Starbucks and Its Organizational Behavior Concepts


The focal point of the paper is to evaluate whether an organization is either successful, unsuccessful, or a combination of both in formulating and implementing organizational behavior concepts. The three fundamental concepts taken into account would be Change management, Organizational Culture, and Communication. The chosen organization in this context would be Starbucks. It would uncover how the selected organization, Starbucks, successfully uses, or suffers by ignoring, any of these three concepts.

Company background

Starbucks, the leading coffee shop chain in the world uses the phrase “everything matters” as their catch line. The company’s mission statement is available from its official website “To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time” (Starbucks, 2009). It is clear from this mission statement that the company has placed great emphasis on its relationship with customers, partners, society and shareholders. Furthermore, the company has also set out its corporate social responsibility by stating that “Starbucks is committed to a role of environmental leadership in all facets of our business” (Starbucks, 2009). The chief of the company Howard Schultz says the huge growth of Starbucks is the result of the conscious implementation of the catch line. The interior decoration of the shops, the music, the coffee itself and the way the employees behave has contributed collectively in spreading its strong wings such that now the coffee shop chain has 11000 shops only in the United States of America. Apart from America, it has shops other parts of the world also. They have 5118 shops in United States, 362 shops in United Kingdom, 30 shops in Saudi Arabia, 64 shops in South Korea and 27 shops in the other parts of the world. A customer indeed has a mind blowing experience when they enter a Starbuck shop (Tallontire 2009).

Organizational behavior concepts

It is widely believed that to survive as a corporate sector in the long term it is extremely important to mould the organization into an international sector. Therefore, it’s that much obvious to plan the strategies of the company in accordance to international trade sequences and its competition. In future it would be important to evaluate the marketing policies to survive in the international market and analyze the effectiveness of the prevailing marketing plan. It is quite true that the activation of the international strategy would collide with that of the plans implemented while operating in the local market and its prevailing competitions. An esteem company like the Starbucks would always be ready for this challenge and in the process would formulate methods to negotiate such challenges in the future and change the organizational structures accordingly.

Organizational Culture

The concept of organizational culture was put into use during Starbucks’ expansion to China. The primary business ideologies associated with the United States are novelty, risk, entrepreneurial expertise and honesty as compared to China, where interpersonal relationship comes first, humility viewed as a virtue time horizon accountable by the generation, respect for seniority, astuteness and aptitude. Thus, Starbucks made it a point to train its personnel to honor those ideologies and practice them as much as possible.

Chinese business customs are centered around relationships, reclusive, every one minding his/her own business, particularly with strangers and people outside of the relationship network, Quiet ,standoffish and awkward communications, no Group decisions, final decision by the boss, blind trust on each other, people’s Endeavour to live up to written or oral accords and in upholding trustworthiness, Indirect and courteous dealings with Business Counterparts, taking things personally, persistent gratitude and grudge for both favors and humiliations respectively, weak aptitude to make instantaneous rejoinder. As a result, Starbuck practiced the same to assimilate the transaction on common grounds.

United States Ethnic Culture is centered around individuals, messianic in nature, saving the world as aphorism, people are outspoken, expressive and efficient communicators, more individual influence and disseminated decision making prevails in negotiation style, dealing with business counterparts are straight, more understated, gratitude and grudge for both favors and humiliations respectively are superseded by business purpose, strong Ability to Make Immediate Response. Starbucks was always determined to maintain its integral US flavored qualities internally but was always active to follow the Chinese way of culture while it came into open manifestation of business (Merritt 2007).

Starbucks also learnt that there was another fundamental cultural barrier in this context. Westerners usually put up dealings and if they are successful, an association will follow. However, the Chinese consider that potential business partners should build a relationship and, if successful, commercial dealings will follow. Commercial law is embedded in our accepted wisdom. However, conventionally, commercial law barely existed in China and positively indicated bad faith. As a result, Starbucks followed the same motion in China but maintained its usual format of law and rule back home.

However, it should be noted that interaction amongst individuals of varying national cultures in Startbucks is frequently weakened by language related obstacles in addition to traditional values of the different cultures. Language oriented difficulties are although undesirable but a very much existent feature of culture. English being the principal means of communication may aggravate the difficulty. While individuals from various cultures have multi-lingual background, those belonging to Anglo cultures commonly converse only in English and may not be able to comprehend the difficulties experienced by those belonging to different cultures in grasping communication techniques in English. A straightforward answer to the difficulty based on lingual grounds is nonexistent but the reality needs to be confronted.

There is also a strong professional culture in Startbucks that is associated with being a member of a profession such as Shop manager. The good thing is the pride in a profession: when people love their work and are strongly motivated to do it well, then this can help aviation organizations work toward safety and efficiency in operations. There could be a negative component in pilot profession: they believe that their decision making endeavours are as productive under critical circumstances as ordinary situations, that their effectiveness is not dependent on individualistic predicaments, and that they are not more erring in a state of high strain. Next, establishments create and act according to their conventions which closely reflect the day to day activities of their affiliates (Merritt 2007). Though national cultures are greatly opposed to alterations as they encompass a person’s societal traditions throughout growing up, professional and organisational cultures can perhaps be tailored provided strong motivations are underlying such a transformation. Thus, it can be stated that Starbucks is successful in this area.


Communication is a vital part of Organizational development or OD and is a systematic and complex strategy that is planned top-down for increasing and implementing effective organizational change. It mainly aims to change the structure, attitudes, standards and thinking of an organization through interventions so that it can adapt to new and better challenges, technology and marketing strategies. It does not simply make an organization better but focuses on interpreting and supervising an organizational change by involving organizational planning, expression, system improvement and analysis bringing about the required result. It is characterized by individuality, learning, inspiration, sociology and psychology and its qualities are interdisciplinary. It has three components – diagnosis, intervention or action and evaluation, which need to be properly controlled to bring about an effective change.

In case of Starbucks, it was found that the term communication relates to inter personnel office communication such as phone, documents, memos, email, FAX and voicemail. These communicative systems could be termed as formal communication system. There are also other forms of interdepartmental communication and it could be termed as informal communication in interdepartmental. Informal communications could be defined as taking place synchronously in face-to-face settings. In Starbucks, for most office workers, informal communication is a frequent interdepartmental activity and for many jobs such as management, it represents the most frequent interdepartmental activity. Questionnaire data produce estimates of between 25% and 70% of time being spent in face-to-face interaction, with these figures depending on job type. Similarly, and again, depending of the industry formal communication system may occupy about 54% to about 91% of the time spent on an average. (Andrad, 2007)

It was also found that the entire feature of this business-based communication in Starbucks depends on the organizational structure that is predominantly processed based depending on the issue of interdepartmental communication system, particularly for this company. In a process-based structure, an organization is fundamentally divided into its organizational units based on its core processes. Process is necessary for defining the industrial scope of the organizational and a process-based structure can implement these processes much faster. Various other processes can also be added to the existing units for their well organized and effective functioning. They have a very dissimilar structure than the traditional organizations eliminating the functional and product oriented problems faced by them. Having a process based structure makes the perspective of the organization completely customer oriented utilizing a horizontal business view in the various departments. (Umpleby, 2006) Thus, it becomes relevant to understand, evaluate and analyze the mode of interdepartmental communication and the effects of to help reduce costly errors in Starbucks and this context it can be stated that this company is fairly efficient in this organization concept execution; however there is always scope of a better alternative.

Change management

Change Management is an integral part of the corporate fraternity these days and that too with reasons. In general sense it can mentioned that Change management includes assessment of changes, implement the change, plan and attainment. Thus, the main aspects of Change management indicate two major points. One is to trace the change intricately and two is to support the procedure of the change and channel it into proper course or utilize this change for the advantage of the corporation. However, sadly, Starbucks not very efficient in formulating and implementing the concepts of change management.

Cultural implication of change initiative implies that the changes might go contradicting the expectations of the employees about the ways the things need to be carried out. Concerning organizational behavior during a change the cultural and structural aspects of an organization need to be considered as the basic issues. This can be based on the situational realism of those behavioral advances that exist both inside and outside the company but with fast spreading company like Starbuck fast change is obvious with cultural differences but there is always a conflict of culture no matter how much the administration tries to control. The emphasis lies on conflict negotiations, formation of coalitions and other groups with proper agendas caused by inadequate resources. This approach can be used when resources are limited and the goals and values of an organization conflict. Racial tension, as seen in Startbuck, departmental conflicts and placement of power in wrong hands create problems in the company. The directors of a company need to identify their principle constituencies so that their problems can be solved. Arenas that can eliminate differences through compromises need to be carried out. The similarities between the different groups need to be communicated so that they can be united against the external enemies. Instead of solving various conflicts the focus of the political frame is on strategy and tactics and thus differences are created between members of a coalition. (Nilsson, 2008)

According to organizational behavioral approaches and principles of change management, employees must focus on vision and inspiration since this makes them realize the importance and meaningfulness of their work. Misunderstandings arise in cause-effect relations along with cultural diversity when goals become uncertain. For solving this problem, organizations need to raise their banners since they act as a common symbol creating a sense of loyalty among the members. This is a form of symbolism which gives the institution a unique identity thus developing excellence, faith, care and belief between the members through ceremonies and rituals. Culture and personifications expressed by symbolic leaders provide cohesiveness and direction to all. However, frequent changes in Strbucks make it difficult for the leaders to manage the entire situation effectively (Cameron, 2004). Thus, Starbucks is unable to score highly in this concept.


Starbucks Coffee Company has a dominant position in the market. Starbucks Coffee Company introduced the first premium, expensive and high-quality Starbucks experience full of coffee products. The expansion of the company helped in capitalizing its growth and popularity. The addition of the 1,500 stores every year brought the count of the total stores to 166,000 by 2008. The company has generated U.S $10.4 billion revenue in US. In the contemporary situation Starbuck faces significant headwinds and serious rivalry competitions. But there is still a clear passage for the Starbucks Coffee Company for its smooth business as there are no clear competitors to compete the quality of Starbucks Coffee Company. However, it should be noted that the company does not score highly in terms of change management even though it can be stated that Starbucks Coffee Company is moderately successful in the implementation of communication concepts and quite successful in organizational culture. The issue of change management is a key problem sector in Startbucks. The company must make fast amendments in this department of organizational behavior concept to sustain its position in a long run.


Andrad, G., Mitchell, M., & Stafford, E. (2007). New evidence and perspectives on Business communication. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15(2), 103-120.

Cameron, E. (2004). Making Sense of Change Management: A Complete Guide to the Models, Tools & Techniques of Organizational Change. NY: Kogan Page Publishers.

Merritt, A.C. (2000). Culture in the Office: Do Hofstede’s dimensions replicate? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31(3), 283-301.

Nilsson, A. (2008). Breaking hierarchies. MI: Uppsala University, Department of Business Studies.

Startbucks. (2009). Our Starbucks Mission Statement. Web.

Tallontire, A. (2009). Top heavy? Governance issues and policy decisions for the fair trade movement. Journal of International Development, 21(7), 1004-1014.

Umpleby, S. (2006). Reflexivity in social systems: The theories of George Soros. Paper presented at annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, Sonoma, CA.

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