete diagnosis with interviews, surveys, or behind-the-scenes observations, feel free to use anything readily available to the public. This can include the companies’ promotional materials, websites, or articles written about the companies.

Instructions

One experience most people in this country have shared is that of dining in the hamburger establishment known as McDonald’s. In fact, someone has claimed that twenty-fifth century archeologists may dig into the ruins of our present civilization and conclude that twentieth-century religion was devoted to the worship of golden arches.

Your group, Fastalk Consultants, is known as the shrewdest, most insightful, and most overpaid management consulting firm in the country. You have been hired by the president of McDonald’s to make recommendations for improving the motivation and performance of personnel in its franchise operations. Let us assume that the key job activities in franchise operations are food preparation, order taking and dealing with customers, and routine cleanup operations.

Recently the president of McDonald’s has come to suspect that his company’s competitors—such as Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack-in-the-Box, Dunkin’ Donuts, various pizza establishments, and others—are making heavy inroads into McDonald’s market share. He has also hired a market research firm to investigate and compare the relative merits of the sandwiches, french fries, and drinks served in McDonald’s and the competitors, and has asked the market research firm to assess the advertising campaigns of the two organizations. Hence, you will not need to be concerned with marketing issues, except as they may have an impact on employee behavior. The president wants you to look into the organization of the franchises to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each. Select a competitor that gives McDonald’s a good “run for its money” in your area.

The president has established an unusual contract with you. He wants you to make your recommendations based upon your observations as a customer. He does not want you to do complete diagnosis with interviews, surveys, or behind-the-scenes observations. He wants your report in two parts.

Remember, the president wants concrete, specific, and practical recommendations. Avoid vague generalizations such as “improve communications” or “increase trust.” Say very clearly how management can improve organizational performance. Substantiate your recommendations by reference to one or more theories of motivation, leadership, small groups, or job design.

Part I: Compare and Contrast Analysis

Given his organization’s goals of profitability, sales volume, fast and courteous service, and cleanliness, the president of McDonald’s wants an analysis that will compare and contrast McDonald’s and the competitor in terms of the following concepts:

• Organizational goals

• Organizational structure

• Technology

• Environment

• Employee motivation

• Communication

• Leadership style

• Policies/procedures/rules/standards

• Job design

• Organizational climate

How do McDonald’s and the competition differ in these aspects? Which company has the best approach?

Do you have any “hunches” about the reasons for the particular organizational characteristics you found? For example, can you try to explain why one organization might have a particular type of structure? Incentive system? Climate?

Can you try to explain one set of characteristics in terms of some other characteristics you found? For example, do the goals account for structure? Does the environment explain the structure?

Part II: Recommendations for McDonald’s

Given the corporate goals listed under Part I, what specific actions might McDonald’s management and franchise owners take in the following areas to achieve these goals (profitability, sales volume, fast and courteous service, and cleanliness)?

• Job design and workflow

• Organizational structure (at the individual restaurant level)

• Employee incentives

• Leadership

• Employee selection

Substantiate your recommendations by reference to theories studied throughout this course.

This exercise is adapted from: OB Skills Workbook, Experiential Exercise #40: Fast-Food Technology

Contributed by D. T. Hall, Boston University, and F. S. Hall, University of New Hampshire

Uhl-Bien, M., Schermerhorn, J. R., and Osborn, R. N. (2013). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &Sons.

LMM326 Organizational Behavior and Development

Organizational Behavior Analysis (face-to-face)

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